Title : Tasting the Universe
Author : Maureen Seaberg
Publisher : New Page Books
ISBN : 978-1-60163-159-6
I must confess that I did not know what Synesthesia mean before I received this book to be reviewed. And the first thing I did after having picked up this book to read is to look up the meaning of Synesthesia. One of the simpler explanations about this term that I found online is - 'This is a peculiar condition in which the senses get cross-wired. For example, a person with synesthesia may see colours when he/she hears a sound or can actually taste words; stimulation of one sense, it seems, causes an inappropriate stimulation of another. The most common form of synesthesia is when people see or hear words in colour. The condition affects about 1 in 25,000 people and is found more commonly in women than in men. There appears to be more left handed individuals among synesthetics than in the general population although the significance of this is unclear. Often synsethetics have exceptional memories, have a tendency to unusual 'psychic' experience, but may have problems at maths and navigation. '
The author Maureen Seaberg, a Synesthetic herself, very early on realized that her aberrant perceptions of letters and numbers sound rather strange to people around her, so she preferred keeping the same to herself. But later inspired by 'the present day climate of inquiry into and wonder about this nearly forgotten gift', she took upon herself to explore this amazing alternate world. In this book, she watches, questions, interviews and tries to experience the experiences of Synesthetic rock stars, violinists, neuroscientists and quantum physicists in her endeavor to understand the amazing patterns made by the mind in collaboration with the senses. As observed by the owners of these rare gifts, often this unique intermingling of senses indeed empowers the person to open a whole new vista of creativity, sensitivity, divinity and an unmatched, unparalleled vision and eventually to establish connection between all these diverse faculties.
People who are familiar with this form of perception and understanding of things will be able to relate to this book and to the experiences of others mentioned in it, and for other readers who are completely alien to this unknown world, this book opens a small window for them to peep through the colourful, magical, mystical and fancier world. I specifically liked the part where Seaberg has listed the criteria to test whether a person is indeed a synesthetic or not. This criteria is propounded by Dr. Richard E. Cytowiz who is accredited with the success of bringing synesthesia back as one of the topics of deep research and discussion.
Overall a fascinating read.