The Black Book of Colors: A Lyrical Empathy Tool for the Sighted to See the World Like the Blind Do
By Maria Popova
“Color itself is a degree of darkness,” Goethe wrote in his theory of color and emotion.
How to access the emotional dimension of color amid darkness is what author Menena Cottin and illustrator Rosana Faria explore in The Black Book of Colors (public library) — a remarkable book of simple, elegant illustrations of natural objects, from strawberries to rain to bird feathers, depicted not through color and shading but through embossed lines, inviting the viewer to experience them tactilely rather than visually. What emerges is an empathy tool for the sighted to see the world as the blind do, and to imagine a different — and not necessarily lesser — mode of sensorial being.
The book is designed as an empathy tool that allows a sighted person to step inside the world of the blind, who experience the world through their fingers rather than their eyes.
Though intended for children, The Black Book of Colors is an absolute treat for adults — not merely as a feat of aesthetic elegance, but also as a beautiful philosophical metaphor for all those things in our lives that both are and aren’t, like the nature of reality or solitude or some great love we can touch with the tender tips of our fingers but never fully grasp.
Published January 26, 2011