"Color amounts to crime. Derived from the Latin celare, to conceal, color is another word for deceit, says my Webster’s. Benjamin agreed. Sharply distinguishing the child’s view of color from the adult’s, he suggested that adults understood color as a layer superimposed on matter to such a degree that they regard color “as a deceptive cloak.”
How strange, therefore, that my dictionary goes on to say that color also signifies authenticity or at least character and nature, as in the phrase, “he showed us his true colors.” Could this amount to what Benjamin thought of as the child’s view of color? Yet the dichotomy of child versus
adult, deceit versus authenticity, unwinds itself and leaves us in a no-space that is, perhaps, the truer home of color, for does not the very phrase, “he showed us his true colors,” venerable with age and usage, also suggest the opposite, that color is both true and untrue precisely because of its claims to authenticity? How can you ever be sure with which variety you are dealing, his true colors or his false ones? Is this why we in the West are drawn to color yet made uneasy, even repelled, as by Mafia types in Hawaiian shirts? Who of you reading this text would even dream of painting the living room wall bright red or green, any color other than off-white? Then, safe in your whiteness, you can hang a wildly colored picture on the wall, secure in its framed being."
Michael Taussig’s “What Color Is Sacred?” in Critical Inquiry (via reichsstadt)
I really fucking hate Taussig because he is the bro-iest of the intellectual dude bros (I CAN’T STAND the book where you find this essay, though I was once initially quite jazzed to read it) , but on this he is correct, Just read Taussig’s source materials (Ornament & Crime, Benjamin, etc.) and you’ll be good.