There’s a time in the fall when I realize that colour is fading and we’re once again headed for the blacks, whites, and greys of winter — when, as it were, the world is putting on the drab of business clothing because the holiday is over. (How we wound up as a society that enforces dress in shades of dull is another story, perhaps.)
I comfort myself with the thought that great things are possible in black and white. Print. Early television. Yousuf Karsh portraits. The night sky…
And evocations, too, of our human “dark” side. Some of these can be both amusing and Gothic, such as the brilliant work of Edward Gorey. He took aim at our sentimentality, particularly where children concerned, my favourite example of which is his alphabet of juvenile ruin in Gashlycrumb Tinies: “A is for AMY who fell down the stairs / B is for BASIL assaulted by bears … ” I’m particularly fond of “N is for NEVILLE who died of ennui.”
There’s a rather less whimsically amusing black and white work I’ve just come across — a 1996 National Film Board animated short film by Craig Welch, called How Wings are Attached to the Backs of Angels — that is nonetheless absorbing. It stirs the unconscious, perhaps, in uncomfortable ways, yet the animation is fascinating. There’s no summer colour here and very much the starkness of striving. Disturbing, rather like life itself.