It takes a spot of courage to stand up tall and a bit of derring-do to rise when you fall

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Excuse Me, Waiter, But My Soup Tastes Like Squares

There is a medical condition that I find utterly fascinating called synesthesia. It is a rare condition in which those "afflicted" see numbers as colors and can sometimes feel tactile shapes while tasting food. Certain emotions reveal themselves as colors---for instance, one woman feels pain, stress and/or anxiety in the color orange. If she goes to the dentist, she envisions her tooth completely orange and her eyes are flooded with the color orange while the dentist is performing a procedure. Others see the the letters of the alphabet as different colors, in varying shades and degrees of brilliance. A newspaper isn't a page of black and white print; it is a beautiful symphony of color.

The letter "A" might be a bright blue to one person; a shade of green to another. And so on. One woman tells the story of how she first realized she was different. When she was seven or eight, she blurted out to a friend one day while they were walking home, "Isn't the letter "G" the most beautiful color?" She fully expected her friend to excitedly agree only to see a strange and bemused (and perhaps a little frightened) look on her friend's face. She knew then that something was different about her. She never mentioned it again---just kept enjoying the brilliant world of color that she was surrounded by---and never heard or learned anything more about it until years and years later. One day while sitting at the table with her father, she decided to mention that the letter "N" was the prettiest shade of bright yellow. Her father brusquely responded, "It's a dull, burnt yellow." And he never raised the subject again. But she was astounded! This colorful world that she'd lived in and assumed was a solitary existance was known by others, her own father included! This prompted her to begin researching and she uncovered a name to her condition and others who shared it---information she'd longed for for years.

It's hard to imagine a world where the colors are brighter, where street signs don't display their names but bright color instead, where food isn't salty or sweet perhaps but round or square. What a fascinating place to live!

And they say that synesthesia seems to be especially prevalent among highly talented and gifted people. This does not surprise me. Every day I eagerly pick up the nearest book, hoping to see blue yellow green red. It's still just black and white to me.


Blogger DDM said...

I've only recently heard of synesthesia myself, and I too am fascinated by it! What a cool *affliction*, eh?

12:09 AM, December 18, 2005

Blogger heatherfeather said...

i've been fascinated by synaesthesia forever. to the point where i'm not sure when i'm listening to music and have a corresponding viual colorscape in my head whether i've created it out of envy or it's really there.

no, no, you don't have to tell me that i'm brilliant.

1:03 AM, December 18, 2005

Blogger jay are said...

:) hee. snythenis-envy. or something.

1:10 AM, December 18, 2005


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