visual vs conceptual

Scan 1151When you read a book, do you imagine the scene as if you are drawing a picture in your mind? How does the character look? Do you see the folds on the skirt, know where the window is in the room, and notice the color of the drapery? Quite a few visual people told me that was how they read, one of whom was my oil painting teacher. I asked them to describe their dreams. Their dreams were all in vivid colors and with copious details.

But that is not at all how I read.

When I read, I’m in the scene, but only in a conceptual way. I do not ever picture a character’s face. Most of the time, the movies or TV shows made from my favorite books disappoint me, as the physical images of the characters cannot match up to my abstractly imagined ones. How can any face, no matter how handsome or beautiful, compete against the intangible concepts of say, integrity or bravery, of the character?

And I dream conceptually too.

A couple of days ago I dreamed of waking around a corner and all-a-sudden the Colosseum appeared in front of me. That scene should be very visual, right? But if you ask me what I have dreamed when I woke up, I’d tell you that I had a dream about Rome, without mentioning the Colosseum. If you then ask me whether my dream had color, I would say yes. Because I would have looked back to the scene of the dream and focused on the “picture”, and my mind would then paint the Colosseum with yellowish beige. Was the “I” in the dream in color? No, because there was no physical “I”. Even though there was an “I” in the dream who turned the street corner, but no physical body that had turned, only a conceptual one. And therefore the “I” in my dream had no color.

Does any of this make sense? Is there anybody out there who can relate to this?


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