Synesthesia is a surreal blending of sensation, perception and emotion.
Because we live in God’s magical cauldron, we are all different in beautiful, special ways. In my new favourite neuroscientist’s (V. S. Ramachandran’s) words:
Some of us are synesthetes, experiencing the world in extraordinary ways, seeming to inhabit a strange no-man’s-land between reality and fantasy. They taste colour, see sounds, hear shapes or touch emotions in myriad combinations.
About a third of all poets, novelists and artists (creative people in general) have had synesthetic experiences. This is about one in six creative people. Just as synesthesia involves making arbitrary links between seemingly unrelated perceptual entities such as colour and numbers, Metaphor involves making nonarbitrary links between seemingly unrelated conceptual realms. Coincidence?
If you know me, you probably know that I am going crazy over how amazing this is! This is not a neural pathology, however, I’ve gone into a self ‘diagnosis’ mode and decided that I may be a synesthete. Why not? I wonder whether Isaac Newton’s wavelength theory of colour was inspired by his sound-colour synesthesia!! Yes…that league of talented, brainy people who change the world!
Three out of the five members of my family are poets. I found out that my brother is a grapheme-colour synesthete. He see’s numbers with inherent hues. 1 and 4 are white, 3 is grey, 6 is blue, 7 is brown and 10 is red. He also sees musical beats in three dimensional space. That is synesthesia! Small wonder, he is a really good poet.
We both see colours when we close our eyes. I’m not so sure about how special that is. I’ve always thought everyone should see these colours when they focus away from the blackness. The colours I see morph into shapes I know. Let’s put it this way: I see things and I like to think they are glimpses into alternate universes. Magical!
I am a number-line (number-space) synesthete. Too bad I’m not a mathematician (I hate math). I’d have made a genius. I see dates, (days, months and years) time and numbers sequentially, each with it’s very own position in space. It helps me keep track of the past and future, count money and do basic math (when I’m not counting using my fingers). I literally see the future as being in front of me and the past, behind me. I was awake at 3 am. this morning. Recalling that now, I see that moment behind me, on a level just above my head. 3 am. tomorrow is in front of me, above my head. 7 pm. tonight’s in front of me but on a level below 3 am. of any given day.
The year 2001 is behind me just above the year 2000, both closer to my feet than the 90s, say, my year of birth which is behind me, but above my head.
Now, the simplest way to spatially map out numerical sequences would be from left to right (East to West). The way I map mine out seems to be in a North to South ‘hills and valleys’ sort of shape. Oh, I’d love to be a neurologist’s test subject.
I would like to hear from anyone who thinks they are synesthetes. It would be amazing!!