Tuesday, August 12, 2008

what I learned about myself from hanging around daughters, and no, I would not rather be fishing

I have spatial-sequence (or "number form") synesthesia, my daughter tells me. I look up. Is it serious? She describes it to me (hint: it has to do with the brain). Oh! I guess I gave it to you! I have the same thing. Only I never knew it had a name.

I thought, mistakenly, that everyone’s brain functioned this way: when I think of numbers, I instantly imagine them strutting around in a pictorial sequence. For me, at 10, the sequence bends: the teens stay in darkness, to the right of 10, then majestically climb out at 20, progressing upwards and rightwards thereafter. Until 100, when they start shooting up due north, only to turn left again after 1000. Months are arranged in a circle. December is top right. Autumn drags on the bottom. They spin counterclockwise. Days of the week, on the other hand, are a disc. I bet you could hop across the surface from Tuesday to Saturday if you tried.

It turns out that synesthesia (as described above) is very rare. And so I have to ask, what do people see in their mind’s eye when they think of numbers? I mean, do their minds grow blank?


I thought about this biking to work and then to get coffee before an afternoon of meetings. I also noted three different fishing situations and I’m including them here for you. Three. From left to right, springing out from under five: one, two, three.

003 copy
Purchase photo 1957

007 copy
Purchase photo 1956

011 copy
Purchase photo 1955