With Eyes Shut, After-Colors | Jens Peter Koerver

Translation by Inge Goodwin

Sometimes he closes his eyes for no apparent reason, still standing, and turns his head, slightly tilted, like someone looking around, still listening and smelling, observing and perceiving. His delayed perception lets other aspects, special qualities of the place and moment become discernible; his sensations are thereby richer, reality fuller (without being wholly complete). With his eyes closed another kind of space comes into being; every place opens up again differently, wins another dimension, another measure. Through his closed lids light and darkness are still differentiable; diffuse imaginings of bright expanses, openings, soft flashes or suddenly piercing rays, shadows cast, light gradually failing, or darkness; the seeing organ is still aware of light remnants, and forms a spatial structure of forwards-and-backwards movement, near and far. But different, edgeless and without contours, a liquid river of space.

With eyes closed, he can hear things. All the incidental noises impinge on his consciousness, all the everyday background noises, continuously rising and falling (of wind and traffic, the soft creaking and groaning in old houses, sometimes the buzzing of insects, the droning of loudspeakers, the whirring of some kind of vents, murmuring and laughing, the soft persistent flow of the heating, and sloshing sound of water from somewhere; actually all the different moving-water sounds…), all overheard, or perhaps blending together in the moment; or else, maybe sorted out by the ear as an inconvenience or disturbance; it is all there. The experience of every situation is partly auditory, constantly filled with noises. And it appears to him as if every place, every space has its own particular sound (and echo) just like its temperature or light. To sense nothing at all is rare for him. And the odors and aromas, fleeting and ineffable, also take part, momentarily obtrude in the immediate present, waft through it in unavoidable vapors or penetrate, or are like a fleeting will-o’-the-wisp, a prick of warning; or reach him as a warm, caressing cloud; he is bathed in atmospheres wafting by.

Staying with him from some of his dreams at night is this: a color, colors, colored spaces, layers, veils, the slightest touch, or something in-between; nothing he can talk about, or otherwise name, but he sees them. These dream colors are precise in their own way (are there any imprecise colors?), the odd and unusual colors, too. Some are only an atmosphere or veil, tints rather than colors.Nothing repeats itself: each has its own set of colors, its mixtures or special nuance. All the same he wouldn’t know whether to say he dreamed the colors, or if that was what was left of his dreams in the morning. Maybe there was something else; if so, all the details have changed, nothing he could grasp. What was dream has collected and condensed into colors. Everything in the dream is concentrated into the colors he is experiencing now.

Sometimes actual happenings turn into colors. His memory has changed to color. What was, has been and now is, and still is, are colors. The colors-that-come-after, he calls these. They capture what was between things, people, spaces. They correspond to the invisible, but noticeable. They have to do with magic, that happens suddenly and unexpectedly, that intrudes. Everything ineffable remains immediately present in the colors, into which we enter like a room, a locality, a sphere, like air, much more experienced than seen; it turns into something visible (for him). So all of these can become colors; sounds, noises, the sluggish wintry day, the smell of fresh leaf, the sweet, hot tea, a softly-heard dispute flaring up over almost nothing, the friendly tailwind of a few days ago…plants, animals, things, places, people, events–from all of them, colors remain.

It has nothing to do with details (he doesn’t remember things any better or worse than other people), nor with fixing a sequence, the clear storyline. Embedded in his colors is the complete fullness of the very moment of his particular experience. Everything possible turns to color for him, to colors. They retain, show what an instant, a timespan (a minute or less, an hour or more, a day, days, perhaps weeks) means to him. They can record how it was better than words. What made the impression of There, Then, Yesterday, A Moment Ago, is made permanent or condensed in them. Persistently-remembered incidentals, sights of the moment, something inconspicuous every now and then, to him. What is indistinctly mixed in. Belonging to the essence of memory, just like the impalpable, vague, mixed and in-between states. Finally, too, the Shining Through, sudden gleamings, the faint, delicate incoming radiation that makes an image more complete, or is inconsistent with it, belonging to it, or diverging from it; the overtones (like a very soft tap, or minimal interference, the Almost Unnoticed…all of that turns into colors for him, giving it validity. Colors, so liquid and fleeting, like the mood of a moment, like the transformations of the world. In the after-colors the transient has become permanent. They remain to him, and he misses nothing.

His eyes see nothing more than the usual few thousand nuances. He never questions why some things change into color, or finds that unusual; it just works that way, and has never been any different, with him; a beautiful singularity, a kind of Poiesis, just occurring to delight him. He likes that. Sometimes he opens up to them (with his eyes closed), letting them move back and forth, and wanders through his after-color landscape, walking and looking, enjoying “being with the colors”.

His colors; sometimes only a single tone. Apparently straightforward, but then, inconspicuous infusions of others interfere. The first, clear singleness is shot through with influences, secondary nuances, in constant flux, nowhere the same. Some parts are dark, shadow-colors; others glow in multi-hued fullness. A reckless interplay in which unusual colors he would know no name for, colors between colors, take part. They form localities of diffuse, interlocking color, open to each other; nothing built up, but rivers and streams; color-spaces develop, spheres, zones of passages, shifts, openings, transparent repositories; in places only an atmosphere, without walls, very light, hovering. All this is an echo chamber of the real, and at the same time a creation in its own right; with its passages, its principal and side rooms, views, innumerable gradations of transparency and density; the unique and the recurrent, the repeated; its overlays, running and mixing; its boundaries too (even they are soft and permeable, gradual changes rather than edges or cuts); everything has its own weight, too (and is yet almost weightlesss). Fragile configurations, that could still change in the next instant; whatever is light and fleeting is captured in them. Simple colors of reality they are not (not the blue of the sky nor the green of the meadow)–but how are his colors to escape from reality? (Can colors be unreal?)

What do colors mean? To him? He wouldn’t have any special answer. Just that they are a basic part of reality, and at the same time an immaterial substance in its own right. Their play has a meaning of its own. Color is color, and yet, interwoven with everything else. It is nothing in itself; what it is, it becomes, opportunistically, in each particular case. Anything can be preserved in it.