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October 28, 2008

thinking blue

Giovanni Bellini - The Madonna of the Meadow.JPG [image: Giovanni Bellini, The Madonna of the Meadow]

Blue is the bridge colour marking the point of transition into mysteries, into the intangible. At the two extremes of non-illumination and illumination, the world turns blue-ish. In the shadowy recesses of a church, blue shines as other colours fade or dim. On a bright, summer day objects gleam blue.

"At very low light levels, blue and green objects appear brighter than red ones compared with their relative brightness in stronger illumination, an effect known as the Purkinje shift for its discoverer, the Czech physiologist Jan Evangelista Purkinje. At higher levels of illumination, there is a related shift in hues, called the Bezold-Brücke effect, such that most colours appear less red or green and more blue or yellow as the intensity of illumination increases." -- Encyclopedia Britannica

Blue is the colour of Heaven, of purity and of the Virgin Mary.

The glass-blue days are those
When every colour glows,
Each shape and shadow shows.
Blue be it: this blue heaven
The seven or seven times seven
Hued sunbeam will transmit
Perfect, not alter it.
Or if there does some soft,
On things aloof, aloft,
Bloom breathe, that one breath more
Earth is the fairer for. -- Hopkins

But wherever there is blue, there is also masculine sentimentalism and vanity.

"Une jeune femme, en robe de mérinos bleu garnie de trois volants, vint sur le seuil de la maison pour recevoir M. Bovary.... Vus de si près, ses yeux lui paraissaient agrandis, surtout quand elle ouvrait plusieurs fois de suite ses paupières en s'éveillant; noirs à l'ombre et bleu foncé au grand jour, ils avaient comme des couches de couleurs successives, et qui plus épaisses dans le fond, allaient en s'éclaircissant vers la surface de l'émail.... Mais jamais il ne put la voir en sa pensée, différemment qu'il ne l'avait vue la première fois, ou telle qu'il venait de la quitter tout à l'heure." -- Flaubert

Flaubert dressed Emma Rouault in blue; in "The Voice" Hardy drew the Bovary-parable into his web of meanings when he dressed his own "Emma" (Emma Gifford, at St. Juliot in 1870) in the same colour:

         Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!

Blue, like folly and love, is forever.

"Wearing a navy blue dress from the Gap, Ms. Lewinsky attended the radio address at the President's invitation…. The President told her to wait a moment, as he had presents for her. As belated Christmas gifts, he gave her a hat pin and a special edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass." -- Starr

Posted by njenkins at October 28, 2008 11:09 PM

With the exception of interspersed quotations, all writing is © 2007-09 by Nicholas Jenkins