Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Update on ordering issues for my book: I have just learned why Same Old Story was announced for release but is still unavailable on purchasing sites.  Apparently, at the last moment, the designer found a reproduction error on the cover photo, so the book was delayed at the printer. While I am pleased that he caught the mistake, I still want to apologize to you all for the delay. Here's hoping that the collection arrives soon, before you forget you even ordered it.

More on synesthesia and patterns: I enjoyed yesterday's synesthesia conversation. Though the details vary, a number of respondents do seem to link physical sensation to the impetus of creation. I wonder how many have pattern responses of the sort that my original correspondent mentioned when she talked about picturing numbers and time periods in specific 3D places in her mind. While I don't have that experience with numbers, I do have a consistent pattern in how I picture the months. They always appear in my mind as a circle, with January beginning in about the 11 o' clock position and the rest sitting in a counterclockwise progression around the circle so that August, for instance, appears at about the 2 o' clock position. Interestingly, I do not have a similar visual pattern for the days of the week.

I also wonder how this patterning ability relates to what in certain cases is called photographic memory. In my experience, photographic memory is exceedingly selective. For instance, I have always had a very good visual memory for the spelling of words but a very poor one for the basic equation patterns used in, say, algebra or physics. This is not an analytic issue. My spelling was accurate well before I knew anything about etymology, phonics, or suffixes: I would picture how I'd seen a word on the page, and nine times out of ten I'd get it right on the quiz. If this wasn't a case of logic, just visualization, why couldn't I do that for Newton's laws? The discrepancy puzzles me.

In addition, I have the bad crazy-lady habit of tunelessly humming at moments of stress, distraction, or heavy physical labor. But why tunelessly? I have a decent singing voice and my instrumental training is primarily melodic, so you'd think I would turn to melody at these moments. Why do I fall back on what is essentially rhythmic vocalization? I've talked to several musicians who, as children, sang along with the vacuum cleaner and other household appliances. I did that myself, and I remember that the pleasure of the activity was harmonizing with the pitch of the machine. So this tuneless humming is different. Given its strong rhythmic propulsion and its close link to particular emotional and physical states, I feel that it is somehow related to my other brain quirks, but I don't exactly know how.

Donald Justice, who was also a skilled pianist, wrote often about music. If I can't find any explanation of my own case in his poetry, perhaps the answer is that there aren't any answers. Simply we interact on our own private terms with the sensory and the imaginary, the emotional and the physical.

Carefully, with fists and elbows, he prepares
One dark, tremendous chord
Never heard before--his own thunder!
And strikes.
                     And the strings will quiver with it
A long time before the held pedal
Gives up the sound completely--this throbbing
Of the piano's great exposed heart.
Then, soberly, he begins his scales. 
          --from "After-school Practice: A Short Story"


Ruth said...

There is always music in my head. Nearly everything I do has a beat. In addition, certain words appear in my mind as a specific color. Math is always red and science is always green. If I am praying or meditating, I see colors that change as I get deeper into myself.

Maureen said...

Good to know about your book. I'd been wondering about the reason for not receiving it yet.

Fred Child has a column called Fredlines that looks at synesthesia. Fascinating stuff.

I have several friends who have synesthesia. One is a poet and photographer. Her daughter is a synesthete, too.

Lucy Grace said...

A biography on Louisa May Alcott talked about this phenomenon and her writing. And some of Oliver Sack's works on neurology have also touched on it. I don't know that I have any of this.

My mother on the other hand hums all the time now and I find it a bit irritating. Her father used to whistle.