Behind Chroma

Feedback from readers of my novel Chroma: Light Being Human has revealed the need for some clarification. Specifically, there’s an issue with the character names, which are a series of numbers along with color names. As one reader said, the numbers made it hard to remember the characters and reminded her of the Dewey decimal system.

While her point of reference here might have something to do with her career as a librarian, I realize that many readers may not ‘get it.’

So here’s the thing. The characters are manifestation of sound and light. The numbers refer to frequencies of sound waves as measured in Hertz. The light is broken into the spectral array of the rainbow. They are called  the Aspects of Chroma in the story because they are aspects of electromagnetic and sound energy, ‘chroma’ meaning ‘chromatic’ as in all the notes of a musical scale and also ‘chroma’ meaning color.

With the main character B4 Indigo, her frequency of ‘B’ refers to the note in our Western musical scale that falls on the keyboard just below Middle C. But as most know from exposure to keyboards, there are several ‘B’ notes on a keyboard. B4 is the 4th B when you start counting from the bottom. Her kinsmen are all the B range; the next B up the keyboard would be B5.

B4’s color is indigo, a bluish purple color at the far end of the electromagnetic spectrum of visible light between 420 and 450 nanometers. At this point, she is the fundamental waveband, a role that drives her story.

Several connotations of Indigo as a spiritual aspect, as a cited in Wikipedia, are:

  • The color electric indigo is used in New Age philosophy to symbolically represent the sixth chakra (called Ajna), which is said to include the third eye. This chakra is believed to be related to intuition and gnosis (spiritual knowledge).
  • Alice A. Bailey used indigo as the “second ray,” representing “Love-Wisdom,” in her Seven Rays system classifying people into seven metaphysical psychological types.
  • Psychics often associate indigo paranormal auras with an interest in religion or with intense spirituality and intuition. Indigo children are said to have predominantly indigo auras.
  • People with indigo auras are said to favor occupations such as computer analyst, animal caretaker, and counselor.

To an aware reader, these spiritual connotations add depth to the understanding of B4 Indigo’s character and her role in the story of Chroma.

The premise of Chroma is that light energy traveling through space/time sought the experience of embodiment. In reaching the threshold of this pursuit, they came into the physical by forming in sound and color light energy. Their explorations after this threshold comprise the rest of their story, at least to the point of full embodiment. If I live long enough, I hope to write a couple more books that continue this story line into the year 2540.

I hesitated to delve into these details in any kind of preface for the book and hoped that readers would be able to enjoy the story by accepting the character names such as B4 Indigo, D3 Red, A4 Blue, etc. But I concede that these names especially in their full presentation as B493.883 Hertz or D293.665 or especially B4’s ancient partner F369.994 (F-sharp) may not immediately appear in an understandable way to the average reader. For those who don’t have a musical background, I can only say that B and F-sharp are acoustic partners in what is called a perfect 5th, and conversely, they are a perfect 4th, thus their inescapable partnership in acoustical phenomena.

Similarly, Indigo and Yellow are complimentary on the color wheel. In the mid-1600s, Isaac Newton linked the seven notes of the Western scale with the array of prismatic colors. In painting, complimentary colors yield useful applications. For example, when painting in yellow or gold, to create shadow effects, the artist would not darken with gray or black, but rather indigo or purple.

A reader’s understanding of these arcane details is not necessary to enjoy the story of Chroma. But for those like the librarian who are frustrated by the apparent nonsensical nature of the naming, hopefully this explanation will be helpful.

Chroma wasn’t an easy story to write. How do you assign emotion to sound and light? The main characters can’t cry or hit or sleep, at least not for several millennia. Yet emotional responses and physical actions form traditional elements in fiction, so that  norm further complicates the telling of this alternative-history story.

