A Question of Taste

First appeared in Guerilla Magazine In 1913 Igor Stravinsky’s composition The Rite of Spring got the same kind of reception I suspect Mats Sundin might get today at an Ottawa Senators’ weenie roast. There were riots. Science journalist Johan Lehrer blames the debacle on brain chemicals, stating in Proust Was A Neuroscientist that our brains are specifically designed to sort unfamiliar sounds into patterns. When they succeed we’re rewarded with a pleasing shot of dopamine. When they don’t, when noise doesn’t yield pattern, the dopamine shots keep coming, rendering us disoriented and ornery. But neurons do learn, and after repeated exposure order does prevail. The unfamiliar submits and “noise” again… Read More

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