Disjunction of Senses in Modern City Life

Topics: Sense, Sensory system, Perception Pages: 4 (1207 words) Published: December 5, 2010
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. 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,...
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