Sunday, August 26, 2012

A quote about a synaesthete giant

"Not only did I like Evatt personally, but I had an immense admiration for his intellect. He was an intellectual giant! He had enormous courage and tremendous determination. Once Evatt set his plough to the furrow he would press on regardless."
- Clyde Cameron, page 443 in The Cameron Diaries, first published in 1990 by Allen and Unwin

The subject of this quote, H. V. Evatt or Doc Evatt, President of the United Nations General Assembly from 1948-1949 and leader of the ALP from 1951 to 1960, was not only an intellectual giant but he was also a synaesthete. Biographer Peter Crockett wrote that "... he 'saw' the days of the week in colour" on page 9 of his 1993 psycho-biography Evatt: a life. This is one of the most common types of synesthesia. Crockett's original source was a letter about Evatt from the Australian artist Frank Hinder, who was a member of Evatt's artist wife's social circle. Hinder would certainly have been aware of synesthesia as a concept in art, being an admirer of painters such as the synaesthete Kandinsky. Hinder could well have been a synaesthete himself, he worked with light projections and this interest went back to his childhood, but I don't think there is definite evidence.

Where do people like Evatt come from, and why does it appear that there are no politicians or public figures of his like in public life today? Has nature ceased to produce greatness in intellect and leadership, or do young people no longer aspire to achieve greatness?

H.V. Evatt is one of the dozens of famous and fascinating people included in my massive and well-researched list of famous synaesthetes or possible synesthetes

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