Sunday, October 15, 2006

White, black and red


Seeing colours is sensing something. They make a statement too. White, black and red are born of values that humans tends to assign to several fundmental organic principles. Milk and seeds, which are white, are linked to life, this meaning is symbolically transferred to white. Dark evokes a dimension of decay and demise, these values become attached to black. Black is darkness, the underworld. For Goethe, darkness is a positive force, it has the power to make light visible. Black is also the symbol of elegance and modernity. Black represents wealth, refinement, sophistication and... mystery. It has long been associated with religious cloth. It also evokes dignity, power and even threat. Black is the symbol of authority and in clothing its severity is often used to portray a seriousness. Clothing in tango is mostly black, combined with serious faces and the sad organ-like sound of the bandoneon does make the atmosphere a bit religious. The darkness of the tanguero shows the woman's movements even more, especially if she has a red wearing. As the blood of every living thing is red, it's symbolism is bounded to it. Blood is associated with love, sex, passion and aggressiveness. Red evokes exuberance, speed and action. Red attracts attention. In tango, red is much preferred by women and in bull fighting, red has a psychological effect too.


Lighting changes colours. Under electric lights, blue looks green, thus the apparent colour changes depending on the illumination. Visually representing something, as if to be ...
According to Ned Block, a state of phenomenal consciousness is a state of sensing something that looks red. Visually it is just as if I were seeing something red, but I do not claim that it is red.
about it. The other way of being conscious is by There are two ways of being conscious of something. One way of being conscious is by thinking sensing it.

Perceptions of performances are mostly seen from the point of view of the audience, reducing it to the privileged senses which are sight and hearing, reducing the act of dancing to its elegant and stylish visual image. Tango, it looks, lets say... erotic, the dancers are visually representing something that looks erotic. The way of being conscious by sensing it, by seeing / sensing that it is erotic, implies a personal recognition of the sensation, a bodily sensitive knowledge coming from experiences. The same with smelling, cooking recipes.

This seeing is a state of phenomenal consciousness, it is a state of sensing something. In "seeing + sensing ", the content of the experience is endorsed, in the other, the looks as if, it is not. It looks expresses only the intentional contents of those experiences, the dancers are only visually representing something.
In this thinking and imagining the experience, the dreaming about What it is like, is always an illusion involved, a person's perspective contributes to the illusion.
An understanding of sensory qualities and of how thought represents, can give a more full account not only of mental states but of the difference between conscious mental states and unconscious ones.

Fundamental trichromatism for Victor Turner,
a noted English anthropologist who studied the rituals of several African tribes for decades,
consists of the colours red, white and black.

There are only two words to identify colours in these languages and dialects, and they are always black and white. If a third word is encountered, it is invariably red.
Blue, green and all other colours are secondary in importance, even though blue and green are primary colours. One of the reasons given to justify attaching such overriding importance to black and white is that man, from the dawn of his primordial experience on, has inevitably known the difference between night and day, the latter being his time for action and the former for resting. Day is our time for movement and dynamism, while night is a time for gentleness. These differences, present in everyone's experience, have caused black and white to take on meanings that are pretty similar in all cultures.

Not only anthropologists but also psychologists have said that colours involve symbolisms and recurrent meanings, if only for their implications from a physiological point of view. For example, being suffused with a red light steps up one's heartbeat and circulation, while being bathed in a green light results in a slowdown in cardiac rhythm, bringing on a feeling of rest and relaxation, such as one finds within the green walls of today's hospitals.

Anthropologists have thrown into bold relief another aspect that is worthy of comment. Namely, the fact that, in our search for the meanings of colours, we should take into consideration the dimension of bodily symbolisms or, better, the corporeal bases of symbolic meanings.
Turner points out that many of the meanings that are attributed to white, black and red are born of values that man tends to assign to several fundmental organic principles such as milk, excrement and blood. Hence, if milk and seeds, which are white, are linked to life, this meaning is symbolically transferred to white.
If excrement or a treetrunk carbonized by a bolt of lightning, both dark in hue, evoke a dimension of decay and demise, these values become inexorably attached to black. And, if blood is often associated with love, passion and aggressiveness, it is also bonded to these things because, clearly, the blood of every living thing is red.

Starting with these considerations on the importance of organic referents in the symbolism ofcolours, a whole series of implications has arisen concerning the role played by colours in rituals.
Continuing to reason along these lines, we can easily see how many meanings attributed to colours can be traced back to definite symbolic areas. What comes immediately to mind, for example, is the fact that white is the colour of the Christian confirmation ceremony, matrimony and any number of things having to do with purity.
By the same token, black and white lend themselves to a series of intriguing considerations with regard to mourning. It's true, of course, that different cultures have come up with important inversions. While the colour of mourning for us is black, for the Chinese it's white.
But white can be associated with bereavement for us, too, as in the case of mourning for a child. Many African populations use white to signify mourning. And they do it in a way that is revealing, by painting a skeleton on their bodies or another meaningful figure that alludes symbolically to death.
An organic referent is used in this case too, and symbolic development is done by analogy. However, there exists still another approach to colour. In addition to considering symbolism by analogy, we can study the specific relationships that colours establish among themselves.
Let's take as an example the figure of the priest. We know that priests dress in both black and white. But they dress in black when they associate with lay people, while they tend to stick to white when carrying out their sacred duties in church. So it can be said that white is to black, as sacred is to profane - the meaning of colours not deriving, in this case, from analogous relationships but rather from a totally different criterion.

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