Synesthesia-Imagery with All the Senses

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“Through synesthesia and paradox it takes us past the mode of sensuous apprehension toward the unheard melodies beyond the sounded notes, the static pattern behind the frenzied action.”


-From Donald Keesey’s Contexts for Criticism page 207


I have never heard this word before, and Hamilton did not think it important enough, or common enough to include in her book.  According to American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary, synesthesia is defined as follows:

“a condition in which one type of sensory stimulation creates perception in another sense. The most common form of synesthesia is called ‘coloured hearing,’ where a person experiences a visual sensation when receiving an auditory signal (for example, hearing the musical tone C and seeing the colour red). Although tone-colour relationships are not identical for all people, there are general uniformities: the deeper a musical note, the darker the colour. Similar colour perceptions, called photisms, may accompany sensations of taste, touch, pain, smell, or temperature. Synesthesia has been used as a literary device by poets as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Rimbaud, Hart Crane, and Dame Edith Sitwell.

I thought it is very interesting that a medical dictionary would also mention that it is used as a literary term.  I was also interested in this definition.  I always thought this was imagery, but I guess imagery only deals with a mental picture, not a mental smell, taste, sound, or feel.


Take a look at the other terms that my classmates defined. 



Jenna said:

This is a very interesting concept. Thanks for the definition.

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