A Whiter Shade of Whale

“What the white whale was to Ahab, has been hinted,” says Ishmael. Hinted? Really? That may be the biggest understatement in the history of literature. It would be like saying Romeo liked Juliet, and Frankenstein was grumpy.

“What he was to me [Ishmael] as yet remains unsaid.” True. But not for long. The “as yet unsaid” will be said in the next 25 paragraphs, including one sentence that runs 458 words. No joke. The Classics Slacker counted them for you. You’re welcome.

From what Ishmael has heard—and he’s heard a lot at this point—he will not be too fond of Moby Dick. It’s not so much the whale’s size, his ugly mug, or his taste for Ahab-kebobs. No. What terrifies Ishmael the most is Moby Dick’s color. Hint: it’s white. “It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me.” Whiteness is the worst part? Ishmael, explain yourself: “But how can I hope to explain myself here, and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself I must.”

His explanation is indeed dim and random. But much like whale blubber, it all boils down to this: To Ishmael, some white things are good, but way more white things are bad.

For example, good white things are pearls and japonicas, bridal gowns and marble. Bad white things are albinos and polar bears. Good white things are horses and lambs wool and clerics’ robes. Bad white things are dead people and ghosts, fog and flags, shrouds and crosses. Not to mention “the muffled rollings of a milky sea; the bleak rustlings of the festooned frosts of mountains; the desolate shiftings of the windrowed snows of prairies.”  

And whales. Of course.

Inspired by Ishmael’s discourse on the color white, the Classics Slacker has come up with her own list of good white things and bad white things.

Good White Things:
1. Cottonelle toilet paper with aloe and vitamin E
2. Daisies
3. Coconut macaroons
4. Down comforters
5. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
6. Wite-Out
7. Lace
8. Elmer’s Glue-All
9. Rice pudding

Bad White Things: 
1. Slugs
2. Republicans
3. Panties
4. Pants
5. Really bad: white panties under white pants
6. Zinfandel
7. The sweet stuff inside Twinkies, Oreos, and Ho-Ho’s
8. Pus
9. Fluorescent light bulbs (the curly ones)
10. Frost bite

So there it is. The Classics Slacker has reached the same conclusion as Ishmael. There are in fact more bad white things than good white things. It’s as clear as black and white.