Monday, December 14, 2009


Synesthesia: I just don’t buy it. I mean, I get that there’s something going on there but it’s one of those things I’d have to truly personally experience to understand. Seeing letters/numbers as colors, or being able to “taste” words or “smell” consonants… it’s just too much for me to really accept. Like, so you say you see every “L” as red. Okay, so what about things shaped like an “L”? What about a 7? What about a T square? What about chair legs or sign posts or giant road signs in Greece or Romania where the shape is there but not the actual English letter “L”? Is that still red? Is it the shape or the linguistic analog that makes the color pop up in the person’s mind? You know? What about the Chinese alphabet? There are so many parts of each character, how would that synesthesia apply there? Would the person have to learn what the written symbols mean, how they sounded, how they were written before colors started to appear? Doesn’t that just mean that the person is kind of arbitrarily doing this and is therefore, pardon the expression, a total nut-job?

What about then, if the letter is already in a color (other than black, I mean)? Like if there’s a big blue sign over the door, and all the letters are bright bright blue. Does the “L” still look red? Does it clash? Nut-job?

Speaking of nut-jobs, let’s turn the lense inwards. Synesthesia aside, why is it that sometimes words don’t “look” right? Like “Scratched”. That’s a dumb word. Looks wrong. Reads wrong. Too much of everything in there and even though it sounds the way it’s supposed to sound there’s just no right way around it. It’s a terrible word. Up there with “Moist”. Yech. (Who’s crazyflakes now?)

I wonder if THAT happens in other languages. Like some guy is out there at his desk in Koh Tao or Bangladesh or Shanghai and he’s looking at this word that he’s looked at thousands of times and it just still strikes him as “wrong”. Looks wrong. Shaped wrong. Promises what it delivers but still seems somehow too clumsy or bloated compared to the rest of the normal looking words surrounding it.

That’s not synesthesia, that’s just a human brain getting bored with language, I guess. But still. WTF? Right?

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