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Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens Hardcover – Oct 2001

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First Sentence
As far back as I can remember, letters of the alphabet, numbers, and words have been in color. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By Rosalind Palermo Stevenson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book. Seeing the colors of the letters of the alphabet; feeling the shapes of the tastes of different foods-these are examples of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that produces a "blending" or "combining" of sensory responses. Author, Patricia Lynne Duffy, a synesthete herself, uses her own experiences as the point of departure to take the reader on a journey that deftly illustrates the pervasiveness of this way of perceiving in the world and raises many deeply philosophical and sociological questions.
In Ms. Duffy's young childhood, her father discovered that synesthesia existed as a documented neurological condition after he went searching for an answer as to why his daughter saw each of the letters of the alphabet in a specific color. Ms. Duffy's book moves from these intimate and extremely touching early synesthetic recollections into the broad and fascinating subject of synesthesia in the world at large. The book is a feast for the mind. We learn that the French symbolist poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Gautier were synesthetes. As is world-renowned painter David Hockney who uses the colors he sees in his syesthetic perceptions in his paintings. As does artist, Carol Steen. But even non-synesthetic artists such as Paul Klee and Georgia O'Keefe employed "techniques of transforming" that belong to the "blended" or "combined" sensory perceptions of the synesthetic experience.
In exploring her subject, Patricia Duffy has given us a rich compilation of information that touches on almost every discipline: the arts, science, the brain, health, philosophy, religion. But most fascinating to this reader is the fundamental question that the book raises about the very nature of perception itself. As Dr. Peter Grossenbacher from the National Institute of Mental Health points out at the beginning of his foreword to the book, "William James, the father of American experimental psychology, observed that each mind has its own way of perceiving the world." How are we to regard this uniqueness of individual perception when as Ms. Duffy points out, "In life so much depends on the question, do you see what I see? that most basic of queries that binds human beings socially." And even among synesthetes, each person has their own individual synesthetic perception, the color of one synesthete's letter A, for example being different from another's. Perhaps the most intriguing idea of all that Ms. Duffy's book puts forth is in her wonderful chapter entitled, Everything Fights For Its Survival-Even A Perception: "Like every other living thing on this earth, a personal perception of reality, too, will fight for its survival. And, as with every other living thing on this earth, the only way to ensure survival is by learning to coexist with others vastly different."
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Informative and fun! 23 Mar. 2003
By Yanks Fan - Published on
Format: Paperback
I first learned about the phenomenon of synesthesia in a review of Blue Cats in the journal Cerebrum, where Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, a world authority on synesthesia says, "This book is a delight. As far as I know, this is the first time a synesthete has written about what it is like to live with this neurological condition - one in which the senses are intermingled, so that the spoken word, "cat", for example, may consistently be experienced as blue." The review prompted me to get the book, which opened my eyes to the very different ways that people can perceive the world. I recommend `Blue Cats'
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Interesting Book... 7 Mar. 2004
By M. Kinch - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I first happed upon this book by first hearing about it through a slew of synastesia web sites I had come across in my search to understand what was going on in my own head.
I as a synasthete really loved reading her personal stories and reflections and some of the research that she's found along the way. And especially loved listening to people talk about their colored letters and how they differed from mine and the shapes people saw and how they were a brigher reflection of the shapes I dimly see listening to music.
The reason that this book got only four stars is because of the fact that she acts like there isn't really that much information on synesthesia so she starts repeating the things she's said before.
If you're willing to step into the world of synesthesia and seeing for yourself the things that we see then this is a good book to start from.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Colors of Emotions and Thoughts 9 Jan. 2005
By A reader, New York - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is an original, off-beat and moving account of the world as viewed through an unusual lens. It shows the unique vision of the world of synesthetes--people who perceive words as having colors and music as having shapes. But in addition, the book tells of a very personal and touching relationship between a daughter who feels 'different' and a father who appreciates that difference. Recommended for those interested in science, psychology and things literary.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VERY important for synesthetes! 15 April 2008
By Keaton Fan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As a synesthete myself, I found this book thoroughly gripping. I found it at a used bookstore, flipped through it, then sat down and began to read it more thoroughly. I can't tell you how surprised I was to discover that most people DON'T see or feel music, DON'T dream in color, DON'T experience what synesthetes do. I'd never heard the word "synesthesia" before, and I assumed we were all the same. Duffy's book showed me that, no, synesthesia is not shared by most of the population. Since then, I've been the subject of an interview on synesthesia, and I've taken part in some online synesthesia tests. Thank you, Patricia!
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