There is a plastic ball lurking around our house, one of those things you get for a euro on a cafe terrace which far outlasts the revolting plastic car inside which breaks in ten seconds flat. It’s half red and half yellow. Today, Caveboy picked it up and called it ‘orange ball’.
This might not sound like ground-breaking news, but as he’s been picking up the names of colours over the last few months, I’ve noticed that he often calls secondary colours – orange, green, purple – by either of the two colours that make them up. Brown is sometimes brown, and at other times yellow, purple, or blue.
Is he just getting confused, young as he is? Or is there, as I am tentatively, excitedly started to suspect, a spectrum of colours out there for anyone sensitive enough to see, radiating from every coloured surface as the light it absorbs is refracted differently according to the hue? It makes me think that all tangible things might be nothing but prisms, splitting up sunlight into a myriad of colours, which we only choose to see one of at a time.
I read somewhere about a study on deaf people in which they were played a musical note and then asked if they could identify the note based on its vibration. The deaf people tested replied, ‘Which note?’ That is, the funnel that refines the cacophony of sounds we must hear (not forgetting the sound of our own heartbeats, our digestive juices squelching about, our brain rocking gently in its protective fluids) might be blocked up for a deaf person, but the sense of the spectrum, albeit muffled, somehow still comes through.
Could it be that not only solid surfaces, but all of the sensorial world, acoustic, visual, olfactory, tactile, is made up of a vast range of subtleties that we have just become too primitive and crude to be able to sense? Is there any way we can regain this astonishing array of nuances, or would our experience of life be too overwhelming to cope with it? Are we, in fact, devolving?
Answers on an electronic postcard, please.

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