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  • First came the light and the luminous look of things, what our eyes bore witness to and needed to tell about, our psychic emergencies of thrall. The ultraviolet.

    The mystic anchorite might have said on a travel: I have seen beyond the violet. I have crossed over to the place beyond, beyond the visible spectrum. I have been there.

    Once, about a century ago, ultraviolet was a place, a light, a destination, where the known violet of the map extended, and there where monsters might be, beyond the true violet sea, lay----energy, magnificence, invisiblenesses, and yes, the luminous.

    Luminous, numinous, lucid, ludic, the light.

    After the light, they spoke of the colour.

    They had come beyond the violet to the extra super ultra violet, they spoke of light, yes, colour, yes, the stars.

    We find, that after 1904 or so, the word ultraviolet began to be spoke of and used in speech as that of use. Its usage. Light became use, a mysterious feeling became pinned down, the colour became linked to diseases, to tuberculosis, to the skin, to tumours, to x-rays. To cure.

    The physics of location: I am caught between an x-ray and a violet.

    The odd strange binding, the thing with no words for it, became all words and, 'Look at this negative up here, of your chest.' (Became, 'Look at your skin and the bad UV.') Usage, cure, damage.

    Yet how we still yearn for the thing beyond. Beyond the violet.

    We feel inside ourselves a deep desire to stop short of the violet, the seen. To be at the brink, the window, the moment, the transition, before it was all a word, before words took it all away from us.

    (Photo by Susan on the passenger freighter the Stephan Batory on its last voyage, somewhere on the St, Lawrence River, June 1986)
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