The Colour Wheel



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QUALITY - Who are we?

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Types - Diversity - Position - Relations - Communication - Jigsaw - Connection - Devotion - Order -

Chaos

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Part                            -                      Whole
Mono                         -                      Poly
Absolute                    -                      Relative

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1. Connection and Separation


A simple colour wheel may only show a handful of colours, and may separate them, each to its own segment. In separating its colours and attributing labels (“red”, “blue”) it speaks to us about types; about how the things of this world can be separated and categorised. Each takes a position within the wheel. We can see this kind of wheel as representing order.

A more complex wheel will show all possible colours, each merging into the other. It reminds us that our categorisations and positions can be ‘seen through’, and transcended; and that, in spite of our boundaries, we are all connected. It suggests that perhaps these boundaries are not as definite as we may take them to be; that they are, at bottom, no more than temporary vessels atop an ever-changing sea.

However, it also reminds us that without boundaries there are no colours; that it is only through separating things - saying, 'this part is green, this part is red' - that we are able to see them at all. We can see this kind of wheel as representing chaos.


2. Point of View


Each colour has its opposite, and yet all are contained within the overall Truth of the wheel. No one colour holds the truth, rather each contributes toward something greater than itself.

All earthly truths are dependent upon our viewpoint, which in turn is defined by our intentions or goals. When we are in red, we may think red to be 'true' and green to be 'untrue'; yet when we move to green the truth moves with us. This points toward the idea that all things are true and at the same time untrue, and that our 'truths' are relative: what is true for you may not be true for me.

We can define relative truth as "Things as the highest reason of Man understands them."

Yet some believe that there is a Truth - with a capital 'T' - that transcends both of us, in which our differences are united. This is absolute Truth, and it is not relative, nor contigent upon our individual viewpoint.

We can define absolute Truth as "things as the mind of God knows them."

Thus, when all colours are merged together they produce the pure white of Truth. If any are left out then the picture is incomplete: all are necessary.


3. Relationship


The colours of the wheel sit in relation to one another, merging, mingling and communicating. Thus, the wheel can also be used to think about relationship; the relationship between individuals - colour to colour (opposing, complementing, neighbouring); and the relationship between part and whole.


4. From centre to outskirts


Some wheels combine the principles of separation and connection. On these wheels the centre is the area of greatest overlap, a place of merging and homogeny. As the wheel radiates the separate colours become more distinct - more saturated - the further they get from the centre. At the edge of the circle the colours are less adulterated, and more ‘unique,’ or pure. If the centre is a complex polychromatic synergy, then the outskirts are altogether more ordered and simple.

We can see the centre as the middle path; that is, the neutral point that mediates between opposites. In this sense, the centre is a position from which the entire wheel - and all its various colours - can be seen dispassionately. When we are at the centre we can move freely in any direction, and so all possibilities are open to us. It is a watery place, with nothing certain to lean upon. Here the colours are ill-defined, their boundaries confused, and they merge into one another, producing new combinations. Its indeterminacy makes it a fertile and latent place, from which novel forms can emerge.

The outskirts, on the other hand, are dry places, with solid forms that can be relied upon - red is red, and green is green; and of that much we can be certain. Things here are clearly defined, with strong borders and strict segregation. They are easily seen, grasped, and known. Enduring familiarity is valued over fleeting novelty.

The boldest examples of each colour are found at the edges, suggesting that the further we travel in one direction the more vividly we manifest the particular colour that we’ve chosen (an idea that has an analogue in Carl Jung's notion of individuation). Looked at this way, extremity is synonymous with differentiation and uniqueness.

However, the further we walk a particular path the harder it is to return to the centre. It is easier for those who are not as devoted to see things dispassionately; for those who are not as attached to be indifferent. Inasmuch as we must devote ourselves to a particular colour, then our challenge is being able, when necessary, to see through this colour; to loosen our grip and to return to a place of impartiality.

The centre is the meeting point, the place where real communication takes place. Here is where all colours merge to produce white (all views merge to produce God's view), suggesting that it is here, and only here, that Truth is to be found.



5. One/Many


In view of the larger balance, it is important that red be red, and green be green; and that neither worry too much about their lack of blue, yellow, purple, and so on. In putting forward an argument (i.e. speaking from a position) it may be tempting to try and make our argument as invulnerable as possible, by anticipating and accounting for all of the possible counter-arguments that may assail us.

But if all truths are contingent on our viewpoint, then no single position can ever be truly invulnerable. Inasmuch as assuming a position requires us to come down from the fence and move in a direction, then our position will always be lacking something. After all, one thing cannot be every thing: every point has its counter-point, every argument its detractors.

To choose a direction is to forsake all others. Thus, to the extent that you have an excess of red, you will also, to the same extent, have a shortage of green.

However, the wheel warns us against becoming lost in any one colour, insisting that there are always other ways of seeing and being. It may be tempting to think that our way of seeing the world is ‘correct’ - that our colour is the ‘right’ one. But a glance at the wheel shows us that no one colour is privileged over any other. The holism of the wheel is an antidote to fundamentalism. It encourages both the ‘mono’ and the ‘poly,’ each in good measure.

Whilst sometimes it may be necessary to devote ourselves to one thing - to take the red path and forsake the green -  it is important to remember and acknowledge those colours, those ways, that we didn't choose. Whilst red may be the one we favour, green still exists; and, importantly, still has a place, and a voice, within the wheel. It may not be as important to us, but it remains a crucial element in the overall balance. When we deny - or repress - it, we do not make it disappear: we simply reduce our field of vision, making ourselves colour-blind.

Although no one colour has a greater inherent value than any other, there are times when one may be better than another. For instance, if you are wanting to create a calm and soothing atmosphere, it may be that blue paint is a better choice than red. It is our goals that determine the value of things, rather than an inherent value within the things themselves. Thus, how we look at the wheel - the intention that we bring to it, and the stories that we tell about it - determines how we see it.


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Main posts:-
The Colour Wheel
Everything is Connected
A Higher Power
Separation
Connection 
Mono / Poly