THE KNOWN AND FORGOTTEN SENSES by Donald E. Carr

THE KNOWN AND FORGOTTEN SENSES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The danger of the facile science writer equipped with an encyclopedic mind is that he may on occasion run off at the mouth, spilling out all his index cards and not always in logical order. In his haste to tidy things up he then engages in shorthand, puns, and the kind of verbal horseplay more suited to the classroom than the library. Thus Donald Carr who has treated us seriously and humorously on prior occasions to a variety of subjects here presents, buckshot fashion, a bird's-eye view of sensory phenomena throughout the animal kingdom. The book is good propaganda for the wonder of nature, whether that nature be the insect's compound eye, the bee's ability to see ultra-violet rays, the bat's sensational FM echo-locating, the arctic tem's majestic 23,000 mile migratory trips and so on, but unfortunately too flippant a style and an undercurrent of mystery accompany the exposition. Cart does deal with some of the newer work attempting to unravel the complexities of transduction or coding within the nervous system, but irritatingly he either assumes the reader is fully cognizant of the vocabulary or else he washes his hands in despair saying the mystery is beyond human fathoming. This is the wrong view of science in general, and neurophysiology in particular. We may listen dispassionately to Carr's ideas about memory or electromagnetic waves (as a real possibility to underlying telepathic phenomena) but we would have been happier to have as much time and space devoted to a lucid description of perception through the known sensory pathways. The result would have been a rich book, physiologically more enlightening and phenomenologically less confusing.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday