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I have Synesthesia, as I believe I have mentioned before. It is not very pronounced and is more or less restricted to days of the week which I see in colour and shape. My Tuesday, for instance, is a half-moon shape with see-through curves in a watery blue-grey.

When I told my doctor that the sight of a starfish tastes like copper she sat across from me in silence, waiting for the punchline.

“I’m dead serious.” I laughed. “It tastes like a penny in my mouth.”

For as long as I can remember I have experienced an overlapping of senses of some sort. Sometimes sight is combined with…

Source: Synesthesia: When Tuesday Is The Color Red – Neuroscience News

I have a mild form of synaesthesia – I’m spelling it the English way — and see days of the week and months of the year in coloured shapes. My fellow blogging synaesthetes include Linda from Country Woman Paints and Benjamin from Expressions of My Life. I dedicate this reblog from The Public Domain Review to the two of you!

Originally posted The Public Domain Review

“The music of Mendelssohn”

Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia

Grounded in the theory that ideas, emotions, and even events, can manifest as visible auras, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater’s Thought-Forms (1901) is an odd and intriguing work. Benjamin Breen explores these “synesthetic” abstractions and asks to what extent they, and the Victorian mysticism of which they were born, influenced the Modernist movement that flourished in the following decades.

“I have always considered myself a voice of what I believe to be a greater renaissance — the revolt of the soul against the intellect — now beginning in the world,” wrote William Butler Yeats to his mentor, the Irish nationalist John O’Leary, in 1892. Yeats believed that magic was central not only to his art, but to a dawning epoch when spirituality and technology would march together toward an uncertain future.

Thought-Forms, a strange, beguiling, frequently pretentious, utterly original book first published in 1901, emerged from this ferment of late-Victorian mysticism. It was written by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater, erstwhile members of the London Theosophical Society alongside Yeats, and it features a stunning…

via Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia | The Public Domain Review

I recently had a conversation with the artist Benjamin Prewitt about red/green colour blindness and since Mr FND has the same, I decided to do a little research, only to discover that it is the most common form.

In our household it has led to some furious discussions about paint colours.  I wanted a muted burnt orange in the drawing-room and picked the closest colour on the paint chart for a tester pot but he came back with something so orange that the red notes made my head spin!

The Colour Blind Awareness site says that although it’s known as red/green colour blindness, it’s not that those affected mix up red and green but that they “mix up all colours which have some red or green as part of the whole colour”. For example, a red/green colour blind person “will confuse a blue and a purple because they can’t ‘see’ the red element of the colour purple”. Apparently, unless the condition is the result of some other problem such as Diabetes or Multiple Sclerosis, the most common reason is an inherited gene from the mother.

“I always knew something was off ,” says Benjamin, “as people would remark how vibrant my work was, or when I would ask if this tan or green fabric matched.”

I’m beginning to understand a little more what it’s like for those affected.

What I haven’t yet disclosed to Benjamin is that I have a big problem with red (he will read it here first!) and very red-based orange — there is a lot of red in his paintings.  If the shade is deep and close to a wine red, I’m attracted to it but otherwise I tend to feel as I did with the orange tester Mr FND bought.

Having said that, I have to confess that some of his red-based paintings that scream at me on the blog look stunning when hung on the wall for an exhibition, as below.


Last year, Benjamin had his eyes checked.  “[I] completely failed the color chart test. The look on the tech’s face was hilarious. The doctor did a more in-depth test with actual light and determined I see a different spectrum of those colors than most. She also told me I have a hyper-acuity, meaning that when I look at things I can focus in far more close than normal, which I guess is why I love texture. I find texture palpable, even being told I really don’t know what it all means in the real world. I just know I feel color and written words and raw emotion [and they] create vivid clear images in my mind. I guess I’m a kook.”

‘Kook’ he certainly is not. Not only do I admire his work, I admire the extraordinary way he copes with early onset Parkinson’s.  Colour blindness is the least of his worries and surely enhances his art.

I feel exactly the same about texture and the chances are that most artists do. His remarks about feeling colour and words prompted me to tell him I have a mild form of Synaesthesia. This condition means that the senses get mixed up. For instance, I see days of the week and months of the year in colour and shape – always the same. Friday might come up in conversation and I instantly see a yellow half-moon. Tuesday is pale grey but I couldn’t begin to describe the shape or pattern, only draw it!  If you’re interested in Synaesthesia, there are a number of books on the subject.  I can’t find the book I read in the late 1980s or early ’90s on my shelves, nor remember its name but it wasn’t until I read it that I realised there was a name for what my mother and I both shared. It was an eye-opener.

By the way, if you want to know what happened to the walls of our flat, the answer is nothing! We couldn’t agree. I painted a swathe in lemon trying to imitate the ragging, rolling, marbling techniques of the late Jocasta Innes but then life interrupted for several years and we didn’t even have the money to slap on some white. Now, because we’re selling, the white paint is going everywhere.

As for what I’m seeing, who knows. I’ve been waiting for a cataract operation for what seems an eternity.

Take care and keep laughing!


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