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  • From The Whiteness of the Whale

The Daily Dick: Musings From the Greatest Novel Ever

"Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a color as the visible absence of color; and at the same time the concrete of all colors; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows- a colorless, all-color of atheism from which we shrink?"


Musing: Damn. This is deep stuff. This is the reason people hate this book. More action - less thinking! But for me, this resonates. This chapter talks about the power of whiteness. Melville wonders why a polar bear is more intriguing than a brown bear, why a white shark is more terrifying than a gray one, why an Albino man is seen as an other. All this is getting to the idea of the white whale. Why a white whale? Is whiteness everything and nothing? Does it cause us to think more deeply because there is no color to distract us? This chapter is one I have read a dozen times and still puzzle over. But it is setting up the quest and the reason behind the quest.

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