I wanted to present a creation story of humanity on Earth that explored possibilities of extraterrestrial influence that didn’t involve little green men. Some form of man does appear, but those are visions of a future or a past that isn’t fully revealed. I also wanted to express the idea that music and its deep appeal to us on a non-verbal level suggests that there may be more to our connection to musical tones than we have previously known. Same theory applies to our appreciation of color.

Chroma is a story that wouldn’t go away. I chewed on it, wrote it, tossed it, recreated it and labored over it for over twenty years. I’ve never been completely happy with it. I’m tormented with the second book, partially written, elusive, and inescapable. I have to do it, so please–wish me luck!

 

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CHROMA Excerpt

chroma-coverMuch of what I write is history. My blog posts are usually about current events or my publications about local history. This is different.

My new novel, Chroma, is history of an entirely different sort. Theoretical history firmly rooted in factual evidence of human evolution. It’s available in ebook format at half price now until November 15 release date.

They were aware of nothing. Not movement, even though they existed within a stream of photons traveling at the speed of light. Not thought, even though they contained among them all the knowledge that could be known.

They were One, Chroma.

A world of physical existence unfolded before them as they encountered a blue planet and its cycles of life, forms already ancient in their traditions of birth, life, and death. The Aspects of Chroma begin to question. How would it be to know embodiment? Could they learn the pleasure of food, of rest and procreation?

Among them, B4 Indigo—more precisely 493.883 Hertz in her spectral array between 420 and 450 nanometers of visible light—flourished into her own identity. Immediately resonating with her harmonic companion F369.994 Yellow and his fellow octaves of F sharp, B4 pursued a fateful agenda. What could be known? What could be changed?

Chroma: Light Being Human submerges readers in the intimate process of becoming human.

Excerpt:

Several entities manipulate dials and adjust various screens and mechanisms. The green glow of instrumentation reflects on their thin metallic arms and black sensory lens. Outside, visible through a wide expanse of glass that spreads above the console, the curve of the ship’s upper hull shines faintly silver as we pass a nearby sun, a reflection that repeats in luminous arcs along the huge outer ring as it revolves around the ship. Our vessel emits its own light, a faint glow of pink and yellow, pastel blue and green. The pale kaleidoscope of color changes as the ring rotates. A faint jingling sound emanates from the ring.

The crystal from which we flow stands in the midst of the upper deck, mounted at the heart of an elegant curving focular. The metal device reaches up to a clear dome in the ceiling, the portal through which our photons flow. At the heart of the focular, the tall crystal pulses with light. Each facet sparks with color, throwing my existence—the existence of us all—into the cabin.

You can’t imagine seeing all this at once. Without any understanding. I can’t imagine it either, not any more. It’s been too long. What’s left for me now, for any of us in Light, is the faint dying away of sound from a bell long after it’s been struck.

