In a Color


Red is a color. But why is red called red? What makes red, or anything, what it is?


Red is red because it has specific properties. The color we see is the result of a wavelength of light. We interpret that wavelength in a particular way, and we call that interpretation red. But how do we know that red is a particular wavelength, and therefore a particular color? How do we know that red is red specifically, and that red is not blue, or that red is not green? Blue and green also have particular wavelengths, and we also have particular interpretations of those wavelengths. We call those wavelengths blue and green because we are able to distinguish them from one another. Then we see purple and yellow and a host of other wavelengths. Finally we say all these things are similar, but distinguishable from one another. And in an effort to organize our interpretations we call them colors. And now any fluctuation in those interpretations of wavelengths belong to that group. It is understood that red is not yellow, and that blue is not green and so on.


But although a wavelength is individually identifiable, it cannot be understood wholly without being placed in context with all the other wavelengths we are able to perceive. If we only saw red, we could identify that the wavelength was there, but we could not know that red was a color. Because for red to be a color it must be understood as part of a group, there must be some other wavelength that is not perceived as red for a more complete understanding of what red is to be possible.


If I say that I am existing, I am saying that I am red. I am looking around at other things that are red also. When I see a tree, the sun, when I take a breath, when I imagine what distant galaxies might be like – I am never identifying anything that is not existing. I am never experiencing anything that is not red. So if being is red, and everything that I understand is being, then everything is red to me. I can identify that a thing has individual properties. I can say that this thing is one thing and this other thing is another thing, but I cannot say that something is nothing. I cannot say that some thing is not a thing. Since I am only able to recognize things as being, I will never understand being fully. Just as if I could only recognize red as being the only visible wavelength I would not be able to understand that red is a color.


To fully understand what it means to exist I must also understand what it is to not exist. Otherwise, saying that a thing “is” to imply its state of “being” is not only redundant, but also borders on meaninglessness. If a thing is not “being” what else would it “be”?