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Heroes Community > Tavern of the Rising Sun > Thread: The Colour Blue
Thread: The Colour Blue This thread is 3 pages long: 1 2 3 · NEXT»
AlHazin
AlHazin


Famous Hero
Tutto è possibile
posted January 02, 2017 12:17 AM bonus applied by OmegaDestroyer on 06 Jan 2017.

The Colour Blue

In this topic, we'll discuss the colour blue, among all the others.

Everyone loves blue. Blue is the color of the sky, and by reflection, of the sea. Our planet is blue. But, actually, what else, is?

The colour blue is pretty rare if you look at it, if not non-existent in nature.

Believe it or not, but if today blue is a colour like any other, it hasn't always been that way. Indeed, recent studies stated that prior to the modern era, the colour blue simply didn't "exist".

How is that possible, you will tell me, that a colour popped out of nowhere and suddenly appeared before the eyes of men? Yet this claim is supported mainly by the fact that the colour blue is not mentioned in the historical records. Not in the Torah, Bible, not in Qurân either. Not in any scientific text, poetry lyre, folkloric song, description of nature and mostly the sea or the sky. Almost nowhere. There's no word for such a colour.

Some exceptions are however noticeable. Ancient Egyptians were the only ones to ever produce blue dye in their era, and no one did until the modern times. Thus, for a long time, they were the only ones to have a word for "Blue": Irtyu, (pronounce : eerteeyou).

Now of course, mankind didn't get aware of all the colors we know today in a first glance. If you read what many ancient civilizations wrote, you would find fewer and fewer colours the more you go back in time. The first two colours to have "appeared" are black and white, equivalent to darkness and light. Then comes red, the colour of blood. Green, a quite omnipresent colour in nature, appeared a bit after, along with yellow, with which in many languages, there is no distinction between the two, or a kind of overlap. To say it differently, when one existed to described nature, the other didn't, cause it became useless. For Europeans, nature is mostly green, while for Arabs or mongols, nature is yellow. So the principle of yellow or green, is more the one of "color of the nature". Afterwards, the rest of the colours followed, the last one being blue. So we can say that blue is not an exception, but merely the last one to have appeared in a logic of a timed colours' distinction.

What scientists did think, is that if there is no description of the colour blue, does that mean that the colour didn't exist and hence, people simply couldn't "see" it like we do. Another more critical question is, did people in ancient ages, despite having the same physical and biological characteristics we do, see the electromagnetic waves (that are basically colours) differently from what we see.

Upon some historical researches, William GLADSTONE, a student, found that Homer in his odyssey chose very odd colours to describe things. In his writings, sea is wine dark (assuming wine is red, then the sea is red/dark red/black), while honey is green. If an ancient Elvin described the world to you, you'd find it very oddly coloured.

Another researcher, Lazarus GEIGER, pushed the investigations further. Like the Greeks, Arabs, Jews, Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Vikings, Bantus... none of these peoples used the word blue, or spoke of it, mentioned it in any of their writings to describe anything with it.

As a conclusion, we can assume that blue did not "exist", or not in the way it does today. For some cultures, blue was simply green, for others it was purple or violet, black for others.

Here's a very well known example :

A tribe living in Namibia, the Himba, has the particularity to distinguish every possible and imaginable shade of the green colour. However, they don't know the colour blue, and can hardly differentiate it from green.



This Himba man just couldn't spot the blue square, that we all easily can.

Now, don't mock on him, cause he can spot the differently-shaded green square here, what about you?



Don't bother torturing your eyes, here it is:



What makes the difference between Himbas and the rest of the world, is that we have a word for green and a word for blue, while they have no word for blue, yet have a different word for every shade of green.

This last theory puts us back in the famous philosophical dilemma trying to settle if it is speech which creates ideas, or ideas that materialize in words, hence in speech. The first says that you can't know something, if you don't have a word for it, or can't say it, while the second states that sometimes you want to express something, an idea, and can't find the correct words for that, like a writer or a poet would throw pages and pages of paper until he finds the correct words and sentences to express the ideas he wants to, and then it is ideas that appeared in men's mind the first.

Guy DEUTSHCER, made a little experiment with his own daughter. He raised her as a normal girl, but just avoiding to speak about the color blue. One day, he asked her what was the colour of the sky. and her answer was that she didn't have any. The sky was colourless for her, or kind of white. It's only upon teaching her the colour blue, that she admitted it was the colour of the sky.


As a conclusion to all that, we can say that there are different degrees of truth or reality. The colour blue, or any of the others are just an example. Generally, we assume something is real when we are aware of it (while sometimes our senses show us a reality that doesn't exist, schizophrenia... etc). But this kind of thinking might be misguiding, since we assume many things exist that are beyond our senses, and that we discovered with time, or will never be aware of.  Does that mean these things don't exist or never will? Depends on who you ask. This thinking gave birth to the controversial theory stating that the world is merely an illusion created by our senses, and that when you disconnect from them, the illusion, hence the world, disappears.
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2017 12:35 AM

I remember reading something similar, how Homer never used the word when describing the sea or the sky etc..

