Friday, February 19, 2010

the real experience of color

"The colors in prison, or the no colors of public places, or sad public places, such as army camps and I suppose hospitals during the war years and things like see gray, you see metal colors, you see an off green with a bit of luck you may see a bit of brown, but mostly you see infinite shades of gray and dirty green. It's like if you deprive someone of colors for a certain time and then you introduce color, however small the area of color that you introduce there will be an intense bang of recognition, the real experience of that color. We live in a sea of colors everyday, we don't even realize that we are looking at them; a bed of pink roses on the wallpaper, or the white color of a bird, or the darkness of a shirt. We are washed over by the richness of colors all the time. But in a situation like prison, all of a sudden there's this eruption of color...a coffee wrapper for instance, or a leaf that got blown over the wall, or even a thread that somehow got through the can not possibly imagine the intense awareness or experience of that color ... as if you have never seen color before. " ~ Breyten Breytenbach

I was listening to an episode of This American Life and this interview with a previous prisoner, Breyten Breytenbach really struck me. His words reflect his experience of color in a very vivid and tangible way, where you can almost feel those explosions of recognition or consciousness. I just love the idea of a single piece of red thread that somehow miraculously arrived within a closed of and very protective environment. And for just a second, that piece of thread was heaven, a remembrance of the outside world, and the first color ever to be seen.

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