Feb 8, 2012

Color Again, Wallace Stevens' "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" Again


Although I’ve discussed Wallace Stevens’ (1879-1955) “Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock” before (Feb. 11-12, 2010),

the poem makes a nice and fairly serious follow-up to my last post about the Super Bowl and the importance of color. There are some good visitor comments too. So let’s look at it again:

         The houses are haunted
         By white night-gowns.
         None are green,
         Or purple with green rings,
         Or green with yellow rings,
         Or yellow with blue rings.
         None of them are strange,
         With socks of lace
         And beaded ceintures.
         People are not going
         To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
         Only, here and there, an old sailor,
         Drunk and asleep in his boots,
         Catches tigers
         In red weather. 

All the colors in “Disillusionment” are good because they are vibrant and not white, not non-color.
Only the “white night-gowns” have negative value, as they “haunt” the houses, presumably with a deathly pallor.

The purple, green, yellow and blue rings add up to a package of dream-vitality with socks of lace, baboons, periwinkles, a drunk old sailor, and tigers. The craving for color and for strangeness culminates in the red weather of the last line. Stevens wants us to live in this cluster of vitality, not in the monotony of pale houses defined by colorless ghosts.

So, as outrageous as I might have sounded about team colors last post, there’s an element of seriousness in my rant. If you want me to respond irrationally, from my limbic system, to your nationalistic tribe, you need to make it worth my while. Lure me with blasts of color, not some dreary navy-blue sack cloth of a uniform.


Brenda's Arizona said...

Love the photos. What color captures!

So I wonder what color the socks are. It begs to be told.
And ya know, some of the throw back uniforms (why are they called that?) are pretty darn 'colorful'. The NBA throwback uniforms are down right scary!

Banjo52 said...

B, the socks. Yeah, that got right past me. Maybe he thought one more color would tip the boat? I can't even picture the old NBA unies, except for the Celtics.

Stickup Artist said...

Preaching to the choir here. Color is mood and communicates feelings and emotions, even character. Color can lift our spirits, calm our nerves, or jolt us out of our comfort zone. Color sets the tone for practically all our purchases, even packaging if the product itself does not seduce with color. If the eyes are the window to the soul, then color is the music that wafts through the window...

Ysabelle said...

You really had a nice photography! :D

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Banjo52 said...

Stickup, I've heard such things about color and psychology in the world of advertising, marketing, and so forth. I wonder how many are aware of it in general--what to look out for, what to surrender to. I certainly don't know the specifics, except for what does and doesn't get my attention.

Do you think the traditionalist view that favors black and white photography--that is, looked down its nose at color photography--is pretty much gone forever?

Ysabelle, thank you. Nice vacation shots at your blog.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Stickup Artist, love your comment. Amazing how your comment suddenly makes the poem come to life - the colors are move vibrant. I find my brain going thru my mental rolodex of colors. Suddenly I am assigning super vibrant vibrant greens and yellows to the poem. And the poem is now music.

Anonymous said...

I like revisiting the old discussions. Do you have one that's a favorite?

Banjo52 said...

B and Stickup, damn, I love it when you talk with each other (and get me off the hook?). And by the way, I didn't mean to confine my reply to the world of advertising, etc. I'm pretty sure there's (valid?) research in Psychology showing the effects of specific colors and color in general.

Everyone, if you owned a football team, what would its colors be?

AH, that's a big question. I can't say there's ONE, and I haven't gone back all that often. But I've come across quite a few that were very pleasing, as I've browsed for this or that detail on something.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Actually white is the presence of all color and ultra violet (beyond violet) is the hottest. So is the dream of a man whose time has passed "Catching tigers in red weather" a hot memory or a cold dream?

Banjo52 said...

Oh lordie, I thought it was black that was the presence of all color, but I knew I never did get that straight.

I'll go with hot dream, but who knows?

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