I wonder though, what happens if they ask the Himba to pick the "most different" square.
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Maurice
Maurice

Hero of Order
Part of the furniture
posted January 02, 2017 12:56 AM

Blue isn't a color, it's a state of being .

Anyway, I found the green square by looking at it for a few seconds.

I guess it has something to partially with nature, partially with nurture. The old Romans didn't have a concept for "zero" for instance, while we have 0.

In relation to being able to see colors, the same applies to sounds. Some people can't hear the subtle differences in tone of foreign languages, making it hard, if not impossible to distinguish between two words with similar phonetics.

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Lord_Woock
Lord_Woock


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Undefeatable Hero
Daddy Cool with a $90 smile
posted January 02, 2017 01:18 AM

AlHazin said:
In this topic, we'll discuss the colour blue, among all the others.

Everyone loves blue. Blue is the color of the sky, and by reflection, of the sea. Our planet is blue. But, actually, what else, is?

The colour blue is pretty rare if you look at it, if not non-existent in nature.

Believe it or not, but if today blue is a colour like any other, it hasn't always been that way. Indeed, recent studies stated that prior to the modern era, the colour blue simply didn't "exist".
So you'd say it appeared out of the blue?

*rimshot*
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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Elvin's Lightside
posted January 02, 2017 02:37 AM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 02:47, 02 Jan 2017.

That was an interesting read but to some extent I feel like it is over doing it. We need some sort of adjective to describe a pigment or we can't describe it, or without realizing it, use the most similar adjective that we know how to use. Green is a blending of yellow and blue, so if you don't have a readily available word for 'blue' you might classify it as an extension of green. There wouldnt be any shades in the natural world that are 100.00% of a certain pigment. It's like if you ask somebody that's never seen plastic before if it's a wood or a metal, and they might say either one or the other or neither.

It is curious though why in the hell 'blue' wouldn't get its own designation, since it is what color the sky is on a clear day, and it would contrast with the clouds.

I was able to point out the distinct color of green with a little concentration (without looking ahead) but even so, there is a greater variance between blue and two slightly different shades of green.

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2017 02:45 AM

Well, to Homer, that adjective was the wine-dark sea.
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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Elvin's Lightside
posted January 02, 2017 03:12 AM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 03:18, 02 Jan 2017.

The ocean is hardly blue though. It's more like a muddling of green and gray and indigo.

Here's my educated guess, which I think is a very good guess: adjectives (or descriptors) have little to no pragmatic value if they could only ever be used in one instance. Take the adjective 'brown'. I could use it to describe sand, or an animal hide, or dung, or bark, or many other things. 'Red' would be used less frequently, but could still apply to things like tongue, blood, berry. Red is a common color in fruits and some primates or birds, while normally seeing in shades of gray and brown like almost all animals, have a mutation specifically to see red in order to spot ripe fruit.

So if you have multiple frames of reference for a certain color, that color would eventually be assigned an adjective. But if your only reference for what we call 'blue' is the sky, then how could there be an adjective for something that has nothing else to compare it to? It would be meaningless and nobody would think twice about doing it. So naturally, as languages gradually expand in vocabulary, 'light' and 'dark' would be the first two to emerge, and then other descriptors would emerge in descending order of their usefulness in everyday speech. Blue would be the last color to appear in language if it has almost zero frames of reference.  
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2017 03:26 AM

Just a side note, don't go by the ocean. Homer was looking at the Aegean sea, not the ocean. I've seen them both, they are not identical. Just like the Red Sea and the Black Sea aren't. When you're out in the far sea, they become much more alike but in the coastal zones, they are not the same.

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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Elvin's Lightside
posted January 02, 2017 04:23 AM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 04:26, 02 Jan 2017.

I wonder if wine would have had the same color as modern wine or if it wouldn't take on a more brackish brown/red color. I dont know. Or maybe because of how the sun struck on it, it sometimes take on a wine appearance. Or maybe Homer was really craving the fruit of the vine when he was writing.

Some coastal water does have a distinct blue color, but that still means your only two references are sea water and sky. There wouldn't be any tools or cloth or food that is blue in color and a specific classification would be hardly valuable.
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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2017 04:45 AM

As someone from the Aegean, my guess is he's talking about this color, it gets darker when you're off the shore and of course wine wasn't as crystal clear as the industrial age ones we drink now either. When you think of it like that, it is indeed a winish color.


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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Elvin's Lightside
posted January 02, 2017 05:18 AM

Doesn't look very wine-like to me. Looks more water-like. But I don't have anything against some poetic license. Wine-dark sea is much more fun.
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yogi
yogi


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Famous Hero
of picnics
posted January 02, 2017 07:18 AM
Edited by yogi at 09:26, 02 Jan 2017.

@blizz: interesting proposition re: adjectives... nice correlation between evolution, language, and personal perspective.


also - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect_%28physics%29
(note that the human senses are simply instruments of perceiving different wavelengths ~ particle densities.  sense and sensation(environment) evolve simultaneously.  there is a delay between the senses and the mind.  time itself is the first vibration.)

more.. http://heroescommunity.com/viewthread.php3?TID=42892&PID=1392799#focus
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Elvin
Elvin


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Tastes like chicken
posted January 02, 2017 09:02 AM
Edited by Elvin at 09:12, 02 Jan 2017.

