Wednesday, October 7, 2009

THE GIRL WHO WAS THURSDAY - Investigating a week of personificated nights

New research on synaesthesia has been presented, where especially the synaesthetic cognition of time as a spatial arrangement was exemplified.

In a study of synaesthetic children Dr Simner has showed that "synaesthetic associations (e.g. a = carmine red) develop from chaotic pairings into a system of fixed, consistent cogno-sensory responses over time". This study and other related research suggests that the neurological basis for synaesthetic cognition is open to change through habits, choices and efforts of systematizing.

In this type of studies a distinction between being a synaesthete (which only a few are) and being a non-synaesthete that can have synaesthetic associations (which most people have) is made.
A developed synaesthetic condition consists in the ability to perceive spontaneously and consistently connections across the separate senses.

Researchers into this field have often repeated that the synaesthetically cognated colours for musical notes or for vowels are specific to the individual synaesthete, and does not represent an objective substratum of reality.

A lot of this research is about measuring activity in neural pathways and comparing the two test-groups. Nevertheless, "full-blown" synaesthetic phenomena are to some degree open to anyone´s experience under certain conditions, for example during periods of insomnia, in hypnagogic reverie or in fever dreams.

Also, non-synaesthetes can have synaesthetic associations in ordinary states of mind. Such synaesthetic associations are of a more ephemeral nature, where social conventions and mental effort play in. Mnemotechnical methods that utilize mental images of spatial arrangements would be an active example of this. Everyday cognition that makes use of visual metaphors to make sense of the world would be a passive example. Synaesthetic associations of this kind are usually not perceived as vividly as the eidetic imagery of non-ordinary states, neither do they occur with the certainty about the correlation that proper synaesthetes seem to experience, but rather take place within thinking (if such a distinction is meaningful).

A reasonable interpretation of the research presented here, is that the neurological basis for synaesthetic cognition is open to change through habitual choices and efforts of systematizing even for non-synaesthetes.

The surrealist group of Stockholm once conducted an experiment in the intersubjectivity of synaesthetic association, where abstract concepts were imagined systematically, in a joint effort, as if they were concrete objects possessing sensual traits. The focus for this experiment/game was on poetic materialism; thus an emphasis on material qualities such as texture, colour, morphology prevailed. If you want to, you can read about it here.

Naturally, an investigation into the concrete dimension of the abstract could be taken in other directions too.

One of the aspects of synaesthesia of space-time was for example called "ordinal-linguistic personification". Example:"You might not have a colour for Thursday, but you know that it's a young girl who has spent too long kept in the house and wants to break out into the world."
This type of animistic thinking resembles mythological imagination, for examples:

Kronos: greek god of general time.
Aeons; immense successive units of time, that were personalized in gnostic mythology.
The Four Riders of the Apocalypse.

(Arguably, modern anthropomorphic personifications from everyday language and scientific jargon, like Planck time, indian summer, the wolf hour, the Gaussian year (365.2568983 days), also play a part of mythic imagination.)

According to present-day metaphorical standards time is usually conceptualized as a journey. But this also implies the traveller; time is crawling, flying et c.

So, what types of moments of time can be "ordinal-linguisticually personificated"?

Taking a lead from the swedish author Göran Palm, who once asked, through a book title of his, "Why don´t the nights have any names?", I´ll ask:

- Who is the night before monday, which person or entity personificates the night before tuesday et c? Let´s fill out a week of personificated nights.

Any method will do, of course, but perhaps finding the answer in a dream from the particular night which is being investigated lies close at hand.

/ N N


Anonymous said...

How I Became a Pawn of the Trickster Dawn

For the last couple of weeks I have been engaged in activities of repetition and memorization. In one of the corridors of the Enterprise I have been busy with the time consuming and vital chewing of salted peanuts. Other nights I have concentrated on learning various languages, almost grasping the hidden meaning in french, greek and dead, unidentified ones. In the dreams, I have subscribed to romantic notions of (language-)specific experiences, knowledges and results only accessible through sudden, intuitive illuminations.

All the projects have been thwarted at one point or another by a female changing forms and outfits. On the Enterprise, she hid her true identity in a Star Fleet uniform and an Eighties perm. During my language studies she manifested herself as a voice asking distracting questions at crucial moments.

Given her collaboration with the people and machines that attempt to wake me from sleep, she seems to belong to the day to come rather than the night which she invades. The immediate-paranoid interpretation is that she is the personification of the working week governed by the reality principle, but her insistent questions never concern responsibilities.

However: her sudden interruptions of repetitive activities occur at the critical moment when illumination or a breakthrough is at hand. And, since the revelation must be qualitatively different from the techniques producing it, her whispers and questions might very well be the very knowledge she seems to be distracting me from achieving.

A threshold and practical means for interruption of continual, smooth repetition (alarm clocks, John, Per, phones, suns) makes the hours at dawn best suited for this. Held back by my presumptions concerning the characteristics of knowledge, so far all her interventions have simply made me wake up.

The shifting of forms and the clever disguise of knowledge as distraction leads me to the following conclusion:

The intersection of night and day are not only the site of waking up or refusing to wake up. It is haunted by a trickster aiming at the admirable goal of reshuffling the cards and blurring the arbitrary limits between night and day.


Anonymous said...

The night before thursday: a man in a botanical garden,looking a bit like like the devil holding an egg in his hand, unsure of where to place it.


cut_throat said...

The night before Wednesday is the teenaged Bryan Ferry, having a snowball fight with his friends in the dark.

Anonymous said...

The night before saturday; a sloppy spy who accidentally reveals his true identity and then tries to talk himself out of the sudden danger that this mishap causes him. He does a surprisingly good job out of it, so that secrecy is somewhat restored.

(An EB-type (see first comment above) of trickster perhaps.)


Anonymous said...

14e oktobersällskapet

Ett hemligt internationellt asiatiskt sällskap har i enlighet med en uråldrig astrologisk kalender periodiska möten. Ibland infaller de med några timmars mellanrum, ibland går det århundraden innan de ses. Men något har gått fruktansvärt fel, och ett av de nio aktiva överhuvudena (sällskapet är uppdelat i ett antal loger med specifika färger och symboler som bedriver sin egen, självständiga verksamhet mellan sammankomsterna) är ursinnigt.

En samling äldre herrar och damer som utgör en slags domstol inom organisationen upptäcker en förskräckligt scen: det kvinnliga överhuvudet står böjd över ett manligt dito och är i färd med att under långa, hatiska monologer ha livet ur honom.

När hon konfronteras av samlingen gamlingar för sitt oförklarliga brott ger hon följande skäl: den hånflinande mannen ligger bakom den serie bestialiska mord som under flera decennier har drabbat de nio logernas nyckelmedlemmar. Hennes berättelse illustreras genom att jag får följa händelseförloppen runt de mystiska morden, och det ständigt gäckade arbetet med att försöka identifiera lönnmördaren.

Den skyldige avslöjades inte förrän hans offer dessutom var - hans anklagerskas älskare. Efter att ha fått otvetydiga bevis jagade hon, utom sig av sorg, ner den flinande vansinnige i det vidsträckta, rödbruna grottsystem där drömmen utspelar sig.

Gamlingarna sympatiserar med henne men måste följa sällskapets uråldriga, omänskligt strikta lagar. Hon bannlyses, förföljd av den vansinniges ekande skratt. På grund av hennes agerande äger han nu immunitet.

(Drömmen utspelar sig natten till den 15e, och sällskapet svarar mot en hemlig vecka över och emot borgerlighetens försök att införa en tiodagarsvecka med bibehållet antal helgdagar.)