Apparently, today is ‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the year. I think this may be a Northern Hemisphere thing. I’ve only ever heard of it on the interwebby, and it’s mid-summer down here. I’m not feeling particularly blue myself.
If you’ve ever sat through the first 20 minutes of Jack and Miri Make a Porno, you’ll probably remember the gag about Black Friday. This one was also new on me; we don’t have Thanksgiving down here. (Though I think Thanksgiving is a ripsnorter of a good idea – saves arguments about whose families get to spend Christmas with who – one side takes Thanksgiving while the other gets Christmas, I guess?)
I’m probably missing more colourful American days. Do you know how many hexidecimal colour values exist? 16.7 million. We could give each and every day its own colour, and we’d still be going 45,753 years later, if my calculator-button-pushing skills serve me well. Human eyes can’t actually detect any difference between many of these colour gradations, so for all I know, we’ve been wallowing in canary yellow since 1978.
I was actually going to write a post about synesthesia.
I first read about this in a magazine a few years ago. My mother, who was in the room, hadn’t heard the word either but told me the concept made perfect sense to her. She then told me that, for her, each day of the week has always had its own colour. She rattled them off. In one ear and out the other.
Since then, I’ve wished I had it. I suspect people with synesthesia are highly creative. No… they don’t need to create things even. Artists and writers with synesthesia can probably get away with all sorts of laziness, simply writing about the weird connections in their minds as they already exist.
Vivi was listening to the tones of Sister Solange’s voice. It was a mossy, quiet sound, the perfect green-blue.
- Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
I wonder what proportion of the population are synesthetes. I wonder if writers are more likely to colour their numbers and find metaphors in alphabet soup.
In the rare lexical → gustatory synesthesia, individual words and the phonemes of spoken language evoke taste sensations in the mouth. According to James Wannerton, “Whenever I hear, read, or articulate (inner speech) words or word sounds, I experience an immediate and involuntary taste sensation on my tongue. These very specific taste associations never change and have remained the same for as long as I can remember.”
Yes, I imagine involuntary synesthesia can be a bit of a nuisance. You don’t want your chocolate custard smelling like garlic. You don’t want to visualise the letter ‘o’ and have to imagine it yellow.
So, which of our authors are synesthetes? I’ll mull on that.
(I also wonder if people who claim to read ‘auras’ are undiagnosed synesthetes.)
- 3 Visualisations of Music from Brain Pickings
- Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia: When People Taste Words from io9
- If You Could Hear A Book This Is How It Would Look from The Millions.
- Inside The Mind Of A Synaesthete from Plos Blogs
- Sounds delicious! New study shows link between pitch and flavor, from The Body Odd
- Seeing Colors in Music, Tasting Flavors in Shapes May Happen in Life’s Early Months, from Inside Science
- Why Some People See Sound from Live Science
- Word-taste synaesthesia: Tasting names, places and Anne Boleyn from BBC
- io9 asks if it’s possible to learn synesthesia
- Synesthesia May Explain Healers Claims of Seeing People’s ‘Aura’ from Science Daily
- Open Your Eyes and Smell the Roses: Activating the Visual Cortex Improves Our Sense of Smell, also from Science Daily
- Infants Possess Intermingled Senses from Scientific American
- Your Voice Feels Spiky from Persephone Mag
Also Interesting: The Most Bizarre Brain Disorders from Big Think