Response Post 2: Smell ya later, bye, bye bad smells.

While I would not really want to lose any of my major 5 senses: Touch, Taste, Smell, Sight and Sound. I would give up the sense of hearing ahead of sight if limited to a choice between being deaf or being blind–I would choose to be deaf.

Our world is so visual and to watch a movie or a TV show, and unless they have descriptive audio to not have a clue what is going on screen must be frustrating. To not be able to read a magazine or a newspaper, or read anything that is not written in Braille or available as an audio-book has to be so limiting.

As Oliver Sacks says “we have spent a lifetime learning to see” and so it must be for people born blind, they have spent their whole lives learning to live without sight using their senses of touch and hearing in ways that most sighted people don’t.

But we also depend so much on our sense of hearing–to be able to hear smoke alarms for example. Even at York University, while the smoke alarms blare real loudly, I do not think that the alarms have any visual cues to alert deaf students that their is a fire—so they would have to rely on their sense of smell to detect smoke, or on other hearing students informing them to vacate the building. I do think that some buildings are starting to upgrade to use combined auditory and visual alarms—but I am pretty sure that as in most things, York is behind the curve in this area. I know I have seen a Hearing Assistant help out at any lectures in York–but  then again, I am also not attending 1000 student strong Psychology lectures either, and I have to believe that there are at least a few deaf/hard of hearing students at York.

Again though, as a music lover–while I might be able to feel the vibrations of the music, this would not be the same as hearing it–or hearing a lecture, or having to throw subtitles on everything.

So truly would I want to live without hearing? No, probably not, especially since “one does not sense in isolation–perception is always linked to behavior and movement, to reaching out and exploring the world.” And Virgil, in the Sacks article, found walking “scary” and “confusing” without using his sense of touch to augment what he was seeing.

If I had to pick ONE sense out of the 5 main senses to live without, I would probably go with SMELL/OLFACTORY (Ironic as this is my end-of-term project sense I have to investigate for my sense-scape) but there are just some things that smell SO NASTY, that it must be pretty good not to be able to smell how hideous a Ryerson University washroom can get (Honestly why are the bathrooms at Rye-High always so disgusting?!) and while I enjoy the smell of French Vanilla Perfume (Ladies take note) I would be willing to give up the sense of smell, even if involved never smelling the awesomeness that is sizzling Bacon–even though lacking a sense of smell would probably affect my Gustatory sense, and steaks wrapped in bacon might not taste as awesome as they normally would without being able to smell them.

Sight and hearing are the two primary senses, and I would not be able to live in a world where I could not experience the touch of a beautiful woman, and not being able to taste food would be horrible, so smell to me is least important of the 5 senses and one I could, if forced by some tragic event, to live without.


About mriceanthropologist

Michael Rice is an Anthropology student at York University. He is a heavy metal fan who enjoys rocking out to Black Sabbath, Slayer, Slipknot, and Iron Maiden.

Posted on November 27, 2012, in Senses Course. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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