Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Senses.


I've discovered many things about the world in the past three years. Vodka goes beautifully with orange juice - tastes healthy and the malicious alcohol takes longer to sneak up behind you. If you're super chatty with the gents behind the counter in the post office, First Class recorded delivery is free. All-nighters are not the answer. There is always time to read for pleasure. 
Anyway, one of the key things I've learned (outside of the lecture hall) is that emotions have taste. They have scent, and texture, and sound. Memories mix and mingle until they are synonymous with these few emotions. I taste my feelings, and I hear my memories.

Disappointment tastes like Fosters and lime. Smells like Lynx and embodies ugly immaturity. 
Confusion sucks in menthol, and sighs out hot ash. It's smeared on the mirror in the toilets; lipstick in a dark pinkish hue, the feeling of the kettle boiling and the window steaming up. Driving late at night, a dark sea and cold conversational pauses. 
Love had a sad odour for so long, a palpable sticky sweaty air; now, it's that bright freshness at 7:45am, buzzing ink, pumping blood and original source shower gel. 
Contentment is warm berries on the tongue, soy Chai and cinnamon, chilled white wine in the salty wind as we sit on the beach and bask in the sheer loveliness of it all. Excitement is cutting tags off clothing, ingredients laid out on the chopping board, notification noises and keys jingling in your hand.
Sisterhood is marker pen on cotton, clanging pans on the hob, pop culture quotes and frantic typing. Friendship is plastic glasses clinking and new shoes slipping; vanilla bathroom spray, chairs squeaking across the floor, cheese feast pizza while staring at screens. Hard gravel beneath our feet, wool wrapped around our shoulders, burning tears sliding down our faces, then the clear ringing through the night air as we laugh it off; gulping and spluttering, suddenly struggling to contain it. Dad is Armani in the bathroom, rubbed off on the towels, minty breath and stiff linen hugs, pints being poured and excited talk on trains. 
Strength is machines beeping, light and foamy gluten-free cake being shared, bones scraping, steady breathing and smiles stretching, hurting your cheeks. 

Every emotion has a string of senses attached to it, and an accompanying tale, cautionary or cheerful, that caused these things to be forever linked. Everyone has their own sensory story, their own associations. Nobody has the same.
Unless, like me, you just really love red wine and soy lattes. 

2 comments

  1. There's a term for this kind of thing: synaesthesia, where one sense being stimulated causes experiences in another. The most common kind is grapheme-colour synaesthesia, where letters and colours become associated with one another. Ideasthesia is another variation, where concepts and ideas evoke sensations. An example of both is Channel Orange by Frank Ocean. The title comes from a summer in Ocean's life when he first fell in love, and perceived everything to be orange. Hence the colour and the sensation are one and the same. In other cases, like Kanye and Pharrell, they've perceived sound as having a texture, a colour, a weight, a shape. Something tangible that they can see. I think this is chromesthesia.

    The most notable example, at least that I can think of, is Daniel Tammet. An autistic savant, but one capable of fully communicating his experiences with everyone else, Tammet perceives every number up to 10,000 as having its own unique visual image; this actually allows him to do large sums in his head. He envisions the two numbers as these shapes, and the sum of them as a third shape fitting in between them. Tammet also describes having emotional attachments to them, describing pi as beautiful.

    It's more common than you'd think. Languages have very different "shapes" or styles in my head; I perceive French spoken aloud as slender and elegant, I perceive German as stout and robust. Billy Joel, Vladimir Nabokov, Aphex Twin and Nikola Tesla have all experienced it. Exactly what defines a synesthete is debatable, and I don't think there's been a firm scientific ruling, but nothing in life is so simple that it can be easily sorted into an unyielding category. Gender and sexuality are like that. It stands to reason senses are as well.

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  2. I get it with taste/smell mostly connecting to visuals! When i watch spider man 1 i taste Gillian shell chocolates and when I read Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy I smell sun cream (read it whilst sunbathing in spain like 6 years ago!)

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