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The Man Who Tasted Shapes

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  509 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Space constraints prevent me from giving more than a mere flavour of the richness of Cytowic's thinking. With broad sweeps, he outlines a new landscape. . . . Read this book--and the more objective you think you are, the more open-minded you will need to be to appreciate it."
-- "The New Scientist" In 1980, Richard Cytowic was having dinner at a friend's house, when his ho
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Paperback, 254 pages
Published April 10th 1998 by MIT Press (MA) (first published 1993)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,255)
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Holly Mays
Nov 01, 2007 Holly Mays rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone who wants to learn about synesthesia
The = tastes like dry chicken
Man = tastes like chipped beef gravy on toast
Who = tastes like turkey
Tasted = orange kool aid
Shapes = swiss cheese

It's somewhat dry, but gives you decent insight on a little thing I have called "synesthesia."
Dave
When I read the summary on the back cover I thought "This is me!" I picked it up immediately. Up until then I had assumed that everyone saw colors with numbers, and feeling different physical sensations attached to tastes were just the way people tasted things. It was interesting seeing the phenomenon from another person's perspective, and validating my own.

There are times when I feel more alive - my senses are wide open and they blend together into an overwhelming experience. It's similar to ta
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Linda
Dec 03, 2007 Linda rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who hear colors
this book changed my self-perception...until i read it i had no idea that there was a name for the condition (gift, oddity...) i have wherein i hear colors and why i always questioned how the makers of certain items (like toys when i was little) could color them - let's say green - when the word sounded so obviously blue!
Or why a siren in the distance was painfully red and the locomotive down the line had such a soothing, velvety feel to it.
Anyway - good read for curious minds who want to know
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Judy
Synesthesia is a fascinating condition wherein the senses are seemingly confused. You can hear colors and see sounds and all kinds of odd combinations of smell, sight, hearing, taste and touch. I have to say, I'm a little jealous of people with this condition. It's not something I can relate to at all but it sounds kind of amazing.
If you're at all interested in this condition by all means read this book. Just keep in mind a few things. While there are moments when Cytowic clearly want to be a wr
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Laura
This book is about synesthesia, a condition where certain people link senses together in an unexpected way. For example, one of the two main cases in this book tastes shapes, the other has colored hearing. This book is part textbook, part autobiography, and part editorial. It is divided into two sections. The first, larger section concentrates on synesthesia itself and Cytowic's interest in it, and the second part is a series of essays on the importance of emotion over reason.
Cytowic alternates
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Clayton Littlewood
I have to admit, this is not the type of book I would normally be drawn to. 'The Man Who Tasted Shapes' is a good title - because if I had seen this book on a shelf with the title 'Synaesthesia: An Introduction,' or 'Understanding Synaesthesia,' I would probably have lightly fingered the book and then my dainty little fingers would've found something else to finger.

But...it was a really interesting book, an introduction to a condition that I didn't even know existed. I can't admit to understand
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Sam
I read this book to learn more about synesthesia as I have it myself. I did learn more about it, but through this book I also learnt more about perception as a whole. I personally like that the author puts an importance over people's individual experience more than just what machines say or tests indicate. It wasn't until recently that I even realised that not everyone put colours with words as well as other things that are normal to me. There's too many people out there that believe they have a ...more
Maria M. Elmvang
Half interesting, half very dry and occasionally boring. Richard Cytowic is obviously very interested in synaesthesia - what causes it, how it is manifested in different people, whether or not you can track it by scanning the brain etc. - but his book isn't really meant for non-medical readers. I was fascinated by the experiments and the discoveries, but there was a LOT of medical babble that I had no interest in at all, and ended up just skimming.

A non-fiction that reads too much like a textbo
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Laura
fantastic non-fiction that describes the neurological disorder synasthesia, remarkably undocumented until 1980, by the author. through a personal account of his studies and research of historical occurrences of synasthesia, you can learn how this remarkable disorder has such poetic symptoms. also contains the philosophical and artistic implications of the disorder. chomsky needed no machine to create his "green ideas", a synasthete could've done so on a regular basis, "this chicken doesn't have ...more
Stefanie
Cytowic spends way too much time talking about himself (the hero who dares to study synesthesia) and his convinction that "people" think medicine and science are all about machines. And he goes on about this... Synesthesia was what I was interested in, and there's not enough of it in this book.
Dylan
"If you want to learn new things, you should try reading new books."

