Friday, July 22, 2005

What I'm Reading

Having finished "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," I'm now reading a fascinating nonfiction book by Richard Cytowic, MD, called "The Man Who Tasted Shapes." It's about synesthesia, a rare condition -- exhibited by only about 10 people in a million -- where the senses are commingled in such a way that people hear colors or (as the book title suggests) taste shapes. The condition is involuntary and consistent, not a result of drug use or delusion, and seems to be a subjective experience.

Given the rarity of the condition (and the likely reticence to discuss it), it's not surprising that I've never known or met any synesthetes. But I would love to hear a firsthand account or description of what their reality is like. Anyone have any experience with this phenomenon? Please feel free to comment.


Anonymous said...

Jason, this might be relvant. I have the not-so-enviable condition described above... but in a slightly different manifestation: Hearing the opening salvo of 'Your Gold Teeth II' from rock-jazz collective Steely Dan, results in my acute taste sensation-recall, if you will, of a stale piece of gum I chewed from an unopened 1983 Fleer baseball card pack... Of course it was stale being it was 2002 at the time. I figure that relative staleness is another interesting topice, perhaps for a future forum. Nevertheless, it is nice to know that there is interest in my plight... Of much loftier import however, I am sure you were unable to ignore the possibe inaccuracy of the word choice 'collective' in the prior sentence describing Steely Dan. (not to mention the missing 'l' is possibe) I would be most interested in reading further posts debating this and no other issues.

J Ballot said...

Indeed. Referring to rock-jazz act Steely Dan as a 'collective' may be stretching the word beyond its usefulness -- methinks 'duo' would suffice (although it is not nearly as prosaic as 'collective') in this particular milieu. Really, Steely Dan is much more a 'concept' than a 'collective,' a contention sure to spark spirited debate on these pages unlike any previously witnessed.

Oddly enough, I hear the opening salvo of 'Your Gold Teeth II' every time I open one of your e-mails -- though it is 'Black Cow' I hear when cracking open a cold fizzy beverage. Chew on that along with your stale 1983 Fleer gum.

Although credit for this phrase belongs elsewhere, I get the sense this thread has become 'marked by a triumphant sense of masturbatory autism.' I'm not quite sure what that implies but it's the most inventive description I've read today.