All the colours


 
By this point I am getting fairly immersed into the recent Green Lantern stories seeing as I have read about half of both of the most recent series to the halfway point.  One of the major developments as everyone even remotely familiar with DC should know is the proliferation of Lantern Corps of different emotional derivation and different associated colours along with them.  I like the overall concept except for one particular aspect (and this is the scientist in me coming out again) - there are no such things really as specific colours, it is only how humans choose to perceive them and define them.  Indeed if you look at the colour indigo on the colour spectrum most people will just call it blue or purple and have no real idea where it starts or ends.  Therefore in terms of the application of this to the new Corps, it is a very human centric view.  I am not a very big Douglas Adams fan, but I know in one of his books he talks about a creature that can smell colours (which is kind of silly and non-scientific) but this example highlights this problem, that different species would have different abilities aty recognizing colours and even if they had the same as ours, there is no reason to think that there would be three, or ten or thirty different colours.  It is reasonable I suppose to assume that if a self aware intelligent being elsewhere in the universe would have something similar to a verterbrate eye, but even among vertebrate eyes there are different qualities (for instance chickens can see in ultraviolet.)   So where there are seven coloured corps in DC there could really be a lot more or a lot less.  There is also the matter of cultural significance, for instance in the spectrum red is associated with rage, tying into the comon saying "seeing red" but it is not necessarily the case that seeing red would mean the same thing to all cultures or organisms (seeing red is partially a literal statement after all as when humans get angrey blood rushes to their faces.)  A culture which was very peaceful would interpret seeing red differently, as might a culture that was very martial.  Of course this can as always be explained that the stories are being written by humans for humans and therefore have this bias, but it is also interesting to think that colours have no real scientific or cultural value other than what we give them.
3 Comments
3 Comments
Posted by cosmo111687

The same thing has occurred to me as well. I also have always found it funny that their constructs typically resemble Earth-based Human tools rather than tools and objects from their own Alien cultures.

Posted by EdBlank

Well first off: it's the same reason that humanoids in a galaxy far far away speak English even though there are oodles of other alien languages in said galaxy. First and foremost the stories are to be understood so of course we have our tools and our colors. Here's an interesting idea I have been having. I think all sentient beings will come from an Earth-like planet. Our solar system had three planets that could have possibly been Earth-like, of the three only one was the right size and composition in the right place for life as we know it. It makes sense to me that only planets with the right delicate mix of circumstances will flower and the ingredients will always likely be the same as we have here. It's just x number of elements and liquid water on a rotating sphere. As such they wuld always develop as humanoids.

Posted by MrUnknown

The scientific alien analogy is something we can't prove either way, but you're right that different cultures provide counter-arguments. For example, in some Asian customs, the color for wedding and funerals is swapped, therefore Blackest Night and Brightest Day would be about the reverse colors. But overall colors are even used in some career compatibility tests. Not sure about how accurate they are, but the fact that they are used should imply that they are somewhat effective.