Blue Streak

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2 comments on this post.
  1. Joy:

    > We speak, for example, of sadness or depression as “the blues,” although no one has ever come up with a convincing explanation why. “Blues” music . . . .

    Pre- birth of “Blues” music (in the 1920s?), the painters (Van Gogh and?) Picasso had their “blue periods” in which they painted their canvases mostly in blue to signify in color their (for the time being) somber pensiveness, domination by thought –as opposed to the joyous riots of red (color of liberation of the redblooded passions) and other intensely bright colors of the late 1800s French painting movement Fauveism (from French word fauve, wild beast). And in early 1800s English Romantic writers wrote of lady intellectuals as “Bluestockings” (likely because they wore them), and for short “the Blues.” (E.g., Byron’s witty Hudibrastic rhyme “Ye lords of ladies intellectual, in truth, have they not henpecked you all?” So blue (dark shades of melancholy to “baby” or “sky” light tints) seems to be the color of thought, in its complete range of emotional tenors (from anguished to lightly, innocently, purely pleasant) and intensities (expressed on a scale of admixtures from black to white). And same, red, but it expressing emotion — from dark anger to sweet blushes and lightest, innocent baby pink and sanguine good health.

  2. J.:

    I do hope that your encounter with the lightning strike did not cause you to forget important sources, but I’m afraid that you’re quite wrong about the etymology of the “blue” in the sense of depression. It comes from an eighteenth-century British expression “to be blue-deviled.” The thought was that blue devils were responsible for causing low spirits, and it’s a short linguistic step from being “blue-deviled” to being “blue.” The expression was carried across the Atlantic, and, in the nineteenth century, a new genre of music was born.

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