or is it?
Space nuts and science nerds are abuzz with the news that the Milky Way is most likely white, and not just any white but the color of fresh spring snow in the early morning. That’s not at all the same as the snow outside my door this morning. While much of the rest of the country is digging out, my area had a dusting followed by a freezeover. The result is a crusty, icy white slide zone. Surrounded by hills, ice is my enemy, even interspersed with flecks of grass and other reminders that it was 60 degrees out just days ago. I nearly slid down a hill on my walk home from church today.
And that made me think about all the cliches around the word and color white. Does it symbolize the fullness of true purity or complete spectral emptiness? Are we aware of the many variations and shades and values of white, or do our brains just register the color and move on? Does white help us see better, or blind us to other shades and values?
Famed architect Richard Meier loves white so much he uses a trademark brilliant ‘Meier’ white in many of his buildings, often to great success and acclaim. “There is plenty of color, and the white allows us to appreciate that color. It intensifies our perception of color, and the way that color changes throughout the day the way nature changes,” he told writer Mark Sommer.
Yet the homeowners of Brentwood, California felt strongly that his design of the Getty Center should not include that blinding shade and got a conditional use permit to prevent it. Ultimately, Meier used travertine and an off-white aluminum for most of the project, though a tour guide showed me where he slipped in his favorite bright white on a small pergola hidden from the sight of neighbors.
Apparently Meier is stubborn, and so are various perceptions about the color white. It is not all one sameness. Just look at this picture of what used to be my lawn…
As beautiful as a winter wonderland can be, it turns to slush soon enough. Stark white walls get scraped, clothing gets stained, napkins get blotted. It seems impossible to remain all white, pure and empty indefinitely. Yet perhaps white reflects back to us what we most want to see.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’ve been writing a lot of cards, status updates, and emails. Does that count? Ok, maybe not. I’m also reading a lot, as ever, and here’s my latest weekend whirl for you:
Making it in America by Adam Davidson
I stumbled across this article via my weekly email from longform.org… and just had to read it after I saw the opening image, snapped by Dean Kaufman. Apparently Rosie the Riveter lives on in the twenty-first century, but unfortunately there’s a complicated economic, political and social calculus around her endangered existence. An interesting article set partly in South Carolina, which is getting a lot of attention tonight because of the presidential primary. Will we forget the Palmetto State again tomorrow?
At Melody Record Shop, sadness and a tinge of guilt as an era ends by Jessica Goldstein
Years ago, my second job was in a retail chain record store. I learned a lot about music just working there, but still probably nothing compared to Jack and Suzy Menase, who have literally done nothing else with their whole lives. I’d say they’ve done a whole lot of good by creating a home for music lovers. And their store closure is another sign of changing times…
Joe Paterno’s first interview since the Penn State-Sandusky scandal by Sally Jenkins
Things are improving in some areas, and recognizing the problem of sexual molestation is one. We’ve come a long way in the past few years, but not yet far enough. I believe that we are all mandated reporters. That said, I don’t think we can know what really happened or judge others faced with the horrorific fact of a sexual predator in their midst. Joe Paterno is gravely ill and will pass beyond the cares of this tired earth long before the town of State College recovers from its terrible awakening. His mark on Penn State will never be erased, though there will always be an asterisk next to his name — *fired midseason for failure to inform legal authorities and fully protect children. Caught between the decade of his birth when such things could not be discussed, and today’s glaring hot demands for transparency, accountability and justice, there is no doubt that he stumbled. But can we grant him some dignity and forgiveness?