среда, 21 августа 2013 г.

The role of polychromatic phenomena in the semantic movement in the social time


The Bible and folk memory tell us about a flood, which ended in a new bright beginning signified by a rainbow. Its colors introduce people to the wonderful world of light and the action of vibratory forces, which give rise to it. Hence, the person, as an intermediary between the sky and the earth, becomes a crown of life’s creation, allows the force of the laws of nature to pass through her. A person’s life is complete only when it is filled with paints, colors, and shades. Hence, since ancient times, color has been a strong yet elusive force, determining the human behavior.

Some scientists claim that in the history of development of various peoples, there are indications they experienced partial color blindness. There are also claims that some peoples that are culturally lagging behind, experience partial color blindness even today. On the other hand, some insects have the ability to recognize colors. In 1858, young British scientist K. M. Gladstone asserted that Ancient Greek were blind to the light-blue color[1]. He based his assertion on the fact that Homer did not have a name for the light-blue color. In ancient descriptions of the rainbow, some colors are missing, while the order of some of the others is interchanged. This fact is also being used as proof of the ancient peoples’ partial color blindness. However, one must remember that Homerian poems were created in the pre-classical, pre-written era. Hence, it is risky to make conclusions about perceivable colors based on their verbal names. Even in modern poetry there are contradictory indications, which also might lead one to diagnose partial color blindness. One fact appears certain: both ancient and young peoples, similar to newly born children, are less sensitive to short wave colors, i.e., green and light-blue. This is why a lack of definitiveness in the names and recognition of these colors is so common. Natives of Bongo in Inner Africa call all long wave colors “red”, and all short wave colors “black”. Hence, the sense, which perceives colors, has developed gradually.

Multicolored ness of natural occurrences is reflected in the human consciousness, and helps a person find her place in the surrounding social environment and to adjust to its changes. However, people are creative beings. They transform nature, “humanize” it, and continually expand cultural space, using, among other means, the entire color spectrum. In products of their creative activity, people reflect the entire range of their feelings and emotions, shaping them such that they can be understood and felt by another person, become an element of the culture, and remain in human activity. Memory, as the ability to accumulate, preserve, and re-create past experience, plays an important role in this activity. Unlike history, memory researchers speak of such memory types as “partial”, “conditioned by interest”, “selective”, as well as “distorted” or “taken out of context”. Memory serves as one of the “regulators of social behavior”[2], one of the mechanisms of maintaining the stability of certain group identity. It was initially based upon myths, perception stereotypes, and “put aside, and then re-called, images of the past, which, having experienced a certain transformation, exist in the societal consciousness”.[3]

A polychromatic phenomenon (PCF) is a color symbol as an abstract reality, embodied in a concrete sign, capable of transferring the most complex logical notions, ideas, mystical occurrences and states. For example, to the Ancient Greek, a symbol is a relative material identification sign for members of a certain group. On the most elementary level, in various cultures, different colors have their definitive, strictly fixed meanings. Art historians are well aware of the standard color codes in mythological, religious, cosmological, and secular notions. However, symbolic meanings of colors are truly objective, and do not depend on the position of certain colors in the sequence of individual predilections.

Symbolic meanings of colors cannot have appeared as a result of a “social contract” since the foundation of the processes of color “comprehension” and “signification” is a deep connection, which exists between peculiarities of certain light vibrations and unconscious psychical dynamics.

Since the ancient times, color has determined human behavior. This is evidenced by numerous archeological and ethnographical data about ritual and military painting among ancient and primitive peoples, as well as mythology and folklore of the entire world. For example, not only was the primeval person subject to the influence of light vibrations, but she also tried to mimic them, appeal to them for help in contributing to her happiness or repugnance of evil. Gradually, color becomes a specific part of the human image, passing from one person (society) to another, a specific expression of the relations and a means of socialization among people, i.e., an element of socio culture as passing experience from one generation to the next.

PCF are artificially created color effects. Any material object in the society, as a product of human activity, is, in one way or another, either a mono- or a poly-chromatic phenomenon. Color outside of PCF is irrelevant. It is only a part of the bigger picture and performs a social function. Polychromatization is directly related to the ever more complex relationships between the person and the world, as well as between the person and herself.  Individual memory lets people go beyond their hereditary limits and absorb social experience embodied in the cultural heredity of the society as a whole.

PCF are catalysts of human socialization. One of the main functions of socialization is the formation of personality, which adequately reflects social situation and is capable of solving the most critical socially relevant problems and of transferring a person’s non-material cultural activity to those who live in the same society, nation, family, indeed the entire civilized space.

