Well, Colour Me Tuesday.

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.

pic by Twitchcraft

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.”

- Wikipedia

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.)

Related Links:

Also Interesting: The Most Bizarre Brain Disorders from Big Think

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2 responses to “Well, Colour Me Tuesday.

  1. Oh my goodness. I only clicked on this because I thought the colour wheel was pretty, but as it turns out, I have synesthesia.

    It’s cool to see someone actually write about this–I know for me a first read an article when I was about …12? maybe, and didn’t think about it until I re-read it a few years later. All of my letters and numbers have colours. I’ve also come to realize that my numbers and some letters have genders (that was definitely an odd realization). Also, looking at your ‘colour wheel’ there—my year also is a circle in my head. If I think about the whole year, it hangs out in front of me like looking at the rim of a round mirror in front of me. If I’m thinking about where I am in the year, or events before or after my current time (like for scheduling things) it’s a lot more like your picture, except January is at the bottom, and I move around the circle as the year goes.

    I don’t always notice my synesthia, but sometimes it’s really obvious. For example, I’ll use the word ‘gray’ to describe an overcast day, but ‘grey’ to describe a thundercloud because A and E are differnt colors and so they change the word.

    Sorry for the word explosion–I just hardly see anyone write about this, so it was really cool to see!

    • I think you’re really lucky. Of all the oddities to have, this would have to be the best. I guess once you know the word for it, the internet is a great resource. Happy research!