NABOKV-L post 0025984, Sat, 31 Jan 2015 12:18:21 -0200

Circling around Nabokov's synesthesia and links to Fellini's
Princess Lherimia (Pina Bausch)

While I was watching Fellini’s masterpiece “E La Nave Va” in a DVD I was
surprised to find in it a blind character who managed to see colors through
the sound of different voices. It was performed by the iconic choreographer
Pina Bausch. The Italian director chose her to voice one of his comments
about destruction and war: the blind princess Lherimia could not find any
color in an Army General’s voice.

I once read, somewhere, that the rhinoceros in the movie was an homage to
Ionesco’s play and chosen to represent the totalitarian defensive armor,
but I think this interpretation lacks support. However, it led me to imagine
if Fellini was aware of V.Nabokov’s synesthesia and introduced it as an
homage to him?

No, no way ( an absurd conjecture, just like the one related to the Ionesco
reference seemed to be). Google search informed me that not only Fellini was
a synaesthete, but Pina Baush too. So… no direct links to Nabokov, but lots
of interesting clues about Synesthesia that are worth sharing here.

On an article about Fellini, his vision and his childhood memories we read

“ This Rimini, implicit in the images, is always present in the language,
dubbed in its words. In 1947, upon his return to the city destroyed by war,
Fellini, by this time Roman, listens to the sound of the names and the words
of the survivors in the "lunar crater" of the Rimini debris. He recognises
them and they can be recognised in the synesthesia of his coloured
listening. An ability to find a balance among the sounds, colours, and
shapes, which Fellini attributes to some characters in his films (Lerinia,
the Pina Bausch of E la nave va or in the planned film Viaggio a Tulùn), but
which is, above all, his. "There was a time during my childhood – he
explains in an interview – during which I suddenly visualized the chromatics
corresponding to sounds. An ox bellowing in my grandmother's stall, I saw an
enormous reddish-brown rug that was flapping in the wind in front of me. It
came closer, compressed, and became a thin strip which entered my right ear.
Three bells in the bell tower? Here are three silver discs removing
themselves from up there in the bell and reaching my eyebrow fibrillating,
disappearing into my head. I could go on for a good hour, believe me". We
are also bound to believe in his colourful perception of city names. While
he only associated Rimini with "a word made up of poles, toy soldiers in a
line", Rome sounds to him like"a big red face, an expression rendered heavy
and thoughtful from gastrosexual needs: I think of a brown, slimy
Southerner: of an expansive broken sky, forming the base of the works, with
the colours violet, yellowish glows, black, silver: gloomy colours. But, in
summary, it is a comforting face". / Fellini lives his dialect – not easy to
understand: "like a Chinese person talking with his head under water" (FF) –
to the point that even a swearword like "Osciadlamadona" [Host of the Virgin
Mary] seemed to him like a more beautiful sound than "Roshomon". This is
proven by the phonetic sequence that – as with "AsaNIsiMAsa"
<> 1, – made
up his talisman word: "Amarcord". Discovered through scribbles, this "hard,
gothic, arcane word" is chosen in place of the old title "Ebourg" to be
conserved forever in the memory. Amarcord, however, writes Fellini, is "a
bizarre little word, a music box, a phonetic somersault a cabalistic sound,
the brand of an aperitif..." " A word which, in its extravagance, could
become the synthesis, the reference point, almost a sonic reverb of a
feeling, a state of being, a behaviour, a way of feeling and thinking which
is twofold, contradictory, the co–existence of two opposites, the fusion of
two extremes such as detachment and nostalgia, judgement and complexity,
rejection and adhesion, softness and irony, annoyance and torment". Is
Amarcord, as a proper noun, the explicit synonym for Rimini?!

Here, Pina Bausch and Wim Wenders:

1. <> Sundance
selects A Deux with Wender’s “Pina” (March 31st,2011) – Sundance Selects
announced today that the company is acquiring all U.S. rights to celebrated
documentary PINA. Wenders also wrote the screenplay for the picture and
produced it along with Gian-Piero Ringel (PALERMO SHOOTING). PINA, an
in-depth look into the work of iconic dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch,
world-premiered at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival where it became the most
discussed film of the festival. In addition, HanWay Films has licensed PINA
in over 40 territories
&feature=player_embedded Dancer Pina Bausch is legendary. As celebrated as
Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, she transformed the language of dance.
Designed to ignite emotion in the viewer, her unique multi-media creations
offered a visual experience like no other. Now we can experience the
synesthesia of her elemental choreography as if performed for us in the
flesh. Filmed by the great European pioneer of 3D photography, Alain Derobe,
this revolutionary 3D film captures the thrilling aesthetic of Pina Bausch’s
greatest productions. Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects, said:
“Since the Berlinale ended, our team has remained completely mesmerized by
Wim Wenders tribute to the legendary late choreographer Pina Bausch. This
one-of-a-kind spectacle is going to knock out not only dance fans but anyone
interested in great cinema. This is Wim Wenders at the top of his game, and
we couldn’t be happier to be in business with him and our friends at Hanway
Films again.”

2. I’ve mentioned Synaesthesia
hesia/> before. It’s the theory behind why some people hear smells, see
sounds or feel light. This happens because their brains are wired-up
slightly differently to the rest of us. I hesitate to use the word
‘incorrectly’ because it’s not a matter of right or wrong. It’s just
different. For me Synaesthesia explains how it is that some artists can
produce radically different work – sometimes at a level that us mere mortals
struggle to comprehend. They are describing an utterly private perception of
reality. When we see and appreciate work that is truly ‘way out there’ it
may be that we are seeing a true synaesthetist at work. It can be
intimidating. How can we ever aspire to produce work like this ? […] Oh, and
go and see Wim Wenders film ‘Pina’, about the brilliant German Choreographer
Pina Bausch. In my opinion a genuine synaesthete and a truly remarkable

More on Pina, Fellini and Kandinsky: “ In 1983, Bausch appeared as the
Principessa Lherimia in a Fellini film. She explains to the assembled dinner
guests her concept of sound/color synethesia, a topic I discussed in a piece
I wrote last year about the Kandinsky retrospective at the Guggenheim.
<> John’s
Bailiwick: “Subway to Synesthesia” link * (Cf. also
e-are-lost%e2%80%9d/> Pina Bausch: “Dance, Dance or We Are Lost” JANUARY 17,
2011 )


*John Bailiwick’s article on Bausch and Kandinsky is a great read…

Search archive with Google:

Contact the Editors:,
Nabokv-L policies:
Nabokov Online Journal:"
AdaOnline: "
The Nabokov Society of Japan's Annotations to Ada:
The VN Bibliography Blog:
Search the archive with L-Soft:

Manage subscription options :