Light and Dark. One of the most powerful dichotomies in Western culture. We like to assign all sorts of stuff to one or the other category, because Light and Dark aren’t just descriptions of how many photons are bouncing around in a certain space. They’re value judgments.
For most of us, at least some of the time, Light equals Good and Dark equals Bad. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that humans don’t see very well in the dark. Plus deadly predators like lions and tigers hide in the darkness, to prey on people. Therefore, dark is bad.
We tend to think that only nasty things creep out of the darkness: ghosts, monsters, demons. Vampires.
But that’s primitive thinking. Dark is also good. Dark soil is rich, fertile soil, and the dark parts of our psyches are rich ground for artists. It’s the place where our ideas originate, the undiscovered and hidden parts of ourselves. The mysterious parts.
Light…this post was supposed to be about light. We humans are adapted to see well in light conditions, so we like the light. Plus, it makes plants grow. We can read each other’s facial expressions when we have light. There are really practical reasons to love the light.
We tend to think that only lovely things come to us in the light: angels, good fairies, beings of divine compassion and mercy.
But light can injure. Light can become a blade–a laser, for example. Light focused through a lens can burn. We’re not adapted to constant light–we need the cycle of light and darkness. If a human is exposed to constant daytime light levels, he/she has trouble sleeping and can eventually have worse symptoms. Messing with people’s day/night cycles is a way of disorienting a captive in order to make him/her more vulnerable to interrogation.
Both ends of the spectrum are necessary to us. It’s not so much a static balance as it is a dynamic dance between the two. Together, dark and light, they support life.
One of my favorite colors is black. To me, it signifies mystery, wisdom, and power. But I like white, too.