Tao Chi’s Single Stroke

April 18th, 2010

A painting by Tao Chi collected in The Wilderness Colors of Tao-chi (1973).

Mountain-Blocked Clouds, ca. 1700 (plate 10). Click for larger version. The inscription is a couplet by Du Fu followed by a commentary by Tao Chi: “It is good not to have any houses here, / Yet to have mountains blocking the clouds. / These words are unusual, and this painting is also raw! There is a feeling beyond feeling, and yet no hint of an ordinary painting.”

“The unifying principle Tao-chi advanced for the understanding of painting as well as cosmic creation was called i-hua, which means both ‘the single stroke’ and ‘the painting of oneness.’ I-hua was at once the symbol and realization of primordial growth—the process of nature in both the general and specific senses. I-hua also constituted the very practical operating procedure in painting: the completed design depended on the direction and configuration of the first single stroke from which everything else grew. The accidental effects that Tai-chi sought in his work were directly related to this concept of ‘single stroke’ painting, or painting of ‘myriad strokes that are ultimately reunited in oneness'” (Fu’s & Fong’s introduction).

Said Tao Chi: “When the brush is united with the ink, yin-yün (cosmic atmosphere) is created. When yin-yün is undivided, it is like chaos. In order to open up chaos, what else should I use except the ‘single stroke’? Even if my brush is unlike the usual brush, my ink unlike the usual ink, and my painting unlike the usual painting, there is always my own identity in it. It is I who use the ink, the ink does not use me; I who wield the brush, the brush does not wield me; I who grow out of the womb, the womb does not discard me. From one, ten thousand thing come, yet from ten thousand things I must come back to one. By transforming the ‘single stroke’ into yin-yün, all things under heaven may be accomplished” (Hua-yü-lu, chapter 7).

Miotte’s Gestures

April 4th, 2010

Three paintings by Jean Miotte collected in Ruhrberg’s Miotte.

Brumes, 1992 (p229). Click for larger version.

“Miotte means his gestural structures to exist between states of solidity and liquidity, between the physical and the evanescent, the tangible and the elusive. His investigations arise out of his preoccupation with that gap in perception that occurs between memory, which seemingly solidifies everything, and seeing, where the world can in certain circumstances remain liquid, always be in a state of continuous change and transformation” (p17, Yau’s introduction).

“From this [Miotte] concluded that artistic work, the ‘making,’ as he unpretentiously refers to it, takes place between the ‘will to an action and the content of the gesture that articulates it'” (p27, Ruhrberg’s forward).

Au delà, 1956 (p67). Click for larger verison.

“It becomes clear that… space—although diversely treated—is a dominant theme. The unfamiliar, the previously unknown, the individual cosmos of the sensibilities beyond rationality, are given visible shape by the liberated gesture, by form. The profound and immediate experience of the distilled emotions within the painting allows pure energy to become concrete and produces an echo in space of the magical powers of the universe. Titles such as Au delà [above]… clearly point to this” (p27-28, Ruhrberg’s forward).

Carré d’or, 1954 (p63). Click for larger version.

Says Miotte, “I see my work as a projection, resulting from intensely experienced moments, the consequence of confrontation with experience, and from internal conflicts. Painting is not a rational theorizing or intellectual observation, painting is an action, a sequence of movement carried within one’s self and whose origin is internal” (p33).

Ardizzone’s Places

February 28th, 2010

A drawing by Edward Ardizzone (see previous posts) from Percy Young‘s 1957 Ding Dong Bell, a collection of nursery rhymes divided into eight taxa: Animals, Birds and Insects, Flowers and Trees, People, Places, Things, Nonsense, and Evening.

Places chapter heading, illustrating the rhyme Coming to Town (p81).

And Over the Hills, a Places rhyme (p88):

Tom he was a piper’s son.
He learnt to play when he was young.
But all the tune that he could play
Was ‘Over the hills and far away’.
Over the hills and a great way off,
The wind shall blow my top-knot off.

