Some thoughts on light

Bioptical Art - Liviu Iliescu


(Letter to Theodor Redlow who asked me
what I feel when I look at a candle flame)

     I have discussed you observations on the range of colours in a candle flame based on my technical knowledge as an engineer. Invited to provide some considerations on intersection, I shall try (in a somewhat "alchemical" manner) to voice certain opinions which might entail discussions on other subjects. This theme - the same as others in the field of visual arts, which are close to sciences - permits explorations with the fascination of mirages resulting from suggested indistinct definitions. These are related to the nature of soul, more than to the compulsory precision usually require by explanations of the physical world.
I'd like to share the feelings of the "possessed" alchemists who used to mix up both of substances from the physical world with pagan prayers learned or revealed to their souls from the beyond.
     I'd like to live the mystery of flaring embers, with violet flickering, the moving fluids on cave walls, in nights with rainfalls and distant thunders, the light slumbers and frightened awakenings...
     At the crossroads between "to feel" and "to know", my words gather in pious sentences or in descriptive listings of apparently simple phenomena. Maybe it is necessary to let the atavistic impulses of questions with no answer, make their way through us, in order to simulate creative emotions. Those questions gave rise to the thrills of mystery and sometimes, generated "graven images" meant to drive away despair.
     Mister Theodor Redlow, I think that when you have gazed at the flame of a candle, you have removed yourself from the commonplace, by the impulse of a "trance", in a moment of return to the primitive life, preserving, however, the lucidity of your sensitivity. You have perceived a fleck of spirit materialized in this frail flame, where violet, blue, yellow, outlined by orange emerged.
     The pragmatic rhythms of the "consumption" life - with prefabricated meditation respites, sometimes flanked by suffocating axiomatic explanations seemingly comprehensive about whatever happens - are not satisfying the need for mystery. Even when something sensational occurs --such as something unidentified like the UFO - people look for rational explanations. The fleck of light of the candle was also explained as the result of incomplete combustion (which usually produce maximum luminance), with a colder nucleus. That combustion process, once stolen by the eternal Promethean defiance, was chained in the strong fetters of the physico-chemical forms.
     For the combustions of life, oxygen was to be inhaled by man. In times immemorial, man had a revelation that there is a parallel between that flame, the souls that once lived and the fate of the living ones and of those that will live in the future.
Candle light has the same material essence as sun light (electromagnetic radiations).
     Nevertheless their spectrum differs. Those differences resulted in perception differences, which entailed more widely different psychic structures than their physical correspondents. The high temperatures of the sun (about 6000 Celsius degrees at the surface) produce radiations with a wide spectrum. In the relation light-human, human eyes perceive white light a power peak towards violet. Candle light has lower temperatures (about 2000 Celsius degrees), yellow to orange is generally perceived and the power peak occurs in the range of red radiations. It is known that spectral differences are paralleled by a wide range of psychic conditions.
     Alchemists were close to truth when they supposed that combustible bodies involve a principle of inflammability called phlogiston. They tried to explain the mystery of combustion but increased it as well. We know now that combustion is nothing else than the result of a combination reaction with the "commonplace" oxygen. For the sake of imagination, I mention the fact that the technology of combustion processes defines as deflagration a burning away in a combustible gas at a speed of a few meters per second; it is even more exciting to know that detonation is an explosive combustion with a propagation speed of thousands of meters per second.
     Yet, who knows how many combinations of forms may occur in the darkness surrounding the light kernel screened by the palm of a hand with translucid fingers, in a painting by Georges de la Tour (Nouveau - ne, 1649).
     Light is mirrored on the faces of two women, learning over the mystery of the infant arrived at midnight, towards the eternity of Mystery.