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- Man or Matter - 60/74 -

different, depending on the relation between the directions of the two (see small arrows in Fig. i). Our eyes witness to this difference by seeing the colours of the blue pole of the colour-scale appear when the field-gradient is directed towards the leap (a), and the colours of the yellow pole when the gradient is directed away from it (b).

For our further investigation it is very important to observe how the colours spread when they emerge at the edge of the shadow-casting object thus introduced into the light-realm from the one side or the other. Figs, ii and iii on Plate C show, closely enough for our purpose, the position of the colour-bearing areas in each case, with the dotted line indicating the direction which the light would have at the place of origin of the colours if there were no object interfering with its free expansion.4 We observe a distinct difference in the widening out of the two colour-areas on both sides of the original direction of the light: in each case the angle which the boundary of the colour-area forms with this direction is smaller on the side of the colours nearest the light-realm (blue and yellow respectively) than on the opposite side (violet and red).

Remembering what we have learnt about the dynamic characteristics of the two colour-poles, we are now in a position to state the following. When a light-area subject to a lateral gradient is narrowed down, so that the gradient is directed towards the narrowing object, colours arise in which the interaction between the two polarically opposite forms of density is such that positive density makes for lightness, and negative density for darkness. Whereas, when the border is so situated that the gradient is directed away from it, the interaction is such that positive density makes for darkness, and negative density for lightness. Further, the fact that on both occasions the darkness element in the colour-band increases in the outward direction tells us that in this direction there is on the blue-violet side a gradual decrease in positive, and increase in negative, density, while on the opposite side we find just the reverse. We note again that both processes occupy a considerable part of the space originally outside the boundaries of the light-area - that is, at the violet end the part towards which the light-beam is deflected, and at the red end the part from which it turns away.

The visual ray, when penetrating actively into the two colour-phenomena thus described, receives evidence of a dynamic happening which may be expressed as follows.

Where the transverse impulse, which is due to the varying degree of TrĂ¼bung in the light-realm, is directed towards the latter's edge, the intermingling of the Dark-ingredient and the Light-ingredient, contained in that realm, is such that Dark follows Light along its already existing gradient, thereby diminishing steadily. Hence our visual ray, meeting conditions quite similar to those occurring when we look across the light-filled atmosphere into universal space, notifies us of the presence of the blue-violet colour-pole. If, on the other hand, the edge is in the wake of the transverse impulse, then a kind of dynamic vacuum arises in that part of space from which the beam is deflected, with the effect that the Dark-ingredient, imprinted on the light within the prism, is drawn into this vacuum by following a kind of suctional influence. Consequently Dark and Light here come to oppose one another, and the former, on its way out of the light-area, gains in relative strength. On this side our visual ray meets conditions resembling those which occur when we look across the darkening atmosphere into the sun. Accordingly our optical experience tells us of the presence of the yellow-red colour-pole.

From our description of the two kinds of dynamic co-ordination of positive and negative density at the two ends of the spectrum it follows that the spatial conditions prevailing at one end must be quite different from those at the other. To see this by way of actual perception is indeed not difficult. In fact, if we believe that we see both ends of the spectrum lying, as it were, flatly on the surface of the observation screen, this is merely an illusion due to our superficial way of using our eyes. If we gaze with our visual ray (activated in the manner previously described) into the two sides of the spectrum, while turning our eyes alternately in one or other direction, we soon notice that the colours of the yellow-red rise towards the eye so as to give the impression of protruding almost corporeally from the surface of the screen. We feel: Density obtains here in a state of fiery radiation. When turning to the other side we feel our visual ray, instead of being as before caught up in the colours, passing freely across the colours as if carried by them into the infinite. On the blue-violet side, space itself seems to fluoresce mysteriously5. Following Goethe's conception of the physical-moral effect of colours, we may describe the experience received thus from the two poles of the spectrum by saying that an 'other-worldly' character belongs to the colours of the blue-violet pole; an 'earthly' character to those of the yellow-red; while that of green, which appears when both sides are made to overlap, witnesses to its mediating nature between the two.


In our endeavour to view the fundamental experiment of Newtonian optics with the eyes of Goethe we have been led from the wide expanse of the earth's sunlit periphery into the confines of the darkened experimental chamber. With the aid of the results gained from studying the artificially produced spectrum phenomenon, we shall now return to our original field of observation in order to study the same phenomenon in nature. There it meets us in the form of the rainbow, which we shall now be able to read as a chapter in the great book of nature.

