Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Seeing Sound

There is a brain condition in which the patient sees sounds: "'Ah' is something white and long; 'ee' moves off somewhere ahead ... 'yih' is pointed in form..." etc.

This makes me think about how writers balance form and function. We want to convey meaning, but we also play with sound and imagery, we roll the words around, choose between words with the same denotation but different connotations. Where better than Writers On-the-air to explore this balance - the role of sound in conveying meaning and imagery.

I shall steal the above patient's quote as a starting point for a mini poetic meandering:

'Ah' is something white and long ...

"L' is luscious, dripping, wet ...

"Sh" rushes flying through the snow ...

"Ck" trips you, stops you cold ...

Which sounds are evocative for you?


  1. Are you referring to synesthesia? Fascinating, innit?

    Let's see: A soft "th" feels like tires on concrete, a car cruising on a smooth road.

  2. And, yes, I think it is synesthesia. Flaherty's book again!

  3. I've been fascinated by it ever since George Pal's War of the Worlds, from a line where Dr Forrester speculated that maybe the Martians could smell colors. I even met a guy who experienced flavors with shapes. JalepeƱos tasted "spiky" to him, for example.

  4. The wholoe thing definitely opens a door on imagery.


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