Kandinsky on the Effect of Color

February 21st, 2010

Two diagrams by Kandinsky from his 1914 Concerning the Spiritual in Art.

“The inner need is the basic alike of small and great problems in painting. We are seeking today for the road which is to lead us away from the outer to the inner basis. The spirit, like the body, can be strengthened and developed by frequent exercise. Just as the body, if neglected, grows weaker and finally impotent, so the spirit perishes if untended. And for this reason it is necessary for the artist to know the starting point for the exercise of his spirit.

“The starting point is the study of colour and its effect on men.

“There is no need to engage in the finer shades of complicated colour, but rather at first to consider only the direct use of simple colours.

“To begin with, let us test the working on ourselves of individual colours, and so make a simple chart [figures I and II, below], which will facilitate the consideration of the whole question.

Figure I, p36f. Click for larger version.

“Two great divisions of colour occur to the mind at the outset: into warm and cold, and into light and dark. To each colour there are therefore four shades of appeal—warm and light or warm and dark, or cold and light or cold and dark.

“Generally speaking, warmth or cold in a colour means an approach respectively to yellow or to blue. This distinction is, so to speak, on one basis, the colour having a constant fundamental appeal, but assuming either a more material or more non-material quality. The movement is a horizontal one, the warm colours approaching the spectator, the cold ones retreating from him.

“The colours, which cause in another colour this horizontal movement, while they are themselves affected by it, have another movement of their own, which acts with a violent separative force. That is, therefore, the first antithesis in the inner appeal, and the inclination of colour to yellow or to blue, is of tremendous importance.

“The second antithesis is between white and black; i.e., the inclination to light or dark caused by the pair of colours just mentioned. These colours have once more their peculiar movement to and from the spectator, but in a more rigid form.

“Yellow and blue have another movement which affects the first antithesis—an ex- and concentric movement. If two circles are drawn and painted respectively with yellow and blue, brief concentration will reveal in the yellow a spreading movement out from the centre, and a noticeable approach to the spectator. The blue, on the other hand, moves in upon itself, like a snail retreating into its shell, and draws away from the spectator.

“In the case of light and dark colours the movement is emphasized. That of the yellow increases with an admixture of white, i.e., as it becomes lighter. That of the blue increases with an admixture of black, i.e., as it becomes darker. This mean that there can never be a dark-coloured yellow. The relationship between white and yellow is as close as between black and blue, for blue can be so dark as to border on black. Besides this physical relationship, is also a spiritual one (between yellow and white on one side, between blue and black on the other) which marks a strong separation between the two pairs.

“An attempt to make yellow colder produces a green tint and checks both the horizontal and excentric movement. The colour becomes sickly and unreal. The blue by its contrary movement acts as a brake on the yellow, and is hindered in its own movement, till the two together become stationary, and the result is green. Similarly a mixture of black and white produces gray, which is motionless and spiritually very similar to green.

“But while green, yellow, and blue are potentially active, though temporarily paralysed, in gray there is no possibility of movement, because gray consists of two colours that have no active force, for they stand the one in motionless discord, the other in a motionless negation, even of discord, like an endless wall or a bottomless pit.

“Because the component colours of green are active and have a movement of their own, it is possible, on the basis of this movement, to reckon their spiritual appeal.

“The first movement of yellow, that of approach to the spectator (which can be increased by an intensification of the yellow), and also the second movement, that of over-spreading the boundaries, have a material parallel in the human energy which assails every obstacle blindly, and bursts forth aimlessly in every direction.

“Yellow, if steadily gazed at in any geometrical form, has a disturbing influence, and reveals in the colour an insistent, aggressive character. The intensification of the yellow increases the painful shrillness of its note.

“Yellow is the typically earthly colour. It can never have profound meaning. An intermixture of blue makes it a sickly colour. It may be paralleled in human nature, with madness, not with melancholy or hypochondriacal mania, but rather with violent raving lunacy.

“The power of profound meaning is found in blue, and first in its physical movements (1) of retreat from the spectator, (2) of turning in upon its own centre. The inclination of blue to depth is so strong that its inner appeal is stronger when its shade is deeper.

“Blue is the typical heavenly colour. The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest. When it sinks almost to black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human. When it rises towards white, a movement little suited to it, its appeal to men grows weaker and more distant…

“A well-balanced mixture of blue and yellow produces green. The horizontal movement ceases; likewise that from and towards the centre. The effect on the soul through the eye is therefore motionless. This is a fact recognized not only by opticians but by the world. Green is the most restful colour that exists. On exhausted men this restfulness has a beneficial effect, but after a time it becomes wearisome. Pictures painted in shades of green are passive and tend to be wearisome; this contrasts with the active warmth of yellow or the active coolness of blue. In the hierarchy of colours green is the ‘bourgeoisie’-self-satisfied, immovable, narrow. It is the colour of summer, the period when nature is resting from the storms of winter and the productive energy of spring.

“Any preponderance in green of yellow or blue introduces a corresponding activity and changes the inner appeal. The green keeps its characteristic equanimity and restfulness, the former increasing with the inclination to lightness, the latter with the inclination to depth…

“Black and white have already been discussed in general terms. More particularly speaking, white, although often considered as no colour (a theory largely due to the Impressionists, who saw no white in nature), is a symbol of a world from which all colour as a definite attribute has disappeared. This world is too far above us for its harmony to touch our souls. A great silence, like an impenetrable wall, shrouds its life from our understanding. White, therefore, has this harmony of silence, which works upon us negatively… It is not a dead silence, but one pregnant with possibilities. White has the appeal of the nothingness that is before birth, of the world in the ice age.

“A totally dead silence, on the other hand, a silence with no possibilities, has the inner harmony of black… Black is something burnt out, like the ashes of a funeral pyre, something motionless like a corpse. The silence of black is the silence of death. Outwardly black is the colour with least harmony of all, a kind of neutral background against which the minutest shades of other colours stand clearly forward. It differs from white in this also, for with white nearly every colour is in discord, or even mute altogether.

“Not without reason is white taken as symbolizing joy and spotless purity, and black grief and death. A blend of black and white produces gray which, as has been said, is silent and motionless, being composed of two inactive colours, its restfulness having none of the potential activity of green. A similar gray is produced by a mixture of green and red, a spiritual blend of passivity and glowing warmth.

Figure II, p36f. Click for larger version.

“The unbounded warmth of red has not the irresponsible appeal of yellow, but rings inwardly with a determined and powerful intensity It glows in itself, maturely, and does not distribute its vigour aimlessly.

“The varied powers of red are very striking. By a skillful use of it in its different shades, its fundamental tone may be made warm or cold.

“Light warm red has a certain similarity to medium yellow, alike in texture and appeal, and gives a feeling of strength, vigour, determination, triumph…

“Vermilion is a red with a feeling of sharpness, like glowing steel which can be cooled by water. Vermilion is quenched by blue, for it can support no mixture with a cold colour. More accurately speaking, such a mixture produces what is called a dirty colour, scorned by painters of today. But “dirt” as a material object has its own inner appeal, and therefore to avoid it in painting, is as unjust and narrow as was the cry of yesterday for pure colour. At the call of the inner need that which is outwardly foul may be inwardly pure, and vice versa.

“The two shades of red just discussed are similar to yellow, except that they reach out less to the spectator. The glow of red is within itself. For this reason it is a colour more beloved than yellow, being frequently used in primitive and traditional decoration, and also in peasant costumes, because in the open air the harmony of red and green is very beautiful. Taken by itself this red is material, and, like yellow, has no very deep appeal. Only when combined with something nobler does it acquire this deep appeal. It is dangerous to seek to deepen red by an admixture of black, for black quenches the glow, or at least reduces it considerably.

“But there remains brown, unemotional, disinclined for movement. An intermixture of red is outwardly barely audible, but there rings out a powerful inner harmony. Skillful blending can produce an inner appeal of extraordinary, indescribable beauty. The vermilion now rings like a great trumpet, or thunders like a drum.

