First of all, let me just say: this article is going to be about Ray Kurzweil. He’s an author. And he wrote a book called How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. This article is about Ray Kurzweil and his booky, here, and how both will be at The Kentucky Center for the Arts tonight being interviewed (the book probably won’t say too much, though) for the Kentucky Author Forum. It’s $20. You should go. This article will be about that, quintessentially.
But, really, I want to do this more:
I would like to share a secret with you. Here: when I see words I see colors. Mostly.
In all the misstep and brilliant little blowouts of gunfire and fluff (does anyone else get images of raw cotton – the close-up, macro kind – when they think of their own mind? Maybe?) that goes on in my head, when the pixels make the words of the English language we get to speak every day, I get a slosh-bucket riot of color. Not text. Sometimes textures. Sometimes movement. But not text.
A swatch of butter – real butter – yellow, the shade that is almost an absence of color, almost “nude” in its paleness, overtakes my vision when I think of the name “Josh” (this is not an arbitrary example, but I will mostly certainly not be explaining). This word has a texture too (not all of them do): it’s plush in the same way as a sea sponge. Squeezable. And this makes perfect sense to me because of the mouthfeel.
You drop your jaw to a comical length to say the first part of this word – that great and cavernous “AHH” of long “O” sound right after that freakish little lurch of “J” out of the gate. Do it; feel your mouth hanging there; it’s a big round thing that you’re saying there. It’s full. It’s plush. It soaks up all of your mouth there, doesn’t it? That’s a lot of sound there, and it’s almost too big. That’s a heavy, pregnant sponge.
But – wait:
Here is the end of the word; it’s silencing you. Oh no! “-SHH”. The almighty jet of hollow puff-cheek word-sneeze – they call this “hush” – that takes the big open maw of “AHH” and slices it off with a whisper. It’s enough to double you over. It compresses you. All the full, big, domed expanse of vowel love going on in your mouth just zippered up, pushed off a verbal cliff. Flattened. Compressed. Hands together, palms together. And the sponge is now just millimeters thick there between them, squished. And that word is done. You've got a puddle on the floor.
“Josh”: Butter yellow. Sea sponge. That’s the word in my head; that’s how it looks before I have to spell it out like in grammar school and use symbols and denotate its connotations and sandwich it up in a syntax, snazzy it up with punctuation. Slap it on somebody’s face like a sticker. Whatever you want to do with it. It’s a vessel. But the split second before? Butter yellow. Sea sponge.
And I can’t help it. All the words do this. I’m usually exhausted after writing. A little dizzy and slosh-water belly sick. Because all the words do this. All the words I want to use. All the words I don’t want to use but considered. All the words describing the one word I do want to use. It’s like playing 600 songs backwards at the same time. If songs were colors.