Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Visualizing the year

A while back I saw this interesting calendar which maps the year onto a circle instead of the usual grid, which never clicked with me intuitively.

I've always visualized the year as being roughly oval, so I was very excited to see something which hopefully would closely match my inner picture. There were enough differences from my inner year, however, to make this calendar as frustrating for me to use as the regular sort. I'm excited by their idea so I may eventually get around to making one which fits my own perceptions, poster-sized and laminated for writing. A rotating underlay with days of the week and little cutout windows for it on the main page would be handy as well. Not sure what to do about leap years, but just shifting a day on leap day seems simplest, with a little sticky note on the calendar for leap years before 2/28 as a reminder. Couldn't have this feature on a oval version, though. Have to ponder which would matter more to me, a perfect adaptation of my inner psychological year, or a quite handy tool to identify the dates to weekdays, which in my mind is the only benefit of the grid style calendars. Probably the latter.

Their year is a perfect circle, with the shortest day at the very top, and January 1 just a little bit clockwise of that. My inner year is an oval with the shortest day near the bottom, and the year goes counterclockwise. Odd, yet fascinating, that they chose to orient the circle based upon astronomical information, rather than calendric. I'm sure pagans and the like will be enthusiastic.

An odd bit of trivia to bring up here is that the actual shortest day isn't the same as the earliest sunset or the latest sunrise, which more affect psychological perceptions of the day's length. None of these correspond to the earth's distance from the sun, the actual closest distance (aphelion) oddly happens in early January.

From a very early age I had vivid mental pictures of such things as the year and numbers. Neither picture really lined up well with how these things were taught to me. My inner view of numbers is really weird, based upon how I added to ones I already knew (there's a right angle turn at 10, for instance).

I always saw the year as a rough oval larger in width than height. Winter at the bottom, with the week between Christmas and New Years being at the centerpoint (Christmas is before, and New Year after). The year proceeds counterclockwise from January 1 near the bottom. Since this visualization was formed in early Childhood, the area around Christmas takes up the most space, so I guess it's an ovoid rather than an oval. December is much larger than the other months. September is a bit larger as well, since it's the start of school and includes my birthday. The area around "now" seems to expand a bit in my mind too.

Summer is the brightest, colored with a hint of yellow, Spring with a vague greenish cast, Fall with a hint of brown, and Winter with greys. All colors are very faint, and brightness varies as well and much more vividly than color, there being a sharp contrast at January 1 and at the beginning and ending of typical Summer vacation. There's also a bit of variation around Thanksgiving, and in general my inner texture still corresponds to the typical school year.

I'll think about it some more, as my inner view is still more complex than I've related it, but I'm not sure how to accurately describe it. I'll add details in comments.

How do you all picture the year in your minds?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Julie J. Anyhow, I love your calendar thing. I'm working so there's no time to add more. I just think it's a great new, (to me,) way to look at things. To me, it's always seemed like a longer time from December 31 to, say January 6th, than from June 30th, to July 5th. It's sort of like the end of the year falls off...
Another time...

10:36 AM  
Blogger fatoudust said...

Hi, Julie!

You're right, there definately are parts of the year which seem much longer or shorter than others. I'll have to think about this, but perhaps you're more aware of time at the end/beginning of the year than in the middle around July 4? I wonder if it's like that last hour of work or school seeming to take much longer than the rest of the day?

2:09 AM  

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