(Epistemic status: Extremely subjective experience, mostly a thing to play with rather than amazing insight.)
Recently, I’ve found things like qualia to have a conceptual color to them. There seem to be three obvious axes that I focus on when thinking of the color of an experience – red-blue, yellow-green, and white-black. I think there is also a light and dark, but I’ve felt less of that dimension.
Red-blue seems largely to be about projection outward versus projection inward. Red is an experience that involves how much of the world you are acting upon. A lot of details get blurred because you are acting on your perspective, and pushing outward. The experience isn’t about rumination or getting caught in loops, it’s about action, playing with the world from one’s own perspective lens, imposing one’s context on the surroundings. Blue is the opposite – blue is being a receiver for the context and considering what it means – at worst, ruminating on it. Letting things go into you – paying attention mostly to the external qualia and how your internal state is affected by it. Paying attention to how the context changes you and how your response changes the context – more the former than the latter, but basically intense introspective, sensitive experiences – awareness of the world, but not in control of it. The middle part of this axis is purple – a sense in which your internal experience is an important part of the context, but you are not in control of the context. It’s effortful to get too lost in yourself, but also effortful to impose your self on the world around you. It’s a state of being, but with effort – but usually the effort is worthwhile.
Yellow-green seems to be somewhat related to bigness, but not quite. Yellow experiences tend to be vivid, energetic, almost comical. They’re big, larger than life. Everything feels alive. Green experiences tend to be a lot slower, a lot more serious. Green is pressure, green is the struggle of mundanity. Green is when you wake up with a hangover, or after taking an antihistamine – everything is harder and slower, but it still seems mundane – you’re tired, but it’ll pass. It’s…being ok with things being hard, rather than needing to make something larger than life to interact with it. The light-dark axis is most notable here – dark green tends to be mundanity combined with a pessimistic outlook – the outside view and it hates you; I imagine dark yellow is sickly, like everything is bigger than you and you are too mortal to handle it.
White-black seems to be a rare sort of qualia. White is an intensely pure experience – it doesn’t strictly mean it’s a good experience, but it tends to be the kind of experience where something beyond yourself was formed – a vow, a piece of the puzzle of your place in the world just fitting, a responsibility fulfilled in a deep way. It feels like a milestone, done right for the shape of the thing you are. Black is…the opposite of this. Black is the deepest sort of corruption and out of placeness. Black qualia are the darkest moments, the darkest choices – the ones where you wonder if you can really justify the thing you are. The ones where there is no ground, no sky, nothing except a rejection of your core and how you deal with that. I don’t think black qualia can ever be good in the moment, but I think that they can be valuable when contextualized by other qualia.
Overall, I feel like this is a very vague map that is pointing at something, but not in nearly high enough resolution to be useful – dichotomies rarely are good for that. I would like to explore my experiences in this framework more in the future but think that holding it lightly is likely wise – it doesn’t cover all experience by a longshot, but maybe it can be useful for predicting what sorts of things are best to do when your setting imposes a certain “color”.
Discussion Questions: What sorts of qualia taxonomies are your gotos? Do colors of qualia resonate with you at all, even if the colors are different? What are your thoughts on classing experience in systems like these?