People feel the presence of black the first time they face the night. The absence of light forsakes them. However, when their pupils are enlarged up to four times more than the original size, they begin to see shadows. And it is true what Borges wrote in his Eulogy to the Shadow: “This penumbra is slow and does not hurt.” It disturbs, and that is why it is the scenario of ghosts and melancholy. For Roger Bartra, the author of ‘Culture and Melancholy’, this feeling is not a synonym for depression, but a moment of ironic clarity. An epiphany: inspiration. Nothing like trying to clean up the crumbs of a breakup, to start writing. What would poetry be without the black cover of the night?
«All the talented men have been melancholic,» said Aristotle and it is true: from Whitman (he lives with me one day and one night and / I will show you the origin of all the poems); to Neruda (I can write the saddest lines tonight), and Vallejo (beloved, tonight you have crucified yourself, / in the curved logs of my kiss) poets have used the night to express the nostalgia of loneliness.
Distracting yourself missing during the day can cause an accident; at night, masterpieces of the imagination. Nocturnality, that behavior by which a species lives at night, is part of the creative exercise. It is no coincidence that the excess of black notes in a score means a composition to accelerate the hearts or that the charcoal is the most direct way to dump the imagination on a blank paper. But while the Impressionists prefer light to give a mood to their landscapes, some like Picasso choose black to express themselves with crudeness. As if the colors and the technique hindered.
The world in black and white
An example of this black and white vision is Le Charnie. In this painting about the Nazi holocaust, you can see between blacks and grays, stacks of bodies. There is no better way to express the fear of a massacre than the monochrome. The American photographer James Nachtwey is persistently demonstrating that he used black and white images to record the worst wars of the last thirty years. He was not interested in preserving the tone of the uniform or the skin: he wanted to show, without mitigation, life on the verge of death.
His photographs are like a nightmare, but clear. In one of them, it shows the profile portrait of a young man from the Hutu tribe of Rwanda. It looks like the survivor of a beast attack. But the beast was a human being. When he refused to participate in the genocide that happened in his country in the early nineties, he was hacked to death with a machete. His face was marked by scars up to an inch deep. In color, the same photograph seems a celebration of the perseverance of life. Black and white is a reminder about something that should not happen again.
In order not to avoid oblivion, we have labeled the day on which the Great Depression of 1929 began on Black Thursday. It could only be that color the plague that devastated Europe in the fourteenth century. And when a tragedy occurs-a crashed plane, a carnage, a multiple accident-the newspapers stain the terrible of the day with the black. The origin of the word in Castilian comes from the Latin niger, which means what does not emit brightness. And in English black, comes from the pre-German blakaz which means burned. Something that, like everything burned, smells bad.
The new black
Among the Masai tribes, black clouds are a symptom of happiness and not a metaphor for a sad day: finally will rain in the desert. When the groom wait for the bride at the altar usually dress in black, so that the bride dad take respect them. A judge wearing a colored robe could not have good judgment. The black belt is a warning that a martial artist is also a lethal weapon. If you want to be taken seriously, dress in black.
Elegance can only be the color that attracts the most light. Its impact is so massive in the world of fashion that every so often designers propose the new black. To get it brands like Agatha Ruiz de la Prada or Abercrombie, prohibit their employees to use it. De la Prada explains that “black has become so obligatory that denying it is a whole position.” So this Spanish designer replaces black with intense colors like fuchsia or lemon green, even when they invite her to give solemn speeches. She appears rocking with the style of a galaxy far, far away.
His war against the black is lost since Audrey Hepburn starred in Breakfast with Diamonds, wearing a little black dress. The feminine half of the world treasures in its wardrobe one or several Little Black Dresses. Recently, Kathy Delgado, a styling teacher at the fashion institute, Chio Lecca, explained to me the benefits of black-colored garments. She teaches her clients that although black makes you look thinner, the real potential is dictated by the cut of these. Suddenly, a right dress is enough to disguise defects: it turns you into a walking optical illusion.
Minify voluptuous hips, accentuate waists, conceals excess bust and turns the more casual man into a gentleman, with a simple tuxedo. Hence, it is the shortest solution to the problem of never having to put on. A shortcut to attracting attention correctly.
Although dressing in black all the time, makes stylists like Delgado prescribe color therapy. Having a wardrobe that looks like mourning is rather problematic. We believe that this color affects our behavior, although there is no scientific evidence to prove it. But while Eskimos have more than seventeen words to describe white, in the rest of the world there are more than fifty variations of black. The world is blacker than we think.
When we close our eyes
In addition to the bluish black of the dawn or the reddish one of the dried blood, now we coexist with the black matte of the rubber of the rims, and the frames of televisions. Our routine is full of dark objects. If before we believed that all evil was black and the pessimists could only see a black future, in our days the tolerance towards this color has become a routine.
So much that it has even overcome the taboo of black buildings, and architects have begun to oppose the rest of the skyscrapers. Although some look like modern tombs or parked alien spaceships, they become a mole between buildings that want appear transparent. One of the most interesting constructions is the black diamond of the public library of Denmark. The institution is one of the oldest in the world, founded in the 17th century and contains the first printed book in Danish. In 1999 this redesign was chosen, consisting of two inclined cubes, whose outer walls are covered by several layers of black granite. A building of absolute black is the most enormous jewel of Copenhagen.
The purpose of the building is to continue being current for at least another half-century. When geometry and black are used, the test of time is often exceeded. Something that is more than a fashion. Although we have facades of that color there are still areas intangible to blacks, such as pillows or bathrooms. Those intimate places where everything is white or cream, and where the sophistication of black is seen as a bad design idea.
One of the unspoken rules of interior design is to not allow any environment to have too much black. In the case of the bathrooms, only a handful of daring people use them for certain floors or for frames on the walls, and with certain blue tones. These designs usually appear in hotels or restaurants, under a high transit premise. But in most houses, the toilets continue to be light colored. Maybe it’s not just the force of habit. But it is our unconscious. To cleanse our excretions, we prefer light-colored toilets and, to cleanse ourselves, an even more immaculate paper. By refusing to use black in privacy, we only confirm its importance. A certainty that goes beyond the psychology of colors. A vestige of all that time we breathed without opening our eyes.