From Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale
"What the white whale was to Ahab, has been hinted; what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid.
Aside from those more obvious considerations touching Moby Dick,
which could not but occasionally awaken in any man's soul some alarm,
there was another thought, or rather vague, nameless horror
concerning him, which at times by its intensity completely
overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable
was it, that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form.
It was the whiteness of the whale, that above all things appalled me.
But how can I hope to explain myself here; and yet, in some dim,
random way, explain myself I must, else all these chapters might be
This sort of captures what I think about the "Flatness of the ER". In the peripheral regions of fibroblasts, there is something very striking about the ER pattern. One is the three way junctions of the tubules. But after looking at these patterns so many times, I believe that I have found what is the most striking feature of all. I think that it is the two dimensionality of the pattern. If we consider the other parts of the cell in this area, for instance actin filaments, microtubules etc, these parts are certainly thinned out, but they are not in a single layer, which is what the ER is.
One may think that the peripheral region is thinned out to a minimum thickness, and that the minimal thickness must require one layer of ER. Or, a way to ask a question of it, is to ask why isn't there another layer of ER in the peripheral region? It seems to me that there is something remarkable about the Flatness of the ER in this region, which may hint at some principle about how cytoplasm is organized.