Ever since I've discovered this, I'm fascinated by the divide between what you see with your literal eyes and what you see with your mind's eye when you're playing this.
A good analogy is books. When you read, you see it all, but at the same time it's just symbols on paper. That's where the medium's power comes from, compared to say movies: in a movie, you have to find a way to visualise or audiolise something, so the film-maker's capability to do that is the upper-boundary of what can happen, but in books the upper-boundary is the boundary of your imagination.
Interestingly, I recently picked up reading fantasy. I picked up "A song if fire and ice" and am almost through the book.
When people say that you use your imagination to fill it in, I kind of wonder what that's like. Because I see the words etc, but I don't have a 'vision' of the look of the characters etc. (I've not seen Game of Thrones). If I read about a fight, I'll just.. read about the fight. But I don't imagine the fight.
Usually I have like fragments that I can 'imagine' (afterwards, not while I am reading), but most of what I read, I read more as 'matter of facts'. For example how I'd read a history lecture, without imagination.
I wonder if other people really do have vivid imagination of the events they read about in these kind of books. :P
0 -> 15 minutes, I'm in what I'd call "conscious reading" mode.
15 -> 45 minutes, I start to see the world in front of me, but I'm still consciously reading.
After 45 minutes, I completely forget I'm reading at all - the process of going from words to imagination is automatic. For the most part, I'm just seeing a movie unfold.
Of course, this varies by book and what my mental state is at the moment. Some books are very heavy on descriptions, others heavy on plot. Some books, I never reach that "watching a movie" mode.
For me it is instantaneous. I pick up a book, and from the very first sentence I'm in the book's world. Sometimes I get jinxed by thinking about 'these are just letters'. That's almost like remembering that you're consciously breathing or being aware of the size of your tongue.
But I can get rid of that within a minute of determined reading.
On a related note, if I'm sick and I manage to get into a book despite the initial discomfort I can ignore my pain/sickness completely.
What I do remember tends to be abstractions of concepts, not imagery. That's the case even for memories of things I've done.
I took my girlfriend to Nice last year, for example, and have strong memories of sitting at a beach bar with her one evening as the sun went down, but I can't picture it for the life of me. I could "model" the scene from my memory of it, but it'd be more like recreating it step by step in my memory. It'd be precise in many ways as I can recall lots of details down to irrelevant bits like the construction of the furniture, but I'm also very much aware that when I visualise memories it's more like constructing a diorama with props and dolls whose appearance are a synthesis of multiple memories, not necessarily what it looked like that specific moment.
It's interesting, because on one hand I do rely a lot on visual impressions - I remember code by appearance on screen, for example, and so care extraordinarily much about syntax because it affect visual patterns that affect how easily I make connections between them. But I conceptualise it in the abstract based on those visual impressions rather than visualise how it actually looks.
I also experience this when recalling vivid memories.
Though, now that I think about it, when analysing poems in school, I did fine looking for patterns and devices, except when it was something to do with how the words sound. For example, I would never find rhymes, or when some sound is used alot. Somehow the part of my thinking that deals with sounds is latent, and I've not found a way to access it consciously.
Note that this doesn't work for all poetry, something like 'the wasteland' wouldn't benefit and I don't think it would be possible to read EE Cummings aloud at all.
Ironically I absolutely did not "do fine" looking for patterns and devices in poetry. Technically, maybe, I guess - I could do it. But I absolutely detested it. I found it destroyed all enjoyment of a poem to me. When I read, and when I wrote (I haven't written much for years, but I have a pile of a couple of thousand poems I wrote in my youth), it was about trying to capture emotions and imagining things. Just more abstractly rather than visually. Even so, I would often evoke visual cues when writing.
If I ask you about the number of windows in your house (or parents/friends house) do you „just know“ the answer or do you imagine with an inner eye to visit each room and count virtually?
Can you imagine, like an inner mirror, the face of your parents or significant other?
Same for faces. I'm badly out of practice when it comes to drawing, but I can draw objects and faces with a lot more detail than I can visualise them.
