Reverb Broads 2011, December 20: Life is a work of art, or so they say. What beauty do you regularly appreciate/revere in your life? (courtesy of Neha at http://whereyouarehere.blogspot.com/)
I experience beauty differently than most people. See, I’m a synesthete. What the hell is that, you say? Never heard of synethesia? The World English Dictionary defines the term as “the subjective sensation of a sense other than the one being stimulated. For example, a sound may evoke sensations of colour.”
I haven’t thought of myself as a synesthete until recently, when a discussion with another one ended with her saying, “Oh, no, you totally are.” And as I went into Research Mode, I discovered that synesthesia isn’t uncommon among neurodiverse people, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, because their sensory perceptions are already slightly bent.
As I explore the interactions among my senses more consciously than ever before, I’m discovering that my favorite things are my favorites because they register on more than one sense. For example, I love Pantone color 2757. It’s the deep rich blue of the sky just before full dark, or a Marc Chagall painting. But it’s also the color that fills my mind when the Bass IIs of a choir dip down below the staff, like in Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria. Those notes unfurl over me like a bolt of midnight velvet; I could just roll around in them, and an unbearably rich, creamy taste like foie gras fills my mouth.
And the air right now, that keen winter smell that portends snow (but doesn’t yet freeze your boogers, if you know what I mean), blows up banks of fluffy cumulus clouds in my mind, airier than the leaden walls of vapor that hug so close to the northern sky these days. It’s a bright, fluffy smell, just a fraction bluer than powdered sugar, with a clean minty smell. I want to eat that smell like marshmallows.
These associations dazzle me sometimes, and I know the distracted, mile-long stare that captures me when I fall into a whirl of sensations. I just wish you all could taste what I hear.