Black-and-white dualism

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The contrast of white and black (light and darkness, day and night) has a long tradition of metaphorical usage, traceable to the Ancient Near East, and explicitly in the Pythagorean Table of Opposites. In Western culture as well as in Confucianism, the contrast symbolizes the moral dichotomy of good and evil.

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.

See also[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.
  • Armin Lange, Eric M. Meyers (eds.), Light Against Darkness: Dualism in Ancient Mediterranean Religion and the Contemporary World, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (2011).
  • Fontaine, Petrus Franciscus Maria, The Light and the Dark: A Cultural History of Dualism, 21 volumes (1986).