Sunday, November 15, 2015


Here's a blog post I found to be quite interesting, from an author on how he deals with having aphantasia. Aphantasia is the inability to see things in one's mind's eye, essentially imaginative agnosia. As a diagnosis it's quite recent, only officially being named this year, and it's somewhat controversial still as well. The idea has been floating around for some time though.

Now to be clear aphantasia is not a condition I can claim to have. For example, say to me "black winged butterfly typing on a Smith-Corona" and I have no problem picturing it, or hearing the butterfly's friends ask if using a typewriter is some kind of hipster affectation and it says, "Listen, you do you and I'll do me." But the mind's eye seems so central to fiction writing especially that I was curious about how an author can work without really having access to it. And an underlying question is what you need to be an artist in any field, what you can do without, and how do you balance it out.

Anyway, Hickey has practical ideas about his own work and it's a thought provoking piece as well.


susan said...

I liked his mention of the fact since his legs were beneath his desk he couldn't describe what trousers he was wearing but was fairly sure he was wearing some. I'm not one of those people either - not by a long shot. Sometimes I can even have problems falling asleep because I'm enjoying the mental image flow too much. Nevertheless, I find I'm a bit jealous of a friend's synesthesia. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to hear or taste color? What would be better still would be to have the ability to make accurate representations of the picture I see in my mind's eye. That's the tricky part.

Ben said...

I got a kick out of the trousers detail too. He must have central heating, or else there wouldn't be any doubt one way or another. I can understand being kept up at night by mental image flow. Some people assume that only anxiety can keep you from getting to sleep, but any kind of excitement can do it. Just that some are more pleasant than others. Synesthesia is a fascinating topic. Could I handle getting that much information at once? I don't quite know.