“Cool red (madder) like any other fundamentally cold colour, can be deepened—especially by an intermixture of azure. The character of the colour changes; the inward glow increases, the active element gradually disappears. But this active element is never so wholly absent as in deep green. There always remains a hint of renewed vigour, somewhere out of sight, waiting for a certain moment to burst forth afresh. In this lies the great difference between a deepened red and a deepened blue, because in red there is always a trace of the material… A cold, light red contains a very distinct bodily or material element, but it is always pure, like the fresh beauty of the face of a young girl…

“Warm red, intensified by a suitable yellow, is orange. This blend brings red almost to the point of spreading out towards the spectator. But the element of red is always sufficiently strong to keep the colour from flippancy. Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers…

“Just as orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow, so violet is red withdrawn from humanity by blue. But the red in violet must be cold, for the spiritual need does not allow of a mixture of warm red with cold blue.

“Violet is therefore both in the physical and spiritual sense a cooled red. It is consequently rather sad and ailing. It is worn by old women, and in China as a sign of mourning…

“The two last mentioned colours (orange and violet) are the fourth and last pair of antitheses of the primitive colours. They stand to each other in the same relation as the third antitheses—green and red—i.e., as complementary colours” (p35-41).

Nature Seems to Help You Out

February 14th, 2010

A 1931 Gasoline Alley comic by Frank King.

Appearing in the Boston Herald, Sunday, May 10, 1931. Cells originally composed in a three-by-three grid.

A sculpture cataloged in Rowland’s The Evolution of the Buddha Image.

Head of Buddha from Daianji Temple, Japan, Tempyo period, 8th century, p110. “Even in its ruinous condition this head possesses the classic serenity of expression and feeling for sculptured mass that characterized the great masterpieces of Tempyo sculptures” (p142).

“Many Japanese Buddha images… are informed with a feeling of expansive volume described by the Japanese term ryo, which approximates the suggestion of the presence of an inner breath or pneumatic force…” (p31).

Duncan’s Semele

September 27th, 2009

A painting by John Duncan collected in Kemplay’s The Paintings of John Duncan.

Semele, ca. 1921 (p78).

Ovid narrates the myth of Semele in his Metamorphoses (book 3), in which Hera (Iuno) avenges Semele’s conception of Dionysus (Bacchus) by Zeus (Ioue). The 1632 translation below is by George Sandys.

