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On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyesby Alexandra Horowitz
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the giant andlt;Bandgt;#1 andlt;/Bandgt;andlt;Iandgt;New York Times andlt;/Iandgt;bestseller andlt;Iandgt;Inside of a Dog andlt;/Iandgt;comes an equally smart, delightful, and startling exploration of how we perceive and discover our world. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Alexandra Horowitzand#8217;s brilliant andlt;Iandgt;On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes andlt;/Iandgt;shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinaryand#8212;to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, and#8220;the observation of trifles.and#8221; andlt;Iandgt;On Looking andlt;/Iandgt;is structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes, mostly in her Manhattan neighborhood, with experts on a diverse range of subjects, including an urban sociologist, the well-known artist Maira Kalman, a geologist, a physician, and a sound designer. She also walks with a child and a dog to see the world as they perceive it. andlt;Iandgt;What andlt;/Iandgt;they see, andlt;Iandgt;how andlt;/Iandgt;they see it, and why most of us do andlt;Iandgt;not andlt;/Iandgt;see the same things reveal the startling power of human attention and the cognitive aspects of what it means to be an expert observer. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;As the million-plus readers of andlt;Iandgt;Inside of a Dog andlt;/Iandgt;have discovered, Alexandra Horowitz is charmingly adept at explaining the mysteries of human perception. Trained as a cognitive scientist, she discovers a feast of fascinating detail, all explained with her generous humor and self-deprecating tone. andlt;Iandgt;On Looking andlt;/Iandgt;presents the same engaging combination, this time in service to understanding how human beings encounter their daily worlds and each other. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Page by page, Horowitz shows how much more there is to seeand#8212;if only we would really look. andlt;Iandgt;On Looking andlt;/Iandgt;is nutrition for the considered life, serving as a provocative response to our relentlessly virtual andnbsp;consciousness. So turn off the phone and other electronic devices and andlt;Iandgt;be andlt;/Iandgt;in the real worldand#8212;where strangers communicate by geometry as they walk toward one another, where sounds reveal shadows, where posture can display humility, and the underside of a leaf unveils a Lilliputian universeand#8212;where, indeed, there are worlds within worlds within worlds. andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Alexandra Horowitzand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;On Looking andlt;/Iandgt;confirms her place as one of todayand#8217;s most illuminating observers of our infinitely complex world.
"Horowitz (Inside of a Dog) turns neighborhood walks into an exploration of how people interpret the world. Each walk pairs her with a different companion, each experience offering expertise in a wildly different arena, from the fractured geology of Horowitz's native Manhattan to a city block's surprisingly abundant insect life or how blind people experience the world. Some walks playfully dip into academic specialties, as when Dr. Bennett Lorber displays his Sherlock Holmes — like knack for diagnosing passersby, or when urban behaviorist Fred Kent shares his counterintuitive perspective as president of the Project for Public Spaces. Elsewhere, a sound engineer explains the 'auditory restoration' phenomenon, in which the mind fills in unheard sounds, while a typographer examines fonts and lettering on signs and buildings, going so far as to distinguish between different forms of the letter 'Q.' Even when Horowitz leaves her home turf to venture to Philadelphia and to Springfield, Mass., or consults such dubious 'experts' as her dog, Finnegan, and toddler son, her writing remains insightful. The quirks in how each individual processes the same picture provide readers with their own eyes refreshed, ready to take a good look around them. Agent: Kris Dahl, ICM. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the author of the #1 New York Times giant bestseller Inside of a Dog comes an equally smart, delightful, and startling exploration of how we perceive our surroundings.
You are missing most of what is happening around you right now. You are missing what is happening in the distance and right in front of you. In reading these words, you are ignoring an unthinkably large amount of information that continues to bombard all of your senses. The hum of the fluorescent lights; the ambient noise in the room; the feeling of the chair against your legs or back; your tongue touching the roof of your mouth; the tension you are holding in your shoulders or jaw; the constant hum of traffic or a distant lawnmower; the blurred view of your own shoulders and torso in your peripheral vision; a chirp of a bug or whine of a kitchen appliance.
Look begins with inattention. It is not meant to help you focus on your reading of Tolstoy; it is not about how to multitask. Rather, it is about attending to the joys of the unattended, the perceived “ordinary.” Horowitz encourages us to rediscover the extraordinary things that we are missing in our ordinary activities. Even when engaged in the simplest of activities—taking a walk around the block—we pay so little attention to most of what is right before us that we are sleepwalkers in our own lives. So turn off the phone and portable electronics and get into the real world, where you’ll find there are worlds within worlds within worlds.
About the Author
Alexandra Horowitz teaches psychology at Barnard College, Columbia University. Before her scientific career, Horowitz worked as a lexicographer at Merrian-Webster and served on the staff of The New Yorker. She and her husband live in New York City with Finnegan, a dog of indeterminate parentage and determinate character.
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