Fall 2007

Colors / White

Bleached world

Joseph Grigely

“Colors” is a column in which a writer responds to a specific color assigned by the editors of Cabinet.

Little whites
Pearls, stoats, Ambien, Ativan, Oxycodone with the 
coating chipped off, snowflakes, coconut flakes, white blood cells, White Dome hydrangeas, Shasta daisies, Iceberg roses, wooly aphids

Moved & Moving whites
Sheep, snow geese, unicorns if they’re true to mythological form, lab rats, albino rhinos, the Abominable Snowman, glaciers, most crack rocks, some speed, swans, snowshoe rabbits, Toyotas when painted with Toyota 040 white, white flight, nurses, brides, maggots, the white of white anger, Moby Dick, the bottom of Niagara Falls

Photo Ryo Manabe.

Whites to watch out for

The whites of their eyes, white lies, white trash, White Russians (the kind that supported the tsar, not the beverage), gentrification, eugenics, great white sharks, white-collar crime, white cheddar cheese whiz, white marmalade, non-dairy creamer, White Castle burgers

Whites with an X

Maalox, Xanax, Anthrax, borax, the spot where the 
buried treasure is

Whites, when the white comes mixed with black 

Zebras, Holsteins, killer whales, Brown v. Board of Education, piano keys, street signs in Buenos Aires, Oreos, tuxedos, The New York Times, the white sails of Theseus, Nuit Blanche, Minor White, Walter White, Barry White

E. B. White, T. H. White, Edmund White, Patrick White, Margaret Bourke-White, the White Whale, the White Wizard, the White Knights, White Noise, White Fang, Whitewalls, A Heart So White, A Man Called White, The Woman in White, alabaster Desdemona from Othello, The White Peacock, The White Album (Didion)

The whites in your ears
The White Album (The Beatles), The White Stripes, White Lion, White Tiger, White Zombie, White Riot, “white crunk,” white noise, Average White Band, The Polyphonic Spree, the color of the cover of the soundtrack from A Clockwork Orange, the Good Humor Man

Color chip whites
Lambskin, seapearl, moonlight, white diamond, white ice, white heron, feather down, chantilly lace, meadow mist, white wisp, white blush, white opulence, whitewater bay, cream froth, Bavarian cream, calming cream, mannequin cream, icicle, sand dollar, cloud cover, cloud nine, minced onion, Swiss coffee, sugar cookie, opaline, albescent, niveous, French canvas, Spanish white, evening white, ballet white, timid white, alpine white, maritime white, Acadia white, intense white, palace white, simply white

Shiny whites
Limoges & Sevres, Kohler & Toto, Bernini’s Apollo & Daphne, Michelangelo’s Pieta, Mont Blanc at sunrise, certain billiard balls, golf balls, lottery balls, the stoops 
of row houses in Baltimore, the word Coca-Cola on vending machines, cheese left wrapped in wax paper 
at room temperature, white knuckles, White Rain, capped teeth, patent leather shoes

Wet whites
Milk, lebneh, Elmer’s Glue, whipped cream, T-shirts in 1980s films targeting teenage boys, whitewater rivers 
& whitecaps on waves, snowballs, beluga whales, 
white beer, white shite, white lightning

Prepositional whites
The inside of abalone, the bottomside of plaice, the underside of the tail of a whitetail deer, the whatever side of an igloo, the marbling of beef, the building across the street if it were to be cleaned, Malevich’s white-on-white, white-on-red (color of blanket worn by horse in the #1 starting gate), black-on-white (color of blanket worn by horse in the #2 starting gate), the white wigs on barristers, the insides of Twinkies, the insides 
of cannoli, the insides of speech bubbles, heroin east 
of the Mississippi, the home team wears white

Whites with a reputation
Eminem, platinum blondes, white Broncos, white vans

Imperfect whites
White-collar workers, the Chicago White Sox, Whitehall, the White Mountains (Arizona, not New Hampshire), “Hills Like White Elephants,” cigarette smoke, elephant ivory, sulphur duns, grayling, the White Cliffs of Dover, jaundiced eyes, vitiligo, Lapland, Belorussia, seagulls, 
jellyfish, skeletons, beige

Whites not as white as expected

Snow leopards, birch trees, off-white as in off-piste, pastis when mixed with water, lard, limestone, mashed potatoes, Queen Anne’s lace, Robert Ryman, Agnes Martin, whitefish salad, ptarmigan, polar bears, clerical collars, white Zinfandel, the Isle of Wight

Whites destined to be unwhite

Tampons, toilet paper, tighty whities, Q-tips, gym socks, freshly starched and ironed sheets, cricket clothing, shag rugs, fresh snow, white weddings, white gloves, white smoking jackets, White Sands National Monument, christening gowns & confirmation dresses, cotton puffs, silicone caulk

Effervescent & intangible whites 

White matter, white clouds, whitemares, black-light white, the white of a California morning, the white of country music, the white light of infinity, the word of God in Renaissance paintings, candlelight white, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, Luke 9:23 to 9:29:

And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, 
let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom 
of God.”

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.

The white of a fog machine in a club

Squishable & crumbable whites

Marshmallows, Fluffernutters, cottage cheese, cotton candy, potato salad, polystyrene, plastic packing peanuts, Model Magic, a white Christmas

Cover-up whites

Wite-Out, white shrouds, Whitewater, whitefuck, whitewash, the White House, White Sands Missile Range, Kilz

Useless whites

White crayons

Profound whites
Constable’s clouds, crème Chantilly, a clean sink, the Taj Mahal, the white shirt in Goya’s Third of May, a blank sheet of blank paper, a white flag in a war, the white guy with the white beard in Lord of the Rings, stars, Vichy pills, White Widow, the white you see when you exit a dark house into the sun

Plain everyday whites
White bread, white rice, white Nikes, white pines, 
white picket fences, SWF, white mustard, bleached flour, bleached sheets, Ivory soap, vanilla ice cream, vanilla icing, White Hen, White-Westinghouse, the White Pages, whitebobs, white bums

Miscellaneous whites
Movie screens, white dreams, white asparagus, the blood of cockroaches, calcium carbonate, meringue, blancmange, panna cotta, Snow White, White Plains, “Oh my grey hairs!/ you are like plum-blossoms / 
white!” (W. C. Williams), the whiteness of thighs

His own kind of white

Whites that have nothing to do with white

Bobwhite Quail, White Elephant Sale

Whites we know more about in black

White magic, white lung disease, white holes

Joseph Grigely* is an artist represented by Cohan and Leslie, New York. He is director of the graduate program in Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

    *with help from 43 friends
If you’ve enjoyed the free articles that we offer on our site, please consider subscribing to our nonprofit magazine. You get twelve online issues and unlimited access to all our archives.