What lingers more clearly is the question ‘why’? I’ve come up with countless answers, but my cigarette has gone out. Its ashes and butt have already been incorporated into the cabin’s refuse bin. What can I say? I always want to smoke. It calms me.

~~~

We were so innocent then. None of us knew how long we’d been traveling or even that we were. I speak for us all because back then, we were One.

We’d been speeding through the soup of space-time. It could be said that we didn’t move at all, that we were in all places at once, and that would have been closer to the actual physics of the situation. We understood so little.

As if we understand now. Get that straight. I can look back now and say, oh, yeah, this and that. But we blew into this excruciating process without knowing anything. You’d think after all this time we’d have the answers. Everyone thinks we know everything. I’m telling this story because you need to understand—we don’t know.

At the time, we didn’t have human reference. Consider yourself lucky that I can use these terms. Otherwise, I’d have to present a symphony with flashing lights and you wouldn’t get it.

Please allow me to introduce us, the Aspects of Chroma. I’m of the electromagnetic range known as Indigo, and my frequency is of the musical tone B at the fourth octave of human perception, 493.883 Hertz. Call me B4. From me up the diatonic scale and across the visible spectrum are C Violet, D Red, E Orange, F Yellow, G Green, and A Blue, each like me with countless shades and sub-tones just as there are infinite fractions between the number one and the number two. These are my kinsmen and companions. Part of me, at least in the beginning.

Beginning? Again, that’s an amorphous concept. What we’ve learned so far is that our piercing column of white light, this stream of photons, originates somewhere past Sirius. The big star’s gravity bends our trajectory and slings us on a new path like a stone from a slingshot.

In the moment of our awakening, we existed as a refraction off the face of a doubly terminated clear quartz crystal, SiO4 tetrahedra. We broke into brilliant shapes of every color: red lines and blue spheres, violet spirals and yellow-orange loops, green and turquoise, russet and tan, swirling and sparkling, our voice a mighty chorus throbbing with the vibration of our existence.

This is the armchair quarterback version. Like I said, we didn’t know any of this. We just were. Ambulatory entities moved around us in a physical existence unlike ours. They could travel from place to place as discrete beings. Do things. Move things. I envied them.

Looking back, I’m amazed at how easy it was to take the next step. I can’t tell you when. We’re talking infinities of time, at least in human terms. And that’s how I’m trying to keep this, in human terms.

At a random moment, I the fourth octave of Indigo separated my wave of sound and light from the others. I clung to one of these ambulatory forms as it passed near the crystal. I had been part of the full sound of Chroma, a band of its electromagnetic spectra. Suddenly I wasn’t.

I admit it was a thrilling moment. That first taste of discrete existence riveted my attention. This physiognomy went places, did things. I went with it. Interacted. I became able to think and speak of things not previously known, concepts not known to us in One.

That was how it started.

~~~

I rode the Phiz, these gray physiognomies with their gleaming black eyes and dexterous fingers, around our contained metal vessel. On its shoulders, I dove deep into the belly of the ship where sleek engines chewed through harvested dark matter and thrust us ever onward. I swept along corridors to technical rooms where Phiz performed maintenance on each other and the ship’s devices. With the Phiz, I found that my suggestions resulted in certain responses so that when I wanted to see beyond a particular door, whichever Phiz I rode opened it. When I wanted to alter the direction of the ship so that it turned more toward the nearby nebulae or a particular galaxy, the Phiz manipulated the controls accordingly.

What pleasure I found in these interactions! The heady exercise of power, autonomy, control, adventure! The gratification of cause and effect, initiation and conclusion, hunger and satiety—I couldn’t get enough. How could one ever forget such things, once tasted?

My fellow Aspects twirled and tumbled in a constantly changing wash of rainbow hues and choirs of sound. Calculations of mathematics, rhymes of words and phrases, patterns of triangles, squares, octagons, words merging into other words that grew from combinations of letters, new meanings and ideas forming from old meanings and old ideas, scenes of color shifting constantly into different color—all of it poured out in a continuing stream, all of it made audible by the rush of sound, each tone carrying its own frequency and pitch, each color merging upward or downward into the next hue, each pitch sliding upward or downward through infinite frequencies.

Indigo posed our fateful question to the thought stream pulsing within our One: Could we have form as do the Phiz?

Immediately the texture of light in the room changed. Shades of color diminished until only the primary hue of each band remained. The wild disarray of sound subsided as sub-tones, flats and sharps and semi-notes aligned with their dominant pitches. One next to each other, each of the Aspects formed their primary hue of colored light in a single prismatic emission from the crystal face.

“What would you have us do, B Indigo?” asked D293.665 Red, surging in a beam of crimson. “Will it be pleasurable?”

“What will form accomplish?” A440 Blue said, his cobalt column intense. “I admit to some interest in your idea, but I have no data that support this proposal.”

“No data,” said the sphere of E329.628 Orange.

F369.994 Yellow rippled over the room, casting everything in golden brilliance. “A challenging proposal, my dear B4,” he said. “I’ve seen you coming this. I’ve felt your excitement. Why would you change us?”

