Synesthesia is a brain condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.
People with a lifelong history of such experiences are called ‘synesthetes.’ I’m one! Ever since I first learned the alphabet, letters have appeared inherently colored to me. About 40% of words, in turn, take on the color of the first letter, almost as if the hue bleeds into the word. I also feel strong, seemingly arbitrary emotional associations with most letters, and those seem to be related to the colors I perceive.
Explaining this has always been a challenge. Simply reproducing the colors, as I’m doing here, doesn’t really evoke that emotive association.
Recently, though, I came up with a new way to help non-synesthetes get into my head more genuinely. I asked myself, “If each letter could say one thing to match its personality, what might that be?” Then, rather than coloring all the words to correspond with how I see them, I introduced each letter and its color individually and attempted to present the unique feeling (or, perhaps, temperament) of each letter using the words below it. Please enjoy!
Is there anybody out there
with a LONG attention span?
Have there ever been such people
in the history of man?
“Bullies” much too silly sound.
The pain they cause is too profound.
Once upon a time,
in a land called Compromise,
two people could win
if they could share the prize.
D & E
There is a domino effect
when different forces intersect,
except when neither of them yields—
that’s how we get battlefields.
Fearless in the face of death
is no one, so enjoy each breath.
Grow if you want to overthrow
& again & again, feeling
humility & triumph at the same time.
We act like the Internet is a place
(or at least a thing)
when it’s just an idea,
just like justice.
Even with the world’s
knowledge in hand,
no one knows what it means.
Levitation is a lovely word.
M & N
“We ain’t nothin’ but mammals” – Eminem
(except when we’re ostriches)
Want a useful thought? Here’s one:
play is good for more than fun.
Through play, even wild wolves explore
in peace their readiness for war,
& language (“give a thing a name”)
is mankind’s first recorded game.
The rest is simple to derive:
we work hard & play hard to thrive.
The most advanced tribes ever known
used playing as a shared backbone
as they passed down, against all odds,
their richly painted masks of gods.
Invention (i.e. “make cool tools”)
is simply play with self-made rules.
We use play to grow, learn, create,
communicate & propagate—
plus (Shakespeare said it) play’s the thing
to catch the conscience of the King.
I think I should question
everyone & everything, although
I need more practice.
Religion is an invisible thing which to some
Shakespeare used the word supersubtle,
which to me sounds almost like newspeak.
Turbans, tunics, headdresses & robes are garb,
while gowns, white veils & tuxedos are attire.
You can’t unleash power—
it’s never been leashed.
The blind can see at the violet hour.
Everyone starts as a zygote… right?
Sometimes it strikes me as bizarre
how lucid, yet how blind we are.
Under this canopy of light,
this haven of our atmosphere,
all our visions, however clear,
all shapes & pigments that we see,
flash through time so fleetingly,
vague as the figments left behind
after a dream breaks from your mind.
a man who’s creative is never alone:
his drive to create has a mind of its own.
his imagination may sometimes play nice
but can’t be controlled like some tool or device;
he’s bound to its service, & soon he learns well
to put it to work lest it make his life hell.
Oedipus was not superior in wit or intellect
to any other man in his class.
However, he was wise enough to defeat
the Sphinx at her game of impossible
truth — being ashamed of neither
the immaturity of past youth nor
word count: 86
If self-education is a way of life for you,
if your curiosity is part of your worldview,
if, at your full height, you still remember how to grow
& you have no problem with admitting “I don’t know,”
then there’s some potential for arousal between us!
Superficial beauty is a plus, but not a must.
I’m sapiosexual—it’s out of my control.
So, if my affectionate devotion is your goal,
turn me on by turning on my creativity;
then, my love for you will last into eternity.
word count: 101
All anyone wants to do is
sit around with friends,
till the wide world ends.
We know social media is
getting in the way,
but it feels like up
and leaving it is not okay.
They will make excuses for us
when we’re dead and gone, like:
“How could they know better?
Networking was at its dawn!”
Still, we won’t be blameless
in hindsight or history;
we’ll be famous for our shameless,
strangely painless misery.
One thing Twitter can’t do is
acquaint you with your grave.
All of us will meet there, friends,
and no one will be saved.
word count: 66
I love it when your mind opens my mind
under the guise of simple dialogue!
Truths I deemed impossible to find
arise effortlessly; you lift the fog
& all that’s left is your naked brilliance.
I also admire your resilience
to false witness, propaganda & brain-
washing—how many men in history
have thought for themselves & yet remained sane?
You’re one of them because you’re stronger than pain.
word count: 55
How can something as dainty as a rhyme
stretch to accommodate a paradigm?
How could stone slabs, slowly inscribed by hand,
carry the weight of 10 divine commands?
How did the founding fathers—all mere men—
give birth to a nation with a pen?
How do hearts split apart by loneliness
let themselves be vulnerable again?
word count: 294
Our world is blatantly obsessed with sex!
Here are some ways in which this manifests:
Celibate priests are raping little boys.
People use whips and chains as bedroom toys.
Men in dark basements can’t get off RedTube.
Men in high places touch their interns’ boobs.
Standards of unattainable beauty
torment the fairer sex (including me).
People resign to promiscuity.
Wait… promiscuity? You’re right to ask.
Given the headline I picked as my task,
shouldn’t I argue FOR sleeping around?
No. That would drive our race into the ground,
if not with some raw, rampant STD
then through the death of vital loyalty.
Instead, I go for polyamory
(that is: having two lovers, maybe three),
but not to compromise intimacy:
I love my lovers better when they’re free.
Once and forever, Shakespeare says it best:
life’s short, love’s true, and silence is the rest.
Transparent, grown-up honesty
is key to polyamory.
It might be “not for everyone,”
but it can be a ton of fun!
In my own life, it’s logical
and somewhat biological—
since I like kissing shafts and curves,
monogamy gets on my nerves.
Buuut I don’t want a one-off thing.
Each love’s a romance, not a fling.
In my mind, the best kind of sex
is when both skins and souls connect,
and when I feel the need to take
that hostage, my own love is fake.
One final thing I think is true
(I might be wrong about this, too)
I think the purpose of taboo
is kind of as a last resort:
When people cut their love lives short
and isolation walls them off,
like a collective urge to cough,
taboos are broken, and people open
up to the nakedest of things—
love, which is why the caged bird sings.
word count: 48
On the Web now is the primordial slime
that will, one day, become a sentient mind:
the first brain thinking artificially
will know, believe, & by extension BE
the sum of what our kind has put online.
What will it think of us? What will it see?