Thoughts have shape. Challenging thoughts are angular and sharp. Happy thoughts are bulbous and curvaceous. Is that because if I were to sit on something angular and sharp I’d be uncomfortable and stressed yet if I lay in something bulbous and curvaceous I might fall asleep? Perhaps. I think I can go deeper.
This weird thought reminds me somewhat of the well-known Bouba-Kiki effect. This ‘effect’ was discovered by psychologist Wolfgang Köhler in 1929. Essentially, this effect describes a phenomenon whereby people, irrespective of language, have a tendency, if asked to choose between two, to give a rounded object (such as the one to the right above) the name ‘bouba’ (originally ‘baluba’ when Köhler first conducted his experiment) and an angular shape the name ‘kiki’ (‘takete’ in the original experiment). The inference here is that we naturally attribute personalities and ‘sounds’ of language to shapes. Round things have ’round’ sounds. Angular things have ‘angular’ sounds. To me, this also applies to thoughts. This indicates a presence of synaesthesia-like mappings in the brain (having the condition myself, I am susceptible to this perhaps more than others). Interestingly, as an aside to this weird thought, studies have shown that individuals with autism do not fall into the predictable patterns of choice of words associated with shapes.
Recent research has been looking into how this effect also relates to something called ideaesthesia. This is the phenomenon where activation of concepts, or ideas, evoke perception-like experiences (scientifically called concurrents). So this is exactly what my ‘thought’ thought is an example of. The concept is ‘the shape of the thought’ and the experience is round or angular.
Recently, I’ve started cycling. I have a super fast bike which takes me for 23 km along the country roads of Shropshire. When I’m a fuzzy mess of chaotic thoughts I get on my bike. As I start my ride, my thoughts are all angular and knocking around inside my head, pinching the sides. The energy they give me translates into my legs as I peddle ever fast up those hills. Then as I take in the beauty of the countryside, hear the bleating of the sheep, smell the soft, comforting smell of manure, my thoughts slowly change shape. The ‘noise’ lessens, the angles curve and round, the sharp edges turn soft and round. My thoughts move on to things that make me happy. They even dissipate to some extent. The thoughts are slower, relaxing and comforting. By the time I return home. The shapes are completely rounded and cotton-wool like.
What shape does a weird thought have? I suspect it has both round and sharp elements. As for this one? I’m really not sure. What do you think?