Colour Me Beautiful, or Not

As a child, I saw every day objects as male and female; the ones I remember most clearly were knives and forks. I saw knives as female, forks as male, but someone had told me that a gentleman always walks on a lady’s right hand side and table place setting arrangements bothered me because of this.

I have always seen ordinal squences in a spatial arrangement and, until I read this article in The Observer last weekend, believed this was how everyone saw them.

I associate names with different colours: Lucy, Rosalind, Sarah, Alice are pinks and mauves; Alex, Anne, Chris are sharper, citrus shades. Angela has a custardy spongy density.

All of this has seemed quite normal to me. I have had conversations with people about ‘pink sort of names’ and either they all have had synaesthesia too, or just joined in for fun, but no one ever said to me that they found the idea strange. I assumed everyone heard words as colours or tastes or textures.

So how do the rest of you see the world? What do days of the week, months of the year, spooling decades of a century look like to you in your imagination? What are the pictures, sounds and colours behind the words? Or aren’t there any? Do you hear voices in different shades? Gruff browns, chalky nasal, rotund purple. Or haven’t we been speaking the same language at all?

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15 thoughts on “Colour Me Beautiful, or Not

  1. Did you know that synesthesia is often said to be seen more in people with autism. There is some conjecture that Vincent van Gogh suffered from it, and that he saw in colours. That was such an interesting article.

    • Really? I had heard of synaesthesia in relation to people hearing symphonies in colour, but never related it to the way I hear things. I know I have a visual imagination, and I am guessing many people do. The percentage quoted seems unfeasibly low.

  2. I don’t think I see words as colours but I do sometimes have a very strong sense of a person looking like a particular animal. Sometimes the likeness is apt (the weasel and the hawk) but not always (the tortoise). I am highly visual.

    Before you ask, no, I don’t have it with you 😀

    • I have been told that I am a seagull…
      It is fascinating how we have these responses. I get the impression we are only at the beginning of learning how varied our perceptions are. Or maybe it is just that I am only at the beginning!

      • A seagull, you say? Not the ones around here – you are way too gracious. A slightly lateral change in direction, I am fascinated by the fact we don’t really agree on what colors are. Your green ain’t like mine. It is all in perception.

  3. Yes, a most fascinating post! Sadly I don’t see words as colors or what you post about. I do have a pretty vivid imagination I believe. I do tend to anthropomorphize. Not just inanimate objects but animals too, of course. I have a huge tendency to give life to things we have.. 😀 Our cars, Kermie the stuffed frog on The Porch, our house, The Tiny Ten(our small rural property), my camera. Makes life interesting and CH says it keeps him thinking.. 😀 I am going to google synesthesia, totally fascinating!!! So, what is the color you see my name? Good Afternoon Isobel!

    • I think it is really interesting how we are the same but precise things in different ways. I also have a tendency to get attached in a sentimental way to things and to feel I am betraying them if I give them away. Binning them is nigh on impossible.
      I think I see your name as purple.

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