• Daily Life

    so the visualization thing is called aphantasia

    I’ve been talking about this topic for years (whether you see pictures in your head when you, say, read), ever since a conversation with a friend and Ted and the friend said something about the radio drama in her head, and Ted said “You only get a radio drama?” and she said “Oh no! I get the whole movie!” and I said “wait what?”

    After some incredulous back-and-forthing, we found that they saw pictures in their heads when they read (or called up memories, or DAYDREAMED, WHAT THE HELL!!!), and I didn’t. (“How can you possibly make such great pictures in MY head when YOU don’t see them?” Ted asked in bewilderment.)

    This whole astonishing conversation shed light on several scenes I’d read in books over the years that had always vaguely bothered me: the bit in EMILY CLIMBS, where a father can’t recall the face of his dead child, that he’s unable to pull up a picture in his mind like most people did; a bit in SURELY YOU’RE JOKING, MR FEYNMAN, where they’re trying to see how well people keep time in their heads and those who did it best saw a clock counting in their mind; and non-book things like, yes, counting sheep or this stupid math thing we did in school as kids where there were these color blocks we were supposed to be able to use to help do multiplication in our heads: 5 blue squares, 10 red ones, 1 green, etc, which were, I now understand, tools for people who visualized, and which I always thought were a really stupid thing to do, because as with all of the above examples, my basic reaction was and is: oh sure, WHO ACTUALLY DOES THAT?!

    A lot of people, apparently, except I have to say that from my casual interrogations on the topic over the past decade+, it’s a lot more like 1 in 3 people who don’t visualize than 1 in 50. Also most (not all, but most) people who visualize strongly tend to like longer narrative poetry better than short conceptual poetry, and…loads of stuff. :)

    Anyway, the whole inability to visualize thing clearly works differently for different people. I can tell you with a fair amount of accurate detail what Tom Cruise (and I use him because everybody knows who he is) looks like, but I cannot ‘see’ him in my head, whereas Ted can apparently pull up a 3D image and spin it around in his head. *boggle* I’ve had visual artist friends who say they occasionally get a flash of an image but can’t hold it (which is how I am), and if you ask me I say what’s in my head is words, but it’s not PICTURES of words. It’s just words. In the darkness. Where they belong.

    Also after finding out that people could do this I started trying to develop an ability to visualize, just out of curiosity, and I got just far enough along in the exercise to start getting an idea of what it might be like and it was HORRIBLE. My head felt crowded. It was AWFUL. UGH!

    People can also apparently hear music in their heads as if (and language does not explain this well) they’re listening to a radio or an orchestra or whatever in their heads. That’s happened to me like…two times in my life. Maybe three. For no more than a phrase or two of music, and it’s SHOCKING AS HELL. I earworm, but it’s…just words. With the idea of a tune in their vicinity. And my voice. Ish. Kind of. In a sort of…flattened way. Muted. Not like my voice spoken aloud. At all.

    Also HOLY CRAP the idea that Fantasia is like ACTUALLY LIKE SOMETHING PEOPLE MIGHT SEE IN THEIR HEADS LISTENING TO MUSIC!? WHAT THE HELL!?!? I mean I knew that was like the *idea* behind it but I thought it was sheer fucking fancy, like, you know? It never crossed my mind that it might be LITERAL. (and oh look, ‘aphantasia’ is the opposite of ‘phantasia’, which. heh. i see what they did there.)

    I love this topic. I really do. It’s SO FASCINATING to find out what happens in other peoples’ heads…!

  • Uncategorized

    home again!

    We’re home again from P-Con VI, which was one of the nicest cons I’ve been to. With the glaring exception of , whom I barely saw all weekend, I for once actually felt like I got to talk almost enough with everybody I wanted to. Almost. I keep thinking of more people I’d have liked to talk with as I type this, but, well, it was a damned fine try.

    The panels all went really well, I thought. The whole con ran *extremely* smoothly, and panels were well-attended and there was a lot of lively discussion, which is always best. Off-the-top-of-my-head highlights (not necessarily at panels) included a discussion of jacuzzi-bathing snow monkeys reducing Paul Cornell to tears of laughter, an excellent revisitation of the Visualization Discussion, meeting Melissa from New Zealand, and Ted walking in to the room just as I finished discussing the fact that I had no real guilty pleasures (he got applause and cheers and laughter for his excellent timing, and I take no guilt in my pleasures, see. Juliet McKenna, however, had a genuine guilty pleasure which we all went ‘ooooh’ at. :)) The charity auction went well–the WALKING DEAD manuscript went for €50 and the FANTASY MEDLEY advanced reader copy went for €25, so I was glad we’d brought them–and I nearly reduced *myself* to tears by putting the Simpsons Movie, which I had promised , into the auction in hopes of forcing him to bid on it. He refused, and was given it anyway when nobody else wanted it. :)

    The toast to life memorial for Frank Darcy was utterly lovely, if such a thing can be said about a service of that sort. The whole Darcy family was around all weekend (Ted defeated the youngest Darcy girl, who is ten and whose name escapes me, in a lightsaber Wii battle, and she used her Devastating Defeat to sell raffle tickets. Of course, she also said, “I let him win.” :)), and it was very, very good to see all of them. I could see a lot of Frank /in/ the kids, and we got to hear some wonderful stories about him as a father as well as the fan side that we all knew, so yeah. It was fantastic, in a heartbreaking way.

    Peter, who ran the convention this year, is working to create a Friends of the Phoenix society of sorts, a community beyond the convention itself (“I was going to call it the Order of the Phoenix,” said he, “but then I thought no, wait, somebody had used that recently…”), and gave those of us who had been guests of honor honorary memberships to it, by way of presenting numbered certificates to us. Pádraig, who began P-Con six years ago, was given the number one certificate, and Frank Darcy’s family was presented with the #2 certificate. Both of these things were hugely, and rightfully, applauded.

    I am, not for the first and certainly not for the last time, reminded of how much I like the people Ted and I have come to know through the Irish science fiction and fantasy convention scene. We’ve had some rough times in this whole moving across the world thing, but I would have been so terribly sad to have missed knowing all of them. They’re just such utterly wonderful people, and I’m really, really happy to get to spend a weekend or two a year with them and their generosity and welcoming spirits and big hearts.

    miles to Minas Tirith: 145.5

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