sami: (Default)
Sami ([personal profile] sami) wrote2017-05-11 09:23 pm

I hadn't known this was a thing for me

So, a discussion recently about race-stuff attached to Stargate: Atlantis made me realise something.

See, there's a thing, where certain people - usually awful people - claim they "don't see colour".

Because apparently they are stupid, and believe that it shows how totally not racist they are if they claim that they lack the ability to distinguish wavelengths of light. Or that they don't look at anyone who isn't in a mirror, and therefore do not in fact notice what other people look like. Or something.

I, being possessed of reasonably functional eyes, do see colour.

However, what I don't have is visual memory. I do not have the ability to visualise things in my head, to call forth images in my mind. (The name this is acquiring is aphantasia, because it's apparently quite new that we all found out It's Not Just Us.)

Consequently, I discovered, for background extras who don't get lines, who I don't look at enough to note things about their appearance?

I don't remember colour.

I have this vague sense that I think the Athosians are sort of generally mixed in terms of racial makeup, but all I can actually remember about them is that they exist.

This is a weird feeling. The set of impressions I mentally catalogue about a person usually includes things like that. I'm terrible at remembering faces, because I can't call the image of someone to my mind. Skin tone is one of the few distinctive features about a person I can readily catalogue. (Skin tone, hair colour, hair style, build - these are the things I can tell you about someone I've met a few times. I can't draw a portrait without a picture or model, though, no matter how well I know someone. I can tell it looks wrong, but I can't tell what would be right.)
sovay: (I Claudius)

[personal profile] sovay 2017-05-12 06:19 am (UTC)(link)
I can't draw a portrait without a picture or model, though, no matter how well I know someone.

Can most people, even without aphantasia? That feels like a separate skill from visualization to me.

(I understand the wider point you're making, I just suddenly wondered. I certainly don't have the visual art know-how to replicate on the page a face I recognize on the street.)
sovay: (I Claudius)

[personal profile] sovay 2017-05-12 06:47 am (UTC)(link)
As far as I know, generally speaking, people who can draw portraits as well as I can do much better than I do at that.

Check. I have what I am told is an unusual level of sensory detail inside my head, but that has always meant jack in terms of affinity for drawing or sculpture or other visual media: therefore I have no trouble believing that almost everyone else on the planet is handier at this sort of thing than I am, but have no idea if it's true.
Edited 2017-05-12 06:48 (UTC)
fred_mouse: cross stitched image reading "do not feed the data scientists" (Default)

[personal profile] fred_mouse 2017-05-16 12:21 pm (UTC)(link)
I sympathise. I got in to lots of trouble for being one of those fake 'can't see colour' people at uni, because what I could remember of one friend was that he was about yay tall and had dark hair, and completely failed to mention that he was of Asian appearance, because I didn't know that -- from then on, I've made a specific effort to remember those kinds of details, but I still can't tell anything about a person's historical appearance (so that dreaded 'oh, so-and-so has lost weight, haven't they' is always met with a shrug, because I have no idea).