Fuzzy Lights.

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In “Fuzzy Blue Lights” of Owl City, not once are these three words mentioned in the lyrics. Yet after we listen to the song and understand it, the feeling of experiencing the presence of these fuzzy blue lights is very obvious. It’s not that we are actually ‘looking’ at these blue lights, we feel them all around us.

“With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
could not see to see.”
In her poem ‘Dying’, Emily Dickinson assumes the ‘buzz’ to be blue in colour.

While we read these lines of Keats in “Ode to a Nightingale”,

“Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sun burnt mirth!”

we can actually acquire a taste of the wine that he longs for, to numb his pain.

The songs of Sigur Ros, which are in the Icelandic language, may sound like gibberish to us but it is very obvious what the song is about because the entire scenery, that is being sung about, flashes before our eyes. We can picture ourselves walking on a shingle beach.

There are hundreds of examples of such synesthetic machineries. While we simply taste words, see sounds and touch lights because some very talented people provide us with materials such as these, some very lucky people actually can taste a rainbow.

The above examples had been of synesthetic imageries in poems and songs. But a rare neurological condition called Synesthesia actually exists. These people can taste sounds, hear colours and feel words. Imagine the never-ending permutations and combinations of observing one kind of sensation and interpreting it in a different way.

It’s really complicated but it can be simply explained by saying that it is caused by ‘crossed-wiring’ in the brain. The term ‘synesthesia’ comes from the Greek ‘syn’ (union) and the ‘aisthesis’ (sensation).



“Scientists hypothesize that in synesthetes, neurons and synapses that are “supposed” to be contained within one sensory system cross to another sensory system. It is unclear why this might happen but some researchers believe that these crossed connections are present in everyone at birth, and only later are the connections refined. In some studies, infants respond to sensory stimuli in a way that researchers think may involve synesthetic perceptions. It is hypothesized by these researchers that many children have crossed connections and later lose them. Adult synesthetes may have simply retained these crossed connections.”

So how to find out if someone has synesthesia? Follow these steps:

1. Ask a person to look at a random series of numbers like: 7, 3, 6, 8, 4 ,2, 1, 5.

2.Now ask the person to read each number, write that number down with the colour that he associates with that number. Then he has to proceed to the next number.

3. Store his answers as ‘Week 1 Answers’.

4. After a week make him repeat the process by altering the sequence of numbers: 5, 7, 3, 4, 1, 6, 8, 2.

5. Collect his answers and label them ‘Week 2 Answers’

6. Compare the two results. A person with synesthesia will have the same number-colour pairs in both weeks.



Synesthesia is rare. It is more commonly occurring in women than in men. The reason for this is not known, but it may be due to the fact that it seems to be a dominant trait present in the X-chromosome. It is hereditary because synesthesia appears a lot of times in the same family but the fashion of inheritance is unknown.

We must remember that synesthetic perceptions vary from person to person. Two synesthetes almost always disagree on their perceptions. For different people, the letters and the numbers are differently coloured. There is no logic behind this association of colours, it seems to be a fairly random process.

But now that we have covered the factual part of synesthesia, let’s take a moment to think about how wonderful this is. It’s almost like a super-power. Mondays are yellow, her handwriting tastes like raspberries and little wriggly lines come out of the guitar while someone is playing it. A combination of the senses of touch, smell, sight, sound and taste- it almost seems like something too good to be true.

Not all of us are this lucky. Yet we’re lucky enough. This neurological condition may not be a gift that is available to everyone but even we experience this phenomenon at times. Let’s go back to the songs and the poems with which we had originally started. It’s not just these brilliant pieces of art either, a happy overlap of senses happens very often. Certain sights, smells and sounds reminds us of certain people though it’s normally by the the association of memories. It’s like all the times when a particular person reminds us of a song and we have no idea how they are connected.



I’ll end this on a happy note. Being in love is almost like having synesthesia. Being around the person we love causes happy explosions of sensations in our brains. Sometimes, if you are lucky enough, you can feel the hazy circles of myriad Christmas lights shining at a distance. The distance does not matter, they slowly envelop you and keep you warm. All this happens simultaneously when you simply look at that person or hold her hand.

As an optimist, I’ll hold on to that pleasure and know I’m still as lucky as the people to whom ‘seeing sounds’ has a literal meaning.