"Grausam": That's German for "dreadful" and "atrocious" and all manner of description of misery. The root word is "grau" as in the color "grey." (I wonder what etymological leap those Teutons or Visigoths or Saxons had to take to make such neutral grey so horribly "grausam.") Grey is generally featureless, dull, something neither black nor white. But, in reality, that is most of our reality, isn't it? Concrete surrounds us, haze and clouds diffuse and obscure what is plain to see. Each action we take, according to Newton, has an equal, opposite and collinear reaction. Every decision, every good intention has a dot of black, the yin and the yang swirling into it's resolute blend of grey. Our greatest advances, conveniences and technologies have devastating consequences. Grey is where one must be most aware of the details and the textures of things, actions and decisions. It is the land of ambiguity, charted, but not navigated by William Golding in Lord of the Flies. Ambiguity bothers us: it requires us to think, to decide between easier, more right, more wrong, most best, less worst, knowing full well that the equal, opposite and collinear reaction is pretty bad, too. We demand that our politicians have laser-like abilities to discern the black molecules from the white molecules and never offend, never inconvenience, never waiver, never impose, never give up, never give in, never concede, when society can really only operate with but the greying cataracts of our limited vision. Grey is the dust that settles after the bomb explodes, it is the ash remaining from the burning of books, it is the bit of bone left remaining after the hunt. But grey is the soothing fog that gently hydrates, the hair at grandmother's temple, the stones on the stoop of the place that is most home.
And today, Frau Pimpinella is asking us to post our greyest images.
Stopover in an airport before dawn: Neither day nor night, neither here nor there.
After our visit to Beijing, I feel a great deal of ambiguity about the Middle Kingdom. Much is good there: In the past decade, China lifted the greatest number of people out of poverty in the history of mankind. But at what cost? This is brand-new, gleaming glass, grey and steel shopping mall in Beijing, absolutely devoid of any shoppers. This shopping mall is so empty the store clerks leave their shops unattended to play badminton in the echoing halls.
The grey zone of progress in Beijing: The spectacular high rise office and condominium buildings are constructed by workers, very often peasants from the provinces, who live in shanties on site.