Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book review: "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay

While this book lacked the conversational tone that I prefer in my nonfiction books it still gave me a lot of really interesting tidbits that I can share with you.

-When you rub a thin layer of graphite around a canonball it makes it pop nice and cleanout of it's cannon. And you can also, you know, write with it.

-When Gutenberg printed his first few Bibles he couldnt keep the ink from fading. Luckily Jan Van Eyck, the famous painter. started making oil based ink a few years before and Gutenberg took that idea and ran with it. If not for Van Eyck those pages could be blank now!

-The author talks about what Victorian ladies who through the use of their white face powder, slowly poisoned themselves with lead. THAT was super interesting and sad.

-Did you know that if you swish our hand around a container of mercury (DONT DO THIS AT HOME) with the direction it's going it feels like water, no resistance. If you go against it, it's like an unstoppable force. Take of your jewlery when you do this, or else it will eat the rings off your hand immediately. PLEASE DON'T SWIRL YOUR HAND IN MERCURY.

- If you're a synaesthetic your brain can make connections between things that the majority of people don't. A man named Scriabin associated musical notes with color. But the problem is, if Scriabin heard an F flat he might see the color green. But it another person with this condition hears an F flat he sees navy blue. The connections are not universal between people. Which would be awesome. But also weird.

-There's a whole page that talks about Jan Van Eyck's most famous painting "The Arnolfini Marriage". There is probably no other painting in the world that is open to more interpretations than this painting. Are the couple happy? Are they pregnant? Are they in love? Is it significant that the window is open and she has a hand on her belly?! No.Clear.Answers. I could sit in art history classes forever just about this painting.

So while the writing style wasn't my favorite I still learned a lot. My other super small criticism is that she spends time in Iraq and Syria and while she does talk about the Taliban (it was written in 2003, so still post-9/11) I feel like the picture over there is a bit different now....


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