Slightly rippled with a flat underside

A friend of mine categorises his CDs according to colour. Not the colour of the sleeve or any reference to colour in the title, but the perceived colour he associates with each artist or collection of songs.

This system makes perfect sense to me, I think because I have a pretty strong and freely associative imagination. For example, To the 5 Boroughs is a coppery orange, whereas Mezzanine is a deep aubergine purple.

I think of myself as bluey green and driftwoody, and make sense of this by imagining all the wires in my head as loosely and sometimes wrongly connected. Unsurprisingly, I am a laugh riot on psychedelics.

Another feature of this loose wiring is that I am mildly synaesthetic. This wonderful little word describes a condition where stimulating one cognitive pathway leads to involuntary experience in a different cognitive pathway.

In my case I see sound, at such a basic level that I didn’t even realise this was unusual until I read about synaesthesia in my late teens. If a sound is loud, unexpected and reasonably monotone, I see it as a shape formed from bright white light.

At its most sophisticated, I once heard a person run across the room in the flat above me, and saw the sound as a series of white footprints tracking across the ceiling. Mostly the shapes are abstract, although recently when I see them I’ve started feeling an accompanying lurch in my stomach, like I’ve just driven too fast over a hump-backed bridge.

I find the condition absolutely fascinating (which might explain the psychedelic predilections briefly alluded to) and suspect that it’s fairly common but have so far not met anyone else who’s similarly affected.


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