fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Synesthesia and Scares

The Music and the Brain lecture series has started up again at the Library of Congress. Last night's lecture was by Richard Cytowic on synesthesia. I read Cytowic's book, The Man Who Tasted Shapes many years ago, so I was somewhat familiar with the subject. But we have apparently learned a lot in the 20 odd years since he wrote that book. In fact, he has a new book out, Wednesday is Mood Indigo, which he was signing after the talk. Anyway, he proved to be an engaging and interesting speaker, mostly focused on examples of the diversity of sensory experience. Seeing colors for numbers or letters is, apparently, the most common form of synesthesia, but he also talked about people who experience tastes with different sounds, some of which are linked to specific similar words (e.g. the word "application" might taste like apricots). Another specific set of examples he talked about had to do with items in an overlearned sequence, e.g. days of the week. But the real point of his lecture had to do with what synesthesia says about creativity and the possibility it could be at the heart of how people make metaphors.

By the way, the lecture last night included a special privilege. Normally, the talks are in the Whittall Pavilion, but the set-up for the evening concert last night (held in the Campbell Auditorium, which is next to and connected to the Whittall), so they moved the lecture to the Members Room. This is the room reserved for Members of Congress and the general public doesn't normally even get to see it. It's quite ornately decorated and I was glad I was there early enough to look around before the lecture and not be distracted during it.

After the lecture, I took advantage of being in the city to run over to Kramer's and pick up a copy of an entirely unrelated book. Save the Deli by David Sax is exactly the sort of thing Robert would like to read, since the decline of Jewish delis is one of his favorite subjects. I will, of course, read the book before giving it to him since that's just what we do. (Well, he's given me books without reading them, but he also reads a lot less than I do.) Anyway, that gave me a slight bit of noshtalgia (i.e. a bittersweet longing for the foods of yesteryear) and I did a google search on "nesselrode pie." That led me to this article by Arthur Schwartz which reveals the horrible truth about that apparently extinct food item. Namely, that the primary ingredient in Raffetto's Nesselro is, of all things, cauliflower. Who knew that Custom Bakers was serving us vegetables in sweet pie form through my youth?

As for today, I ran errands in the morning. The afternoon held the story swap that Voices in the Glen was putting on with the Beltsville public library. We got about 40 people at various times (including about 10 tellers), which is definitely a success for the first time putting on a swap there. The event was advertised as being for ages 6 and up, but nobody pays attention to that and there were some younger kids. Fortunately, most of them had left by the time I told. I had contemplated several different stories, but settled on "Ida Black" as being suitable, as well as something I didn't have to worry about anybody else telling. (It's more or less original, though based on a legend I stumbled across some years ago and later found other versions of in a booklet of "true" ghost stories. It involves a woman who is hanged for witchcraft and returns to dance on the grave of her accuser.) All in all, there was a nice mix of stories and I think most of the attendees had a good time.

No trick or treaters this year, alas. Last year, the only one I had was the little girl next door, but that family has moved away. There are definitely children in the complex, but most of them are from non-trick or treating cultures (primarily Korean and Indian immigrants).

And now for the horror of the World Series. Actually, it would be appropriate for the Source of All Evil in the Universe to win on Halloween, but I still don't want that to happen.
Tags: baseball, books, food pornography, music, neuroscience, storytelling, washington d.c.

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