Thursday, August 19, 2004

Parrot fashion

There are parrots in Raintree St. I have been seeing them for the past couple of weeks. They are not the lorrikeets that were in the tree in Buttercup St, chased out by crested pigeons. They are beautiful. I think they are rosellas, but I don't know enough about parrots to say for sure, and I cannot pick them out of my bird book (the birds they most resemble do not range as far as Brisbane). They are red and blue and yellow and then I curse my fucking colourblindness.

I call it colourblindness although I think it is a special case. (Maybe everyone thinks theirs is a special case when they have something that other people think is "wrong" about them.) I see colours -- just the same as anyone else I think. But I cannot remember their names. If I see a green or brown thing, I do not know which it is. For me it is grown. It is not that I can't distinguish the colour of the things, just that the green thing does not say to me that it is green and the brown does not say it is brown. For most of us, the world is coloured in shades of whatever it is, a dozen colours, twenty, depending how you cut it. For me, it is millions of colours and no shades.

Of course, I know the wall in front of me is purple. I know this intellectually though. I do not feel it at all. I know the rosette is yellow and blue. I know the plate on top of the software boxes is yellow too. But I look at it and I look at the rosette and ne'er the twain shall meet. They look similar but the same? I'd be lying if I said yes.

Do we learn the names for colours and then apply them to what we see, so that we slice up the world according to the words we learn? I mentioned before here that we do not and that colour is rather particular in this.

Does it hurt me any? Well, it means that I cannot describe what I see, which is a deficit in a writer (although my style does not require it -- maybe... nah, surely I didn't cut the coat of my style to fit the cloth of my senses?). It also means that I cannot paint what I see. I do paint, but what I make are paintings that make a lot of sense to me but not to anyone else. They insist that grass should not be brown or blue or yellow. I insist it can be whatever you wish it to be if it feels that way.


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