Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

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Bad Apple
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Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Bad Apple » Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:00 am

Hello there, forum. I have never been one to read, much less write, fanfiction, but the last few years have changed that slightly for various reasons. One of those reasons has been my extensive stay in this community.

I was just minding my own business when, one night, this idea hit me out of the blue. This notion — my impression of Lilly in this particular scene — never quite left me, although I only read this scene once before writing this story. I never thought much of it. But now, over a year and a half later, its specter returns, sparked to life by a stray cinder of inspiration. Before it vanished forever, I decided to write this.

No in-your-face 'feels' here guys, just a blind girl's inner monologue on eyesight. (Yes I know when I'm posting this)

Honestly, I wasn't sure whether or not to release this one. Like I said, nothing really happens and the concept is half-baked. It's rather purple, but that's the voice I imagine a Lilly POV should have. Since I've seen worse posted here over the years, I figured I'd give back to the community, perfectionism be damned.

So enough of that, here it is.



Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

How countlessly they congregate
O'er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!--

As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn,--

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva's snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.

— Robert Frost, "Stars" (1915)


The eruption of fireworks echoes through my body, each resonance drumming my heart.

I raise my brow. "Ah, I take it the show has started."

I have no need to force this particular smile, as the presence of my dear friends warms me.

"Let's go watch!" Yuuko exclaimed. And then, as ever, she stumbles over her staccato words. I undoubtedly know what she will say next; I can almost feel her eyes on me.

"Oh... sorry Lilly..."

I cup my chin, almost giggle. "Please, don't miss the show on my account. From what I've heard, this isn't a bad location to watch them from."

Chair legs scrape the floorboards as my dear friends — Hanako, Yuuko, and now Hisao — congregate by the window and laud the fireworks, summoning the finale of the Yamaku Festival.

This is the part, also, whereupon I must bow out, figuratively speaking.

I close my eyes, and my world looks the same.

Being blind from birth, I've had a lifetime to come to terms with my condition. I'm not quite sure if 'coming to terms' is the correct wordage; what is there to 'come to terms' with? The loss of something I've never had?

Still, it is strange, thinking of the visible world. Cryptic, mystifying, unknowable. I have heard it, touched it, smelled it.

I'll never see it, of course, the way my friends are so merrily doing, a few meters away from where I sit idly.

To me, the idea of sensing the world from a distance is the affair of hearing and scent.

So, as I have thought before, would sight be touching the world from afar, as if by ear or by scent?

I certainly don't muse these unanswerable questions often. Philosophers, theologians, cosmologists — they all struggle to grasp the ineffability of Creation. Meanwhile, I struggle to grasp what most people, I imagine, take for granted.

Lines.

Motion.

Patterns.

Shapes.

Distances.

Light... in all its forms.

Reflections...

Shadows...

Colours.

With that in mind, I must say the most unfathomable thing of all, by far, are colours. They are unique features of visible reality, for even those with sight cannot explain colour neither to me or to themselves. They can only define colours by association, by objects and concepts. Colours, I've gathered, are so self-evident that they can only be defined around what they embrace and what they represent. They are symbols and icons that teem the whole wide world.

Some colours compliment one another. Others do the opposite. How esoteric, the art of fashion; it is all Greek to me, I'm afraid. Thankfully, Akira used to tell me that you can hardly go wrong wearing pastel.

I try recalling my limited experiences with colours, what they signify.

There is red, colour of all passions... The colour of blood. The colour of anger. The colour of love and happiness. The colour of destruction and sacrifice. Self-contradictory in terms, yet consistent in its intensity.

By all accounts, red contrasts with blue, a more calming colour. The sea, the sky. My eyes, allegedly.

Blue, colour of sea and sky, demarcated only by the horizon.

Hmm... What colour is the horizon? What does it look like? Is it a line? Perhaps I should ask Akira sometime, if only she... is nicer about it this time.

Ah... To think that looking upward one should see nothing but the heavens. Boundless, divine, eternal.

It must be what forever looks like...

Blue is also supposed to be the colour of water, whenever it is not... transparent. I'll never quite get that one. Much in the same way I do not understand why to us Japanese, blue and green — aoi — have been characterised as the same colour, but not to Westerners.

And while I touch on that subject... Green is Nature and safety, but also sickness and misfortune; hope and envy and greed. From what I've gathered, our uniforms are partially green. I do hope it was an aesthetic, not a symbolic, decision. Or perhaps, in this case, green symbolises youth?

Regardless, I think back to red and blue. They are foils, to borrow a term from literature. Yet combined, they form purple, a colour of royalty and wealth. In my mind, though, purple will always be intricately linked with Father, and the colour of the family. Because, perhaps, of the aforementioned connotations.

