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Cosmic Whiteness

The motif of metaphysical whiteness provides some practice with flash reason, conductive inference charting patterns emerging in the repeating signifiers of the popcycle. Such repetitions cause figurative and even archetypal connotation to emerge from ordinary scenes. To emphasize this design principle we include for the curricular archive a few touchstones of cosmic white in American letters.

For Once, Then, Something
Robert Frost

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs 
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths—and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something

–Melville, Moby Dick: the whiteness of the whale.

What the white whale was to Ahab, has been hinted; what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid. Aside from those more obvious considerations touching Moby Dick, which could not but occasionally awaken in any man’s soul some alarm, there was another thought, or rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which at times by its intensity completely overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable was it, that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form. It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me. But how can I hope to explain myself here; and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself I must, else all these chapters might be naught. […]

  But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous–why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian’s Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind.

Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour; and at the same time the concrete of all colours; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows–a colourless, all-colour of atheism from which we shrink? And when we consider that other theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly hues–every stately or lovely emblazoning–the sweet tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within; and when we proceed further, and consider that the mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues, the great principle of light, for ever remains white or colourless in itself, and if operating without medium upon matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with its own blank tinge–pondering all this, the palsied universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in Lapland, who refuse to wear coloured and colouring glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps all the prospect around him. And of all these things the Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?


Image: Robert Rauschenberg, White Painting

2018-07-23T20:56:20+00:00 July 23rd, 2018|Categories: Disaster, EPS, Tutorials|Tags: , , |


  5) Design Relay: Coco Chanel. Design is electrate écriture (konsult is designed). Design in general and in its various specialized applications is a resource for composing wide image since there is a legible continuity relating the memory event with the gesture defining the designer’s style. Coco Chanel is a case in point. In her account of the life and career of the designer Coco Chanel, (Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life), Justine Picardie explains the origins of Chanel’s Logo as alluding to the arabesque patterns of the stained glass windows in the convent that took care of destitute children, the Cistercian abbey at Aubazine, where Chanel lived from the time she was 12 years old, until age 18. This match between a detail from a childhood memory and the adult career is a signal that an image of wide scope is at work. It is worth noting in this context the archetype that is latent within and no doubt deliberately invoked by Chanel’s design: the sacred geometric figure known as   the Vesica Piscis 

Chanel created the Little Black Dress (so accepted in popular culture that it is known by its acronym LBD). Perhaps the most famous LBD was worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but it has been present in numerous other films. The correspondence between the nun habits of memory and the secular fashion of the liberated woman creates a hybrid in popular erotic fantasy.

2018-07-17T14:15:35+00:00 July 17th, 2018|Categories: Design, Memory, Mystory, Wide Image|Tags: |