Thursday, July 24, 2014

"On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry"

Sarah Jones, Cove (virtual film studio) (1), 2007

I continue to read books devoted to the color blue. William Gass's essay On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry, covers the topic tangentially as well as in lists disguised as paragraphs. Here are some passages that linger as I start to gather the early summer's documentation and come to terms with the thousands of photographs that depict this hue.

Blue is "consequently the color of everything that's empty..." [page 3]

"The common deer in its winter coat is said by hunters to be in the blue. To be in the blue is to be isolated and alone. To be sent to the blue room is to be sent to solitary, a chamber of confinement devoted to the third degree. It's to be beaten by police, or if you are a metal, heated until the more refrangible rays predominate and the ore is stained like those razor blades the sky is sometimes said to be as blue as, for example when you're suddenly adrift on a piece of cake or in a conversation feel a wind from outer space chill your teeth like a cube of ice." [page 18]

Bastienne Schmidt, From the series Salt

"It is the sky's pale deep endlessness, sometimes so intense at noon the brightness flakes like a fresco. Then at dusk, it is the way the color sinks among us, not like dew but setting dust or poisonous exhaust from all the life burned up while we were busy being other than ourselves. For our blues we have the azures and ceruleans, lapis lazulis, the light and dusty, the powder blues, the deeps: royal, sapphire, navy, and marine; there are the pavonian or peacock blues, the reddish blues: damson, madder and cadet, hyacinth, periwinkle, wine, wisteria and mulberry; there are the slow blues, a bit purpled or violescent, and then the green blues, too: robin's egg and eggshell blue, beryl, cobalt, glaucous blue, jouvence, turquoise, aquamarine. A nice light blue can be prepared from silver, and when burned, Prussian blue furnishes a very fine and durable brown. For our blues we have those named for nations, cities, regions: French blue, which is an artificial ultramarine, Italian, Prussian, Swiss and Brunswick blues, Chinese blue, a pigment which has a peculiar reddish-bronze cast when in lump-form and dry, in contrast to China blue which is a simple soluble dye; we have Indian blue, an indigo, Hungarian, a cobalt, the blues of Parma and Saxony, Paris, Berlin, and Dresden, those of Bremen and Antwerp, the ancient blues of Armenia and Alexandria, the latter made of copper and lime and sometimes called Egyptian, the blue of the Nile, the blue of the blue sand potters use. Are there so many states of mind and shades of feeling?" [page 59]

Kathleen Velo, Water Flow 1 - Ft. Lowell Pond After Monsoon, 2013

"So - in short - color is consciousness itself, color is feeling, and shape is the distance color goes securely, as in our life we extend ourselves through neighborhoods and hunting grounds; while form in its turn is the relation of these inhabited spaces, in or out or up or down, and thrives on the difference between kitchen and pantry. This difference, with all its sameness, is yet another quality, alive in time like the stickiness of honey or the gently rough lap of the cat, for color is connection. The deeds and sufferings of light, as Goethe says, are ultimately song and celebration... Praise is due blue, the preference of the bee."  [page 73]

Scott Reeder, Untitled (Light Blue), 2013

"Of the colors, blue and green have the greatest emotional range. Sad reds and melancholy yellows are difficult to turn up. Among the ancient elements, blue occurs everywhere: in ice and water, in the flame as purely as in the flower, overhead and inside caves, covering fruit and oozing out of clay. Although green enlivens the earth and mixes in the ocean, and we find it, copperish in fire; green air, green skies, are rare. Gray and brown are widely distributed, but there are no joyful swatches of either, or any of exuberant black, sullen pink, or acquiescent orange." [page 76]

"If color is one of the contents of the world as I have been encouraging someone - anyone - to claim, then nothing stands in the way of blue's being smelled or felt, eaten as well as heard. These comparisons are only slightly relative, only somewhat subjective. No one is going to call the sounds of the triangle brown or accuse the tympanist of playing pink." [pages 76-77]


Richard Misrach, Untitled, February 14, 2012, 6:19 PM

"This is not blue I see but myself seeing blue." [page 83]

"The blue we bathe in is the blue we breathe. The blue we breathe, I fear, is what we want from life and only find in fiction." [page 85]

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