Synesthesia is where senses overlap—where people hear color or smell music. Some people say it doesn’t exist at all; but I know it does because some of us can taste ... people’s voices.
Coworkers: My black cubie mate, Margaret, has a voice like blueberries—oh, the polyphenols! Ron across the hall is your garden-variety white guy. I say “garden variety” because his voice tastes like eggplant. Every time he leans in and says “Hey, girls,” his voice improves the health of me and Margaret both. I suspect Margaret has synesthesia, too, because when Ron leaves, Margaret says “Yummy!”
Then there’s our boss, Ann. Her voice is the flavor of campfire smoke. Or is that a smell? No, it’s a flavor. She says I’m not paying attention because her smokey voice makes me sing “Kumbaya’’ and tell scary stories.
Like smell, humans have Persistent Memory for taste. There’s a singer on the radio. Can’t remember his name. But, the metallic taste of his clanking vibrato sticks with me until I hear something savory or cleanse my palate with coffee.
Oh, Speaking of coffee, Larry King’s voice tastes like coffee. I hear he married a Mormon. How does that work? How does a Mormon girl marry a guy with coffee voice? That must drive her bishop crazy!
When taste mixes with words and sounds, it’s Lexical-gustatory Synesthesia. One has to wonder if Synesthesia is the same as Schizophrenia, but experts say it’s not. (I looked it up.)
We with Synesthesia are “Synesthetes.” The trait seems inherited. And no two Synesthetes see things the same.
Grapheme Color Synesthetes see numbers and letters as colors. Now, that can be problematic when trying to find the right phone number. Never just take any old phone number you’re issued. What if it smells wrong? A distasteful phone number is a calamity for a Synesthete. I saw my own phone number as soggy, bloated Fruit Loops floating belly-up in a bowl. Finally, I could endure no more and sought the help of AT&T to find more palatable numerals. With the exasperated assistance of “Cindy,” I landed a brown and red cell number where digits look and taste like chocolate-covered cherries. Now I can sleep at night.
For some people, music puffs out in color. That’s Chromesthesia. My son has to shut off his car radio when he hits traffic. All those colors bubbling up from SiriusXM are way too distracting. They’re big, big blobs of color that resist getting sucked out the sunroof. Never try to open the door and kick them out with your foot. You could lose a shoe.
There are more types of Synesthesia. When one sees Mondays as Virgos, and Tuesdays as whiney bastards, that’s Personification. Sometimes Synesthesia runs afoul. That’s Misophonia—like when your spouse’s ice crunching is like a nail to your temple. If your date is a “wet blanket,” you may be using one of many metaphors coined by Synesthetes.
Overall, Synesthesia is fun. For Synesthetes, the hidden doors to our senses open onto a world that not everyone perceives. Hidden doors to color. Flavor rubbing shoulders with sound. Or just that our “wires are crossed” makes for a big colorful world when it’s all told. But … is it ever all told?
I dunno. I might have a little bit of that. 56 is a very brown and orange number to me. 7 and 3 are purple and yellow (not respectively; I don't know which is which, but when they're together, that's what it is.) 5 is green. 8 and 2 are blue and orange. 1 and 9 are black and white. That's about it... very limited! I wonder why that happens. Does anyone who has it find it helpful?
What a gem of a post, Kathleen. You should have a spot at the end of sixty minutes like Andy Rooney used to.
Colors don't pop up when I hear things or smell things, but I swear they speak to me when I see them. And I don't mean like swear on a Bible but for real. As an artist I live for color--all trillion of them and the infinite combinations.
The centers of flowers are mostly yellow and are announcing lunch in a sexy voice to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds alike. Bright petals to frame the repast gently murmur, "Over here, over here."
Paisley is the color spectrums rock and roll--makes your eyes keep rhythm.
Black and white is our rock though. Very blunt the black and white. Every room should have one black and white object in it. The black and white will enrich every other color as it gives reference to the entire spectrum and tells us that our mind needs a black and white object as well--object being the root of objectivity.
Loved the entertaining post even though I can't smell it or taste it. :) Feel like I sort of get synesthesia now.
> The Scrumptious World of Synesthesia... where senses overlap —> where people hear color or smell music.
A lovely post from you, Kat. But it provides much foul-smelling food for thought.
Your descriptions remind us so much of the Kirtland temple visions reportedly rained down on Joseph's dupes back in the 1830's.
Their version of this synesthesia was likely triggered by entheogens.
Were entheogens available to Joseph Smith?
In 1998, Richard Evans Schultes, former director of the Botanical Museum of Harvard University and the “father of ethnobotany” identified three culturally important entheogens available in the area where Joseph lived and traveled: Datura plant, Amanita muscaria mushroom and peyote cactus.
Anyway, I'm tired, but the site below may convince you that Joseph, along with his pals and handlers spiked the temple wine to produce the wild visions and holy rollings of which we read.
It's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure it's necessary. What I mean is that there are not any contemporaneous accounts of the supernatural experiences that supposedly occurred at the temple dedication. If there were no supernatural experiences, there is no need to explain them.
