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Barbara Clough

On sensual discovery

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I read something in the Sept. 6 issue of the New Yorker that intrigued me. Here's the text: "The students were instructed to sample nine types of caviar and a variety of olive oils, and do a blind identification of meats that had had their fat removed." (Sweet Memor, by Madhur Jaffrey, originally published August 19 & 26, 2002, p. 35n of the current issue.) This started me thinking about sensory detail in writing and the use of all sensory detail. I tend to use the strongest and most obvious ones: site, hearing, touch, but smell and taste seem to get less attention, at least in my brain and in my writing. So since there are 5 primary senses (and yes sometimes a sixth sense - but that's for another blog post), I decided that each day deserved a focused sense. This is how I've decided to break it down:

    • Monday - Smell
    • Tuesday - Taste
    • Wednesday - Hearing
    • Thursday - Seeing (thus the walking around DC)
    • Friday - Feeling

There's no particular reason for the order, just the Tuesday-tasting and Friday-feeling had an alliteration that would make it easier to remember. And that's not to say, for instance, Friday (Trevor Noah show) can't overlap with Tuesday (Indian food here in DC). But on Wednesday, I'll know, remind myself, practice concentrating on what I hear, even the sounds that annoy me or pique my interest or confound me.  

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