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Tasting the Universe: People Who See Colors in Words and Rainbows in Symphonies Paperback – March 15, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tasting the Universe is not only the brilliant writing of a top, professional journalist looking in on a strange but romantic phenomena, but it is the writing of a person who could embrace the feelings of those she interviews, because author Seaberg herself possesses this remarkable gift of synesthesia. I predict when you pick up this book, you will be unable to put it down, as it will open up for you a whole new world in our universe."
--The Amazing Kreskin

"As Maureen Seaberg beautifully tells us, the conscious minds of synesthetes reach deeper levels of reality, beneath the veil, beyond the cave, to purer realms of meaning."
--Dr. Stuart Hameroff, director, Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona, Tucson

"Maureen Seaberg explores a dimension of synesthesia long encountered in reports of synesthetes: its relation to mystical and artistic vision. In Tasting the Universe, Ms. Seaberg, a synesthete herself, has collected some fascinating accounts by some very prominent and inspiring people."
--Patricia Lynne Duffy, author of Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens

About the Author

Maureen Seaberg has lectured on synesthesia and spirituality at the Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference at the University of Arizona-Tucson. She herself has higher and lower synesthesia, both concepts and forms appear to her in color (her k's are teal and her 8's are aubergine). A journalist for 20 years, Maureen has had articles featured in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, Irish America, ESPN the Magazine, and other publications. She has also covered breaking news for MSNBC and appeared on NBC, CNN, and PBS. Maureen earned a BA in journalism with a minor in Spanish from Penn State University, and a certificate of superior-level Spanish from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Page Books (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601631596
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601631596
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #977,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a disappointing book. It is rather superficial and consists of a lot of name dropping and chit chat, rather than real descriptions of the fascinating phenomenon of synesthesia and how it may come about. The view proposed by the author that Marylyn Monroe may have had synesthesia is based on extremely feeble evidence.
There are much better books out there, which give you a lot of in-depth information about this fascinating topic and what goes on in the brain that may cause this to happen. The books by Richard E. Cytowic are much more informative! Don’t waste your money on this book, get his books instead, in particular ‘Wednesday is Indigo Blue’.
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Format: Paperback
Does the following make sense to you?

"`What color is your A?' Carol asked me one night in Chelsea.

`Yellow,' I replied.

`My dear, A is definitely pink. Perhaps there are vitamins you could take.'"

If it does, there is a strong possibility that you may be a synesthete. This quote from Tasting the Universe highlights the way people who have synesthesia perceive the world. They may see particular letters or words in color, they may strongly visualize a color upon hearing a specific musical note, or they may even taste the words that other people speak. These are indeed, "strange visions," to use the words of British scientist Sir Francis Galton. Tasting the Universe is a cross between journalism and biography in which author, who predictably enough is a synesthete, tells the story of discovering and living with what she calls her precious secret. Readers are next introduced to celebrities who are also synesthetes. Norman Mailer believed that Marilyn Monroe exhibited characteristics based upon her preferences of colored vegetables when cooking. Violinist Itzhak Perlman describes his relationship to musical notes and color.

Sir Robert Cailliau speaks about coming up with the three w's for the world wide web (for him the w appeared green and so imagining people typing three green w's in a row was a wonderful thought). Structurally, Seaberg positions the experiencing of phenomena alongside scientific research but she seems a bit hesitant about wanting to fully understand her synesthesia, as do a couple of her interviewees. The suspicion is that too much knowledge might potentially destroy the ineffable gift. Perhaps this is justified.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fascinating subject. Awful writing. It's not a book because it has no beginning, middle and end. It's just a list of interviews with famous people who happen to be Synesthetes with trite speculations from the author. The style is more like a cub reporter with no writing skills than any investigation or true thinking. Why famous people are preferred over those that may have better insight into synesthesia I don't know. It's like writing a book about left-handedness by interviewing famous left-handed people. It doesn't let the reader understand more about the subject but does require wading through endless schoolgirl emotions and random speculations from the author. There are better books on this important subject.
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This book is a frustration to read. There is no structure. There is no depth or development. There is no real information. There are lots of breezy opinions and recounted conversations. What a great topic, and what a missed opportunity to investigate, explore, illuminate, and educate the world about this fascinating brain function. The first chapter or two satisfied. When I began to notice that each chapter was essentially the same format (interview with "famous" person who had neither insight nor especially refined ability to describe followed by blathering that wasn't connected in any way to the interview) I grew frustrated and annoyed.
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Format: Paperback
Maureen Seaberg is a New York City journalist who has always had an extra sense of sorts. Ever since she can remember all her "K"s have been teal and her "A"s have been yellow. Whenever she listens to music, colors and patterns overtake her which she cannot describe. This sense that Seaberg has is shared by people around the world. This "extra sense" is known as synesthesia, by definition the mixing of senses. As children, and even as adults many synesthetes, including Seaberg, are confused about their condition, lost and alone, knowing few who share their special abilities, sometimes not knowing even what their unique gift is called. Seaberg decided that she would take a break from her hard-hitting journalism career and delve into the world of synesthesia, exploring it for herself, and all other synesthetes who feel lost, in the process meeting many other extraordinary synesthetes. Seaberg's memoir fills the reader up with her exploration of synesthesia on a cultural, spiritual and personal level, but for those who are craving a scientific explanation it leaves readers hungry with just a taste of the truth on their tongues.

The book begins with Seaberg discussing her own experience in discovering her synesthetic gift. As a young child she was eager to attend school so as to know why her letters and numbers were always tied to certain colors. While attending school, however, she was told, as many other synesthetes are, that it was probably because of an alphabet book she read to learn her letters. Although Seaberg knew this was not the case she cast her synesthesia aside feeling like no one knew the truth. She finally discovered the name for her gift when she one day stumbled upon neuroscientist Dr. Richard Cytowic's novel, "The Man Who Tasted Shapes", while shopping.
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