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Last Journey: What is Color?

Video (6 min.) click and stick ...[I am still working to improve on these presentations to make them more pleasing to hear as well as to interact with. Suggestions on improvements needed are welcome, and comments on the ideas or places presented are also appreciated].




I am a traveller, just as you are. My journey was and will be different from yours, but there are things, places, experiences and thoughts we share in a lifetime. We —you and I— live together on a planet of infinite diversity and complexity, sharing a universe full of more wonders, very large and very tiny. Some things can be visualized easily but other aspects of our existence are more enigmatic and not easily described.

But here goes…

And Life is colour and warmth and light and striving evermore for these….” Julian Grenfell, 1888-1915. Into Battle, in the Times, 1915

The sounding cataract

Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,

The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,

Their colours and their forms, were then to me

An appetite.

‘Lines composed above Tintern Abbey’ (1798), William Wordsworth

Oak Canyon (Sedona, Arizona)

Canadian Rockies


“A potted plant, previously ignored on the window sill of his study, had produced a single, perfect flower in just one day. And that flower was the exact shade of red that he had been trying so hard to make…. He said, ‘I wanted to find a way to understand what I was searching for in my life… I remembered the red of that flower. And how, where a human being with a sophisticated laboratory has failed again and again, nature had succeeded with just earth, water, air and light. Effortlessly.’”

From the book Colour, Travels Through the Paintbox, written by Victoria Finlay, Folio Society, Hodder and Stoughton, 2002, copyright, 1998

Apple Tree

I agree with author Victoria Finlay’s observation that people’s attempts over the years to reproduce nature’s “effortless” colors often have been “accidental”. She points out in her book Colour that, “Almost all dyes and pigments are… poor imitations; pastiches even, of the colors found in nature.”

Our human senses (and not just our eyesight) are bombarded by a hodgepodge of impressions that are sorted and filed and resurrected and rearranged again when needed to push our existence forward on the journey (or path, if you will). But, my vision (eyes) is especially precious and useful. And part of the information that I treat as key to my rational decisions is not only the structural integrity of objects round about, but also color.

“Colours appeal to us, I believe, because they reawaken some deep instinct in our brains to something that transcends the material,” says Finlay.

Here, I believe she alludes to yet another concept, namely “faith,” or the sister idea, “revelation.”

Spring Carnival in Malta

According to the preface of Finlay’s book, Colour:

“An image reflected in a mirror, a rainbow in the sky, an appointed scene make their impressions upon the mind, but in essence are other than what they seem. Look deeply at the world, and see an illusion, a magician’s dream.” (quoted from, The Seventh Dalai Lama, ‘Song of the Immaculate Path’)

However, all is not magic: “But when I think of Indian yellow I will always wonder whether the explanation that I have heard [cows urine based on eating mango leaves] is reality or merely a reflection of reality, and whether this story is simply an example of somebody gently, and literally, taking the piss.” Colour, Finlay, p 203

Fools Gold, western Australia

Empty Oil Barrels, Namibia

Bay of Bengal

I relish the morning light and with it the colors and hues that give shape and design to the world we live in, with its infinite variety and perplexing puzzles that touch my eyes, my ears, my nose, my mouth and my fingers.

Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, and let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark,” Shakespeare

The Azores, mid-Atlantic Ocean

I am especially keen on color and shape; and so, like so many tourists in our immediate universe, I whip out my camera (or iPhone or tablet) and try to save what otherwise is a very fleeting phenomenon in a moment of time that cannot be stayed otherwise. I am one of us, relying on the tools that foist on us an undifferentiated mass of information — both the false and the fact.

“Colour has taken hold of me; no longer do I have to chase after it. I know that it has hold of me forever. That is the significance of this blessed moment.” Visit to Tunis, 1914, Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Notre Dame, Paris

Thus, I attempt to seize moments and to reconstruct them to fit a new time, the next time, and possibly the last time for me.

Ed Boshart

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