Whale Oil Used To Mean Something In This Country

The energy crisis seems to be on everyone’s mind these days. Hardly a day goes by without some mention of the destruction of the ozone layer, or the strife that global oil dependency has bred in the Middle East, or that whole fracking thing, for pete’s sake! It’s complicated issues like these that make me really pine for the old days of the 19th century. Boy, was life simpler then. You could treat women as you pleased, mass culture hadn’t yet destroyed the youth, and when you needed light or heat, all you had to do was fire up the trusty old whale oil lamp. I’ll admit – I’ve strayed in recent years, seduced by the charms of kerosene and propane to provide warmth and fluorescence for light. But this winter, I’m returning to my roots and will exclusively be utilizing whale oil for any and all of my needs.

What happened to us once proud Americans? We used to feel so free to patrol the seas and harness the energy that lurked beneath the mighty waves. Whales used to mean something in our culture, and slaughtering them used to be a source of pride! Why have we let the honor of our traditions escape us in recent years? What has happened to us as a people that have led us from the glory of thrusting a harpoon into the great, oil-filled heads of bowhead, sperm and other species of toothed whales? Whales used to give us light, heat, soap, even perfume! Why have we let their utility diminish in recent years?

But it’s not just the grandeur of whaling that has been stripped from today’s culture. It’s also the simple feeling of lighting up a nice, whale oil blaze. The oily sputter, the yellow viscosity, and the smell – God, the smell! That fishy, freshly caught aroma of burning whale fat – I miss it every day.

Yes, today you have to get whale oil through illegal Japanese channels. And sure, Greenpeace doesn’t necessarily love the notion of a modern, suburban American exclusively using whale oil for light and heat. But really, should those difficulties come at the cost of genuine, human happiness? So this holiday season, toss out the incandescent bulbs just for a night, and instead bask with your family and friends in the warm yellow glow of a whale oil lamp. I promise, you won’t regret it.

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