by Kevin Burton
One day years ago a girl working at a Wendy’s counter said to me “Oooo you have such beautiful purple eyes.”
I can’t recall how I responded to that. I seem to remember that we went on for a bit, as a line formed behind me.
We eventually got around to my order, which I don’t remember either. I’ll never forget that purple eyes bit though.
The rest of humanity, including my wife, thinks my eyes are blue. My state ID lists blue as the eye color as she points out often.
Well I like Wendy’s double cheeseburgers plain, heavy on the plain please, and I like that girl’s purple eye theory too. It’s her story and I’m sticking to it.
If I ever refer to her in a song I’ll name her Violet. I’ll use my rock and roll license to do this because, as I learned today, violet is not the same as purple. It’s not a shade of purple.
It appears that when it comes to seeing purple and violet, humans can’t see straight.
This comes up because my next Flying Colors article will honor songs with purple in the title. After finding some unworthy purple songs I wondered if I could fill out the list with violet songs too.
That led me to http://www.jakubmarian.com which bills itself as a website of language, learning, science and art. The website says purple and violet look similar only to human beings.
This website classifies humans as animals, which I do not. But for the moment let’s overlook the “other animals” wording and listen to what the website say about violet and purple.
“To us, humans, purple looks like a more saturated shade of violet, but violet objects in nature are fundamentally different from purple ones. Purple objects are ‘red and blue at the same time,’ whereas violet objects are just violet,” the website reads.
“If you take a look at the distance between violet and blue (on the spectrum), it is about the same as the distance between green and orange. Purple is a mixture of red (which is at the opposite side of the spectrum from violet) and blue (which is relatively far from violet), so it is, in terms of wavelengths, a completely different color.”
“The reason why purple and violet look similar to us is because they stimulate our cones in a similar way, but most other animals don’t share the same types of cones and ‘post-processing.’ This means that to other animals, purple and violet may look completely different!”
“Now imagine a violet flower petal with a purple pattern on it. Depending on the particular shades, this pattern might be completely invisible to us, while many other animals could see it as clearly as we can see an orange pattern on green background. Even common consumer cameras wouldn’t help us; they are designed to capture the same red-green-blue information as our eyes do, so even taking a photo of the petal and editing it in Photoshop would not uncover the pattern. Quite fascinating, isn’t it?”
Indeed. It teaches me that “Are you sure my eyes are purple and not violet,” is what I should have asked the girl at Wendy’s
It’s tempting here to launch into some purple prose about shades of colors, shades of meaning, dipping sauces at Wendy’s.
But I haven’t the time. I must stay on task. My focus is getting a good list of purple songs. I’m going to rule that songs with violet in the title can be included in the list if I find any worthy ones.
At this stage of its development, the primary target audience for Page 7 is humans. So if humans can’t tell the difference, then violet is fair game for my Flying Colors list. Tune in Tuesday to see if any violet songs made the grade.