What people with "calendar synesthesia" reveal about how our minds deal with time


From reading the comments I don’t have this. But I am acutely aware of what the time is. If asked I usually get the time right within 15 minutes of what it actually is.I know my week ahead. For example, my head goes through, Monday, meeting Nicole for coffee at 9:30, I’ll need to leave the house at 9:25 at the latest. I go through the whole week like that.


I find it strange that this is considered synesthesia. Hearing colors or tasting sounds is one thing, but mapping a cyclic phenomenon onto a roundish figure is just having a visual model for math.


Ack! This is the second time in my life and within the last 2.5 hours, that I have seen someone represent the months in that ring and it is exactly L<=>R reverse of the way it is in my head.

When I saw it in a client meeting earlier this afternoon it was jarring. How could he do it that way? It’s just so clearly wrong. And then I thought, Hmmm. Clockwise. Why is my calendar counter-clockwise.

Now I see this. My reality is shaken. I’m going to have a nap.


When I went back on Tegretol in 2009 I caught myself digging out my old wall planners so that I could admire their rectilinear beauty. Its the mood stabilisation side effect of Carbazazepine. Induces me to haunt stationary shops, always on the lookout for next year’s calendar.

One of my favourites from my previous time on Tegretol was a calendar with exactly four weeks per row, rather than a month per row.


Me too. I’ve always pictured the year as a circle with December at the top, but viewed from a slight angle (like a board game, as you say).

I also picture days of the week as a circle but with Sat and Sun taking up the entire top half, a quarter each. It’s more of a flat ellipse actually.

But as others have said, I’ve never thought of it as synesthesia. Interesting to hear I’m not alone though!

Interesting! I see 3pm on the right, 6pm at the bottom, 9pm on the left and midnight at the top! Only in the afternoon though, weirdly.


When I was learning Mandarin we had a class discussion about visualizations of time. Not specifically about laying out a calendar, but about human spatial metaphors for time’s arrow and our relationship to it. I imagine myself (and I think this is true for most Americans or most English speakers, not sure if it is more cultural or linguistic) standing at the present with the future in front of me. But, in Mandarin, the day after tomorrow is “behind day” and the day before yesterday is “ahead day,” meaning the speaker is standing at the present facing the past. I wonder if other languages use other default spatial metaphors for time?

I lack calendar synesthesia. Lump me into the “I ave no idea what happened yesterday, can’t keep track of what day it is, and frequently don’t know what order past events happened in” category.


I vaguely remember that there was one philosopher who compared life to travelling backwards on a journey so that you can see what’s gone before and are completely ignorant of what’s to come, but I don’t recall whether they were ancient or modern, let alone what nationality they were.

For myself, though I’m quite visual, I’ve never really had a strong visual representation of time in my mind’s eye. I generally think of the hands of an analogue watch for near time, and either a monthly wall calendar or a wall-planner chart for daily or longer periods.


Apparently the Aymara see the past in front of them and the future behind; while the Yupno see the past as downhill and the future uphill.


I can only speak for my own experience, but it’s not just a visual representation for me. It’s visceral, too. I experience physical and emotional sensations when I think about time and “see” my timeline.

I also “hear colors” but it’s not quite just that either, because it’s all happening inside of me - in my brain, body, and mind - I can’t really describe it perfectly or recreate it for someone else. It’s a wholly subjective, introspective experience. For a long time when I used to try to explain what I was experiencing, adults just waived it off as imaginary play and other kids thought I was nuts. It sucked.


May I ask, are numbers and letters gendered for the rest of you or is that just me? For as long as I’ve been able to count, 2,4, 7 are feminine, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 are masculine. 1 is Pat. No designation, but 11 is clearly male. 7 is a tomboy. 6 is effeminate. There’s a spectrum. All the letters, too. Maybe I got if from Sesame Street? Or a book? Or is this a thing?


I don’t think I have this, but yeah, I still visualize time as a calendar or watch face. I figure I could match the response time as well or better as the lady in the article.

For me, my mental filing cabinet for quotes or things like spelling is like looking at the pages of a book - literally seeing the pulpy texture of the paper with the letters inked on. Dates are like a flip-page calendar, so reciting months backwards is just like flipping back through a calendar in my hands.
Of course, all my memories are visual, so everything that is new or original thought tends to be filled in with images of things I’ve already experienced.


I am another one with an anti-clockwise calendar. My year is a ring with a flat rectangular cross-section. It is lying inclined at about ten degrees with the New Year at the top, a bit like a laid wreath. But we go around it anti-clockwise. If it was clockwise, I would assume I had visualized the year as a clock. But going the other way is a bit odd.

There are a few people who associate ‘the future’ with being behind them, and ‘the past’ being in front. This would mean we were moving backwards into the future, which does not feel right; but we can see the past which is ahead of us, and not the future, which does feel right.

I have never discussed this before. I wonder what it means. If anything.

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