On Blue

The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scatted light, the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be disolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.

From A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit.

6 replies on “On Blue”

That’s a neat piece of writing, but the scientist in me has to point out that water is not colorless. Water is very slightly blue, but we only notice the blue color in large quantities.

I believe water is very slightly absorbent in certain frequencies visible light and certainly in IR; giving it a very slight colour. This is possibly for similar reasons as its absorption of certain frequencies of IR – thus making water vapour the main (over 99%) of total greenhouse gases.

Dear Mike and Adrian, the excerpt comes from a novel titled Field Guide to Getting Lost… hint hint…. the author is pointing the poetics of blue… it’s ability to permeate the invisible and seem expansive beyond measure. Brunelleschi invented 3 point perspective, the mathematical process of creating a sense of depth on a flat plane. Yet, Leonardo Da Vinci was the first painter to apply a blue haze of paint on horizon lines to create a sense of vastness without the mathematics. As when we say our heart is breaking, I don’t think my inferior vena cava is disjoining from my left ventricle….. It’s poetic writing… I highly suggest you read it and get lost… in your imagination.

Comments are closed.