Nov 18 2009
Maggie Nelson: On Color
"To attend to colour," writes David Batchelor, "is, in part, to attend to the limits of language." Perhaps this is why so much writing on color is sadly unsatisfying: The temptation to make wistful, even lugubrious pronouncements on color's ineffability proves great; barring that, many writers, from William Gass (On Being Blue) to Alexander Theroux (The Primary Colors, The Secondary Colors), revert to exalted forms of cataloging. What is there to say in the face of color, a visual phenomenon that so often seems to elude linguistic expression? A lot, it turns out, in the right hands—especially when approached by slant, ambush, or asymptote. The following six books make such an approach.
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