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Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds Hardcover – November 7, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0716740889 ISBN-10: 0716740885 Edition: 1st

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Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds + Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman; 1st edition (November 7, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716740885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716740889
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

What's a "synesthete"? It's a person in whom more than one sense responds when a single sense is stimulated. Research suggests that one in 2,000 people experience synesthesia; for Duffy, letters (and the words they combine to produce) have color (hence, Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens ). It took technology like PET scans to confirm the unusual brain patterns of synesthesia, but some artists of the past--Liszt, Rimbaud, and Nabokov, for example--seem to have experienced it. Duffy describes her own experience and that of several contemporary artists in examining this phenomenon as a special case of the "personal coding" scientists now recognize as a vital aspect of brain development. Mary Carroll
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Review

"...a thought-provoking glimpse at how much is lurking in other people's minds--and how little we know about it." -- Detroit Free Press

"[A] fun and worthwhile read....you'll shake your head and marvel." -- Salon.com

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Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
As a synesthete myself, I found this book thoroughly gripping.
Keaton Fan
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.
M. Kinch
It shows the unique vision of the world of synesthetes--people who perceive words as having colors and music as having shapes.
A reader, New York

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rosalind Palermo Stevenson on January 12, 2003
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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Yanks Fan on March 22, 2003
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'
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Kinch on March 6, 2004
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A reader, New York on January 9, 2005
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Keaton Fan on April 15, 2008
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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