Now new occasions fresh displeasure moue:
For Semele was great with child by Ioue.
Then, thus shee [Iuno] scolds: O, what amends succeeds
Our lost complaints! I now will fall to deeds.
If we be more then titularly great;
If we a Scepter sway; if heauen our seat;
If Ioue‘s fear’d Wife and Sister (certainly,
His Sister) torment shall the Whore destroy.
Yet, with that theft perhaps she was content,
And quickly might the injurie repent:
But, shee conceiues, to aggrauate the blame,
And by her Belly doth her crime proclaime.
Who would by Iupiter a Mother proue,
Which, hardly once, hath hapned to our loue:
So confident is beautie! Yet shall she
Faile in that hope: nor let me Iuno be,
Vnlesse, by her owne Ioue destroy’d, shee make
A swift descent vnto the Stygian Lake.
Shee quits her throne, and in a yellow clowd
Approach’t the Palace; nor dismist that shrowd,
Till shee had wrinkled her smooth skin, and made
Her head all gray: while creeping feete conuay’d
Her crooked lims; her voice small, weake, and hoarce,
Like Beroe of Epidaure, her Nurse.
Long talking; at the mention of Ioues name,
She sigh’t, and said; Pray heauen, he proue the same!
Yet much I feare: for many oft beguile
With that pretext, and chastest beds defile.
Though Ioue; that’s not enough. Giue he a signe
Of his affection, if he be diuine:
Such, and so mighty, as when pleasure warmes
His melting bosome, in high Iuno’s armes;
With thee, such and so mighty, let him lie,
Deckt with the ensignes of his deitie.
Thus shee aduiz’d the vnsuspecting Dame;
Who beggs of Ioue a boone without a name.
To whom the God: Choose, and thy choyce possesse;
Yet, that thy diffidencie may be lesse,
Witnesse that Powre, who through obscure aboads
Spreads his dull streames: the feare, and God of Gods.
Pleas’d with her harme, of too much powre to moue!
That now must perish by obsequious loue:
Such be to me, she said, as when the Inuites
Of Iuno summon you to Venus Rites.
Her mouth he sought to stop: but, now that breath
Was mixt with ayre which sentenced her death.
Then fetch’t a sigh; as if his breast would teare
(For, she might not vnwish, nor he vnsweare)
And sadly mounts the skie; who with him tooke:
The Clouds, that imitate his mournefull looke;
Thick showrs and tempests adding to the same,
Low’d thunder and ineuitable flame.
Whose rigor yet he striueth to subdew:
Not armed with that fire which ouerthrew
The hundred-handed Giant; ’twas too wilde:
There is another lightning, far more milde,
By Cyclops forged with lesse flame and ire:
Which, deathlesse Gods doe call the Second fire.
This, to her Father’s house, he with him tooke
But (ah!) a mortall body could not Brooke
Aethereall tumults. Her successe she mournes;
And in those so desir’d imbracements burnes.
Th’ vnperfect Babe, which in her wombe did lie,
Was ta’ne by Ioue, and sew’d into his thigh,
His Mother’s time accomplishing: Whom first,
By stealth, his carefull Aunt, kinde Ino, nurst
Then, giuen to the Nyseides, and bred
In secret Caues, with milke and hony fed.
While this on earth befell by Fates decree
(The twice-borne Bacchus now from danger free)…

Ostwald on the Threshold

September 21st, 2009

Three illustrations by Wilhelm Ostwald from his 1916 The Color Primer (Die Farbenfibel).

Continuity. Between two different grays it is always possible to insert a third gray, which is lighter than one and darker than the other. In this manner the steps can be made even smaller, until they finally become imperceptible.

“It probably follows that the complete gray series consists of an infinite number of steps. However, if one places between two terminal points a series of gray sheets, each of which is just noticeably lighter than the previous one, it will be found that one cannot discern an infinite number of intermediate steps. Rather, a finite difference is necessary if one is to distinguish a series of grays, and if the steps become very small, differences can no longer be discerned.

The Threshold. This border between just noticeable difference in color is called the threshold” (p20-21).

“Thus, there is between 13 and 14 a just noticeable difference, while between 15 and 16 there is an unnoticeable difference. Even though 16 is a trifle weaker than 15, they both appear equally as light” (p21).

Equality. Only the presence of the threshold makes it possible for us to regard two gray colors as equal. What we cannot distinguish we call equal [my emphasis]. Even if we could recognize every difference that actually existed (in gradations) it would be impossible to create two equal grays, as we could never remove the last traces of the actually existing differences. In effect, we will regard two gray colors such as 15 and 16 as equal, even though an objective difference between them has intentionally been created.

“The presence of the threshold has certain consequences with regard to the apparent equality of colors. These consequences are different from the mathematical relationships that are usually established when no regard is paid to the threshold. For example, in general this law applies: if a = b and b = c, then a = c. And it also follows that from a = b, b = c, c = d, that a = d. Now, if gray b is indeed lighter than a, but by less than the threshold, and if the same applies between c and b, and between d and c, we would first state a = b, b = c, and c = d. But if the sum of these imperceptible differences exceeds the limits of the normal threshold, then we could by no means say that a = d, but we would experience d as lighter than a” (p21-22).

“Thus, there exists a difference between steps 17 and 18 that is smaller than the threshold. Therefore, if steps 19 and 20 are covered, 17 and 18 will appear equal. Similarly, 18 and 19 appear equal if 17 and 20 are covered, and the same applies to 19 and 20. We have observed, therefore: 17 = 18, 18 = 19, and 19 = 20 and are thus inclined to conclude also that 20 = 17. However, if we cover 18 and 19 and compare 20 and 17, step 20 is unmistakably lighter than 17.

