Posts Tagged ‘rainbow’

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 5 — Goethe vs. Newton and a whole lot of Heisenberg with bonus Fermi hotness

July 20, 2010


A famously uncertain doc.

Goethe’s colour theory has in many ways borne fruit in art, physiology, and aesthetics. But victory — and hence, influence on the research of the following century — has been Newton’s. (60)

(Werner Heisenberg, “Bermerkungen zur Theorie der Vielfacherzeugung von Mesonen.” Die Naturwissen-schaften Vol. 39. 1952)
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Heisenberg was deeply interested in Goethe’s Farbenlehre. He delivered a lecture in 1941 on the differences between Goethe’s and Newton’s color theories, in which he essentially argued that both were right but that what Goethe had done was outline very specifically and accurately the phenomenon of human perception of the spectrum, while Newton’s thrust was more toward definition and demonstration of the spectrum’s essence and proveable existence itself.


Fermi, Heisenberg, and Pauli. Fermi was such a tragic hottie. Do you think he killed himself? I kind of do.

The views Heisenberg espoused of Goethe’s experiments being valid insomuchas they are observably repeatable and scientifically sound have fortunately come to be the modern perception of Goethe’s color theory research — that Goethe was accurately exploring the definition of a physiological, human sense of color and drew credible conclusions about colors and the human eye.

Prior to a re-surge of interest in Goethe’s color theory that began in the 1930’s and was legitimized largely by Heisenberg’s lecture and writing, Goethe’s work had been suffering for most of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century under something of a cloud of suspicion due to his theory’s eclipse by Newton’s with popular physicists. In his book Goethe Contra Newton, British physicist and scholar Dr. Dennis Sepper beautifully describes the shadow of early, dichotomous criticism which hung over Goethe’s Farbenlehre and was part of a larger debate in science:


A characterological or typological trait of the poet prevents him from grasping the real essence of science. On the other hand, the scientist must, to some extent, be open to the demands of spirit, and science is fundamentally part of a grand ethical quest. Goethe’s apparent inability to grasp the essence of Newton’s science reveals the chief differences between those who cultivate imagination and human truth and those who pursue objective truth in nature.

(Sepper, Dennis L. “The Critical Dilemma.” Goethe Contra Newton: Polemics and the Project for a New Science of Color. Cambridge: University Press, 1988. 6.)


via.

I feel like these different thrusts of firstly poetry and science, and secondly the science of physiology and psychology, faith and beauty-based, rather than a perception of a more “hard” science are completely exemplified in the above shot.

A flock of pigeons takes off from the steps of the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Istanbul.

Here is hard, natural science, pure biology, that is also poetry — a bird in flight — and all against the backdrop of human faith as symbolized by the cathedral, which is furthermore situated in one of the oldest cities in modern existence, through which millions of human feet have passed. That is one fucking deep picture of pigeons. Am I right?

That was fun. I think I’ll suss out and post up some other famous critical responses a different day.

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 4 — Reciprocal evocation, or, Goethe’s color wheel

July 19, 2010


The colours are here arranged in a general way according to the natural order, and the arrangement will be found to be directly applicable in the present case, for the colours diametrically opposed to each other in this diagram are those which reciprocally evoke each other in the eye.


Thus, yellow demands purple; orange, blue; red, green; and vice versa: thus again all intermediate gradations reciprocally evoke each other; the simpler colour demanding the compound, and vice versa.


The cases here under consideration occur oftener than we are aware in ordinary life; indeed, an attentive observer sees these appearances everywhere.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840. pp. 20-22)

Goethe Month: Theory of Colours, Day 3 — A rainbow ain’t shit if it ain’t got red in it

July 18, 2010

Favoritest color in the world. And may I add that this journal is now going to be the first blog entry to get a Pulitzer prize due to my stunning combination of “rainbow” and “shit” in the same sentence?*


While therefore we may assert that the chromatic scale produces an agreeable impression by its ingredient hues, we may here remark that those have been mistaken who have hitherto adduced the rainbow as an example of the entire scale …


… for the chief colour, pure red, is deficient in it, and cannot be produced, since in this phenomenon, as well as in the ordinary prismatic series, the yellow-red and blue-red cannot attain to a union.

(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Zur Farbenlehre/Theory of Colours, 1810 transl. Charles Eastlake. John Murray Publishing: 1840. p. 320.)

Take that, Newtonian spectral reasoning. Goethe was all like, “I’m no physicist but guess what? Suck iiiiiit.” Just kidding. They were both kind of right and kind of wrong. And I admit Goethe was slightly wronger.



*Actually once I knew this beagle that ate a half a box of crayons and later on his shit had faint waxy rainbows in its sheen, and I’ve frequently reported this to friends in pretty much exactly that wording (often predicated on only the most tenuous of topical connections — what can I say? It’s a good story and I’m not exactly a class act). So I suppose in truth now I have twice used rainbow and shit in a sentence, it’s just that this is the first time I’ve ever written it down.

Music Moment: The Elected, “Beautiful Rainbow”

November 2, 2009


The Elected – Beautiful Rainbow

This is a very simple, nearly acoustic little number that is a perfect, short and sweet love song. I had originally planned to go a lot more in depth on the really great music of The Elected later, but I’m pretty slammed today reconstructing fragments of my catrastrophic data loss yesterday. So just the one song today, with some lyrics and pretty pictures. More to come eventually because I really like these guys!


My love, she is a rainbow
she moves from east to west
My love, she is the wind blowing
through my heart in my chest
And she’s the sun, the afternoon
I’ve seen her shining the whole day through
And you know, something just changes
when you see a rainbow

Her smile, it is the ocean
crashing on my eyes
Her arms, they are the oak trees
and she’s reaching for the sky
And she’s the lake under the moon
I’ve seen her twinkling the whole night through
And you know, something must be changing
cause I’ve seen a rainbow


And I’d burn my old house down
I’d get tattooed
I’d do whatever I had to do
And if the sky filled up with clouds of doom
and the whole world was ending soon
Well, I just couldn’t get scared
cause I’d have my rainbow
And I’d see her shining right through
Look, there goes my rainbow

Tut, tut. It looks like rain.

September 12, 2009

I am completely undeterred in my plan to bus and hoof it all weekend. Bring it on, water cycle; I got a kickass red umbrella which I have been trying to lose and grieve over for practically forever! (It’s so unlike me to actually hold on to something that I love so well that this streak of keeping track of my red umbrella is beginning to freak me out.)

This weather is just the excuse I’ve been waiting for to finally bust out my ruby slipper chux. Last night I dreamt briefly that I had a Holga (in actuality I have a diana f+) and I was futilely attempting to take pictures of a rainbow, but I kept jacking it up I was sure, and I said in the dream to my friend that the problem with Lomo was that I could not tell how the pictures came out until they were developed, but that at the same time I loved that. Now I know why I dreamt of rainbows: it’s raining today! So let’s do this!