The Mormonthink article to which you linked, for instance, is mainly circumstantial. There is a lot of verbiage in it, but the only specific accounts of the miracles are dated to the 1880s. Two accounts from five decades later is a flimsy foundation for a theory.
Moreover, some of the specific arguments in the article are evidently false. For example, the author cites an 1831 letter accusing Smith of legerdemain. The article then states that "Legerdemain means the practice of using 'psychology, misdirection and natural choreography in accomplishing a magical effect.' In other words, Joseph Smith was being accused of using the sacrament as misdirection for the surreptitious administration of a visionary substance."
That conclusion, however, does not follow from the previous two sentences. Legerdemain is simple trickery or deception, magic tricks, etc. The letter accuses Smith of using lies and trickery to deceive people, not of using drugs or spiking wine.
The article also misrepresents Michael Quinn. Quinn said that Smith and his family were involved in the Occult, which is true. But that does not mean they used hallucinogens either themselves or on others. Intimating that Quinn endorsed the hallucinogenic theory is likewise disingenuous: he did no such thing.
It's conceivable that the early church used such substances, but there's little evidence to substantiate that assertion. If you have anything beyond the typical Born Again group psychology and the presence of funky plants in the area, I'd love to see it.
occurred in circumstances where: (1) the congregation had been fasting prior to partaking of the sacramental wine; and (2) the sacramental wine was liberally dispensed (i.e. not just one small thimble cup, but rather as many cups as desired).
Seems like a perfect recipe for a high degree of suggestibility right there.
"Do you see the angels up yonder above the roof, brothers and sisters? Do you see them descending through the clouds??"
Adding another example of the flawed reasoning in that article.
The author asks, "What about Joseph Smith’s own use of entheogens? As noted, the psychotic thinking and peculiar physical manifestations attending Joseph’s first vision are compatible with Datura plant ingestion. But another entheogen most likely was the intoxicant involved."
The problem with that is that there is no contemporaneous evidence of the First Vision. The earliest stories about it emerged about a decade after the fact, and those stories evolved radically thereafter. Nor did Brigham Young know about the divine visitation, whose final iteration took form through George Q. Cannon in the 1880s.
No First Vision means no need for hallucinogens just as no Kirtland miracles implies no requirement for Datura or other plants.
has developed among some people who, for some odd reason, just cannot allow themselves to believe that Joseph Smith could have been a fraud, as in a person who knowingly lied about everything important.
So they're always looking for convoluted explanations as to how the early leaders, most prominently Joseph Smith himself, could all have been entirely sincere and well-intentioned in everything they said and did, and yet were somehow victims of some external force that caused them to fall into delusion. Drugs, aliens, demonic forces...you name it. The central idea is that Joseph Smith and his close confederates were honest and good men. They were just deluded and couldn't help themselves. They sincerely thought they were doing good, even though it turns out that they were mistaken in their beliefs.
That approach seems to fly in the face of common sense and the entirety of the available historical record.
As far as I'm concerned, everything falls into place and makes perfect sense, with zero loose ends or problems with insufficient evidence, if one simply accepts the possibility that Joseph Smith was not an honest person.
Maybe I'm missing something. But in going back over the record as much as I could after becoming a disbeliever, I haven't been able to find anything that suggests to me that he was an honorable person of high integrity. The opposite assessment seems to be supported at every turn.
But then I suspect that most people do make such associations, but usually at a much more subliminal/less conscious level.
I usually don't think about it much, but occasionally, usually in cases when I was feeling ill and trying to get bed rest, those associations would come forward quite strongly.
But even in normal times, I can find those associations if I think a bit about it. For example whenever I think of a particular decade, there's a color associated with the decade. The sixties are yellow. The seventies are like an avocado green (and I think I can guess where that association came from ;o). The eighties are a muted pink. The nineties are a reddish-deep rust. The 2000s to present are just black and white.
That's really cool, Kathleen. I've heard of synesthesia, but I've never known anyone who has it. It's interesting how you talk about "crossed wires." That is how I describe learning disabilities to parents -- some "wires are crossed" in the brain, so their kids, over time, will need to find work-arounds. The brain is a fascinating thing, much of which is still a mystery.
I've always seen numbers and letters in color - ever since grade school.
1 and 10 are a pale gray (so is a, i, and t) 2 is blue (and l, and r are also blue but different shades) 3 and 7 are golden yellow (as are c, and s) 4 is blue-violet 5 is green ( and so are f and v) 6 is red 8 is carmel colored (so are k, and x) 9 is a dark umber. z is a shimmering silver.
12 is pink (as is the letter j) etc.
I also see letters and numbers as genders. 1, 5, 7, 8, 9 are male. 2, 3, 4, 6 are female. a, b, e, f, j, l, p, r, s, v, w, are all female.
I once saw a diagram - not sure where - perhaps "Psychology Today" - that explained the overlapping of senses and how sounds and textures become overlapped and take over the visual areas for a person who is blind.
And how about those "Super Rememberers" who can tell you what they were doing on any given day from their past?