On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry

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9780879231903: On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry

BLUE PENCILS, blue noses, blue movies, laws, and stockings. The dumps, mopes, Mondays; the ocean, the sky, and the deep, deep ice. The Whale. Jay. Ribbon. Fin. The grass in Kentucky. The china in Grandmother’s pantry. Of all the colors, blue has the widest range of associations, and the widest bandwidth of emotional tints and shades. It is therefore the most suitable color of interior life. Whether slick light sharp high bright and thin or low deep sweet thick dark and soft, blue moves easily among them all, and all profoundly qualify our states of feeling. This eccentric essay into the "world of blue" is the heart of the heart of Gass’s oeuvre.

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Review:

In this, one of the strangest books about writing and language you're likely ever to read, fiction writer and philosophy professor Gass spins off into an improvisational inquiry into the nature of words and consciousness, using as his departure point the concept of the color blue--the idea of blue, the state of blue, the uses of blue...the bluenesses of blue. It's kind of hard to sum up, and if it sounds weird, it is--but it's also wonderful.

From the Back Cover:

Of the colors, blue and green have the greatest emotional range. Sad reds and melancholy yellows are difficult to turn up. Among the ancient elements, blue occurs everywhere: in ice and water, in the flame as purely as the flower, overhead and inside caves, covering fruit and oozing out of clay. Although green enlivens the earth and mixes in the ocean, and we find it, copperish, in fire, green air, green skies, are rare. Gray and brown are widely distributed, but there are no joyful swatches of either, or of any exuberant black, sullen pink, or acquiescent orange. Blue is therefore most suitable as the color of interior life. Whether slick light sharp high bright thin quick sour new and cool or low deep sweet thick dark soft slow smooth heavy old and warm: blue moves easily among them all, and all profoundly qualify our states of feeling.

Not since Herman Melville pondered the whiteness of Moby Dick has a region of the spectrum been subjected to such eclectic scrutiny . . . Gass gives philosophy back its good old name as a feast that can never sate the mind. -- Time

On Being Blue is fascinating, provocative reading. -- Chicago Tribune

This is an enchanting book. -- New York Times Book Review

A book no person who loves writing and the sound writing makes should be without. New Republic

An essay exceptional for its insight, eloquence, and humor. -- ALA Booklist

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William Gass
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