Black-and-white dualism

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The hues white and black are widely used to depict opposites. Visually, white and black offer a high contrast. In Western culture, white and black traditionally symbolize the dichotomy of good and evil, metaphorically related to light and darkness and day and night. The dichotomy of light and darkness appears already in the Pythagorean Table of Opposites.

The topos of "light and darkness" is also reflected in numerous titles in popular culture, such as Heart of Darkness (1899), Light in My Darkness (1927), Darkness and the Light (1942), Creatures of Light and Darkness (1969), From Darkness to Light (1973), Darkness and Light (1989), The Lord of the Light and of the Darkness (1993), the Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode "The Darkness and the Light" (1997), the Babylon 5 episode "Between the Darkness and the Light" (1997), and Out of the Darkness, Into the Light (1998).

George Orwell makes a bitterly ironic use of the "light and darkness" topos in his Nineteen Eighty Four. In the early part of the book the protagonist is getting a promise that "We will meet in the place where there is no darkness" - which he interprets as referring to a place where the oppressive totalitarian state does not rule. But the man who made the promise was in fact an agent of the Thought Police - and they eventually meet as prisoner and interrogator where there is indeed no darkness, in detention cells where the light remains on permanently, day and night, as an additional means of torturing detainees.

Relation to Racism[edit]

Some people[3][4] argue that using "black" for depicting negative things and "white" for positive things is racist language.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge. Encyclopedia Americana Corp. 1918. p. 329. 
  2. ^ Bailey, Alice A. A Treatise on White Magic New York:1934 Lucis Publishing Co.
  3. ^ Coard, Michael. "Are You - or Your Language - Racist or Not Racist?". Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  4. ^ Cheney, Carol. "Racism in the English Language". Retrieved 22 September 2013. 

See also[edit]