recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : significance   8

“Blue” for Go? Exploring Japanese Colors | Nippon.com
"Shifting Color Meanings

“Blue” traffic lights come as a shock to many students of Japanese. If one learns that midori is “green” and ao is “blue,” it is surprising to find that the clearly green traffic lights at Japanese intersections are described as aoshingō. This demonstrates that even common words may not have simple translations. Japanese traffic lights are not actually blue; they are ao, a word that usually means “blue” but can also mean “green.”

Ao, one of the oldest color words in Japanese, was once much broader in application. In several still common words, it denotes the vivid green of fresh vegetation, as in early summer. Examples include aoba (fresh foliage), aona (leafy green vegetables), aomame (green soybeans or peas), and even the prefectural name Aomori, which according to one explanation originally referred to the green juniper bushes covering a small hill in what is now the prefectural capital. The word ao has also been used historically for a broad range of colors tending toward other shades, including black, white, and gray.

The shifting meanings of the past can be fascinating, if potentially confusing. In the earliest records of the Japanese language, ao and aka (now red) were indicators of brightness. While kuro (black) denoted darkness and shiro (white) light, ao was used for darker and aka for brighter shades in between. Just as kuro and kurai (dark) share the same etymological root, aka is related to akarui (bright).

Long after much of this early linguistic uncertainty had settled down, the use of ao to mean “green” persisted into the age of traffic lights. Japan’s first electric traffic light was installed in Hibiya, Tokyo, in 1930. It was imported from the United States and featured the three standard colors. The original legislation actually designated the “go” color as midori, but the Japanese public insisted on calling it ao and the naming stuck. In 1947 aoshingō was written into Japanese law as the official name of the “go” signal.

A Colorful Tradition

English influences colors as it shapes other parts of the Japanese language. It might seem unlikely that burū (blue) and gurīn (green) could ever replace ao and midori, even though the katakana terms are now often heard. Yet orenji (orange) is arguably more used than the traditional daidai, which takes its name from a similar citrus fruit. Pinku (pink) is also firmly entrenched in the language, and more common than its loose synonym momo (peach).

The Japanese color shu (vermilion) is sometimes described simply as “red” or occasionally “orange,” the lack of precision reflecting its lesser importance in the English-speaking world. In Japan, though, as in other parts of East Asia, it is deeply rooted in the culture. It is the color of torii gates at Shintō shrines, the shuniku inkpads paired with personal seals, and the ink used by calligraphy teachers when annotating students’ work. It is also a common color for lacquerware.

Shu is one color to catch the Western visitor’s eye, but Japan has many more traditional hues. Murasaki (purple) was long the color of clothes worn by the ruling class. In the Heian period (794–1185), the pale purple of fuji (wisteria) became prominent, in part through association with the powerful Fujiwara clan. Author Sei Shōnagon repeatedly praises the flower in her classic Heian collection The Pillow Book, as when she includes “long, richly colored clusters of wisteria blossom hanging from a pine tree” in her list of “splendid things.”

The Heian aristocracy’s keen interest in color is epitomized in the jūni hitoe ensemble worn by ladies of the court. The name literally means “12 layers,” but the number was not fixed and could reach as high as 20. The colors were visible at the sleeves and hems, where progressively shorter layers overlapped, and matching them aesthetically was a fine art. There were complex rules about what colors were suitable for each layer based on the season, the occasion, and the wearer.

A contemporary equivalent to the rule-makers of the past may perhaps be the organization that runs the Shikisai Kentei, a popular test of color knowledge. By creating multiple choice questions for budding designers and artists in a range of fields, it acts as a force for standardization. This includes quizzing test-takers on exact shades for traditional colors as defined by the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee.

Standardization makes life easier, but the pleasures of language lie in its idiosyncrasies. Although it may seem odd to native-English learners that traffic lights are “blue,” accepting this encourages a new viewpoint on the world. Each new point of knowledge about a different culture represents a small step along the road to a broader perspective.

[with image]

A Palette of Traditional Japanese Colors

beni (crimson) moegi (yellowish green)
momo (peach) hanada (light blue)
shu (vermilion) ai (indigo)
daidai (orange) ruri (lapis lazuli)
yamabuki (kerria) fuji (wisteria)
uguisu (bush warbler) nezumi (mouse)

Note: This table displays shades defined by the Japanese Industrial Standards Committee. Historically the colors may have varied widely, especially when named after dyes, where the process can greatly affect the final color. They may also vary on different monitors. Not all have common English names."
srg  japanese  japan  color  blue  green  meaning  significance  symbols  words  language  names  change 
june 2017 by robertogreco
In 1950, Hans Namuth asked artist Jackson Pollock... | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"[video: "Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cgBvpjwOGo ]

In 1950, Hans Namuth asked artist Jackson Pollock to take photographs of him painting his now famous drip technique. Unsatisfied with the results as they didn’t capture the energy of the paintings, Namuth returned and filmed video footage of Pollock in action. The result is a ten-minute filmed titled Jackson Pollock 51. Watching Pollock’s focus and intensity is fascinating as he produces his seemingly random paintings. I’m reminded of John Berger’s essay on Pollock, where he writes:
What is their content, their meaning? A well-known museum curator, who I saw in the gallery, said ‘They are so meaningful.’ But this, of course, was an example of the way in which qualitative words are now foolishly and constantly stood on their heads as everybody commandeers the common vocabulary for their unique and personal usage. These pictures are meaningless. But the way in which they are so is significant.