From what we have learnt already we can say at once that the rainbow must represent some sort of border-phenomenon, thus pointing to the existence of a boundary between two space-regions of differing illumination. Our question therefore must be: what is the light-image whose boundary comes to coloured manifestation in the phenomenon of the rainbow? There can be no doubt that the image is that of the sun-disk, shining in the sky. When we see a rainbow, what we are really looking at is the edge of an image of the sun-disk, caught and reflected, owing to favourable conditions, in the atmosphere. (Observe in this respect that the whole area inside the rainbow is always considerably brighter than the space outside.)

Once we realize this to be the true nature of the rainbow, the peculiar order of its colours begins to speak a significant language. The essential point to observe is that the blue-violet part of the spectrum lies on the inner side of the rainbow-arch - the side immediately adjoining the outer rim of the sun-image - while the yellow-red part lies on the outer side of the arch - the side turned away from the sun-image. What can we learn from this about the distribution of positive and negative density inside and outside the realm occupied by the sun-disk itself in the cosmos?

We remember that along the gradient from blue to violet, negative density (Light) increases and positive density (Dark) decreases, while from yellow to red it is just the reverse-positive density increases and negative density decreases. The rainbow therefore indicates a steady increase of Dark towards the outer rim, and of Light towards the inner. Evidently, what the optical image of the sun in the atmosphere thus reveals concerning the gradation of the ratio between Light and Dark in the radial direction, is an attribute of the entire light-realm which stretches from the sun to that image. And again, the attribute of this realm is but an effect of the dynamic relation between the sun itself and the surrounding cosmic space.

The rainbow thus becomes a script to us in which we read the remarkable fact that the region occupied by the sun in the cosmos is a region of negative density, in relation to which the region surrounding the sun is one of positive density. Far from being an accumulation of ponderable matter in a state of extremely high temperature, as science supposes, the sun represents the very opposite of ponderability. (It would be beyond the scope of this book to show how in the light of this fact one learns to re-read the various solar phenomena known to science.)

Once we realize this, our judgment of all that our terrestrially devised optical instruments, such as the telescope and spectroscope, tell us about the nature of the sun and its surroundings, will change accordingly. For it becomes clear that for the interpretation of solar phenomena shown by these instruments we cannot properly use concepts derived from observations within the earth's realm of positive density.

To compare adequately solar and terrestrial phenomena, we must keep in mind that they are in every respect polar opposites. For instance, the fact that the spectroscope reveals phenomena in the sun's light which are strikingly similar to others occurring when earthly matter is first caused to emit light - that is, brought near the upper border of its ponderable existence - and then studied spectroscopically, should not impose on us the illusion that the sun consists of matter in this same condition. On the contrary, the similarity should tell us that imponderable substance, while on its way between sun and earth to ponderable existence, assumes, at the point of transition, aspects exactly like those revealed by ponderable substance at the corresponding point in its upward transformation.

What we observe, when we study the sun through a spectroscope, is not the sun itself, but the conditions obtaining in this border-region, where imponderable substance enters the earth-realm.

The rainbow, directly we learn to see it as the border-phenomenon that it is, tells us something of itself which revives in modern form a conception held generally in former ages, when it was seen as a mediator between the cosmic-divine and the earthly-human worlds. Thus the Bible speaks of it as a symbol of God's reconciliation with the human race after the great Flood. Thus the Greeks beheld it when they saw it as the bridge of Iris, messenger of the Gods; and similarly the Germanic mythology speaks of it as the pathway along which the souls of the fallen warriors draw near to Valhalla. By recovering this old conception in a new and scientifically grounded form we are enabled also to rectify the misunderstanding from which the ancient bridge-conception of the rainbow has suffered in later days, when tradition had begun to replace direct insight into the truth.

When with the rise of man's onlooker-relation to the world of the senses, the rainbow could appear to him only as a form flattened against the sky, people began to think that the ancient picture of it as a bridge had been derived from its likeness to the latter's arched form. Representations of the rainbow from these times indeed show supersensible beings, such as the souls of the dead, moving upwards and downwards along the two halves of the arch. It is not in this abstract way that ancient man formed his cosmic imagery. What was seen going on between the upper and nether worlds when a rainbow appeared in the heights of the atmosphere was no traffic over the arch, but an interplay across the rainbow between the realm of levity, glimmering down in the rainbow's violet border, and the realm of gravity glowing up from the red. And this is how we have now learnt to see it again.


At one point in our optical studies (page 259) we referred to some words of Ruskin in which he deplored the influence exerted on the soul-life of modern man by the world-conception of science. He illustrated this by showing how much less inspiration a man trained in

Man or Matter - 60/74

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