Saturday, March 24, 2007


Synestheia is a melding of senses. For example, you perceive musical notes as having shapes or certain words as having tastes. The most famous expression of the phenomemon (I think) is a poem called Vowels by Rimbaud in which he assigns colors and personalities to each of the vowels: Black A; white E, red I, green U, blue O.

I didn't have that, exactly, but when I was little, numbers -- in which I otherwise had no interest whatsoever -- had, not precisely personalities, but definite genders. Most of the even numbers were girls and most of the odd numbers were boys. But there were exceptions. Three and eleven were clearly girls. So was twenty-three.

Over time, my strong feeling of which numbers are which has faded. But it used to be so intense that I was amazed to learn other people lacked it and that not everyone saw the world exactly the way that I did.


jo(e) said...

I've always thought of numbers as having colours. Even numbers are bright reds and blues, strong vibrant colours. Odd numbers (which I never really trusted) are pastel in colour, or brown like number nine.

jo(e) said...

(I should probably add that I just read through your archives -- and am deeply moved by your story and how beautifully you tell it.)

Sara said...

I can see this. For me it was sound and sight. Like you, I learned to read early, as soon as I could speak actually, so by 18 months. I would see people's words in my mind as they spoke (not necessarily in letter shapes, it's hard to describe), and somehow this gave me perfect oral recall because I can just pull up whatever people say from the pages of my mind and read it back. Similarly, if I read something aloud or just mouth the words, I'll never forget.

I think this probably makes me a real burden to others.

Monica said...

Does 11 have masculine energy for you because for me it is male not female. I saw a show about savants (I think, or maybe it was eunuchs) and they "saw" numbers as paintings, and no, not paintings of numbers but random abstract paintings of blobs and such.

Smiling said...

I had even and odd musical notes, but their evenness and oddness could sometimes shift if I played them with enough of the other kind of note... this all faded with time and musical instruction though.