NABOKV-L post 0007302, Fri, 20 Dec 2002 15:27:27 -0800

Nabokov & synasthesia
more VN & Hockney
----- Original Message -----
From: Carolyn Kunin
To: Vladimir Nabokov Forum
Sent: Friday, December 20, 2002 2:56 PM
Subject: more VN & Hockney

found on the 'net:

Patricia Duffy

Table of Contents
Foreword by Dr. Peter Grossenbacher of the National Institute of Mental Health:"More than a Curiosity: Synesthesia, Science and Society"

Prologue - "The differences between men are profound..."

Chapter 1 - "Colors hide within everything, including the night."

Chapter 2 - "A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue, Some day I'll crack your nascent origins."

Chapter 3 - "....perfumes, colors, sounds answer each other."

Chapter 4 - "In life, so much depends on the question, 'do you see what I see?'"

Chapter 5 - "It will be seen in the end how greatly metaphysicians and psychologists err"

Chapter 6 - "If man is a being afloat in an ocean of vibrations, then..."

Chapter 7 - "For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us..."

Chapter 8 - "To teach the unfamiliar, set it in the world of the familiar"

Chapter 9 - "The scraps of memory that stay with us after a dream..."

Chapter 10 - Time is Space

Chapter 11 - "The Internet was made for synesthetes"

According to author Patricia Duffy, Rimbaud, Richard Feyman, Franz Lizst, David Hockney, and Vladimir Nabokov had more in common than just genius. Duffy believes that each of these extraordinary men experienced a condition known as synesthesia, a crossing of the senses. For example, Lizst saw colored notes; Feynman, colored numbers. This study of the relation between perception and creativity will help move you past the dividing lines of the senses. Before you finish this fascinating book, you'll be seeing music and sounding words.

Imagine a world in which words have colors and sounds have tastes. In his autobiography, Vladimir Nabokov described this neurological phenomenon, which helped inspire David Hockney's sets for the Metropolitan Opera. Richard Feynman experienced it while formulating the quantum theory that won him a Nobel Prize.

Sometimes described as a blending of perceptions, synesthesia occurs when only one of the fives senses is aroused but two respond. Journalist Patricia Lynne Duffy draws from her own struggles and breakthroughs with synesthesia to help us better understand the condition, while describing some of the major theories surrounding it.

From Publishers Weekly
Synesthesia, the phenomenon whereby one sense is stimulated and another also responds i.e., when words have colors or tastes have shapes is not newly discovered (Rimbaud, Liszt and Nabokov were famously synesthetic), but the condition has hardly been discussed, much less systematically researched. Scientists think it may occur when language centers in the brain mingle among some of the visual processing sites in the cerebral cortex. Duffy, a synesthete herself, endeavors to bring attention to this fascinating type of perception and raises some questions. Is it, for instance, genetically transmitted? The Nabokov family would make it seem so. Why do many children (one half to one third of whom are synesthetic) lose the facility once abstract language takes over? Will knowing more about synesthesia improve the human condition? Instead of attempting to answer these questions through scientific knowledge, Duffy is intent on describing the experiences of famous synesthetes: chapters on lesser-known composers and artists whose creativity is fueled by synesthesia are less compelling than, say, the passage on David Hockney's peculiarly striking relationship to color. Feel-good spiels are kept to a minimum, although Duffy occasionally lapses into reverence for her subjects' profundity, creativity or spirituality. (Nov. 6) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.