Introduction: A direct glimpse of the I
It is my impression — even more accurately, my considered judgement — that the I or ground is a real thing, something which exists in the world, perhaps attached to matter or a part of matter, which is connected to the world in which we exist, in which matter exists, and that this I forms a necessary substratum to all that exists. It is, in effect, a kind of blinding unity, underlying all matter.
In this chapter, I shall try to show directly, visibly, as nearly as I can, the I itself. I shall do this by showing you color, and, in particular, a certain kind of color which I believe allows the I to be seen. Of all the phenomena I know, this is the one which comes closest to letting us see the I directly, as if we were actually looking at it. It is what I call the phenomenon of inner light.
Color is palpable. Everyone is moved by color. It has direct appeal. And it is visibly empirical. When people work in the realm of color, the experience is so immediate. The feedback is immediate and clear. You have done it. You haven’t done it.
People who take my color class often say that they learn more about architecture in that one class, than in all the others. The extreme sensitivity of the subject is helpful. If in a building, you make a window slightly wrong, too big, too wide, etc., you don’t really feel its wrongness as an undeniable fact — you need your sensibilities very acute before you can feel it — so the sensitivity of the space to the subtle changes in proportion and detail, though true is less easy to grasp.
In the realm of color it is immediate and undeniable. You make a line just slightly wrong, in color or position, and it throw the picture off completely. You change the color of the line only slightly, two shades more this way or more that way, and suddenly the whole thing becomes harmonious — the harmony changes drastically and palpably in response to what seems like a very small change in the picture. So the extremely subtle and highly sensitive relation between achieving wholeness and inner light, and the various details, becomes clear empirically. So, the essential task — to create contact with the I — to create inner light — which, in the realm of building may also be called light, or life or spirit — then becomes visible, and practical as a very difficult, but sometimes attainable task.