On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation

On Looking: A Walker's Guide to the Art of Observation

by Alexandra Horowitz


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From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog, this “elegant and entertaining” (The Boston Globe) explanation of how humans perceive their environments “does more than open our eyes...opens our hearts and minds, too, gently awakening us to a world—in fact, many worlds—we’ve been missing” (USA TODAY).

Alexandra Horowitz shows us how to see the spectacle of the ordinary—to practice, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put it, “the observation of trifles.” Structured around a series of eleven walks the author takes, mostly in her Manhattan neighborhood, On Looking features 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. Horowitz 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.

Page by page, Horowitz shows how much more there is to see—if only we would really look. Trained as a cognitive scientist, she discovers a feast of fascinating detail, all explained with her generous humor and self-deprecating tone. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439191262
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 04/15/2014
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 37,054
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Alexandra Horowitz is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know; Being a Dog: Following the Dog into a World of Smell; and Our Dogs, Ourselves. She teaches at Barnard College, where she runs the Dog Cognition Lab. She lives with her family and two large, highly sniffy dogs, one cat, and one puppy in New York City.

Table of Contents

Amateur Eyes 1

Inanimate City: The Material of the Landscape

Muchness 19

Minerals and Biomass 41

Minding Our Qs 57

Into the Fourth Dimension 75

Animate City: Everything that Won't Stand Still

Flipping Things Over 93

The Animals Among Us 113

A Nice Place (to Walk) 139

The Suggestiveness of Thumb-nails 159

Sensory City: Things that Hum, Smell, or Vibrate

Seeing; Not Seeing 185

The Sound of Parallel Parking 211

A Dog's-Nose View 241

Seeing It 259

Sources 267

Acknowledgments 295

Index 297

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