Oxford Handbook of Syn-aithesia :

Pars VI : "Creativity, Memory, and Imagination".

Partis IV Contenta



Auctor vel Auctrix



Synaisthesia in Litterature

Patricia Lynne Duffy



Synaisthesia & Artistic Process

Carol Steen & Greta Berman



Synaisthesia & Memory

Beat Meier & Nicolas Rothen



Synaisthesia & Savantism

Mary Jane Spiller & Ashok S. Jansari



Synaisthesia, Imagery, & Performance

Mark C. Price


33. http://www.bluecatsandchartreusekittens.com/Synesthesia_in_Literature.pdf



Synaisthesia in Litterature

Patricia Lynne Duffy


p. 647 books about metaphors etc.

"Literature around the world is full of cross-sensory metaphors, and this has been explored in numerous studies ..., including such influential works as

George Laker's (1980) classic Metaphors We Live By,

Lawrence Marks' Synaesthesia : the Unity of the Senses, and

Glenn O'Malley's Shelley and Synaesthesia."

pp. 648-9 synaisthetic experience

p. 648

"some of the most realistic depictions of synesthetic experience tend to come from

p. 649

synesthete authors themselves (e.g., Vladimir Nabokov, Jane Yardley ...). ... While ... synesthesia can take many forms, the types in literary depictions are mostly "word-color," "music-color," "taste-color," and "word-taste" (i.e., synesthetes who experience colors from words, music, or taste, and those who experience taste from words)."

pp. 649-51 chromaisthesia in poiesia by Rimbaud

p. 649

"at the end of the nineteenth century ..., the circle of French Symbolist poets were particularly captivated by "colored hearing" or "chromosthesia" (colored sensation). The nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud ...

p. 650

first came across "audition colore'e" (colored hearing) while combing medical journals for scientific accounts of visionary experience (and perhaps for understanding ... drug-related hallucinations ...). As John Harrison wrote ...

[quoted from Harrison 2001, p. 13 :] Rimbaud had been fascinated with ... sensory fusion and spent much of his time searching French medical literature for descriptions of visionary experience. ...

And, as Kevin Dann writes in his historic account of synesthesia ..., Rimbaud connected visionary experience with the ability to "hear colors" :

[quoted from Dann "1978" {read 1998}, pp. 23, 25 :] Rimbaud linked synaesthesia with mystic visions ... because he was following his sources, the early nineteenth century medical literature. An inveterate reader of encyclopedias and dictionaries, he searched those texts ... and came upon descriptions of audition colore'e ... . ...

Rimbaud and the other Symbolists believed that synesthetic perceptions were an

indication that the "ordinary" things of this world were charged with ...

p. 651

spiritual intensity which only a few "sensitives" or "seers" were able to apprehend. In the Symbolists' view, the true function of poets was to transmit to others this heightened vision ... through the language of their poetic works -- and synesthetic perception was exalted as a manifestation of such heightened vision. Indeed, in the final stanza of Rimbaud's "Voyelles," the synesthete-speaker's ... vision culminates in reaching a mystical state, "crossed by worlds and by angels.""

Harrison 2001 = John Harrison : Synaesthesia : the Strangest Thing. Oxford Univ Pr.

Dann 1998 = Kevin T. Dann : Bright Colors Falsely Seen : Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge. New Haven (CT) : Yale Univ Pr.

p. 651 the Symbolist movement is a development of the Romanticist movement

"The Symbolist circle linked synesthesia and other non-ordinaryperceptual states with the ability to glimpse

the Romantic "sublime," the ultimate truth and beauty the Romantics viewed

{Romanticism is much-influenced by the antient text Peri Hupsous ('On the Sublime'), which lauded the mystical over the conventional, in literature.}

as a source of artistic

{"Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime ... was, for a century, almost ‘required reading’ for ... artists of a romantic bent" ("BHR", pp. 14-15).} {"artists are still trying to give the sublime a contemporary treatment." ("CA&S")}

and mystical vision.

