Douglas Spencer (dougs) wrote,
Douglas Spencer
dougs

Please tell me if I'm odd.

I've just had another chat session with scarlatti.

There was an intriguing insight into part of what makes me tick. It never struck me as odd, this facet of the way my mind works -- but she's never encountered it before. Now that I've had pointed out to me that this particular bit of cognitive infrastructure might be unusual, I want to find out just how unusual it is.
There's a theory that this specific thing is bizarre, strange, totally alien from the rest of the planet's population.
I want to test this theory. I want to describe here the phenomenon I described to her in chat, and solicit comments about whether or not it's odd.

How strange am I?

It started because I didn't remember what her favourite colour is, despite having read it in a number of surveys.
My favourite colour is green. Mountains are green and purple, woods are green and brown, water is green and blue. I associate the colour with pleasant things. That's why it's my favourite colour.
scarlatti's favourite colour, apparently, is purple. I didn't remember that -- I said that it was because she'd never said why. There wasn't a hook for remembering. She said "To me, I've never heard of having a particular reason for liking one's favorite color. One just *likes* that color more than the others."

She asked me if I knew what colour her eyes are. I said "I haven't the faintest idea. I daresay you've said, I'm sure I've seen them. But I don't have a clue." I said "I know you describe your hair as strawberry blonde, but I can't visualise it's colour, even having seen it."

I'm not colourblind. I have perfect eyesight, perfect colour vision. I'm just not interested in the colour of her eyes, her hair.

And it never occurred to me that this was strange.

She asked me what colour my eyes were. I said they were brown, I knew they were brown. I'd had to fill it in on forms and stuff. But I had no idea whether they were light brown or dark brown. I'd have to go and look. But she knew. She said they were "a beautiful medium brown". I said "really, this kind of detail is simply not important. I fail totally to see what difference it makes how people look. How people feel -- that's a different matter."

A few lines later I said "I can't even visualise what Anne looks like." I lived with Anne for more than ten years, we'd been married for more than four when she died. I looked at her every day. But I can't bring her face to mind. I know her smell, the taste of her skin, its texture. The way she felt. scarlatti asked if I had photos -- I'm sure there are some, somewhere. But I don't go back and look at them. I don't have to. I can feel, taste, smell Anne without a photo, and I was never fussed what she looked like.

And it never occurred to me that this was strange.

scarlatti treasures up photos of me. She goes back and looks at them again and again. She loves to watch me on the webcam. She can picture me accurately, effortlessly, in her mind's eye.
And I don't -- I can't -- bring to mind what she looks like.

I can't picture anyone's appearance. I can't bring anyone into view in front of my mind's eye. I can describe people, how they look -- but I'm not remembering how they look. I'm remembering descriptions of how they look. And there are people who I can't describe at all, people I know very very well.

scarlatti asked me if I remembered what my Mother looked like. (I visit her frequently -- there are photos in earlier LJ entries.)
I have no idea what my mother looks like.

And it never occurred to me that this was strange.

I know what her glasses look like, because I've had to repair them. I know what shape the windscreen scars on her face are, because I was studying first-aid at the time of her accident. I know what shape her biopsy scar is, because it was me that sent her to the GP. But I can't visualise her face.
I remember bits of how she looks, because of specific reasons. But not her whole face. There's no reason why I should -- I didn't become her son by looking at her, after all.

I take photos, and I link to them in my LJ. But the captions are often to do with what people are doing, what people are thinking. Who cares what they look like? What difference does it make?

People are the people that they are because of what they do, because of how they react to each other. It doesn't make a difference how people look. Really. Really. The difference is only in how people interact.
And yet some people make decisions about how to interact based on how people look. Now that is bizarre. I'm completely, totally baffled why it makes a difference. It never did to me.

And it never occurred to me that this was strange.

Is this strange? Am I odd? Honestly, I never realised.
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