18 October 2011

Meissen ≠ Messiaen

Bitter in the mouth by Monique Truong has been a wonderful read. I was not familiar with synesthesia and there was a wonderful section about artists, writers and musicians who sense things in extra ways. It starts on page 216 of the Random House paperback edition (just in case you want to go read it). The protagonist in Bitter is reminded by words of particular foods. Truong talks about Wassily Kandinsky who saw colors when he heard music. Messiaen saw "musician colors, not painter's colors" when he composed. Scriabin also saw color in music, inventing a clavier à lumières for his Prometheus which Lindamint dreams of seeing at its New York performance in 1915. I read this passage during the course of a day of gallery-hopping in New York City. After the Frick galleries, I was in the bookshop and there was a book on Meissen porcelain ... which I read as Messiaen. I didn't see colors, taste particular foods but it was sensational.

The picture? It's Kandinsky's "Composition 7" from a synesthesia blog.

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