Home > Uncategorized > Cross Modal Synesthetic Abstraction

Cross Modal Synesthetic Abstraction

From a worthwhile thread on Quora.

“Below are two shapes. One of them is called Kiki and the other is called Bouba.


Almost all respondents when asked say that the jagged one is kiki and the rounded one is bouba. This can be observed across cultures. This is an innate ability of our brain by which one mode of sensation can cross over into another.”

This is a useful little nugget for MSR. A computer would have to be programmed specifically to correlate the names with the shapes, and such a correlation would be arbitrary from a programmatic perspective. By contrast, our cross-modal, cross-cultural preferences cohere intrinsically, by feel. Feeling is not a collision of objects, it is an aesthetic presence – it is our own participation in a discernment of subjects. The anthropological universality of certain linguistic-phonetic qualities and their association with other kinds of qualities (hard sounds, hard angles, sharp edges, etc) are rooted in deeper universals of sense – deeper than evolution, deeper than matter even. If it didn’t run that deep, (to the absolute bottom/top), then there would be no sense in sense at all. We would be like a computer, linking syntactic fragments together arbitrarily by statistical relevance rather than experiential content.

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