This approach is exemplified in the watercolor (right), painted after a long evening discussion with the poet Friedrich Schiller about the "polarity" of color (explained below). That is: if color has polarity, and magnets have polarity, then perhaps there is a phenomenal "attractiveness" in both materials and in colors. The short vertical bars (far right) represent primordial yellow and blue refraction fringes (also explained below) that Goethe considered to be the basic phenomena; the curved bars (at left, which are drawn to resemble the curve of iron filings across the opposing poles of two magnets), show the mixtures that result when "attracting" fringes are overlapped to produce the "union" mixture green (below) and the "deepening" extraspectral mixture (above). These combinations in turn create Newton's spectrum (horizontal bar, center bottom) and the extraspectral purples (horizontal bar, center top). Linking all mixtures together end to end, just as several bar magnets can be linked together in a row, produces the central vertical bar, the circumference of the hue circle. There is an almost mystical simplemindedness in this pursuit of patterns, resemblances and associations, but it is the essence of the Goethean approach to natural phenomena.


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