Thursday, August 31, 2017

The New Yorker

I Share Something with Marilyn Monroe--And You May Too
By Robin Wright
Marilyn Monroe had a condition called synesthesia, a kind of sensory or cognitive fusion in which things seen, heard, smelled, felt, or tasted stimulate a totally unrelated sense—so that music can be heard or food tasted in colors, for instance. Monroe’s first husband, Jim Dougherty, told Norman Mailer about “evenings when all Norma Jean served were peas and carrots. She liked the colors. She has that displacement of the senses which others take drugs to find. So she is like a lover of rock who sees vibrations when he hears sounds,” Mailer recounted, in his 1973 biography of Monroe.
I have synesthesia, too. The condition, which has been described in literature for centuries but only recently studied scientifically, takes more than a hundred forms. About four per cent of people are believed to have at least one variation; some have many. We’re called synesthetes.
I see numbers in colors, which is one of the more common forms. For me, three is a sunny yellow, four is bright red, five is a brilliant green, six is pale blue, seven is royal blue, eight is muddy brown, and so on. I do Sudoku puzzles by colors, not by the shapes of numbers. I remember phone numbers by colors, too. If the colors go together, I’ll never forget the number. If they clash, it’s almost impossible to recall. When I went to my home town, Ann Arbor, for my thirtieth high-school reunion, I picked up the phone and called a friend I hadn’t seen in decades—on a number I remembered (and still do). I hate the number nineteen: one is white, nine is black. It’s like good and evil in one number. It makes me shudder.
“Synesthesia is a genuine phenomenon, and people who have it are actually experiencing the world differently,” Dr. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist at Stanford, told me. Research into synesthesia has led to a broad reconsideration of perception in general. 

Read on.....
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/i-have-something-in-common-with-marilyn-monroeand-you-might-too

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