Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

It's Not Strange From the Inside

How old were you when you found out that other people's thinking was different from yours?Not the content, but the _way_ they thought?

Some people think in words, others in pictures. Some, like Albert Einstein, think in kinesthetic sensations.

I think in a combination of tactile, kinesthetic, and other body sensations. If I need to remember how a word is spelled, I write it out. I can "write" it in the air with a finger; I don't need to look at what I've written down. I can remember how it felt to move through many of the places where I've lived; I don't remember very well what they looked like.

There are complications, the main one being synesthesia -- sensory cross-overs, of which the best-known is seeing sounds. This particular synesthesia is one I either learned or became aware of when I was about 18. At some later point, I either learned or became aware of feeling sound more than seeing it. What I see is shape and texture, more easily "translated" into feeling than color is.

As with many other things, what people _do_ with synesthesia varies greatly. Some are very good at mental arithmetic because they see numbers in an orderly line. Others don't make any such use of their ability to see numbers.

Two sparks have set this off. 1) In First Draft (a writing workshop in apa format), one member talked about thinking in pictures. 2) A LiveJournal discussion of something else digressed a bit into this:

2003-09-27 18:27
I "see" [a story] as a five-dimensional tactile sculpture. I won't say it's the _right_ way for me, since I haven't yet had professional sales; but it seems to be working better than other things I've tried. For at least some people, being able to "visualize" with one or more senses makes things easier to grasp and to remember.

2003-09-27 19:22
....see, that's exactly how things are to me. All things, not just writing. But writing, most of all. A giant, tactile sculpture in my head, reducible in words only on a scale equal to itself.

It's nice to know it's not just me.

2003-09-29 16:03
I'm envious; I've only recently managed to think like that in a structured way.

And how does your mind work?

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