Last Updated 09 Apr 2020

Disjunction of Senses in Modern City Life

Category City, Sound
Essay type Research
Words 1192 (4 pages)
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Disjunction of Senses in Modern City life In his chapter “City Life and the Senses,” John Urry discusses how the senses system operates in “open societies” of streams of crowds in open space. The five senses are comprised by the visual, auditory, touch, taste, and olfactory. Urry views visuality as an ambivalent force that is prioritized above the other sense through the developments of centuries and somewhat abused by as visual sense becomes increasingly accelerated in the city life dominated by technology.

The imbalance in the sensed environment is magnified by the physical natures of the senses themselves, but the inexpedience in this discrepancy is a product of civilization, implying that visuality and other senses are capable of interacting collaboratively under a hierarchy for a city life that “plays to all the senses. ” The innate features of eyes provide the power for the visual sense. Light travels almost instantaneously while other mediums, like voice, are air-borne. Signals emitted by the sender are instantaneously received by the viewer.

While sound and scent can collect their input from all directions and frequencies, sight is focused and specified. Urry mentions Simmel’s argument that “the eye is a unique ‘sociological achievement’” which “produces extraordinary moments of intimacy. ” Uninterrupted interactions between the eyes carry “the history of their life and …the times dowry of nature. ” These characteristics allows “the eye to [objectify] and [master]” more than the other senses. One could choose to close his eyes when the objects do not reach the expectation.

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Thus, vision possesses a seemingly superior ability to judge objects from specified angels. Another nature of the eye is that it can act as a delicate measuring tool that collects a vast amount of information. As Urry shows, the eye “sets a distance, and maintains a distance. ” Consequently, this capacity to carry and discharge information “enables the world to be controlled at a distance, combining detachment and mastery” and communication between individuals “produces the ‘most complete reciprocity’ of person to person, face to face. In addition, Technology adds a new dimension to the existing complexity of visual dominance in the spatiality of sense. The implementation of modern technologies further enlarges the prioritizing of vision. Urry writes that “vision was given an especially powerful role in the modern era. ” Cell phones, emails, and video chatting messengers, like Skype connect people wirelessly. Touch and smell no longer factor into the interactions such that it is no longer necessary for the physical presence of a person for communication.

People seek increasingly greater standards for technologies that appeal to the visual sense. Modern innovations, for example, have advanced television from black-and-white to color to LED display to plasmid and recently to HDTV for ever improved visual experience. In contrast, there have been few advances in the auditory capabilities of modern inventions. The radio remains mostly unchanged through the past half century. The contrast between technological advances caters again to an assumed superiority of vision over the other sense. However, visuality has its limitations.

We have abused the bestowed privilege while the human activities in modern society favor the development of visual sense. “According to Urry, “the city both is fascinated with, and hugely denigrates, the visual. ” The moment the look dominates, the boy loses its materiality. ” The mind becomes biased and receives false information about the truth as our eyes are more involved in working and recreational activities. For example, when shopping for luxury commodity, without “touching,” people sometimes believe in their visual judgment of the authenticity of the product.

Besides, the eye turns vulnerable due to excessive usage. More and more people are optically corrected with glasses and contacts. Hand-free products grow multiplicatively popular thanks to its ability to dilution the burden of visual sense. Meanwhile, other senses are essential in that their importance is exemplified by the vast number of common expressions in daily speech. “Each sense gives rise to metaphors which attest to the relative importance of each within everyday life. People use expressions like “sounds good to me” and “it rings a bell,” attesting to the importance of the auditory realm. The auditory sense plays an important role in our learning process. From infancy, we are exposed mostly to sound while we are still “blind” about what is happening in the world. Then, we start to learn to talk by listening to our parents and are able to identify objects by connecting things we see with their auditory equivalents. In school, lecturing is an indispensible portion of learning.

Most students prefer learning from their instructors over reading the books and trying to understand the material. Furthermore, there are activities involving other senses that are insubstitutional by visuality. Music is a discipline in which visual sense is ineffective. Determining a keynote of melody, for some people, is an even more proficient mastery than visuality. Indeed, each division of the sensed system attempts to adapt to the evolving spatiality as the open societies become gradually civilized.

Urry suggests that no matter which coordinates we use, “a threshold of effect of a particular sense which has to be met before another sense is operative. ” This is not quite true. Multiple senses are certainly capable of coexisting in a parallel manner, and they should cooperate under a hierarchy between different senses. The concept “sensuous geography,” which connects together analyses of body, sense, and space,” should be introduced when examining the issue. The significance of the open societies is to encourage communication and mixture between senses and to achieve spatial complementarities.

For instance, “sight is not seen as the noblest of the senses but as the most superficial, as getting in the way of real experiences that should involve other sense and necessitate much longer periods of time in order to be immerses in the site. ” People have come up with approaches such that we can integrate the senses together to be truly reciprocal not within itself, but rather among the divisions to illustrate a decent understanding of city life that is composed. When someone visits a landscape, he or she can carry an electronic mobile auditory guide with them which plays an audio introduction of the spot.

The device not only facilitates and enhances visual experience, but also alters the perception of the surrounding space for the tourist because “each sense contributes to people’s orientation in space. ” Failure to do so may lead them to be insensitive and incapacitated. It is inevitable that the senses system has developed unequally as the open societies refine. Although visuality plays an essential role in city life, we ought not to overlook the rest of senses, such as previously discussed auditory sense. On the other hand, it is imperative to have a hierarchy for the five senses to operate cooperatively.

Nevertheless, senses system may still remain stagnant in suburban cities, or closed societies, where people are not congested by technologies and crowds. Despite of their disparate spatiality and sensed environment, we shall consider the alternative account of sensing nature to assist our understanding of city life in open societies.

Bibliography "City Life and the Senses. " Urry, John. A compaion to the city. Blackwell Publishing, 200. 388-397. Wikipeadia. 27 9 2008 <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Auditory_learning>.

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Disjunction of Senses in Modern City Life. (2018, Oct 13). Retrieved from

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