First - the business side: This post is part of a large blog tour through Broad Universe, a wonderful international non-profit organization whose mission is to promote SF, Fantasy, and Horror written by women. We tip our hat to Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and the mother of SF.
The blog tour will take place all week and offer three amazing prizes, and you can enter to win for these prizes each day via the rafflecopter. In addition, many of the tour participants will be offering prizes on their individual posts (myself included - comment on this post for a chance to win a complete set of all 5 of my novels, in eBook format).
- First prize: a $75 gift voucher on your choice of Amazon, Nook, Kobo or iTunes, plus 25 ebooks.
- Second prize: a $50 voucher and 15 ebooks
- Third prize: a $25 voucher and 10 ebooks.
It won't be a surprise to any of you that I'm a word person. (Well, duh! Lisa, you're a writer. . . ) But when I say I'm a word person, it's more than that. I don't make images in my mind - I'm simply not a visual processor. Yes, this is pretty rare. The vast majority of people are primary visual processors and visual learners. It appears that I am one of the minority of individuals who experiences aphantasia.
It may explain why I get lost with embarrassing regularity, even going to places I've been many, many times. It may explain why I take terrible photographs and was never able to do representative art (drawing/painting), but really clicked when I discovered ceramics. It may explain that in my early writing, my crit buddies said I wrote floating heads in black boxes. It may explain why I am so skilled at metaphorical thinking and in kinesthetic learning. (No surprise that I gravitated to writing poetry at an early age and I am a physical therapist by profession, specializing in manual therapy.)
Honestly, like others who have talked about their experience of this, I always thought the expression 'mind's eye' was simply metaphorical. It's not that I don't recognize people - I do - it's that I can't build a representative image of them (or anything else) in my mind in other than in the widest generalities.
So I tend not to notice visual details in my environment. Or if I notice them, I glance past without them making much of an impact. I leave the taking of photographs to my spouse, who is highly skilled at visual/spatial processing. Which makes sense because he is a talented photographer and his day job requires him to be able to map a three-dimensional body from a two-dimensional image. He is an interventional radiologist and works within the body using x-ray guidance.
(The link to the moon is coming, I promise!)
So, last month, during the time of the full moon/blood moon/eclipse, said photographer/radiologist spouse was out of town at a conference. I wanted to take photos of the event for him, so I dug out his camera and tripod and set them up on our back deck on that beautifully clear night.
It was a disaster. Not the eclipse, my attempt to use the camera.
I'm no luddite - I'm very good with technology (kinesthetic learner) and, believe it or not, I used to use a fully manual SLR camera in college to take B&W photos. Yeah. Most of what I did was take pictures of interesting textures and manipulate them in the dark room. But I wasn't very good at it. Point is, I know what f-stop and shutter speed do and how to adjust, etc.
I just couldn't take a picture that was worth the price of the pixels.
I spent the better part of an hour getting more and more frustrated by the camera, my lack, and the fact that my spouse wasn't here to take the damned pictures!
Then I glanced up. And the eclipse was in full swing. The moon was a deep orange shadow across the night sky and I understood something that I had struggled with for years.
My experience of an event is not primarily visual, but emotional, kinesthetic; a full body experience. And as I watched the moon shadow slowly retreat and the full moon re-appear, I was filled with a deep satisfaction. I was there. I witnessed something that linked me to millions of people across the planet and across time. I could imagine the power and majesty of that eclipse to my far ancestors, to a sleepy child woken by a parent for that incredible night, to the legion of amazing photographers who would catalog each moment in a stunning image.
And I realized that the moon in its full glory is always there, no matter its phase viewed from our small planet. I can glance up to the night sky and know - a deep in my bones knowing - that our faithful satellite is watching us. I can experience my emotions of that full moon eclipse even if I look up into the bright sunlit daytime sky, because the moon is still there then.
My 'lack' is only a loss if you measure the importance of experience in a visual representation of that experience. What I was most sad about was that my spouse was in a place that was fully overcast and he did not get to see any of the eclipse - and that I wasn't able to show him. But I wrote this instead, and along with the amazing array of images taken around the world by incredible photographers, I hope he will have even a tiny experience of that singular evening.
Her face blushes
cheeks full and round, a pumpkin
carved out of night.
* * *