I’m not quite sure why, but I think I’m shocked by the poll results in the previous post! I don’t exactly know what I expected, but I’m surprised so many people – an overwhelming 46% feel most connected with their sense of sound over the other four senses! Probably not so surprising, but I put touch for myself. I’m glad to see that 5 other souls are out there feeling the same way… (who are you? we should hug!) As I think about those affected by sound, I wonder most of those voters are referring to music. Hmmm… In any case, there were votes for all 5 senses (though taste was lowest with one voter!). This is an interesting thing for everyone to realize – that human beings perceive the world each in their own unique way! And in order for someone to feel most connected, most creative, most moved… it’s important to work through all senses. Singing a song to show me you care may not do as much as simply putting your hand on my shoulder. Au contraire, other people would melt at the sound of music and smack you if you touched them!
Ok Amanda, so what? Right? Well, if you know me remotely well, you’ll know about my obsession with and love for synesthesia – a neurological phenomenon where an individual experiences multiple senses at once. Yes, it sounds like an acid trip or something, and while synesthesia can be drug-induced, many people all over the world actually experience taste as shapes, or sound as color, or the alphabet as different personalities… the list goes on! It’s a fascinating subject, and I promise that as soon as you wikipedia “synesthesia,” you’ll never stop. My senior year at Luther, as my final gigantic honors project, I studied synesthesia through research, music, and art.
I created an art show entitled “Synthesis: a creative exploration of the senses,” where I showed pieces of art that were inspired by pieces of music. I performed those pieces in an arts recital in the atrium of the art building with intermittent bits of lecture based off of the 20 page paper that accompanied the project. I was also fortunate to present all of this on a smaller scale at the National Convention of Undergraduate Research, and my paper is published by NCUR’s scholarly journal, “The Proceedings.”
While I do not have full-blown synesthesia, I believe that it is a trait we all possess that can be exercised. If we begin to become aware of how we perceive the world and focus on drawing on all of our senses, I believe that our abilities to think creatively will be enhanced. I could go on about this forever, but I won’t. Mostly, I’ve been thinking about this in response to an earlier post, Life After College. Mike Wilker, director of LVC, kindly approached me this past week to say that after reading that post, he wanted to offer any support in helping me to foster my creativity. He said that “where there is conflict, opportunity arises.” It was a nice wake-up call, really. The post largely complains about life after college without using the creativity that I feel is unused to actually make changes! It’s easy to think, who am I to make huge changes like announcing to the world that perhaps a M-F, 9-5 work schedule depresses rather than enhances creativty??! But I often forget that I am a part of larger groups that could make change. Mike challenged me to think of ways the LVC community can be a voice for our generation and the ways in which our sense of time, work-ethic, and creativity have changed. And I’m sort of stumped at that. I’m a huge external-processor, so I think my thoughts won’t advance too far until I talk it out with a few people, so send me your thoughts on the matter.
I promised a reference to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD, and it honestly fits perfectly with all of my other cries for creativity in this post.
Visionary Art is essentially art created by individuals usually without “formal” training, often inspired by innate personal visions and an enhanced creative process. The museum holds the most peculiar art you’ve ever seen, with many works by individuals with mental illnesses. And multiple times on the walls, you’ll see my dad’s new favorite quote by Albert Einstein himself: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Man I wish I had included that one in my paper on synesthesia. The thing that fascinates me most about synesthesia is that some researchers believe everyone is born with synesthesia and “lose it” as they grow older.
I can’t help but wonder if they physically grow out of it, or if their creativity and imagination is supressed as they enter school. (I see it now – a small child pointing at the letter A and exclaiming that it is pink, when in actuality, the ink is black. The teacher would immediately correct her/him, and instill the idea that there are right and wrong answers, and that one was simply wrong.) What a fascinating art museum with such a range of creativity employed through all 5 senses. It’s possible that I loved the experience so much because I ate a cupcake right beforehand, but I honestly think it was just a good museum…
I’ll leave you with a piece of wisdom from the AVAM:
We believe that being overly indoctrinated with ideas of what is not supposed to work, or what cannot work, only stifles human innovation and idea-making. A free thinking educational environment opens the self-taught innovator to a greater range of dynamic possibilities. It is this total openness to the many potentialities of change that remains at the heart of true invention -and it is in this spirit that we offer these educational goals, which we believe apply equally well to people of every age and background.