Synesthesia of the Day – Elgin’s Synesthesia
Elgin, like the other inhabitants of Green Comet, is a synesthete. I refer to that fact a few times during the novel, and in the sequel, Parasite Puppeteers. I don’t go into a lot of detail about the types of synesthesia the individual characters have, although I do imply that they each have at least two types. Given the rudimentary stage synesthesia research is at now, and even more so when I was writing it, I didn’t think it was wise to nail it down too precisely in the story. And given that the characters have multiple strong synesthesias, I doubt that the interactions and synergies among them would lend themselves to the tentative, simplistic classifications we’re developing now. However, given all that, I think I should offer my idea, the thing I’m thinking of when I imagine Elgin’s synesthetic perceptions.
Elgin’s most obvious synesthetic trait is the way he feels in his body when he sees an example of good engineering or construction. For instance, when Minder takes him out and he sees the new corridors and how well they’re made, he has the sensation of all his bones being properly aligned in his body. A very comforting sense of rightness. I haven’t found one type of synesthesia that fits this perfectly, but it is somewhere in the vision to touch, proprioception and kinetics area. He feels what he sees on many levels: simple touch, deeper orientation and subtle movement.
This goes beyond a simple integration of physical sensations. When he looks at an engineering paper and immediately knows if it’s right, the role of vision is taken by concepts and ideas. Inner visions. But the principle is the same. What he “sees” is experienced as “feeling.” The same applies to more general situations. As long as he has enough data, enough information, he can tell if something is right. Not in any moralistic sense of right or wrong, just whether it’s right. For instance, when Frances and Buzzard explain to him how Green Comet is in danger from the Visitor, he instantly knows that they’re right, because it feels right.
So, for lack of anything better, let’s call Elgin’s synesthesia Seeing-Feeling Synesthesia. This web page doesn’t address it perfectly, but it provides some good food for thought. And here’s a pretty good site for exploring the types of synesthesia.