“Incidentally, the threshold is not an invariable value, as it often has a different value with different persons. Much depends on visual ability; in some individuals the threshold may increase or shrink through exercise or through fatigue and other weakening influences. For this reason, some will not experience the difference between steps 13 and 14, while others will notice a difference between 15 and 16. The number of distinguishable steps of gray under normal conditions amounts to several hundred” (p23).

Folon’s Thought Process

September 8th, 2009

A painting by Jean-Michel Folon accompanying Giorgio Soavi’s 1975 essay, Vue Imprenable.

Thought process, 1969. Click for larger version.

Writes Soavi, on his visit to Folon’s country house outside Paris: “A view is unseizable when one can never see it all at once. One only has to weigh the words carefully: ‘vue imprenable.’ What horizons! Poetic; that is, invented. Measureless, therefore without men; exalting, therefore unreal or, at most, painted in a fantastic manner.

“I [Soavi] walked by his [Folon’s] side — we had left my suitcases in the fields — through immensely long meadows now reduced to a kind of undergrowth only an inch or two high but as hard as iron. Nothing yielded at all beneath our weight, so it was quite a job to stay on our feet, and the colour of things around us was not as beautiful as it might have been. Far away in the distance, perhaps, everything was a bit better: there was a faint blue mist, and evening was beginning to fall. The best place to walk was the dirt road, but on that a boy of about twelve, as happy as Larry, was going back and forth, practising driving a tractor.”

Continuing the derivation of the previous post, three more figures from Benson’s The Inner Nature of Color, these illustrating the coloration of the four elements (or processes).

Black figure skyphos with gods, ca. 500 B.C.E (plate III). Click for larger version.

“Although the canonical four color grouping of black, white, red, and yellow is not documented in ancient literature before the first half of the fifth century, it can easily be noticed that these same four colors, separately, together, or in mixtures giving the so-called earth colors, predominate not merely in Greece but all through early cultures. The Greeks, specifically the Attic ceramic craftsmen, had a special relationship to this ‘canon’ in that they refined their color choice, presumably out of a passionate attachment to it, to a glossy black and orange-red as an aesthetic norm. Beings and objects in the pictorial freeze [e.g., above] are shown in black, suggesting the obvious conclusion that this color represents the corporeality, the density, of earth substance. And the frieze itself, be it noted, is reserved in the black density of the pot, also fire earth-substance.

“The orange frieze used in black figure work misses maximum contrast value with the black, so why was it chosen? Perhaps a kind of instinctive insight has always led people to refer to red, or reddish hues, as the color of life… In the circumstances we are considering… the reddish hue can really only represent air (atmosphere), in which all beings and things are bathed. For example if we consider animals or men, they unremittingly draw in life force for the blood through breathing air, whereupon the blood maintains both physical and emotional existence. Red, therefore, represents the air on the macrocosmic plane and in the extended microcosmic sense it represents soul life.

“We can now take stock. The two opposite fix-points, earth-air, provide a contrast that is more spatial than dynamic, for earth and air are fundamentally contiguous, and in an undisturbed state do not act on one another but simply preside over, as it were, the spheres of below and above, respectively. (Fire and water, on the other hand, are by nature hostile to one another, eliminate themselves when, forced together, they must attack each other.) Just as in the relationship of earth and air, the colors black and red have a complementary, not an adversarial, relationship, and it cannot be accidental that as prismatic colors of the Dark spectrum, black and red are precisely contiguous. Nevertheless, the juxtaposition is decisive: black is heavy, immobile, hence can function as support; red as a chromatic color has also a certain density but, as Goethe already noted, it is the least mobile color, so that without forcing a point we could say that it hovers over black. In this way once can feel why the Archaic painters remained so long satisfied with this combination: it gave superb expression to their passionate pursuit of physical reality in a way that no other color and background, e.g., white, could have.

