some vacation!

When you're a rural telecommuter, being locked out is a lonely business.

Friday, September 16, 2005

off-topic but interesting (to me, anyway)

Since I was a child, I've been aware that I don't sense things in the same way most people do. I am mildly synaesthegic, which means one sensory input can trigger, in me, a perception from a completely different sensory organ.

For some people, music triggers colour. For others, numbers or letters trigger smell. For me, colours trigger numbers in decimal place (and vice-versa). For example, butterscotch yellow is 2.56. Always has been, always will be. Pale pink is a 6, and a 3 always screams "green! green! brilliant lime green!" at me. Some letters are coloured, others aren't - those appear grey or a murky dark brown.

Sometimes smells follow me around (in my head, rest assured). All summer, I've been smelling fruit salad, a sweet combination of honeydew melon and berries, in my "mind's nose" as it were. If someone chews "wildberry" gum nearby I go out of my mind, I'm so overwhelmed. It's like a migraine of the nose.

I've always thought of this as so normal that it barely warrants examination. I've learned to ignore it.

Yesterday, my friend Diane forwarded me information about a study on synaesthesia underway at the University of Waterloo. Diane is a life-long scholar of Eastern Orthodox iconography. Since many synaesthetes seem to be of Eastern European and Russian origin, she is compelled to believe that the riotous colours and crunchy polyphonic sounds of the Orthodox church are meant to evoke a synaesthetic response in it's adherents, or at least those whose synapses can cross-fire.

In other words, total sensory overload brings one closer to God. Psychedelia rules! It's the polar opposite of the meditative practise that I attempt - usually in vain - to shut down all that noise in my head.

And in case some of you are wondering, yes, some unrelated inputs (in my case, smell) can trigger sexual response.

If you know someone who may be a synaesthete, make sure they take the test!


NOTE: my sister contacted me, off-blog, with these remarks:

"3 screams green? What are you sniffing? (well, you did say you've
odours in your head...). Red, red, red! 5 is bright green. 9 is still deep blue speckled with white, like those tin mugs you can get for camping. Shiny speckled blue. It has a taste quality too, and a feel."


She reminded me that we'd get into friendly but heated arguments with our mother in the car about this. It's obviously in the blood (which is about a 4.5 if wet, a 9 if dry, no matter what my sister says).

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