Arbtirary thoughts on nearly everything from a modernist poet, structural mathematician and functional programmer.

Friday, March 21, 2008

CommonLisp; Also, The Silver Chair... and Abstract thought

So, OOP has been too ingrained in my skull for me to properly use Scheme for an AI project I have to do, so I've decided to use CommonLisp- It's still Lisp, right? I now know full well why people say "CommonLisp is more powerful than Scheme." There are some really useful things you can do easily with CommonLisp. However, I also know full well why people say "CommonLisp is ugly and convoluted compared to Scheme." Line-noise like this: (format t "~{~a:~10t~a~%~}~%" cd) is why I don't want to learn perl... And I now have to deal with it when programming in lisp. Granted, it does a lot, but is it really worth memorizing all the syntax? Probably, but also definitely not.

On a (probably) more interesting note, I really, really love the scene in the Silver Chair during which the Queen tries to convince the children, the prince, and Puddleglum that Narnia is a dream. Her arguments, which fall absolutely flat when you're outside the scope of the novel are used so often. Of course we can't explain God's presence, it isn't something we have a concrete understanding of.
How does someone with Synesthesia describe the shift and change of colors as they hear music? How does one describe the sun to a blind man? Music to the deaf? Snow to someone from the tropics? A computer to a tribesman?
Answer: In metaphor and simile.
But of course metaphors and similes will present the object in question as a twisted version of the concrete object it is being compared to, rather than a distinct object with a similar sensation.

I can (sort of) understand how a synesthesiac thinks, because I have a similarly abstract and incommunicable thought-process. The best way, I think, to describe it is as imagism. I perceive, with all 5 senses and abstract thought an "emotional and intellectual complex" whenever reading, writing, drawing, seeing, doing math, coding, ...
My thought process is a string of Pound-ian images, which shift, move, fall, rise, appear and disappear in conjunction with everything that enters my brain through any medium. There are uncountably many stories, scenes, colors, sounds, tastes, ideas and so much more that pass through my mind every second, and over any period of time, and also distinct from time.

So, how does this relate to synesthesia? If I equate these images to colors (or whichever other sensation the synesthesiac perceives), I see the same thing.

Moving back to my string of questions, is there any way to truly describe my thought process? I've given a quick description; everything I said is true, but there is so much more to the mental "image" than the scenes and Pound-ian images I've described.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I think...everyone's thought processes are as strange and indescribable as your own. Just most people don't spend the time to think about it; they take it for granted and because of that it doesn't seem nearly as confusing. Hofstadter talks about something like this in I am a Strange Loop. What is thought when you get right down to it? Is it anything at all?

Also, from the side of someone with fairly strong synesthesia: How do you describe music without the colors? I've thought about that a lot and never come up with a way. It's not describing the colors, it's describing the music. It's not a matter of hearing music and then translating it, the colors are the sound of the music; there's no difference between the two. Maybe I'm being picky and overly specific in response to a broad question.

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