News and Notes
The Man Who Tasted Shapes
Part memoir, part science essay, The Man Who Tasted Shapes is a neurologist's account of his research into synesthesia, the experience of sensory crossover that occurs in maybe ten in a million people. The author's quest begins after meeting an artistic neighbor who "tastes" mint tea as cool columns of smooth white marble and cooks pointy chicken dishes crafted with a subtle sense of shape. Other synesthetes Cytowic studies hear sounds as shape and color, or have tactile impressions of extraordinary vividness and certainty while seeing or tasting. Cytowic is articulate and open to big ideas about the mysteries of the human mind. He believes that "synesthesia is actually a normal brain function in every one of us, but that its workings reach conscious awareness in only a handful... " Put that in your pipe and see what color the smoke sounds...