See music? Taste shapes?

Many artists are synthetes, like David Hockney

Many artists are synthetes, like David Hockney


What is it? Well, it’s cool as hell. Have you heard phrases like “she’s so sweet?” Or “eye candy?”People with synthesia, or synthetes, invented metaphors like this. It’s because many of them can actually see music, or taste shapes.

I’m a synthete. I suspect my expanded sensory experiences are one of the main things that makes me “weird.” That said, I think even most non-synthetes can relate to the experience, because there is SO much sensory confusion in our language. My version of synthesia mainly manifests in personification – in other words – things that aren’t alive have personalities in my world. And I’m not crazy, I have an extraordinary ability.

Synesthesia is not a disability. It’s actually an enhanced ability, kind of like ESP, at least in my fantasies.  Those who have it typically become artists, writers, musicians and chefs. Those who weren’t blessed with this genetic quirk may encounter it when under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Some of us are lucky enough not to need them.

There are many varieties. Some people see a private laser show when they listen to music. Others associate colors with letters of the alphabet. My personal experience with it is that numbers have colors, genders and personalities. I know it sounds strange, but I’ve always had a strange bond to the number two. It’s yellow, female, gentle and kind. Often, synthesitic experiences are somewhat logical. For example, a book I read said that a gentleman tasted sausages every time he read the word village. It rhymes so it must be true!

I have other symptoms of synthesia. For example, Thursday is burnt orange. Colored days of the week and picturing time in a physical space is also common for synthetes. Tuesday, for me, of course is yellow (like its friend, the number two). People and animals often have colors and flavors for me too.

Since it’s pet month, I’ll disclose more of my weirdness. My pet Scout is butter pecan or peanut brittle. My Airedales have both tasted like pumpkin (in my mind, though I haven’t taken a bite, yet). My dog Cowboy is white bread, biscuits and country gravy. He’s an all American boy. And Todd’s dog, the Rottweiler is licorice and anise.

I’m told about one in twenty people have synesthesia. I would love to hear from you, if like David Hockney, Tori Amos and Duke Ellington, you have it too.

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