Saturday, August 10, 2013
Black and white and read all over
Black is the color of coal, ebony, and of outer space. It is the darkest color, the result of the absence of or complete absorption of light. It is the opposite of white and often represents darkness in contrast with light.
In the Roman Empire, black became the color of mourning, and over the centuries it was frequently associated with death, evil, witches and magic. In the fourteenth century, it began to be worn by royalty, the clergy, judges, and government officials in much of Europe. It became the color worn by English romantic poets, businessmen, and statesmen in the nineteenth century, and a high fashion color in the twentieth century. In the Western World today, it is the color most commonly associated with mourning, the end, secrets, magic, power, violence, evil, and elegance.
Common connotations of black include power, death, elegance, evil, darkness, mystery, Nubians, Halloween, coal, petroleum, sin, outer space, anarchism, profit, night, bad luck, crime, and sophistication.
Here is an example of the black of outer space: A photograph taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, settled in for an evening of stargazing, of the two moons of Mars -- Deimos and Phobos -- as they travel across the night sky in front of the constellation Sagittarius. Phobos is the brighter object on the right; Deimos is on the left. Spirit acquired these enhanced-brightness images with the panoramic camera on the night of sol 585 (Aug. 26, 2005). Scientists will use images of the two moons to better map their orbital positions, learn more about their composition, and monitor the presence of nighttime clouds or haze. (For Adrian and other photography buffs, Spirit took the image using the camera’s broadband filter, which was designed specifically for acquiring images under low-light conditions.)
According to jazz singer/pianist Nina Simone, black is the color of her true love’s hair (7:04).
White, on the other hand, is the color of fresh milk and snow. It is the color the human eye sees when it looks at light which contains all the wavelengths of the visible spectrum, at full brightness and without absorption. It does not have any hue.
As a symbol, white is the opposite of black, and often represents light in contrast with darkness. According to surveys in Europe and the United States, white is the color most often associated with innocence, perfection, the good, honesty, cleanliness, the beginning, the new, neutrality, lightness, and exactitude.
Common connotations of white include purity, nobility, softness, emptiness, ghosts, snow, ice, heaven, Caucasian, peace, clean, light, life, surrender, clouds, frost, milk, good, cotton, angels, winter, innocence, sterility, and coldness.
Here is a white horse, and (just to confuse you) a man dressed in black, and a woman dressed in red who is riding a black horse:
Here is a white house and a glass of milk:
The images are not to scale.
I thought you should know.
Since it has recently come to my attention that (a) someone has already written at length about many shades of grey and (b) a drink called “Black and Tan” purportedly contains alcohol, I have decided not to write about either grey or tan. I wouldn’t want to bore you or to lead you any further astray than you already are.