The Frontal Cortex


Here’s W.H. Auden in The Dyer’s Hand generalizing about our senses:

“The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.”

Is Auden right? I think he nailed our acoustic cortex. (For more on that, check out my Stravinsky chapter in the book.) But I’m not sure our sense of sight is quite as restless as he would have us believe.

Thanks for the tip Steve!


  1. #1 Janice Olson
    November 5, 2007

    For more on this, check out the doctoral thesis of Alice B. Sheldon (better known as the sci-fi writer James Tiptree) in the early 60s. Basically, she argued that novelty is appealing to the eye in familiar surroundings, but in a strange environment, the familiar is what attracts.

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