Today, a growth of the non-material cultural bond between the individual and the global society takes place. The significance of interests and values, which are common to all mankind, as well as to the person, continually increases. PCF is one of the ways of accustoming an individual to the social and cultural experience. A conscious use of a wide variety of the PCF is related to absorbing certain social norms and values; this is where individual memory plays a crucial role. For instance, formal (visual, acoustic, tactile) and semantic types of individual memory preserve images of episodes, events, occurrences, which a person has had a chance to observe in their polychromatic depiction and decode their semantics.

But PCF are also color images as a whole, yet incomplete, representation of a certain object or class of objects in their multicolored ness. Image, as an ideal product of psychical activity, becomes concrete in one or another form of psychical reflection: sensation, perception, etc.

It is a known fact that image memory is the memory of presenting, remembering, maintaining, and re-creating images of previously perceived objects and occurrences of reality. While an image is being kept in memory, it undergoes a number of transformations: simplification due to the omission of some details, exaggeration of some other details, transformation of shape into a more symmetrical one, etc. Depending on which analyzer takes the most significant part in the perception of the memorized material, image memory is further sub-divided into the following types: visual, aural, tactile, olfactory, and taste.

British and German scientists have studied the visual, color image memory. They conducted a number of experiments, where they asked participating volunteers to carefully look at some 48 landscape photographs, some color, and some black-and-white. The pictures were then mixed with another 48 photographs, and the participants were asked to recognize them. It turned out that the volunteers “identified” the color pictures much faster and more precisely than the black-and-white ones. Scientists also asked the participants to look at several black-and-white photographs, and then look for those same pictures, but now presented in some unnatural colors, through a thick bundle of photographs. Again, similar to the experiment with regular black-and-white photographs, the participants demonstrated poor results remembering these pictures.

Those same researchers hypothesize that “precise” shades, inherent of natural objects or living organisms assist in the imprinting of an image in the human brain. Probably, in the evolutionary process, our eyes have tuned primarily to the perception of color tones that exist in the nature. The brain registers, in the first place, those shades that are inherent of natural objects. At the same time, the person rejects those objects, whose color does not correspond to her “built-in program”.[4]

The world of nature is a natural bosom in a person’s life. Everything that surrounds her on Earth and in the observable Cosmos is actually or potentially capable of evoking aesthetic experiences, becoming the object of an aesthetic relationship. At the same time, natural objects and occurrences by themselves are neither beautiful nor ugly. Their colors initially have the capability to optically influence the person. However, physical properties of colors are not identical to their aesthetic value. Aesthetic significance of natural objects and occurrences reveals itself to the person only through the process of their cultural discovery, both material and otherwise.

Therefore, PCF is a color-semantic form of social-cultural and informational interaction created in the process of joint nature-sensitive mastering of reality. PCF, which, similar to the language, appeared elementally due to a social necessity, are today yet another key to understanding the time, events, and occurrences (be it the color range of a great masterpiece or a person’s clothes, the flag of a state or the emblem of a firm). PCF are becoming ever more important in the socio-cultural environment, which determines types of activities, through which notions about the polychromatization of the environment are being formed.

Hence, the study of PCF confirms the formulation “memory is semantic movement in time”[5]. Visual expressions, constantly contradicting full knowledge, act merely as an impulse, which puts into motion a person’s cognitive abilities; objects’ visual images are created as a result of internal thought processes, i.e., a person would not be able to realize a material multicolored world if she were not able to think it. In the course of history of human society, people have gone a long way in the development of their polychromatic thinking. Of course, accomplishments in the development of polychromatic thinking, due to social memory, have been amassed gradually, having been transferred from one generation to the next. Thus, these accomplishments, in one way or another, are becoming more secure. Otherwise, their progressive and also ever accelerating growth would not be possible.

[1] Gladstone K. M. Life of famous people. – Ekaterinburg: Publishing House “Ural University”, 2001. – Page 438.
[2] Porshneva O.S. Methodology and methods in the study of cultural memory // The century of memory, memory of the century. Experience of handling memory in the XX century. Cheliabinsk, 2004. – Pages 22-37, 23.
[3] Bobkova M. S. Event memory and historical notions in historical works of the Middle Ages and Renaissance // Images of the past and collective identity in Europe prior to the New Age. – Moscow, 2003. – Pages 52 – 64, 52.
[4] Fedorova A. Color helps memory // http://nature.web.ru/db/msg.html?mid=1185573&s=122101000 05-Nov-2002.
[5] Sokolov A. V. General theory of social communication. – Saint Peterburgh. Publishing House of V. A. Mikhailov, 2002. – Page 461.

77th Annual Pacific Sociological Association Meeting, Hollywood / Universal City, CA, USA, April 23, 2006. Playing with Sociology: Pedagogy, Postmodernism, and Popular Culture. // http://www.pacificsoc.org/2006/06/2006.html

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