An exploration of the blending of the senses without the use of psychoactive hallucinogens.
Review by Fate Staff
New Page Books • by Maureen Seaberg
Synesthesia is the unique ability to link colors, sounds and shapes into a surreal sensory experience. Basically, certain letters, sound and smells are experienced as swirling symphonies of color depending on the individual.
To be clear, synesthesia is not a handicap or a dysfunction, but the loss of inhibition in distinguishing between the senses. The condition is rare and most people can’t experience synesthesia without psychoactive hallucinogens. So for those of us left wanting, we have lifelong synesthete and New York Times journalist Maureen Seaberg to take us on a journey thru her eyes and ears.
Seaberg describes her own personal experiences of growing up trying to understand a visual sensation that few understood. And while her personal story is the heart of the book, it’s her interviews with famous synesthetes such as American pop master Billy Joel, violinist Itzhak Pearlman and producer Pharell Williams that explode with color. The descriptions of their methods for crafting music from synesthesia are well worth the price of admission. Which makes you wonder why synesthetes are virtually unheard of? There was a time when synesthetes were in the salons of Paris and culturally celebrated for their abilities, but now not even main stream science cares to study the condition.
The book is an encouraging biography composed of reflections Seaberg gleams from her interviews and weaves into her story of striving to understand the sights that she and many other artists share. And having friends in high places, like Norman Mailer (turns out Marilyn Monroe was one too) helps when trying to expand public knowledge of Synesthesias existence. Overall, the book is a humorous and eye opening read you will have to taste to believe.