Sunday, May 9, 2010

3 Theses on black and white

Thesis One:
that the opoposite of black is white: a surface which reflects all wavelengths equaly, as a black surface absorbs them all. When an imaginary pure black surface absorbs all wavelengths, it annihilates differences between them. And so does an imaginarly pure white, subordinating all wavelengths to its own purity. Thus there is not so much difference between white and black as we might suppose: both draw difference into unity.

Thesis Two:
the opposite of black is not white but light. Against the darkness in which our eyes can perceive nothing, there is the light in which they do. But light, the purest, brightest light, like darkness, blinds, as the desert sun does. The closer it comes to absolute, the more light burns out the rods and cones, maculates the seeing eye with afterimages, in extremis takes sight away permanently, as it has for so many observers of solar phenomena. Blinding, and the maculation of vision, is common to absoulte darkness and absolute light, just as reduction to unity is common to absolute black and absolute white. Here too there is no true opposition.

Thesis Three:
the opposite of black is not white but a mirror reflection, which reflects each wavelength in its own discrete form. Against black, we would set the differentiating forms of natural as well as manufactured mirrors – rivers and streams, wet rocks, oil shimmering on puddles – as indeed we might include those natural and manufactured forms of prism which split the light into rainbows, as in the spray of waterfalls and surf. Against black's unity, and against its blinding of vision, we might cast as its dialactical pair the shattering and splintering of light, its endless multiplication.

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