Friday, June 16, 2006

Technicolor dreamers

An engaging article on Kandinsky that includes fun footnotes on similarly-gifted writers:
Charles Baudelaire
The influential French poet and chronicler of modern life displayed synaesthetic sensibilities in his 1857 sonnet "Correspondances": "Perfumes, sounds and colours answer each other." In addition to his frequent writings on Richard Wagner's music, Baudelaire was intrigued by sensuous experiences, especially of the body within the city. He also experimented with hashish in order to enhance the intermingling of the senses. Baudelaire's countryman and fellow poet Arthur Rimbaud had synaesthesia, too.

Vladimir Nabokov
The Russian author famed for his English novel of 1955 Lolita, developed his "freakish gift" of synaesthesia during childhood when he complained to his mother that the colours on his wooden alphabet blocks were "all wrong". Synaesthesia is now recognised as a genetically inherited trait, and the Nabokov family was full of synaesthetes; his mother, wife and son Dimitri all had the condition. "The confessions of a synaesthete must sound tedious and pretentious to those who are protected from such leakings," wrote Nabokov.
See also: Choosing the right words.

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