Saturday, March 17, 2007

Imagination v Synesthesia

Both aesthetics and psychology have tried to deal with the confusion of the two senses in terms of "synesthesia" and the relation between poetry and painting (ut pictura poesis). Synesthesia is not only a puzzling quirk in certain sensitive persons for whom numbers are colors, colors tastes on the tongue, or musical tones present sculptural forms. Synesthesia--confusion, interpenetration of one sense with another--goes on all the time in our common speech when we talk imaginatively, or of imagining. Evidently, synesthesia is how imagination imagines. What this does is transform the singleness of any one sense out of its literalness. It brings us to new sense of the senses, making metaphor of sense perception itself. Consequently, synesthesia plays a special role in the arts because it helps art's own intention--metaphorical insight, awakening of sensibility--freeing it from depiction and representation.

(Excerpt from James Hillman: Image Sense, 1979)

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