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Beyond Pandora

Beyond simple curiosity, this is Thinking Too Much. If you're interested in philosophy and/or wild theories, you've come to the right place.

Location: Australia

Paddling somewhere between a mad scientist and an organisational artist. Indecisive, inconsistent and often incoherent.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Seeing Red

Well, it's a bit later than I promised, but then again, Violet was the only one who responded to my colour challenge anyway (thanks Vi!).

Here begins my thoughts on the attachment of meaning to colours:


Red occurs in nature most obviously as blood. Some fruits can be red, some soil has a reddish tinge, but blood is more alarming than fruit or soil, so humans would take more notice of it.

Blood is associated with pain and danger, and also with excitement - when you are excited or aggravated, your heart speeds up and blood rushes to your face.

Red is the colour of Mars, the Roman god of war. War=blood=red. The romans probably named the planet after the god of war because it was red. (Yes, Mercury is also red, but they probably thought it was fitting that the bigger planet should be the god of war)

So if the idea of red became related to the idea of blood, it explains why many objects in the man-made world that are red are associated with danger - stop lights and signs, alarms, warning lights...

What about hot water taps? Why are they usually marked as red? What is it that made people relate the idea of red with the idea of heat?

I'm not quite as certain about this one, but I have a few theories:

Perhaps it has something to do with themometers - the mercury used is red.

Or maybe it's because of sunburn. If you stay out too long in the hot sun, you go red.

Or maybe it's another blood thing. Isn't blood warm? Except what's the deal with reptiles being 'cold-blooded'?

It is fairly safe to say that Red is the colour of heat and pain and danger and anger and excitement and passion. And 'alive-ness', as Violet pointed out.

And Christmas, for some reason. Can anyone explain that?


Blogger Pickwick said...

Red for hot water? As red is a colour seen in flames, it is logical to me, as is the redness of burns and thus the associated danger.

Having recently taught with Pleasantville in which the first colour to be seen in the tv series is red, I had great fun with my Year 11s and getting them to talk about things they didn't want to...

I'm gonna get dirty here, but let's start a little more innocently:

The red rose - passionate love. Again fiery, and if you get hurt, your heart bleeds. Ha. Corny.

Red is also the colour of sex and life. What causes penises and vaginas to become swollen and red? Blood. Why has the colour red been so popular with lipstick? Because it is sexual, meant to remind men of women's vaginas. How seductive. What is crucial to new life? Red, red, blood - in the creation and the sustenance and development of. Uteral lining, placenta, the whole birthing process is indivisible from the colour red.

The film even uses a red apple as a representation in the 'Garden of Eden' scene.

Stupid, I've only just finished teaching it, and I'd like to see it again, just for myself.:-)

3:29 am  

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