On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes

Front Cover
Simon and Schuster, Jan 8, 2013 - Nature - 308 pages
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.

From the author of the giant #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog comes an equally smart, delightful, and startling exploration of how we perceive and discover our world.

Alexandra Horowitz’s brilliant On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinary—to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, “the observation of trifles.” On Looking 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. What they see, how they see it, and why most of us do not see the same things reveal the startling power of human attention and the cognitive aspects of what it means to be an expert observer.

As the million-plus readers of Inside of a Dog 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. On Looking presents the same engaging combination, this time in service to understanding how human beings encounter their daily worlds and each other.

Page by page, Horowitz shows how much more there is to see—if only we would really look. On Looking is nutrition for the considered life, serving as a provocative response to our relentlessly virtual consciousness. So turn off the phone and other electronic devices and be in the real world—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 universe—where, indeed, there are worlds within worlds within worlds.

Alexandra Horowitz’s On Looking confirms her place as one of today’s most illuminating observers of our infinitely complex world.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BoundTogetherForGood - LibraryThing

This was a fun book even though it wasn't quite what I had expected it to be. Alexandra took 11 walks, I think, with a variety of specialists, in an attempt to try to SEE the things she had been ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - encephalical - LibraryThing

The best chapters contain entertaining stories of the author's walks with various domain specialists - an entomologist, a sound engineer, etc. The chapters where Horowitz imposes an interpretation on ... Read full review

Contents

Amateur Eyes
1
Muchness
19
Minerals and Biomass
41
Minding Our Qs
57
Into the Fourth Dimension
75
Flipping Things Over
93
The Animals Among Us
113
A Nice Place to Walk
139
The Suggestiveness of Thumbnails
159
Seeing Not Seeing
185
The Sound of Parallel Parking
211
A DogsNose View
241
Sources
267
Acknowledgments
295
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About the author (2013)

Alexandra Horowitz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know and On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation. She teaches at Barnard College, where she runs the Dog Cognition Lab. She lives with her family and two large, highly sniffy dogs in New York City.

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