Light & Shade

In art theory there is a concept called Chiaroscuro - The organisation of light and shade. The word comes from Italian: chiaro (light - clarity) and oscuro (darkness - obscurity). Some of the best known or, at least, dramatic examples are the paintings of Carravagio or the theatrically lit works of Rembrand van Rijn.

I wonder, as the work of art that is your life unfolds, whether you are willing to allow the darkness in as well as the light. We all have elements of light and dark in our experiences and in our personalities. Think about some of the movies you've loved. Some will be upbeat and others will be down.

One of my favourite films is the Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman who died yesterday. Maybe it is more dark and dark than light and dark but that, in itself is chiaroscuro, isn't it. You will emerge, blinking, into the daylight after the last reel is over.

I like some of Bergman's ideas about films and film making - or about how he was communicating with his audience:

"I want audiences to feel, to sense my films. This to me is much more important than their understanding them..."

So, a dark day for people who love art, thought and experiencing light and dark. But Bergman's legacy was to illuminate and cast a long shadow.

From the Seventh Seal:

Antonius Block:
I want knowledge! Not faith, not assumptions, but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His hand, uncover His face and speak to me.
Death: But He remains silent.
Antonius Block: I call out to Him in the darkness. But it's as if no one was there.
Death: Perhaps there isn't anyone.
Antonius Block: Then life is a preposterous horror. No man can live faced with Death, knowing everything's nothingness.
Death: Most people think neither of death nor nothingness.
Antonius Block: But one day you stand at the edge of life and face darkness.
Death: That day.
Antonius Block: I understand what you mean.


  1. On the passing on Bergman - here is an obscure song reference I found*
    I wonder if I'll end up like Bernie in his dream
    A displaced person in some foreign border town
    Waiting for a train part hope part myth
    While the station changes hands
    Or just sitting at home growing tenser with the times

    Or like that guy in "The Seventh Seal"
    Watching the newly dead dance across the hills
    Or wearing this leather jacket shivering with a friend
    While the eye of God blazes at us like the sun...
    From How I Spent My Fall Vacation, Bruce Cockburn 1979 off the Humans album.


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