A Calendar Problem

Alright, this blew my mind and I have to share.

I’m in the middle of designing an Uncharred calendar. Partially because it feels season-appropriate, partially because there’s no way the marshal’s office, which I tinker with on occasion, hasn’t got a single calendar in it.  Still, I’m designing it as a mostly for-fun exercise, intuitively, so I stared with a wheel, split it into months, started adding solstices… and then suddenly realized I have basically this:

And, um… it’s counterclockwise?

Which makes no logical sense, because I also do have associations winter=north, spring=east, etc. But the cardinal directions are mirrored. But this is very definitely how I see a year inside my head, I just never really paid attention to it before. Whaat?

So I googled, of course. Turns out, picturing a year inside your head as a well-defined circle is a form of synaesthesia. I’ve known for a long time that I have synaesthesia – I associate colours with graphemes, which rarely makes sense to anyone except my mother (from whom I apparently inherited the trait). But I never before realized the year wheel was part of the same story. I assumed everyone had some version of a year wheel inside their heads, because, I mean, how else do you even deal with time? Well, apparently not. “Non-synaesthetic controls, when required to attribute a spatial layout for the month of the year, frequently default to linear arrays or rectangles used in calendars” (c). That’s just… I don’t know, mind-boggling a bit 🙂 You live and you learn, I guess.

All that of course leaves me with the issue of what do do about the actual calendar. At first I felt an overwhelming resistance to changing it, because, well, this is how I see a year and, dammit, this is my world, why can’t at least one world have a perfect calendar 🙂

However, I’m failing to come up with any logical explanation for my calendar’s counterclockwise direction – other than my possible latent left-handedness, according to that article. And somehow I doubt that whoever designed the calendar in-story was a left-handed synaesthete following their instincts. If only because afterwards they managed to make that calendar stick with the non-synaesthete majority. So I guess I’ll have to mirror back and adjust to cardinal directions.


  1. Pingback: A Calendar Problem | History Muse

  2. Maybe in your world non-synaesthetes are a minority!

    • I’m definitely giving it some thought. Especially for the non-humans – synaesthetic Fair Folk, for example, would make so much sense 🙂

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