Yellow, orange, brown, gray, pink. There are so many colours in all, I imagine, each different from the next, each with names I've no need to remember nor memorise. Then there are those colours which, perplexingly enough, reflect something else, like metal or jewelry. Gold, silver, bronze, platinum, jade, emerald, ruby, sapphire...

It was vexing to comprehend how could abstractions, such as emotions, have colour. Yet my imagination as a child would run so wildly. Because emotions rush the body with heat, I used to imagine how hot emotions, such as anger and fear and love, would radiate from oneself, in this case in the form of red. To be "green with envy" or "until being blue in the face" always struck me as literal in meaning; the soul dyed by colour, perhaps. Akira had to explain to me otherwise. It quite... bothered me, when she chuckled and teased me — how was I supposed to know any better?

I used to think that is how eyes picked up on the mood of others.

I was wrong, needless to say. It has to do with facial expressions, body language, changes in vocal tone. Twitches in the body I was highly aware of, being introspective in lieu of a robbed sense, and thus could learn to control, learn to hide — until it was only I who could see them.

Judging from a lifetime of inscrutability, I dare say I have met with some success.

The fireworks continue, their thunder storming against the tides of my heart.

Angels and saints. That is the best way I can imagine colours and sight. By comparison, they are unseen influences upon life, unknowable yet ubiquitious.

Still, colours must be of vital importance to the seen world, in a way self-evident for those unlike me. They pepper symbolism, affiliations, language. In the many books I've read in Braille, they are used often as descriptors; it makes me question Akira's curt explanations on the matter. Regardless, save for Hanako, I am not close enough to anyone else to impose such an... intimate question. Alas, I dare not worry her with something so...

Another row of fireworks erupts. As I hear my thumping heart, I hear Hanako coo with delight between each crackling blast.

Ah, my dear Hanako. I have touched her gentle face, yet also explored the contours of her erose, leathered skin. The fact that her scars garner so much attention does suggest that they are not something merely felt, but also seen. I know next-to-nothing of burns, but if scars change the skin, it can only mean one thing — the skin regrows a different colour. But is it truly so hideous — so different — to earn different treatment? Does looking at her scars ache the eyes the same way as nails on chalkboard hurts the ears? Is ugliness or repulsiveness like an offensive odour? It makes no sense to me, otherwise, why she should be treated with such prejudice.

My friends further admire the fireworks, praising their luminance in the cool summer night.

Ah, black, a most despised colour, a harbinger of all we hate and fear. My old friend. I have asked before: when eyelids fall, what does one see? Black, they tell me. Darkness. So, the colour of darkness is the only colour I see, then? I do not know; I think it closer to the void. To the Abyss. In truth, then, I see nothingness.

It seems the show nears its end. Someone observes how the brilliant white fireworks are going off now.

Ah... White. My favorite colour of all, when I appraise it with a Western eye. Not as death, per se, but as purity, perfection, innocence. Light. All good things. Years ago, I learned that white is, in fact, the colour produced by all wavelengths of light.

And so I've thought white as the king of all colours ever since.

In a rare moment of eloquence, Akira used to tell me how, whenever I dress in white, I appear as an angel to her, dressed in the colour of the stars and the shining moon. As a child — and as a somewhat romantic teenager — I did hold a special attachment to that view. Sadly, I'm not certain that I understood sarcasm at the time — or Akira, for that matter. Whatever I may look like, angel or no, it is Akira who a younger me shall always remember as a guardian angel.

Fitting, I suppose, considering every question I have asked myself thus far has been with the naivete only a child should possess.

And yet, with so many differing views and contradictory values connected to colours overall, it's always made me wonder...

Does one truly see what the other sees?

If I had the gift of sight, would you see what I see?

At last, there is a ceasefire and my heart is no longer stricken by the barrage. With one final crescendo, the wailing fireworks subsides to a silent trickle; and, with them, my blameless thoughts.

And so, cold silence retakes the night.

I smile wanly. Knowing this, I adopt a genuine smile and assume proper posture, in case anyone is finished looking outside.

"That sounded impressive. Bigger than last year's at least."

I open my eyes to the same colourless world — the only world my eyes shall ever know. Beyond that veil of forever lies an ineffable myth as unknowable as God Himself. In the end, my adolescent musings are merely a theory of colours — colours I'll never see.

I smile again.

