[-empyre-] synaesthesia

I believe that this condition has plagued me for quite some time, but in a
very odd way. In fact, I'm not sure it's true Synaesthesia.

symptoms: one input in one sense triggers notions or memories in another

I don't pound a D flat minor and declare it Blue, (because we ALL know it's
actually Orange... right?) but so often, a chord or melody or an image will
spark some kind of a response, and not always a pleasant one.

I've been able to track some of these weird notions to memories, deeply
buried. But more often than not, I just have *no* idea what it means. It
used to freak me out, and I would be shocked or puzzled and try to "figure
it out" but after a while, (like 20 years) I stopped bothering, usually. I
think the harder ones might be that a stimulus might be triggering a memory
or linkage from a dream or something equally difficult to remember, like a
random firing of synapses.

That's why I agree with Chris Marker: memory is not the opposite of
forgetting, but its lining. It's not a binary, boolean, Manichean thing of
knowing or forgetting - it's a complex series of surfaces, places, and
inventive re-creations of mental activity.

Here's an example:

This Thanksgiving I spent in Bakersfield CA and the LA area visiting
friends. On the way back, we drove past cornfields, and suddenly I heard a
bit of John Cage's Fontana Mix -  blasting into my head. I don't use a
walkman or iPod - I can simply "plug music in" to my memory, and listen at
will, and am frequently humming or singing to myself. So to have some tune
barge into my mind is not uncommon, but this was strange, because of the
specificity of that song and seeing the cornfield. Also, I hadn't heard
Fontana Mix in a reeeeally long time.

We were soon stuck in truly hideous traffic, where the entire highway would
simply come to a dead halt, so I had a lot of time to sit and work it out -
Why was I listening to Cage? From a cornfield?

Then I remembered... finally...

When I was 15 some *cough* 30 or so years ago, my family visited another
family that were farmers. Corn Farmers. They had kids, and the eldest was a
girl, about a year younger than me. We didn't know each other, had nothing
in common, but we were so completely alien to each other, we had to grill
each other over "what's cool where you are" kind of teen stuff.

All she ever heard was country music, which I largely detest. She went to a
school with no minorities in it, which I found kind of sad. We walked
through the cornfield, and she asked me what kind of music do I listen to
"Back East". I told her I was into some *cough* European *cough* groups that
were quasi-popular at the time - King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, people who knew
how to play their instruments, and also more "hard rock" groups like the Who
and Black Sabbath. She thought Black Sabbath was a scary name - her parents
would disown her if she came home with a record like that. So I told her
about the music - simple, loud, rock music with depressing lyrics. I even
did a great "I AM IRON MAN" for her. She thought I was nuts, which is a
common response that I no longer find insulting. We laughed and wandered
back to the house. I never saw her or spoke to her again.

Many years later, I went to a Cage Fest in Maryland. All Cage All Day All At
Once. One room had someone who had completely re-arranged Fontana Mix to
include the sample from Black Sabbath: I AM IRON MAN. I noticed that this
was NOT the Fontana Mix I was familiar with. I kind of liked it better.

So, there was Fontana Mix in a cornfield.

That kind of obscure memory crap happens to me *all the frikkin' time*. I
find it frustrating sometimes. My wife says it's endearing and amusing when
I'll pull some weird memory out of nowhere from some obscure and tangential
tertiary reference. So, if she doesn't mind, I don't... too much...

But the above story is a very straightforward example - I was able to pin
the references within an hour or two. What is more common is this morning
when a bird chirped a certain chirp and all I could think of was flannel.
Yeah. Flannel. I don't think I even own anything made of flannel. I *really*
don't know about that one. I notice it happens more when I am not occupied
in a language activity. If I'm unloading the dishwasher or driving somewhere
or walking down the street, that's when I'm most likely to get it both
barrels. Not when I'm typing.

So, as I said, I don't know if bird chirping causing me to sense flannel is
synaesthesia or not. But it seems like it to me, or something very close,
and I've about had enough of it. I'm always worried that it's early onset
dementia or something like that...



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