Interesting book, but I didn't finish it (I got to page 60). I would have liked it better if it had focused more on people with synesthesia, and maybe the book did, but I just didn't get to that part.
Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
What appealed to me in this book:

* The Introduction
* The essays at the end, about the nature of consciousness, the emotion/rationality balance of the human mind, gnostic knowledge, direct experience, and how the medical field now puts too much faith in the output of machine-driven tests, and not enough in patients' direct experience

What didn't appeal to me as much:

* The weirdly rapid manner in which Cytowic gave a not-exactly-exhaustive overview of his career studying synesthesia
* The lack of bu
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Maryka
Nov 18, 2008 Maryka rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Maryka by: Google
Shelves: nonfiction
I don't have synesthesia, but was drawn to read about it because it made sense to me. As an artist, I often relate colors to certain words, and shapes to tastes or sensations. In my
case, this is a conscious conceptual choice. For people with synesthesia, it's inescapable
reality. A cross-connection in the five senses causes them to see or taste a song, feel the shape of a flavor, hear the sound of a table.

I'm fascinated by this multi-dimensional sense perception and wish I had it for real -
thoug
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Happimoo
Brilliant book about the condition that is synesthesia, but you additionally end up learning a lot about how the mind works in general. The writing gets a bit more scientific than story sometimes but if you're ok with that, I'd recommend it, even if just for the fascinating knowledge contained within.
Clare
This non-fiction book delves mostly into the condition known as synesthesia where two senses are intertwined. Someone who has this fascinating condition may see colors when music is played or have smell and sight combined. The book gets its title from the fact that the author had been invited to someone's home for dinner. When the host went to check on the chicken, he came back and said it wasn't done because there were not enough points on the chicken. He could literally "see" when the meal was ...more
Candice
Our brains are weird and sometimes wonderful. The author shares his experiences helping folks with synesthesia figure out why one sense takes over another, but more importantly, gets them to understand they're not alone. The author references migraines here a few times, which had me thinking about my own issues, not dealing with synesthesia. If a wire is tripped, and one sense moves into the other's territory, could it be the same with migraines? Could my extreme sensitivity to overhead lighting ...more
Lesa
Love it. Use it for research methods class
Andrea Hickman Walker
This is rather out of date, which is a pity, because it's fascinating. I'd like to know more about where neurology, psychiatry and psychology are with regards to synesthesia at the moment. I've always found synesthesia fascinating (and last night I had a dream where I experienced it) and have always been sad that I don't experience it - it must be such an interesting way of seeing the world. I think this is a very good introduction to synesthesia, not least because of the historical review of th ...more
Kenny
This particular book (not the subject matter) could have only been written by this author, his experience. Not exceptionally well-written, but so far, a good, interesting introduction to the phenomenon. (he's no Oli Sacks) I'm still reading, but will look for other authors. I once read an insightful (no pun intended) book written by autistic author Donna Williams called Nobody Nowhere. Perhaps there is a doctorial synesthete among us?
Summer
i don't remember being particularly impressed with the writing, it was kinda dry and dense. but i'm so head-over-heels fascinated with the subject matter--synesthesia. it's about, for lack of a better in-depth explanation, people who experience joined senses. like this guy feels shapes when he tastes, some people see color or shapes when they hear sounds, that sorta thing. super interesting.
Rickeclectic
Dec 14, 2008 Rickeclectic rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone, cognitive psychology folks
Shelves: psychology
Very interesting book about synesthesia (the mixing of sense, like tasting shapes or sensing numbers as having colors). Though it is not as well written, folks who like Oliver Sacks books will find this interesting. Synesthesia is a true phenomenon though relatively rare and this book if a non-fiction book about a variety of interesting synesthetes.
Scarlett Sims
It took me what felt like forever to read this book, even though it isn't very long. There were some really interesting anecdotal parts about the main synesthetic subject of the book. The author also makes clear his disappointment with the medical industry/machine which was interesting to me but there were parts of it that just moved really slowly.
Antoinette Palmieri
I started off good, then I got lost in the terms and brain things. I feel that I was just not of the intellectual caliber to fully understand this book. But I did find it interesting. Just not an easy read, at all.
Ellen
I am an artist and I am jealous and fascinated with the additional perceptions people who experience synesthesia. Came away wanting to know more. Eln
Amanda
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!! I learned so much, and its great if you are really smart and want to learn more about synesthesia
Michael Kerwin
Other than the "dialogues" which come across as stiff and unnatural, the science is absolutely fascinating
Manintheboat
It's a 4 star book but it goes off in another direction at the end without really finishing the story.
Dave
a totally fascinating subject- i read this many years ago; i must re-read to give it a review.
Quilltips
As a synesthete myself, I was amazed at the research this book contains. It's really illuminating.
Susheela
My introduction to the medical condition called synesthesia. Very intersting case studies....
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Richard E. Cytowic, MD, MFA is a neurologist best know for bringing synesthesia back into the scientific mainstream in 1980. The trait of crossed senses is now seen as important to understanding how brains perceive.

Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (with David Eagleman) won the 2011 Montaigne Medal.

Cytowic also writes non-fiction and fiction, and received his MFA in cr
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More about Richard E. Cytowic...
Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses Neurological Side of Neuropsychology Synesthesia: A Union of the Senses - Second Edition (Bradford Books) Nerve Block For Common Pain

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