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LIFE IS A KALEIDOSCOPE

 

Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.—Pablo Picasso

It so happens that colour (or color, depending on where you come from) isn’t something we think about much. Like air, it’s something that merely seeps through us, without leaving any discernable trace or apparent feeling. Yet colour is so crucial to our world that we can’t think outside it—have you ever tried to imagine a colour that doesn’t exist? Or can someone who has never been able to distinguish colour envisage what it would be like?

There are tell-tale signs around us constantly that give away our continuing fascination with colour. I was thinking today of the songs I can remember singing at school when I was a small child. I can sing a rainbow, Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat, Lavender’s blue dilly dilly. A while ago I took my smallest nephew into town. He took great delight in pointing at the buses and shouting in a commanding tone, “RED! RED!” Then I would fulfil my part like a good aunty and say, “Yes, Zach, the bus is red,” as if he had just discovered the Theory of Relativity. Whenever we look at paintings or photography, we observe how different people have interpreted colour and its workings; over all the years of artistic endeavour, we humans have never been able to quite get away from this fascination with colour, whether we are taggers, cavemen, or Michelangelo. Colour adds something extraordinary to life.

In fact, why not take this in a metaphorical direction? Very well. Life is a kaleidoscope. We peer, squinting, down a long cylinder, constantly turning it in our hands, as if trying to find the perfect pattern. We watch as the chaos of colours settles, momentarily, and moves on again, never still, always changing. Part of us wants to hold the kaleidoscope still and gaze at the pattern and never lose it; another part of us cannot resist turning it just one more time (or so we tell ourselves) so we can find out what fascinating combination of colour and light is up next for us. Sometimes the cylinder is bumped by some external source and suddenly we have no control. We are humans. We are all so different but this connects us.

Reading is like the perfect kaleidoscope. It’s slightly voyeuristic, it’s sometimes unsettling, it’s a confusing mass of colours—ideas, actions, problems, contradictions—but good writing gives us a sense of staring down someone else’s kaleidoscope as if it were our own. It shows us patterns we have never seen before, yet connects us with them; it searches out and unearths the humanity in all of us. With the theme of “Kaleidoscope” this issue, we are pleased therefore to present a new selection of colour-themed or related writing for your kaleidoscopic viewing.

Our next issue of Halfway Down the Stairs will be released in March 2007, with the theme “Earth, Air, Fire, Water”. Any submissions you feel may fit the theme will be most welcome for consideration. Click here for submission guidelines. Any feedback, through the same email address, will also be much appreciated.

As always, we are indebted to our guest writers. And, of course, we thank you, our readers, and hope you enjoy our Kaleidoscope!

— Alison Stedman, Senior Fiction Editor

 


© 2006, Alison Stedman

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