Quantum Hand Through My Eyes by Jason Padgett, 2006. Image courtesy of Fine Art America.
“I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life — from the geometry of a rainbow, to the fractals in water spiraling down a drain.”
Photon Double Slit Test by Jason Padgett, 2006. Image courtesy of Fine Art America.
He also started drawing everything he saw. Doctors later concluded that Padgett developed savant syndrome from the injury. Savant syndrome is a rare but extraordinary condition in which persons that were either born with serious mental disabilities (including autism), or those who suffered a traumatic injury, have access to an “island of genius”. This means that those with savant syndrome can read, interpret, remember, and create an enormous amount of data. Padgett sees equations and complex geometry in the world around him, and can draw them effortlessly.
Savant skills typically occur in an intriguingly narrow range of special abilities, mostly: music, art, calendar calculating, or math
The special skills are always accompanied by prodigious memory
Savant skills characteristically continue, rather than disappear, and with continued use, the special abilities either persist at the same level or actually increase
Spiral Scalar by Jason Padgett, 2008. Image courtesy of Fine Art America
In addition to developing savant syndrome, Padgett also developed a type of synesthesia that “allows him to perceive mathematical formulas as geometric figures”. (New to my site? You should read my previous posts on synesthesia.) A team of researchers at the University of Miami scanned Padgett’s brain to understand how these savant and synesthetic qualities emerged after the accident. Why is this significant? Padgett’s case suggests that these amazing abilities lie dormant in every human brain. Understanding how the severe trauma altered his brain could lead the way to furthering human creativity. Padgett developed this new way of seeing and experiencing reality. What if it could be developed without trauma? I’m certain that it can be developed, and look forward to see what science can discover in the near future.
- Sudden Artistic Output: This is an extremely rare neurological condition that affects the brain’s breaking system. So what does this mean? It means that the brain can no longer inhibit certain behaviors. In the case of sudden artistic output, people who have this condition has a compulsion to create works of art.
- Puzzles of the Brain: Artist Lonni Sue Anderson contracted encephalitis. She had such an acute case of encephalitis that she had permanent brain damage in the hypocampus. This is the region of the brain that stores memory. Lonni Sue short and long-term memory were affected. She had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat. She has to relearn how to create art again, with interesting results.
- Teaching Synesthesia as a Gateway to Creativity: My peer-reviewed article for the University of Warwick that chronicles my results in teaching about synesthesia, lending students a new frame work for creative expression. The Warwick Research Journal Murgia Article
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe’ —a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein
“The momentousness of the migration as an event does not alter the fact that the migrants were ordinary people. Like colonial settlers or western pioneers of an earlier day, they were not looking to change the world, only their own status. A mixture of farmers, domestic servants, day laborers, and industrial workers, they came from all parts of the South, hoping for a chance to improve their own station or at least that of their children.“
Julia: I think I learned about synesthesia in college. Honestly, I wonder if I really have much of it at all. I always associated numbers and letters with colors, but just in my head. Until I learned about synesthesia, I thought everyone did that. I don’t see colors when I look at text on a page, it’s more like in my mind the letter D has to be green, 8 is a cool, dark color, etc. That said, becoming aware of it and learning how our senses can be connected has certainly changed how I see the world. I like what you said in your article “The ability to successfully link apparently unrelated ideas and concepts is the very definition of creativity.” I think I’ve subconsciously explored that in both my collage and floral work— grouping unexpected things together based on color and using repetitive “rhythmic lines and shapes.” The collages I’ve been making started off more as a design exercise before turning into their own obsession…
Monica: Do you have any images of your work for collages and floral arrangements that you think best illustrate the ideas of repetitive rhythmic lines and shapes,and also your exploration of linking unrelated ideas and concepts? For me, my paintings are illustrations of both of these concepts. I find that picking out the paints and materials is one big meditation. I stand in front of cans and tubes of paint silently. Then, a particular color will grab my attention and a sort of creative, ecstatic energy guides me. I’m very absorbed by the process of picking out colors; they each seem to have this emotional language that captures my attention. It’s an experience that is really outside of words and letters, so it can be difficult to explain . . . but I feel a variety of emotions and states of being when I look at different hues and colors. This is one of the types of synesthesia, and Joan Mitchell talked a lot about the emotional states of her paintings this when describing her creative process.
- I no longer have to focus on the misfortunes of the past or on judging myself.
- Each moment, I can direct my focus towards the pursuit of happiness instead of tearing myself down.
- It takes courage to be the person what I want to be, but I believe in myself.
- In finding the courage to believe, anything is possible.
As the photo shoot progressed, I felt like I was living a major moment in art history. All of those books I read about my favorite movements, like Impressionism and Pre-Raphaelite art, were swirling around me. I was living art. Finally, I was proud of who I was. Everyone around me was living art, too. It was so liberating to see each person as who they really were – a beautiful soul in the artwork of their own body. There was no shame or judgement. There was only appreciation and joy. And that is the only way I choose to live.
“Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” ― Aberjhani
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
– Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
“Continue until you see yourself in the cruelest person on Earth, in the child starving, in the political prisoner. Practice until you recognize yourself in everyone in the supermarket, on the street corner, in a concentration camp, on a leaf, in a dewdrop. Meditate until you see yourself in a speck of dust in a distant galaxy. See and listen with the whole of your being. If you are fully present, the rain of Dharma will water the deepest seeds in your store consciousness, and tomorrow, while you are washing the dishes or looking at the blue sky, that seed will spring forth, and love and understanding will appear as a beautiful flower.”
The many stories I sorted through painted a picture of fear and blame. None of them seemed to express any truth. I looked and looked for something that made sense to me. I decided to pay attention to the photographs surrounding the matter. I saw people that were frustrated; people that wanted to be heard and appreciated, not be turned into a villain that would be hunted and killed. I saw parents desperately worried about the safety of their children. I saw people working to promote peace by shaking hands. I saw groups congregate bravely and open-heartedly ask for compassion and understanding of their experience.
Yes, there may have been hot-headed people rioting out of frustration. Those people may not have been able to express their emotions in a healthy, constructive way. Yet there were countless people seeking understanding in a peaceful way. Let us not ignore that message: We are all souls in human form. Each of us wants the liberty that is only available through compassion and equality. We all want a fair chance to be understood and make our own unique path in this life. This is a birthright for all human beings regardless of age, gender, race, or religion.
Let these images remind us that we are all capable of compassion, understanding, and creating solutions when we ditch our fear and blame. Let us work together, bravely, and create a real solution.
Many thanks to the artists, writers, and photographers that captured and shared these moments of truth. Your vision and bravery are appreciated.