Embracing the Wide Sky

I could read endless books about the brain.  We know so little about the mechanisms of thought and feeling.  I can’t help wanting to grab every new book on the subject, hoping it will offer a little bit of insight or perspective, or at the very least reinforce existing knowledge.

The book I just finished is “Embracing the Wide Sky”, by Daniel Tammet.  Daniel Tammet is a writer with high-functioning autism and a prodigious savant with synesthesia.  Ok, so that sounds a little like name-calling, but Daniel’s book gives a glimpse of his unique reality with these rare neurological conditions.

Daniel has enhanced abilities in the areas of math and music, he also speaks seven languages and is inventing one of his own.   He is able to perform seemingly impossible mental gymnastics and describe how he accomplishes every move.

The synesthesia seems like it would be an incredible asset.  It is described as experiencing one sense through the perception of another sense.  For example, if you perceive colors when listening to music.  Sometimes it is not a direct activation of two senses,  some synesthete’s, like Daniel will actually see a color when thinking of a particular number or word.  “When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That’s the answer. It’s mental imagery. It’s like maths without having to think.”

It seems that these “conditions” are actually super-senses or extra perceptions.  I guess how you look at it depends on how you are able to interact with others that have different types of minds.


~ by lamiak on January 5, 2011.

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