"I'm afraid, however, that during that time, the tea has gone cold."

~~~

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva's snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.
"If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires."
— Horace Traubel

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:49 am

I do not understand why to us Japanese, blue and green — aoi — have been characterised as the same colour, but not to Westerners.
Not quite... The Japanese do have a word for green - midori - but the "border" between blue and green is different...
It's a bit complicated.
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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:41 am

Also, given that she was blind from birth, would her mind even process the lack of input from her eyes as seeing black, or would she just not have pathways in her brain to handle input from her eyes at all?
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Kitsune Spirit
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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Kitsune Spirit » Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:16 pm

The blind seeing black is something that the sighted use to try to imagine how the... blind... see. lol I would describe it more as "blank" there is no sensory input between the eyes and the occipital lobe, so there is no way for the brain to process the information known as "black". The best way I can imagine what it's like to be blind is to think about what the space behind my eyes is like; that sounds weird I know, but as I said it's the best way I know. xD

It was an interesting story, and nicely done too. :)

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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Jailbreaker » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:48 pm

This was really good. I love it when Lilly is shown to have hidden depths.
bhtooefr wrote:Also, given that she was blind from birth, would her mind even process the lack of input from her eyes as seeing black, or would she just not have pathways in her brain to handle input from her eyes at all?
It probably depends on why Lilly is blind. If the fault is in her eyes, or the connection from her eyes to her brain, then it's possible that she still has the neural networks associated with sight - although I think it's more likely that they've been repurposed by her brain for some other function. In a much less likely scenario, her brain might not be able to interpret the signals that it receives from her eyes - this could have a wide variety of effects, like being able to see things subconsciously but not consciously, or feeling pain when the sun shines directly into her eyes. I think it's more likely, however, that she just has malfunctioning eyes.

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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:57 pm

I was thinking something along the line of neuroplasticity (because it's obvious that there's a defect with her eyes themselves).

In any case, I was thinking that sight for her would simply not be a sense that she has - sight to her would be something like what, say, telepathy is to other people, a sense that simply doesn't exist. She understands the concept of sight, she just doesn't understand it. Kinda like infinity - we understand what it is, but we don't understand it, and never will.
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Kitsune Spirit
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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Kitsune Spirit » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:44 pm

What you are saying in a round about manner is that she has a textbook-understanding of sight. :)

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Bad Apple
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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Bad Apple » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:09 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Not quite... The Japanese do have a word for green - midori - but the "border" between blue and green is different...
It's a bit complicated.
Ah, I felt a bit queasy about that. Though I read that page a while ago, I wasn't quite sure how to properly express the sentiment, but I was expecting you to fact-check me on that one anyway. Thanks.

Now, for more general matters being discussed:

I recall early on looking for the exact cause of Lilly's blindness, but it apparently wasn't stated in canon, only that it's been that way since birth. Since the cause isn't terribly important, I decided to leave it as-is.

I considered writing a disclaimer on this to better explain the extent of my understanding, but for some reason decided against it. Probably because I felt like I was stifling discussion with preemptive rationalizations? It felt standoffish to do, as seen in past threads not welcoming criticism whilst posting it on a public forum.

Regardless, here's what I can say. I did a bit of research on this matter. (I visited more sites, but I don't suppose a flood of citations mostly saying the same thing is necessary.)

Most of my findings were rather similar. However, the analogy I saw being used most can be best summed up by this post:
(emphasis added) wrote:My guess would be that blind people don't experience visual blackness, or anything in the visual modality for that matter. For instance, a better analogue for the visual experience of a blind person (at least one blind from birth, I'd imagine) might be not blackness, but rather, the same visual experience you have of the area in the back of your head. Blackness is a visual experience, even though it usually connotes absence of light. What you see at the back of your head is more like complete absence of any visual experience at all.

Of course, that's just conjecture. The best way to answer the question would be to ask someone who was born blind but later had vision restored.
In the VN it's regularly made known that Lilly's other senses are more sensitive to compensate for her lack of sight. This seems to imply the extent of the neuroplasticity which took place. As far as I know, there is never any mention or implication of Lilly 'seeing' anything in the way that other blind people do (mostly levels of brightness). It's my understanding, then, that she has no sensory input whatsoever.

Lilly has no perception of the color black, of course. She just uses it figuratively (i.e. darkness, lack of sight) in a symbolic way. Her route, I think, shows her more of a romantic than a scholar. The technical inaccuracies are therefore caused by Lilly's disinterest in a scientific worldview. Even the title reflects this to some extent.

Visual input takes about 30% of all brainpower in ordinary individuals. As noted in the story, we take it for granted, but it's an extremely complicated process.

Thanks for reading, guys.
"If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires."
— Horace Traubel

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Yukarin
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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by Yukarin » Sat Feb 15, 2014 12:04 am

This fic is BEAUTIFUL OMG

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Re: Blind Spots: Theory of Colours

Post by GorisTheKing » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:47 am

Like it a lot, a nice change of perspective. Imagining how people with disabilities view the world is interesting, especial with something from birth. To them it's just the way things are.

My only issue was with Lilly thinking about the color of Hanako's scars. Even blind people appreciate aesthetics, she would know the reason people stare at her scars, and it's not just color.

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