Good topic Al. I remember reading about this and feeling a little confused. Here's an interesting quote from cracked:

Quote:
Our eyes don't just perceive the light as it actually exists; the three types of cones in our retinas respond to different ranges of wavelengths, and it's the combination of those cones' responses that causes our brains to perceive specific colors. How our brains combine these responses isn't completely understood, although we do have a good handle on the range of colors they can see.

And knowing the limitations of what colors we can and cannot see made it all the more surprising when some of our bravest eye scientists reported back from one of their expeditions that they had found ways to trick our eyes into perceiving colors that can't possibly exist. Called "impossible colors," these are shades that should be impossible to perceive under normal lighting conditions, and include a color that exists between blue and yellow (hint: it's not green) and something that exists between green and red (Christmas maybe?). Then there's the family of so-called chimerical colors, which use the tendency our eyes have of forming negative afterimages to generate colors that cannot possibly exist. These include the impossibly bluish shade of black with the awesome name of Stygian blue.


But it doesn't stop there, people have trouble with things they don't have a reference to. Like.. directions! Apparently our language affects our perceptions more than we realize.
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alcibiades
alcibiades


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
of Gold Dragons
posted January 02, 2017 09:06 AM

AlHazin said:
The colour blue is pretty rare if you look at it, if not non-existent in nature.

This is a subject that really fascinates me as a physicist, and it's not the first time I read about these tribes that can't distinguish blue. But ... to say that blue is rare in nature is not exactly accurate. Apart from the blue sky mentioned, there's a plethora of bright blue flowers in all different shades, not to mention some birds and many fish sporting distinctively blue colours.

Also, there are many places in the world where the ocean is distinctly blue. One of the more specatular examples I've experienced of this was in a city called Nonza on Corsica. I took this picture a couple of years ago, and this was actually how it looked (I have not tweaked the colours or pumped up the saturation).

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Elvin
Elvin


Admirable
Omnipresent Hero
Tastes like chicken
posted January 02, 2017 09:14 AM

What a majestic sea.

Meanwhile I did some googling and came across those:

click

click

click

Maybe there is some truth to that. What time of the day was Homer describing?
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Being human is a roller coaster ride of emotions during rainstorms and sunshine, sprinkled with moments when you can almost reach the stars.

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alcibiades
alcibiades


Honorable
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of Gold Dragons
posted January 02, 2017 09:29 AM

Elvin said:
click

That does look rather like wine!

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Maurice
Maurice

Hero of Order
Part of the furniture
posted January 02, 2017 11:55 AM

Keep in mind that the grapes from which red wine is made, are usually called blue grapes. As such, it might be that Homer referred to the color of the grapes rather than the wine itself. It depends a bit on how they described and addressed the grapes in those times.

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artu
artu


Promising
Undefeatable Hero
My BS sensor is tingling again
posted January 02, 2017 12:28 PM
Edited by artu at 12:38, 02 Jan 2017.

blizz said:
Doesn't look very wine-like to me.

maurice said:
Keep in mind that the grapes from which red wine is made, are usually called blue grapes. As such, it might be that Homer referred to the color of the grapes rather than the wine itself. It depends a bit on how they described and addressed the grapes in those times.

Look at the yellowish green in the bottom from the Aegean sea picture I linked, look how it darkens out in the picture or in Elvin's pictures. Add to this, that the obvious distinction between red and white wine is a post-industrial one, so, wine is not like this in the past:



But like this:


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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Elvin's Lightside
posted January 02, 2017 12:28 PM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 12:45, 02 Jan 2017.

I remember from anatomy (one of my favorite classes) that the cones in the human eye, which are the devices for detecting color, are disposed towards yellow, red, and green, which I suppose would be the 3 most common shades we'd find in nature. Again, maybe blue doesn't count because it's just the sky above us, and we don't need to pick out minute variations in contrast, like we would navigating a forest.

These days synthetic blue is everywhere so we're more trained toward it. Everything in artificial landscape is intentionally engineered towards having a wide birdth of contrast for ease of use. Road signs have very bright and distinct colors, emergency vehicles and personnel, etc. We probably suck at "catching" objects with our eyes compared to hunters in the past. And then lets not even get into computers, where contrast in color is yet even more distinct.
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Blizzardboy
Blizzardboy


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Elvin's Lightside
posted January 02, 2017 01:58 PM
Edited by Blizzardboy at 14:04, 02 Jan 2017.

I wonder when France adopted the Flor de Lis in the blue background? I think they've been using it for a really long time.

Red and blue and purple are the three common colors for royalty. Red has always been associated with power or passion and is even speculated to be a mild aphrodisiac, so the association may be more than just cultural. Purple was associated with wealth because I guess you needed the ink of a mollusk for the dye and it was very pricey to get. I think that gradually phased out because in Europe at least the most common royal standards were blue or red. Most modern flags have a lot of blue and/or red in them.  Green, orange, yellow, and purple are much less common.
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