4.30.2007

Non-Book Meme


Item 2: Seven is Green, Four is Brown:
I choose my synesthesia
I am blessed/cursed with a case of synesthesia. Apparently my particular strain is known as 'grapheme-color' synesthesia; letters and numbers have colors attached to them. This is partially how I came to be good at spelling. I picture the words in my head as I spell them and they are all different colors. I can tell what letters belong in words and what don't. (There's no "i" in 'presume' because 'presume' is a purple/orange word, and "i" is a dark blue letter.) Even in writing, sentences take on a rainbow quality, every word is a certain hue: 'certain hue' as a phrase is bright yellow (from the "cer" in 'certain') fading into a crisp grey (from the "hu" in 'hue'.) I think I am not alone in this, apparently, this is the most common form of synesthesia. And it's still weird to me that other people have other ideas about the colors of different letters/numbers. In high school, my friend Zach was so convinced that 7 was red, which is just so wrong, it's hard to write it down here. (Everyone knows 7 is green, Zach!) Sample line of arguing: "Isn't it obvious! Seven is green! Seven is a lucky number, four leaf clovers are also lucky, and green, therefore, seven is green too! Duh!"
Also there is something that is harder to describe: different things have personality, and I've always made up little stories about these things. I once learned a waltz for the ukulele because a certain chord progression seemed like 2 chords were fighting over another one, and I made up a story about how they fought, and who won in the end.
Grapheme-color synesthesia has been deeply influential & has colored my world (ha ha) to no end. Everything around me has felt infused with meaning, and story. Cosy 4 and B, playful 5 and J. The darker side to all this is the fact that I always felt like a super crazy person, and didn't want to tell anyone about this, not until I was a teenager, and it was cool.

5 comments:

Camille said...

this is fantastic rosa! I can hardly wait to see 3-5!

Mum said...

Interesing, hmmm, I have a new theory regarding this synesthesia. Could it be something as simple as how numbers and letters were presented to us at a very early age? Most books, games and flash cards give numbers a color. I distinctly remember having an alphabet book as a young child that depicted the "R" as a jolly, chubby, yellow letter. It had arms and was hopping around on its two "legs". I definately always had a sense that numbers and colors were linked. I still remember having an argument, ala Col & Zach, with my best friend Joan Felder about what color 2 is (duh, its dark purple, of course!)
Anyway, I don't think your synesthesia has anything to do with my activities in the '60s, but the heredity thing might apply.
Have a wonderful day!
XXOO-Mum

Rosa said...

Well, as we were saying, I think this malady is genetic, although there is a certain amount of association involved as well (i.e. B is brown, for bear, I think, but 'book' is a brown word too, and 4 is brown, possibly because 'book' has four letters.) Maybe us synesthetes latch on to letters/words as the colours we first saw them, and everyone else is more elastic in their thinking.
I don't know. And don't tell me what you did in the 6o's! **fingers in ears, "la-la-la"**

angel said...

So, what did rosa's mum do in the 60's...hmmm? I'm all ears! (hehe) too funny, rosa (i.e. "**fingers in ears, "la-la-la"**)
I love that you're a synesthete & wish I could join the club. Alas, for me, colors & numbers/letters are discrete... :( how boring! I will thus have to live vicariously through your colorful synesthete world.
luv, a

Shannon Marie said...

I do that ! I do that too !! Carmen is the one who told me what it was called, because I never knew it had a name.

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.