Synaesthetics is the Ultimate Aestethics

Synaesthesia, Liszt, and Khatia Buniatishvili

Aromatic fragrance, percolating
the astonishment of my eyes and
auditory perception by generating
a melancholic melody that
triggers my prefrontal cortex
in a breath of wondrous vortex.
That pink scent sang for me
and I stood still like a cold statue
but warmed by you my dear
ancient rose, Synaesthesia,
the beauty of all beauties.

It’s winter, and I sit here, safe at home, writing, and listening to the abrupt wind howling outside like bitter whips ready to cut the edges of my lips.


Synaesthesia, as a rhetoric device, fascinated me since I first discovered it in high school classes. The sensation given by the evocative symbols of words, has several degrees of intensity. The more logical connections exist between words the greater the intensity, and if the connection cross-link several sensory areas then the symbol of the word disappears completely and I enter in a dreaming creative realm.

For me, Art comes down to few principles.

  • Perception
  • Relationship
  • Thread

Perception is the result of sensory information, and can be external or evoked by external stimuli (recorded perceptions/memories). Percepts have a relationship between each other. Relationships produce threads. If the threads have very little in common with each other, then the artistic product has very little beauty, on the other hand if those threads join in one, well defined, main thread, then beauty is exalted. Percepts, relationships, threads, main thread. The richer that climax, the more beautiful the artistic product. The artist plays with symbols, and their ability is to make you forget about the symbols, and live in a new reality; the artistic reality, which is evocative and elevating communion between you and the artistic product.

Usually artists touch one sense at a time, but when they are able to enrich the main thread from different concepts and different sensory perception, another level of beauty is reached. Ultimately I believe that that happens because the achievement of incredible variety, abundance, and prosperity of life is communicated, not through the subject, which can be of death for example, but through the communicative process itself, which is so vivid and alive.

Bernini, Goethe, Liszt, and Bach

When I see Bernini’s statues, I always forget that they are statue, I can feel the blood, the sensuous layer of fat underneath the skin (Proserpina Rape), or the amazing vigor of the muscles and the determination (David); I become Pluto desiring and loving Proserpina, or I want to join David to help him in his heroic deed, and share his spirit of triumph. Here the sense of vision evokes touch and even smell.

Goethe’s works have also synaesthetic qualities. Liszt’s as well. It’s so interesting how much these two artists have in common. When I read Goethe it seems like listening to an unwritten symphonic poem by Liszt, and conversely when I listen to Liszt it seems like I’m reading an unwritten poem by Goethe. Probably because they’re both very visual. They both treat their works as if they were paintings.

But the ultimate aesthetic, or to better say, synaesthetic masterpiece, is for me the Chaconne from Partita II for violin solo by J.S. Bach. When I play it, even with my “violinist” poor skills, all the senses come into one place. It’s the most beautiful experience.

Khatia Buniatishvili

Last Friday, 18 November 2016, at the Dvořák Hall, Rudolfinum, Prague, I had the honor to listen to one of he greatest musician of our time, personally my favorite, Khatia Buniatishvili. She also takes care of the interconnections between the senses, and I can feel it very vividly with an experience very similar to when I read Goethe’s Faust or listen to Liszt’s Symphonic Poems; personally, she shines in full splendor when she plays Liszt, probably because she’s very visual as well (not by chance, “Kaleidoscope” is the title of her last album).

Khatia played Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54. She made sure to be very elegant and beautiful, in the perfect fit to play as-well beautiful masterpiece.

In the end, she kindly signed the first page of the Chaconne I brought with me.

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