Thursday, 6 November 2014

Talk to me about fire.

Specifically books and other sources about fire, but mainly books. (that I can buy as Christmas is coming up.)

The Anatomy of fire. Like, I know fire and flame generally has a structure, like a diagram of a burning match, how does this change with materials and circumstance? Have Doring Kindersley done a giant book of fire?

The Ecology of fire.

What books do firefighters read when they train?

Forest Fires, what is it like to be inside one, exactly how do they work? ( have read the major wikipedia articles on this stuff, I am looking for more detaile, and more piquant, information.

The same for firestorms.

Especially any old books on fire and how we used to think fire worked. (Writers from around the 16th and 17th century had more interesting prose and their pseud-scientific ideas and perceptions carry a lot of imaginative fuel.)

Poetry about fire. Did someone do a Conference-Of-The-Birds thing except everything is on fire?

Did some crazy visionary write a whole book in a world of fire Voyage-To-Arcturus style and I missed it?

Any Project Gutenberg reports or stories about it?


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  2. Gaston Bachelard's 'The Psychoanalysis of Fire' and 'Fragments of a Poetics of Fire'. You should be able to find the first pretty easily but the second is way less popular. I've read a little of the first and I'm assuming the second is out of his series on the four classical elements and the imagination - I'm reading 'Air and Dreams' right now and it's fantastic, so 'Fragments' is probably fantastic too!

    Indigenous Australians have also had a long, long relationship with fire and its use in managing the environment, conducting regular burn-offs to prevent bush fires. We've also got a species of tree, the Eucalypt, which really loves fire:

  3. The reviews look good, and I've always loved staring at candles in blackouts, so why not? I haven't read anything bad by Bachelard yet. "Chapters include "Poetic Images of the Flame in Plant Life," ''The Solitude of the Candle Dreamer," and "The Light of the Lamp."

    This might also be interesting:,%20Anton%20-%20Elemental%20Spirits.pdf

    There's also a lot of stuff on fire fighting in 'Fight Fire' from Fate Worlds Vol. 1 - Jason Morningstar wrote it and you could probably mail him for the resources he used.

  4. Agrippa (chapter 5 in book one of his Three Books of Occult Philosophy):

    There are two things (saith Hermes) viz. Fire and Earth, which are sufficient for the operation of all wonderful things: the former is active, the latter passive.
    Fire (as saith Dionysius) in all things, and through all things, comes and goes away bright, it is in all things bright, and at the same time occult and unknown; when it is by is boundless, and invisible, of itself sufficient for every action that is proper to it....comprehending another but not comprehended itself, not standing in need of another, secretly increasing of itself, and manifesting its greatness to things that receive it. Active, will not be affronted or opposed, but as it were in a way of revenge it will reduce on a sudden things into obedience to itself. Fire (saith Pliny) is the boundless and mischievous part of the nature of things....
    That fire then which we use is fetched out of other things. It is in stones, and is fetched out by the stroke of the steel; it is in earth and makes that, after digging up, to smoke; it is in water and heats springs and wells; it is in the air and makes it (as we oftentimes see) to burn. And all animals, and living things whatsoever, and all vegetables are preserved by heat--everything that lives, lives by reason of the enclosed fire.

  5. I only know sciencey shit. But there is some poetry in that, too.

    The color of a flame is due to it's temperature. Directly and precisely. Every temperature has a color (see: black body radiation) but not every color has a temperature. When an object is hot, it gives off some of that heat as radiance, and that wavelength of that photon determines the color.

    So, you can tell the temperature of something by looking at it's original color. Blue is hotter than white is hotter than orange is hotter than red. That's as true for a blacksmith's ingot as it is for the stars in the sky.

    That's actually how nightvision goggles* work. Since humans have a tempurature, we give off photons via the same process that a light bulb gives off photons. The only reason we don't see ourselves glowing is that our eyes can't detect such low-energy wavelength photons. The light that humans shed naturally is infrared (and visible to infravision, naturally).

    That's also why you'll also see it called 'thermal vision'.

    The only thing left is a question of semantics. Is there such a thing as invisible light? (And does a color exist on the spectrum if no one can perceive it?) Since our skin is luminous, can you say that we are a light source to other creatures? Something something secret light of mammals.

    *some other night vision goggles are active, which means that they have an infrared flashlight strapped to them, and they don't just rely on ambient infrared light.