Even separated from them as I had become in my questioning, I could not overcome the pull of our vibrational unity. But among them all, none had greater fundamental frequency with me than the energy of F369.994 and his fellow octaves of F sharp. For a moment, I couldn’t control my visceral response, an emission of sound that rang out beside his pitch in perfect intervals of fourths and fifths.

Such joy! Tremors of luxurious warmth swept along my wavelength. I wanted him always with me.

“Don’t spoil this, Yellow.” I wrested away, shivering in the rush of our harmonic joining. “Think of what I ask.”

His tone settled on one note. “Do you know what you ask?”

“Surely we have other purpose than endless play,” I said, resisting the urge to acknowledge his doubt. “What do we know of our beginning? Where are we going? What is our purpose? Is this all there is?”

None of them replied. Only the faintest choir of sound emanated from us.

“What of this adjacent plane, these physical constructs that force us from One into many, that contain us and attend us?” I said, swirling toward the crystal and the Phiz then laying my purple ribbon of light along the glass that separated our enclosed space from the streaming vista ahead. I couldn’t express, then or now, the swelling up I felt, the urgency pushing me. “What are the natures of the bodies we pass, these suns and novas, the congregates?”

The room remained abnormally silent with faint spikes of color flickering on the lustrous high ceiling.  I couldn’t blame them for their reaction. Part of me remained in sync with them, stunned at my rebellion.

“These are challenging observations, B4,” Blue intoned.

Green flourished in chartreuse, emerald, lime, as octaves of G echoed. “We could instruct the Phiz to such a task. I sense creative possibilities.”

“Yes, exactly,” I said, my Indigo family growing more intense. “How can we wait one more moment to explore?”

“Dearest B4, we have everything here,” Violet C murmured. “Existence in its purest form. We are One. Why would we want to disturb this with unknowns?”

“But we are no longer One…” I said.

“Theoretical questions, Violet,” F Yellow said. “Questioning within unity is not the same as chasing ideas on your own. What B4 proposes takes us outside anything we’ve known.”

“The risks of unknowns, statistically speaking…the odds are quite staggering that we would have any success in finding an equivalent amount of pleasure, if I respond to Red’s posed question,” Orange said. She calculated, sending up waves of mathematical images to the upper deck walls. “Drawing from Phiz data stores—they have no specific description of pleasure or any other subjective experience, but they do record a significant number of potentially damaging interactions between our containment here and various elements of the external environment. If we extrapolated that we, like the vessel around us, would also encounter a variety of similar interactions, we could assume that pleasure would not be the only feature of such a ‘physical’ experience.”

“A blind leap, it seems to me,” Blue said. “Why would we risk it? I believe Indigo’s ideas stem from disengagement from our union. We should be reminded—it’s been a long time since we acknowledged the primal energy of our source. A joining can’t be far off. Until the time when our One is reenergized, we should focus on discussion, perhaps expanding our theoretical analyses. We can generate ideas and experiences among us that are new and challenging—Orange alone has infinite sequences of formulae—without shifting the fundamental nature of our experience. We are, after all, physical in the sense that we exist in light and sound beyond the energy stream radiated at the grating. The possibilities…”

“And what of my offerings—spontaneous, organic…” Green said.

“Take my D,” Red said. “Tones seducing to the sharp, to the flat …”

The column of light swirled brighter. Choirs of sound pulsed the air and rose to the walls, to the high ceiling, until the shades of color painted the room in song. I saw their hesitation. I slipped away, allowing my bandwidth to drift into shadows. I don’t know what I expected. The old songs resonated through the conversation.

Whether my fellows agreed or not, whether Indigo might later suffer regret, I could not stop myself. I see now that my destiny would find outlet no matter what. Ironically, I understand it now in terms of the physical world. My fate advanced like a sudden rivulet of rainwater caught behind a clump of leaves and silt which pile up in a widening dam until, finding fresh course to its inevitable downhill destiny, the flood rushes around and through the obstacle.

~~~

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