{"romantic works ... can support ... a Burke just as much as ... a Rousseau. In Babbitt's terminology, then can support "awe" just as much as "wonder."" ("BHR", p. 34)} {"[John] Dennis's The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry (1704) ... also maintained the association of the sublime with religious awe." ("LGW")}

Some believed that non-ordinary perceptual states like synesthesia were indicative of a future development of human consciousness. This view had descended from earlier Romantic poets such as Charles Baudelaire, who believed that "sensitives" and "seers" were able to perceive the mysterious subterranean connections among what appeared as discrete sensory experiences. In his poem, "Correspondences," Baudelaire describes

the faint "echoes" of of synaisthetic merging into a single unity, described as the "one low shadowy note" -- the harmonious union of things heard, smelled, and seen ... .

{In this writing, there is far too much irrealism : for in true synaisthesia there are generally neither "echoes", nor anything "shadowy", nor even anything definitely "from afar" nor any "rebound". Too many inapplicable metaphors defile the description, necessarily resulting in contempt by true synaisthetes of such writing; for synaisthetes are perceiving very definite and praecise sensations, that do not admit of any such improprely metaphorical embellishments. And surely no congenital synaisthete hath ever experienced total merger of all senses into a single indiscriminate "unity" (though for heavy ingesters of psychedelic drugs this might be temporarily feasible).}

Baudelaire, and later Rimbaud's circle, believed this hidden unity was

directly accessible only to the true poet ...

{Not only is it not accessible to mere poiets (other than ones who ingest enough psychedelic drugs), but furthermore poietria must almost inevitably severely misdescribe real synaisthesia.}

and Baudelaire returned to it in his later book, Artificial Paradises, where he describes his experience ... :

[quoted from Baudelaire 1996, 19 :] Sound holds color, color holds music.

Musical notes become numbers."

{Their ordinary letter-names (in the musical scale) may become transposed into numerals.}

"BHR" = William F. Byrne : "Burke’s Higher Romanticism :

Politics and the Sublime". http://www.nhinet.org/byrne19-1.pdf

"CA&S" = Julian Bell : "Contemporary Art and the Sublime". http://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/the-sublime/julian-bell-contemporary-art-and-the-sublime-r1108499

"LGW" = George P. Landow :"Longinus's On Great Writing and the Eighteenth-Century Sublime". https://web.archive.org/web/20070626202318/http://www.usp.nus.edu.sg/landow/victorian/philosophy/sublime/longinus.html

Baudelaire 1996 = Charles Baudelaire (transl. by Stacy Diamond) : Artificial Paradises. NY : Citadel Pr. (from French original published in 1851)

p. 651 total lack of experience, and fanciful writing not based on anyones's experience, out of Rimbaud's wild conjecture

"However, ... Rimbaud, himself, ... never ... experienced the congenital {but instead, only the has`is`-instigated} ... variety of synesthesia that he and his fellow poets so admired.

As the poet wrote, "I invented the colors of the vowels!" (Rimbaud 1873/1937, 285)."

{Otherwise, "the colors assigned to vowels in his famous sonnet are the same as those printed in the alphabet book he used as a child." (WFNOI 4.1, p. 90)}

Rimbaud 1873/1937 = Arthur Rimbaud : Alchemie du Verbe. Paris : Mercure du France, 1937. (originally published 1873)

WFNOI = Louis Wirth Marvick : Waking the Face that No One is : a Study in the Musical Context of Symbolist Poetics. Rodopi, Amsterdam, 2004. http://books.google.com/books?id=UdT5NBjIISoC&pg=PA90&lpg=PA90&dq=

pp. 651-2 later accounts of synaisthesia

p. 651

"This ... was also described almost 100 years later by ... Lawrence Marks in his now[-]classic work ... Synaesthesia ..., and by Kevin Dann, in ... his historical account of synesthesia :

[quoted from Marks 1978, 2 :] To comprehend ... that there are correspondences between ... auditory and visual experience ... is to discern ... that

amid the diversity of sensory perceptions, there is unity. ...

{Such "unity" is, however, partial rather complete, and conditional rather than absolute. It is a system of correspondences and of correlations rather than of absolute identities.}

p. 652

[quoted from Dann 1998, p. 42 :] One can understand synaesthesia as ... expressive of ... harmony; because these are in turn linked with ... the divine ... when physicians and psychologists of the nineteenth century began to describe cases of chromosthetes {better spelled /chromaisthetes/} ...

poets understood these individuals as gifted visionaries, like themselves."