EDIT: Reading post, to him it certainly goes far further than for me. I absolutely do imagine things, just not visually. I can describe things verbally without having to remind myself of the words the way he describes, but I don't see them. Consider how a blind person might remember what you look like and be able to recall and describe it based on memories of having touched your face. A bit like that maybe, except without the touching your face part.
I certainly do dream with some degree of visualisation, though I can't remember any of that visually once I'm properly awake.
I suspected that I might be an outlier. But I do still enioy reading though.
I like the prose and the story even if it is just a story without image. I am unsure how to explain the pleasure I get from it.
And it can be spooky. There is a scene in Lord of the Rings, where frodo is talking to a lord in a castle, near Mordor. They look down at a pool, and see Golum enter, catch a fish.
When I watched the movie, I found many places familiar, but that scene, where Golum enters, the pool all matched my minds eye well. It was deja vu.
I said to my wife on first viewing:
There it is, I see it, Golum will be over there...
What you need to do is read slowly at first, close your eyes and try to see it. It can help to physically turn, point, and imagine the feel, sights, sounds, smells. What you need to do is invoke your ability to create. Trying to actualuze a scene in your mind takes some effort at first.
I think some of us just do it. But I think anyone can, if they seek it and are helped along some.
Then read more, alternating, until you reach a point whrre the worfs flow and so does that scene in your minds eye.
I remember one of my first. Was the ooening paragraphs in "Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids." It talked about a ship, on the moon, sleek, shiny... as a little kid, I saw it vividly. Went and drew it, just savoring that sight.
Others observing me reading say I will read a chunk, pause, read more, and sometime look choppy doing both.
To me, once I am in that state, I am not aware of the pauses. It is just reading, flow...
Try watching a movie first. I usually reccomend the other wsy, book first. If you do not visualize well yet, a movie may really help as you will have msterial to draw on.
The book will expand on the m9vie considerably. What shoukd happen is your mind will fill in the blanks to give you new "scenery."
It can also help to read simpler, but vivid books.
Try different things. You want this to happen for you. When it does, books becomr amazing!
Ever play old text adventures, like ZORK? Words are the ultimate canvas.
And ever notice how sound can trigger spatial sensations?
What you may want to seek is a little like that.
The "WOOL" series is amazing, and it starts in modern day, familiar settings. As it takes off, you should experience this "mindsight" (my personal word for it) easily and vividly.
And, if you enjoy horror, Stephen King "paints" some of the most vivid pictures there are. He can be quite remarkable.
If I were to do that and draw the object instead of visualising it on the other hand, I'd generally do it with ease and quite precisely.
Similarly my memory of books and movies tends to be very strongly focused on the underlying concept and logic rather than visual impressions.
> Try different things. You want this to happen for you. When it does, books becomr amazing!
Books are amazing without it. I've read hundreds of books, through 35 years of reading, and I've never understood why people care so much about wanting to visualise something; it's not needed to enjoy a book. Maybe that's why I care so much about language, and it may well explain the type of books I prefer (I will often skip overly descriptive language by skimming over it unless the language in itself is beautiful to me).
Seeing the other references here to Aphantasia, I'm curious to what the distribution of visualisation is in the population as a whole, and to what extent there is a correlation - if any - to whether or not people enjoy reading. I could see some would find reading boring if they can't visualise them, maybe, but while it's a possibility, I don't think it's at all a given that it's a major factor - I often prefer to read to watch movies, even though one gives me that visual experience and the other doesn't, and that extends to often preferring the book relative to a movie version of a book.
I appreciate that too. And you are not wrong. Books, sans visualization are amazing.
Language can invoke many things.
I once fixed a black and white TV for an elderly woman. I could have set her up with a color one.
Didn't need or want it. Her apperciation for the programs was sans color.
Totally hear where you are coming from.
The comment is also for passers by who may well feel differently.
There are times when I skip descriptive parts of a text myself. It is not always germane to the overall experience.
It'd always seemed weird to me that some people seem to visualise so much detail.