Posted by
Aram Mrjoian

March 6, 2014 


Vladimir Nabokov vs. Kanye West

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A quick definition from The big M-W: Synesthesia: a concomitant sensation; especially: a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated.

I know what you’re thinking…what the hell do these two men have in common? Has Yeezy ever referenced Russian literature in his music? Does he plan to resurrect the spirit of Vladimir Nabokov and demand a twelve-round verbose, bombastic, egotistical cypher to prove that he is the better wordsmith? (After all, Kanye is the only person who could ever rhyme “morning” with “valedictorian,” making all the syllables line up and everything.) Then again, Nabokov has somehow not only convinced millions of people to read about pedophilia, but, moreover, be impressed by the artistry with which he did it. The one and only Stanley Kubrick made a movie adaptation out of Nabokov’s infamous novel, Lolita, and Nabokov got an Academy Award nomination for best-adapted screenplay.

Yet, what actually connects these two men is that they are both self-described synesthetes. While Nabokov’s synesthesia imbues itself directly in his writing, emblazoning each sentence with a vivid chiaroscuro and focus on color, Yeezy manages to continually create music that in his mind must appear like a riotous party in Time Square on New Year’s Eve. By this I mean, in a recent interview with Seth Meyers, West explained that he “can see sound”, and if that’s the case, his life must be a perpetual Pretty Lights concert.


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