Principles of Thinking Challenge 2021

Joeri Meij’s Triptych of Colors

By January 21, 2021 February 1st, 2021 No Comments

Our ‘principles of thinking’ challenge, initially taken up by prof. Edward Nęcka in his Decalogue, has now mobilised Joeri Meij, a Fellow at the School of Thinking, to contribute his take on the matter. ‘I have to admit’, wrote Joeri, ‘it religiously resonates to me to read how Prof. Nęcka’s insights endorse the arduous sensitivity that original and valuable thinking involves. I would love to add a triptych of colors (rouge, bleu et blanc) to broaden his sagacious principles’.

And here it is:

A Triptych of Colors (Rouge, Bleu et Blanc)

by Joeri Meij, 2021


For the color red: Original emotions allow more sensitive thinking.
Symbols and words provide but a narrow bandwidth; they seem to be an added layer of modality, mostly condensing reactions to whatever we experience. Art allows us to consciously go to a stage of wondering prior to thinking, where a live stream of (ungraspable) experiences verge into symbolic brims. Thus adding color to the grey scale of our reasoning. Maybe a poem can bring the right symbols to simplify this idea.

Symbols? I’m sick of symbols…
Some people tell me that everything is symbols.
They’re telling me nothing.

What symbols? Dreams…
Let the sun be a symbol, fine…
Let the moon be a symbol, fine…
Let the earth be a symbol, fine…
But who notices the sun except when the rain stops
And it breaks through the clouds and points behind its back
To the blue of the sky?
And who notices the moon except to admire
Not it but the beautiful light it radiates?
And who notices the very earth we tread?
We say earth and think of fields, trees and hills,
Unwittingly diminishing it,
For the sea is also earth.

Okay, let all of this be symbols.
But what’s the symbol – not the sun, not the moon, not the earth –
In this premature sunset amidst the fading blue
With the sun caught in expiring tatters of clouds
And the moon already mystically present at the other end of the sky
As the last remnant of daylight
Gilds the head of the seamstress who hesitates at the corner
Where she used to linger (she lives nearby) with the boyfriend who left her?
Symbols? I don’t want symbols.
All I want – poor frail and forlorn creature! –
Is for the boyfriend to go back to the seamstress.

Fernando Pessoa (1998). In: Selected Poems, Translation Richard Zenith, New York: Grove Press

For the wretched color blue: Let’s take the freedom to get into trouble.
Have you ever deliberately, not because of the confidence of your own principles, but for the sake of feeling a sour discomfort, opposed the prevailing opinions of a larger audience? Just so to feel your stomach turn, as a multitude of other minds reject your thinking?
To go against the grain, a touch of odium, however bitter, may very well be a fine antidote against the mediocrity of our thinking. Adding the wicked strenuous shades of blue and green.

For the color white: Fraternité, the unusual juxtaposition of colors.
What are thoughts and ideas? Are they like tickets to a reality that we secretly wish for ? Then, if it may please the group as a whole, it is the interaction between opposing ideas that opens a possible way towards the desires we all have.
Or, to put it differently, to add white we need the convergence of all necessary different colours involved.