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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I'm procrastinating on grading Paper 2. I signed up for Folder Review for next Thursday to give myself extra time, but it seems my brain still prefers a little pressure and closer deadlines. I have been productive in working on the discussion questions for class and on the midterm question. I also finished reading The Buried Giant. And if I start grading tomorrow with six papers a day, it will be done on time and everything without too much anxiety. But I really should grade now. But, of course, I will procrastinate a little more by writing this blog.

I'm been social over the last couple of days. Even got take out, which is rare lately. On Sunday, Bear, Tanya and I went to visit my friend Marianna and her daughters Galya (4) and Idalia (18 months) in Queens. We just spent a lovely afternoon at her place, watching our kids play, ordering Nepalese food - which for me also included some Miso Soup and Sushi so it was a mix with Japanese, and just generally having a relaxing day. It is really fun watching Tanya and Ida interact. They mostly stare at each other, trying to figure each other out. But they do play near each other and there is interaction. They are two days apart. Ida is taller and much more compact, with more weight on her. And she has a big sister so she is better at interacting with other kids. Tanya is ahead in speech. Both adorable. When we first got there Galya made them hold hands and they did that for a while starring at each other. I told Tanya to pet Ida's hair, and she loved doing that. Marianna told Ida to give Tanya a kiss and a hug, and she did that. Tanya's bewildered face was priceless. And it was great to see how much Galya has grown since I last saw her a months and a half ago. She was more in control in her own space and guided play between all the kids.

Bear also had a chance to show his new virtual reality programs. It's really, really cool. He has headgear and is using a smartphone. He recreated his office at work, his grandmother's house and is working on the creepy program of a person being in a coffin. But it is pretty amazing. I get a little nauseous moving around his grandmother's old house, but it is still ridiculously awesome. He promised me to build a beach scenario where I can just sit and stare at the waves. Since I'm non-visual, with a blind mind's eye - it's called aphantasia apparently - it's the only way I would be able to actually see the beach if I'm not on it.

Speaking of aphantasia, [personal profile] zhelana linked a great article about it. This one. . It was really fun to read and be a little bewildered on how others can't even imagine how we with aphantasia think. It never occurred to me that not seeing Bear's face when he's not around me is a disadvantage. It's not like my feelings for him would disappear if I can't see him. I really enjoyed reading it and then I contacted the scientists running the study on aphantasia at University of Exeter. I was just excited to put my experience and reflections on paper. I first realized I was unusual three years ago. I just didn't realize how rare it is. I got a response the next day and filled out some questionnaires too. Apparently only 2% of population are extreme cases like me. Many others have "weak" inner eye but not totally blank.

My friend Yeva came over yesterday (and we ordered some Uzbekinstani food), and I talked to her about aphantasia. One of the questions on the questionnaire was to count all the windows in the house/apartments and describe how one did it. Yeva could not imagine how I could count all the windows and remember what my bedroom looks like without seeing it in my head. I just do. I know exactly where everything is; I don't actually see it if I'm not there. It turns out that she can also hear sounds and taste things if she thinks about it, like imagining a garden with a waterfall. I can't hear anything that is not real not can I taste something that I'm not eating. I can imagine a garden but not see it nor actually hear the waterfall but I know what it should sound like. I just find all this brain stuff fascinating. But I really didn't realize how rare my blind mind's eyes is. I don't feel deprived or anything though. I never known anything differently. I remember faces and details really well.

Baby is crying. I'm going to go soothe her and take it as a sign that I should go to sleep. She's abetting my procrastination!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 25th, 2016 05:07 am (UTC)
I've never heard of aphantasia or the concept of a blind mind's eye, that's so interesting! I think Temple Grandin has said she thinks only or primarily in images (actually, one of her books is called Thinking in Pictures), so I guess it makes sense that there would be people on the opposite end of the mental-visual spectrum too. I find both ideas equally difficult to imagine, though! I don't have the most vivid imagination, but I definitely can close my eyes and imagine something, and I think of images when I read (although those images are fairly vague).

When you say you remember faces and details really well, what are you remembering instead of an image?
Feb. 25th, 2016 12:33 pm (UTC)

I don't even know how to explain how I remember without forming images. If I think of my bedroom at home, while no actual image comes up in my head, I just know what it looks like and everything that's in there. Like there is an invisible picture. My brain just knows. I think it's like a cavern of details tjat my brain stores to compensate for lack of imagery.  And when I see a former student I can just tell that we met before, that the face is familiar and I can often place them in how long ago they were my student. I'm not as good in remembering names.

I just asked my Dad and he said that if he thinks of chocolate he can taste it. That's strange to me.

I never realized people could see images that were not there until 3 years ago! Brain is really fascinating.  And I think I have a pretty deep imagination - I always came up with stories as a kid and I write now - it just never occurred to me that 'image' in the word 'imagination' in there for a reason.

Feb. 25th, 2016 05:32 pm (UTC)
When we first got there Galya made them hold hands and they did that for a while starring at each other</i>

Aww! Watching a preschooler supervising toddlers is the cutest thing ever! L is two years older than O and three years older than cousin D, and pictures from that stage when both boys were following her around like ducklings are the cutest thing ever. (Though a bit hard to believe now that all three of them are taller than me, LOL.)

The VR program sounds very neat! (although, person in a coffin, eep!)

I did not realize you had aphantasia!

I probably have a "weak" mind's eye -- I can recall "snapshots" of memory, but have a hard time interacting spatially with them (which makes directions very annoying), and I don't "paint" visual pictures of things I'm reading about/haven't seen, except blurry images occasionally, if something is described in great detail. But I do actually have a very good memory for those "snapshots", to the point where if I need to recall a fact, I often see a memory of it written down in my notebook, textbook, or on the blackboard.

I took the linked test, and the results were pretty consistent with above. For the "visualize" questions, if I could call up a specific instance, I could see it pretty clearly -- e.g. the rainbow we saw in Hawaii, the last big thunderstorm we were in driving into Alsace -- but I first had to find a suitable memory, then call it up. But anything to do with spatial/motion -- the test question about the relative walking, the sky clearing gradually -- I'm apparently quite hopeless at...

I do think that there's an exception to this, which is that when I was writing, I could, actually, do a bit of spatial visualization. But it would normally take off from a snaptshot like image (and the details would never be very clear, except for colors; colors are fine), and periodically I'd have to try to stage things in real life to sort of "anchor" the images. There was a fair bit of "You sit over there and let me stand behind you and put me hand on your shoulder. OK, that's not how I thought it would look..." :P
Feb. 26th, 2016 12:04 pm (UTC)

It's really fascination to read about how other people think. Everyone is so different, it's fun to compare.

I have always been good with directions and navigating. If I'm in a strange city with friends or family who also never been there, I'm always the navigator. I guess my brain just knows the spacial stuff or remembers the details. I don't even know how it does it.

And now that I think about it, when I'm writing a scene I just know where my characters are in terms of space without seeing them. But often I don't care about describing it, prefering to write about emotional states. I've always been bad about describing when a character looks like or their surroundings. I don't feel I have enough adjectives for that.

Mar. 3rd, 2016 06:44 am (UTC)
I guess my brain just knows the spacial stuff or remembers the details. I don't even know how it does it.

This sounds so alien to me! Like, in a cool way, but I literally can't imagine (heh) knowing where stuff is spatially without being able to visualize it. I'm hopeless without a map/other visual even in places where I've been a fair bit... XD

But, yeah, it's definitely fun to compare such things and realize just HOW different people are! It never would've occurred to me that what you describe above could be possible.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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