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Mindful : April 2018
Since forever, philosophers and ordinary people alike have been wondering how it is we come to know some- thing, since whatever we experience seems to come to us through the gateways we call “the senses.” Our sense organs—noses, ears, eyes, tong ues, skin—are pretty bizarre-looking objects, which is why sci-fi cartoonists have such fun reshaping them to create alien life-forms. Without these receptors, the world is just a chaotic blizzard of events. Our senses give them form and significance and enable us to make our way around without doing serious damage (usually). But as Rob DeSalle—cura- tor at New York’s famous American Museum of Natu- ral History—makes clear in this wonderfully detailed account, we’re not all shar- ing the same exact world. Ever known someone who can’t stand cilantro (maybe that’s you)? They may be a “supertaster,” which means they experience an over- whelming bitterness, where you’re tasting pure joy. (DeSalle shares a theory that some great chefs are supertasters who use their highly attuned taste buds to create great dishes that may not actually taste all that good to them!) He explores each of the main senses in intricate detail, but does not limit himself to “the big five.” Defining what is and isn’t a sense is tricky, he admits, and he steers clear of enu- merating the 33 discrete senses that some research- ers have posited, but he does focus on a few that he feels are critical to add: balance, pain (nociception), and hot-cold sensing. He also touches on proprio- ception (knowing where our body is in space) and sensing time of day. It’s key, though, to understand, he points out, that senses perform in concert, not as independent operators. They’re orchestral players, not soloists. This book is, as the title suggests, an immersive sensory experience. Anatomical illustration is a high art, and it’s put to wonderful use here. In fine line drawings and diagrams, DeSalle paints for us a world that is an interplay between the structures within our bodies and thingies “out there,” such as “musk molecules,” resulting in our intimate connection with everything around us. The treatment of the senses is not limited to humans, but also explores how other organisms sense and make sense of the environment. It’s also not limited to ordinary experience, delving into hallucination, strokes, and other alterations to the standard sensory repertoire. This is a big book worth feasting on. ● OUR SENSES An Immersive Experience Rob DeSalle • Yale University Press Special funding may be available for artists, health care professionals, educators and people of color. In the Green Mountains of Vermont WWW.KARMECHOLING.ORG Mindfulness Meditation Retreats Meditation can be a path of social transformation. Our signature retreats, also known as dathÜns and weekthÜns, work with uplifting the human spirit and discovering good human society. One, two, and four week options available. Karmê Chöling half vertical.indd 1 11/14/17 3:13 PM April 2018 mindful 85