Chronic pain has its own devastating side effects, even in the absence of medication. Sufferers of migraine headaches sometimes report a phenomenon that amounts to color-blindness. Jeff of the Omegaword blog explains that chronic pain has a peculiar way of removing color from the world. He poetically describes his experience of a reality in which all color has been erased by bursts of red:
"Red has never been my favorite color. Bolts of hot pain sear the world, leaving me colorblind but for the shards that stay behind — jagged red reminders of pain past, and pain yet to come. Through the window, beyond the mute interplay of light and shadow on a white kitchen wall, bare branches against a pale sky remind me that it's all in my head. What color are light waves, anyway?"
A new study of synesthesia confirms Jeff's observation that the colour of the world is all in one's head. Cretian van Campen, author of The Hidden Sense: Synesthesia in Art and Science (2007), explains: "A mysterious aspect of color is that it is created in the brain and seen to exist in the physical environment. But the physical environment contains only light waves and is in fact colorless. The colors are inside our brains, not outside."
Color palettes sometimes testify to hues that have been displaced or erased by profound circumstances. For example, COLOURlover Codename Gimmick envisions the frosty onset of winter as a time when "frequencies from red to yellow have been silenced." His "Frost-Over" palette celebrates red and yellow through their striking absence.
With the palette "Another Migraine?" COLOURlover Stefan depicts a reality reduced to lavender, punctuated by an occasional throb of neon yellow.
COLOURlover Manekineko envisions a world so desaturated that only dull grays remain.
Migraine-inspired palettes from the COLOURlovers library testify to the phenomenon that chronic pain can distort or dampen one's experience of color. Luckily, some artists seem able to retain a keen color sensibility even within the confines of a migraine headache. The following palettes from the COLOURlovers library speak of a creative urge dragged down yet not knocked out by chronic pain:
Cover by Spookygonk.
About the Guest Author, Craig Conley
Craig is an independent scholar and author of dozens of strange and unusual books, including a unicorn field guide and a dictionary of magic words. He also loves color: Prof. Oddfellow