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Jack White Extends Guinness Book Brouhaha Yet Longer

Jack White / Photo by Jo McCaughey

Jack White’s brouhaha with the Guinness Book of World Records people has reached a whole new level. Metaphorically speaking. After hilariously vowing last week to “break the world record for most metaphors in a single concert,” part of an ongoing back-and-forth over the White Stripes’ failure to earn a record-book mention for World’s Shortest Performance, White now hilariously claims his first attempt at the metaphor record proved “uncountable.”

Over the weekend, White issued his latest over-the-top statement, saying Guinness officials were present for his headlining set Friday night at Alabama’s Hangout Music Fest but were unable to count all the onstage metaphors accurately:

They definitely had a task in front of them as in the first song alone, three officials that were flown in from the Guinness world headquarters in the anteroom of the Salt and Muskrat pub in Tipperary, counted no less than twelve hundred and three metaphors in three minutes.

Some metaphors were lyrical and others came from moments such as lighting changes and even the calm weather itself during the chorus which momentarily had the feel of Grandma’s house in winter. By the seventh song alone the hard work led two of the Guinness officials to wander to the catering table, leaving the counting to their partner who, new to the grueling scientific process involved, accidentally counted 312 similes and three mere comparisons.

Alluding to Guinness officials’ statement that “the nature of competing to make something the ‘shortest’ by its very nature trivializes the activity being carried out,” White also claims that his metaphor record attempt “had to be forfeited” when he “trivialized a metaphor by saying it too quickly.” He says, “It was something about the moon being a faucet of light but was uttered too fast to be counted.”

White’s statement says Guinness officials will also attend “tomorrow night’s show,” but given that the statement was posted on May 19 and White had no show scheduled for May 20, it’s unclear what he means. He also performed in Asheville, North Carolina, on May 19, and he performs in New York City tonight, so we’ll see.

Also, not to throw the cold water of reality on all of this, to use another horribly labored metaphor, but two things: First, we’ve watched YouTube footage of White’s Hangout set, and his onstage banter, at least, was almost pointedly literal: “You still there? I’m just checking on you… Does it sound good out there? Everybody’s got something to drink?” Etc. Secondly, the idea that similes aren’t also metaphors is debatable — we infuriatingly can’t find our copy of Mary Kinzie’s The Poet’s Guide to Poetry (shuddup!) right now, but we remember learning that similes are a form of metaphor, just as a synecdoche is a form of metonymy (no really, shuddup). It’s technical, and probably elitist, just like White accused of the Guinness records folks of being. But did we mention it comes with its own The Matrix meme?