“During the Archaic and Protoclassical periods the Ionian philosophers consistently pondered the nature of the elements on the basis of the polarity principle. Similarly, the colors black and white were seen as polar opposites, like cold and warm, but these colors could not be connected with the actual pair of polar opposites in the elements (fire and water) in view of the factors discussed above. Indeed, apart from black-earth, we shall find that a little leeway must be allowed in assigning color to elements (even red-air). In any case, at this point fire and water are open to appointment to white and yellow. According to the criterion of density already established [in the previous post], yellow, visually the stronger of the two colors, will go to water, the denser element, leaving white for fire (warmth) as the most rarefied substance of all (just as Empedokles took for granted).

“Yellow accordingly is the expression of the principle of fluidity, the functional principle (circulatory system) of the earth planet and all its creatures. Yellow therefore can be called the active color par excellence… White, on the other hand, characterizes the element which is the least physical — which in fact can almost not be conceived of except as an invisible connective (warmth) of the other elements. And indeed on the visual plane white is passive, lacking specific expressionality. It does not in any sense importune us but kindly provides without preconditions an empty space for inner freedom. This makes it highly suitable to represent, at the macrocosmic level, the sphere of pure thought, the goal of nous; the relative loftiness of this sphere may suggest, but does not compel, a connection to the Godhead. I say not compel because the Godhead is logically prior to and beyond all color. Moreover, white can be sullied by the admixture of impure elements, as can pure reason” (p31-33).

“Having established a structured visual paradigm for the relationship of the four elements among themselves [see previous post], we can now consider the associated colors when the paradigms are repeated to show the effects of the respective dominant process… [As] Empedokles himself envisioned: ‘Those elements and forces are to be understood as equally strong and coeval, yet each of them has a different function, each has its own characteristic and in the rounds of time they take their turn being dominant” (p46).

Macrocosmic progressions (p47). Click for larger version.

Fire is the creative principle in (B), (C), (D), hence white; it materializes only in (A), hence red (physical).

Air expands in (A), (B), hence yellow and increases its efforts to do so in (D) hence really a deeper yellow; it loses this quality by taking on weight in (C), hence red (immobility).

Water is the least stable in color. In (A) it is white (diminshingly physical). In (B) water signifies (retains) liquidity even in distillation (oxygen) hence red, yet it also becomes gaseous (hydrogen) thus tending toward yellow; in (C) it achieves maximum movement (yellow) and in (D) it tends toward immobility (red).

Earth is always stable to the extent that it remains the darker part in any condition. In principle, yellow is the color of dispersal, black of concentration, red of intensity or arrested movement and white of non-physicality or minimal physicality.

In all cases the colors share the tendency of the elements to mix themselves constantly and must therefore be taken as in constant gradation from one to the other.

“It must be emphasized that the progressions in [the figure above] relate to the macrocosmos, that is, more precisely, the universal, external and objective — as it were — basis of physical/physiological processes… [Whereas] the implications of elements and colors on the specific level of the human being, whose form and functions — physical, physiological, psychological and mental/moral — constantly interact with the macrocosmos. This is shown in [the figure below]” (p46-47).

Microcosmic progressions (p48). Click for larger version.

Earth is implcit in life processes at all stages providing physicality or its shadow, hence always black.

Water is more subject to movement in (F)-(G), hence yellow but more balanced and stable in (E) and (H), hence red.

Air is more subject to movement in (E) and (H), hence yellow but more stable and dense in (F) and (G), hence red.

Fire is the invisible presupposition of all processes, hence white throughout.

“In structuring the macrocosmic pictures, I employed… the hierarchical evolutionary principle of organization: fire, air, water and earth (as solid matter, the finished product of evolution). By contrast, since the psychological and mental/moral effects of interaction can be realized only by an individual consciousness, the microscopic series is therefore organized according to the biological principle. The order is exactly reversed since the human being begins with earth (physicality) at birth and rises in the end (ideally) to mental/moral ripeness” (p49).