Yesterday:  Rain, great torrents of it, the sky filled with clouds overwhelming the atmosphere.  How many shades of gray are there? — gunmetal, battleship, grease.  In the light spectrum, the combination of two complementary colors produces gray.  Daytime becomes indistinguishable from evening and evening from night.  Gray is the wide swath of the achromatic color scale between white and black, existing in a line, rather than on a wheel.  Gray has no opposite, and grey is its own opposite.  Rain flashes gray as it falls sideways, kamikazes exploding on your skin, in your hair, on your clothes.  Sidewalk and pavement alike seem to float away.  In the street, puddles take on secret, unplumbable depths.  Cars prowl, waiting to drench unsuspecting pedestrians.  Symbolically, gray is associated with reliability, modesty, dignity, conservatism, old age, and practicality.  The British prefer to spell it ‘grey,’  but that’s because the British themselves are reliable, dignified and conservative.  In other words, gray.

Today:  Sunshine, with a chill breeze easily warded off by a light jacket.  On the New Jersey Transit train to New York, a crowd of rowdy sports fans, walking up and down the aisle, looking for a large segment of open seats.  They wore baggy t-shirts, and as they moved, they produced a polyester shimmer:  blue, with red and white stripes.  On their backs, the last names of people who were not them.  When I emerged from Penn Station, I heard the chant:  “Let’s go, Rangers, let’s go!” in the cadence previously reserved for the Yankees.  The area around Madison Square Garden was paved with fans, all dressed in blue, with hints of red.  They call themselves “blueshirts,” after the Rangers earned the name “The Broadway Blueshirts” in the 1920s.  Ten years later in Ireland, the members of The National Guard (also known as the Blueshirts) began greeting each other with Roman straight-arm salutes and limited its membership only to the Irish who professed Christian faith.

Tomorrow:  The world will be seen through a color that brings to mind urine or jaundice, darker than yellow, not quite orange.  Lars Von Trier achieves his palette for The Element of Crime by using sodium lights, the same lights found in truck stop parking lots or supermarkets.  Occasionally, a burst of blue appears, but not of the skies or of sweet water:  the blue of broken machinery, of televised propaganda.  Filmed in ochre light, everything in the film appears sallow and craven, dreamlike and decayed.  In Color, Victoria Finlay traces ochre pigment to Australia, where, a decade ago, it was a heavily-traded commodity and even further back, 40,000 years back, to when the Aboriginals used it in their drawings.  British anthropogist Alfred Radcliffe-Brown identified a common character amongst many of the tribes spanning the continent:  the snake Kurreah, known elsewhere as Takkan, Wawi, Numereji, Yeutta, Borlung, Wanamangura, or Ngalyod — the serpent of a thousand names.  This snake, they believed, had shaped the land, given places names, and distributed water into gullies and channels.  This was the snake who moved through water and sky both, revealing itself as a rainbow — the serpent delivering color to the world.

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