Seeing Red

Terry Teachout explores the resurgence of interest in autochrome, and wonders what seeing the world in black and white did to our sensibilities:

[My] thirteen-year-old nephew, has taken to turning up his nose at black-and-white movies, a form of youthful snobbery that I'd heard about but never previously encountered. Not for him the clean, crisp surreality of the monochrome image: he wants color or nothing. No doubt blood looks better when it's really red. ....

The world was simpler then, simpler and more reassuring and--yes--less honest. Much was being swept under the rug in 1960, much suffering and much folly, far too much for our collective good. And now? We get color or nothing, with more than enough blood to go around. But while I suppose I'm glad to know what I know about the world, luridly and garishly vivid though it may be, I don't think I would have wanted to know very much of it when I was young--and I'm not at all sure it's a good thing that my nephew already knows some of it.