{Congenital chromaisthetes may well be divinely-gifted visionaries; whereas mere poiets are typically rather wild wordsmiths, contriving undisciplined and inaccurate assertions without basis in reality.}

Marks 1978 = Lawrence E. Marks : Synaesthesia : the Unity of the Senses. NY : Academic Pr.

p. 652 derangement? madness?

"The Poet makes himself a seer {an inferior one} by a long, gigantic

derangement of all the senses.

{Wrong nomenclature! Natural synaisthesia is not so much a "derangement" as a "divinely-apportioned re-arrangement" of the senses while they are being divinely utilized by divine entities occupying the body of the divinely-guided visionary. Drug-deranged conditions (such as are achieved by mere poiets) are, by contrast, an inferior achievement.}

All forms of ... madness ... . ...

{The shamanic achievement of a true visionary seer is hardly of the nature of "madness" (even though it may appear "mad" in its earliest stages of development).}

Because he reaches the unknown! (Rimbaud in Fowlie (translator), 2005, 377)"

{The achievement of shamanhood is not quite in the realm of the utterly "unknown"; for there is a long transmission (parampara) of the doctrine reaching a great many generations into the past, with such traditionalist seers.}

Rimbaud in Fowlie (translator), 2005 = Wallace Fowlie (ed. & transl.) : Rimbaud Complete Works, Selected Letters. Univ of Chicago Pr. (original French published 1885)

p. 652 (Rimbaud in Fowlie (translator), 2005, p. 379) universal language of the soul

"The time of universal language will come ... . This language will be for the soul, containing everything, smells, sounds, colors, thought holding onto thought and pulling".

pp. 652-3 influence by Rimbaud and by Ghil on their contemporaries

p. 652

"At the 1889 International Conference on Physiological Psychology in Paris, the talks on audition colore'e drew the most attention. ...

[quoted from Dann 1998, p. 25 :] In the mid-1880s, the two topics talked about in nearly every Paris and Berlin salon were Wagner and ... audition colore'e, especially Rimbaud's poetic treatment of the subject. ...

The discussion was furthered by poet and essayist, Rene' Ghil's book, Traite' du Verbe. In his book, Ghil, also at the forefront of the Symbolist movement, wrote of "audition colore'e" as pointing to an evolving higher consciousness marked by a sensory and artistic fusion :

p. 653

[translated from Ghil 1886, p. 25 :] Now, undeniably, scientific review gives validity to the miraculous fact of colored hearing, which points to that distant time we humbly await, where all the Arts ... will return and lose themselves in a total Communion : that terrifying Music that will enthrone the only Divinity, Poetry. ... In my estimation, this is most certainly a phase in the evolution of our higher senses."

Ghil 1886 = Rene' Ghil : Traite' du Verbe. Paris : Chez Girard.

p. 654 expanded view of reality

"the Romantic ideal ... presents and expanded vision of reality."

"the perception of language as a landscape of shimmering, luminous colors and textures is a gift which allows the poet to express the transcendent beauty of words."

p. 656 spiritual vision

"In the nineteenth century, ... artists felt that the increasing acceptance of an objective, scientific world view put the validity of ... spiritual vision under attack. Artists felt the need to break through to a new vision ... even if that meant cultivating experiences deemed forbidden."

p. 659 (Parker 2007, p. 279) colored shapes indicating the intent of a speaker

"I see blue triangles from a happy speaker.

Red squares come from liars.

Envy comes out in green trapezoids ... .

Aggression shows up as small black ovals."

Parker 2007 = T. Jefferson Parker : The Fallen. NY : HarperCollins.

p. 660 (Payne 2005, p. 90) famous synaisthete musicians and poiets

"Liszt and Stravinsky, Kandinsky and Rimbaud ... shared the multisensory perception of synaesthetes".

Payne 2005 = Holly Payne : The Sound of Blue. NY : Plume, Penguin Group.

p. 665 (Parker 2007, pp. 278-9) colors of timbres of musical instruments

Parker 2007, p. 278

""seeing music" ...

the saxophone was of course, red, and

cymbals lemon yellow;

violins were lime green,

guitars magenta".

Parker 2007, p. 279

"a piano ... seeing the swells of crimson music flowing out of the instrument."


Julia Simner & Edward M. Hubbard (edd.) : The Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia. Oxford Univ Pr, 2013.