Saturday, April 12, 2008

from my old blog

Synesthesia of Trash and a question about nonfiction and Fiction

  • Mood: tired, frustrated, curious

A Synesthesia of Trash


Friday, March 04, 2005; 3:37:16 PM Sunshine on snow and I'm inside wishing to be outside but glued to my chair.  I came up for tools.  To take apart my computer.  Which isn't working.  Won't get on-line.


I am thinking about creative nonfiction.  What is it that makes it creative and how do you separate that from fiction?  How creative can you get and still be truthful?  That is, still be NONfiction? And when is fiction true and when is it false?


A Synesthesia of trash:  (How do you spell that, anyway?)  When I was a child and played the clarinet, my notes came out in colors.  I loved the colors, brilliant saturated primary colors and rainbow blends.  When I was older, I lost the synesthesia somehow, a terrible loss—the colors were gone!!!  But I've rediscovered them in trash as I lay the recycling down on the floor for Keith to take to the garage.  The real trash is dark brownish, a bruised plum color:  unwanted junk mail.  The things I hate to part with are bright turquoise, brilliant chartreuse.  One piece I lay gently sideways is red.  Scarlet, really.  It's something I want to do and can't afford:  a writer's conference.  I want Keith to see it, but when he gathers up the recycling, he folds it all together like an accordion, the colors dulling to grey and blending to nothing as he slides them into the red bin and pulls down the garage door.  Somewhere in the darkness, the red writer's conference flyer begins to blink on and off like a beacon, lighting a flickering sliver under the garage door.  But only I can see it.  Keith is unaware of my loss.  For him, synesthesia revolves around big machines; locomotives, massive generators.  Huge electrical circuits.  Those black and dirty things are shine bright for him, while in the dark garage, a small coal of desire fades.


Like I said, where is the line between fiction and nonfiction, and what is truth?


Mary 3:52 PM


BerryBird said...

This is a great piece! Synesthia is such an interesting phenomena.

I still don't know where you draw the line on the scale of fiction to creative non-fiction to non-fiction. Memoir seems to me to be creative non-fiction, a re-telling of events, perhaps adding more drama or flair for the purposes of storytelling. Except that some people get all bent out of shape to discover a memoir might not be exclusively truthful. This makes no sense to me... just the name memoir implies that it is an unreliable medium.

Pat said...

What an amazing description of synesthesia! And what a very fascinating discussion it's generated re: the spectrum of fiction-non-fiction. To explore more about synesthesia, visit

coffeypot said...

Spell it??!!? What the hell does it mean? I hate it when you get all smart on me.

As for your computer - sell one of your bikes and buy a new computer. Easy, right?

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

from Wikipedia: Synesthesia (also spelled synæsthesia or synaesthesia, plural synesthesiae or synaesthesiae)—from the Ancient Greek σύν (syn), meaning "with," and αἴσθησις (aisthēsis), meaning "sensation"'—is a neurologically-based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities.

I really DID used to see notes in color as a child and sometimes still do, but to a much lesser extent and less often.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

yeah, the whole fiction, nonfiction, truth thing fascinates me.