I think Pollocks on view of his work offers a profound insight into their significance:
When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of the paint. There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end. Sometimes I lose a painting but I have no fear of changes, of destroying the image. Because a painting has a life of it’s own, I try to let it live.
johnberger  jacksonpollock  jarrettfuller  meaning  process  art  hansnumuth  1950  content  significance 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Stowe Boyd — Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can...
"Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: “Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless.” We are indeed freer than before, in the sense that we can criticise religion, take advantage of the new laissez-faire attitude to sex and support any political movement we like. We can do all these things because they no longer have any significance – freedom of this kind is prompted by indifference. Yet, on the other hand, our daily lives have become a constant battle against a bureaucracy that would make Kafka weak at the knees. There are regulations about everything, from the salt content of bread to urban poultry-keeping.

Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, “make” something of ourselves. You don’t need to look far for examples. A highly skilled individual who puts parenting before their career comes in for criticism. A person with a good job who turns down a promotion to invest more time in other things is seen as crazy – unless those other things ensure success. A young woman who wants to become a primary school teacher is told by her parents that she should start off by getting a master’s degree in economics – a primary school teacher, whatever can she be thinking of?

There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us."

—Paul Verhaeghe, Neoliberalism Has Brought Out The Worst In Us
neoliberalism  2014  paulverhaeghe  privilege  freedom  success  individualism  parenting  careers  culture  society  economics  capitalism  ethics  identity  zygmuntbauman  power  powerlessness  politics  policy  significance 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Total Eclipse of the Sun (Idle Words)
"How do you keep a featureless blue square fresh and interesting for fourteen hours?"

"I have set two alarms, arranged for a wake up call, and have been waking anyway every hour out of excitement."

"On the drive-time radio show in Port Douglas, Australia, the host promises to bring on an astrologer to talk about “what the eclipse means for your life”. But for me that's the opposite of what makes it wonderful. The eclipse doesn't even know you exist. Nature provides a brief alignment of the Moon and Sun that is completely foreordained, immutable, and will happen with Swiss precision for another billion or so years, whether or not anyone is looking. It is on us to aggregate into litttle bubbles of protoplasm, develop eyes, emerge onto land, discover fire, evolve language, ask the brainier among us where the thing will happen, and and make the appropriate travel arrangements."
storytelling  travel  life  insignificance  significance  astronomy  solareclipse  2012  maciejceglowski  maciejcegłowski 
november 2012 by robertogreco
bint battuta: "Disbelief in yourself is indispensable." Yevgeny Yevtushenko
"While you’re alive it’s shameful to worm your way into the Calendar of Saints.
Disbelief in yourself is more saintly.



It is indispensable to be sleeplessly delirious,
to fail, to leap into emptiness.
Probably, only in despair is it possible
to speak all the truth to this age.

It is indispensable, after throwing out dirty drafts,
to explode yourself and crawl before ridicule,
to reassemble your shattered hands
from fingers that rolled under the dresser.



And if from out of the dirt, you have become a prince, but without principles,
unprince yourself and consider
how much less dirt there was before,
when you were in the real, pure dirt.
Our self-esteem is such baseness…
The Creator raises to the heights
only those who, even with tiny movements,
tremble with the fear of uncertainty.



Blessed is the madcap artist,
who smashes his sculpture with relish –
hungry and cold – but free
from degrading belief in himself."
significance  self-esteem  creativity  creation  writing  self-worship  self-worth  uncertainty  principles  cv  glvo  art  humility  disbelief  poetry  yevgenyyevtushenko 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Drive - by Daniel Pink | Derek Sivers
"Your best approach is to have already established the conditions of a genuinely motivating environment. The baseline rewards must be sufficient. That is, the team’s basic compensation must be adequate and fair - particularly compared with people doing similar work for similar organizations. Your nonprofit must be a congenial place to work. And the people on your team must have autonomy, they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery, and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose. If these elements are in place, the best strategy is to provide a sense of urgency and significance - and then get out of the talent’s way.

Any extrinsic reward should be unexpected and offered only after the task is complete. Holding out a prize at the beginning of a project - and offering it as a contingency - will inevitably focus people’s attention on obtaining the reward rather than on attacking the problem."

[via: http://gaiwan.tumblr.com/post/7206114293 ]
books  drive  danielpink  motivation  extrinsicmotivation  teams  teamwork  autonomy  nonprofit  urgency  significance  talent  work  management  administration  congeniality  howwework  nonprofits 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Significant Objects | …and how they got that way
"A talented, creative writer invents a story about an object. Invested with new significance by this fiction, the object should — according to our hypothesis — acquire not merely subjective but objective value. How to test our theory? Via eBay!"
writing  narrative  storytelling  ebay  objects  design  art  significantobjects  significance  meaning  literature  projects  tcsnmy  classideas  srg 
july 2009 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read