From Austin Kleon’s Newsletter


A tingle in the scalp

Monday, October 4, 2021

How do we know when we have something?

* * *

Of his recording work on Thriller, Quincy Jones says, “We simply did what gave us the goosebumps.”

* * *

Goosebumps are the result of tiny muscles flexing in the skin, making hair follicles rise up a bit. This causes hairs to stand up. Goosebumps are an involuntary reaction: nerves from the sympathetic nervous system — the nerves that control the fight or flight response — control these skin muscles.”

* * *

Frisson (French for ‘shiver’), also known as aesthetic chills or musical chills is a psychophysiological response to rewarding auditory and/or visual stimuli that often induces a pleasurable or otherwise positively-valenced affective state and transient paresthesia (skin tingling or chills), sometimes along with piloerection (goose bumps) and mydriasis (pupil dilation).”

* * *

“All we have to do when reading Bleak House is to relax and let our spines take over. Although we read with our minds, the seat of artistic delight is between the shoulder bladesThat little shiver behind is quite certainly the highest form of emotion that humanity has attained when evolving pure art and purt science. Let us worship the spine and its tingle.”
—Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature

* * *

“The tipoff for me is somatic. Whenever a project comes to me, one that is right, that is genuine, I feel a kind of ‘shiver’ in my body, and that tells me that it corresponds to something very deep in me, and that I need to pursue it. That has been my guide with literally every book I wrote. Trusting this kind of visceral reaction means that you are willing to let life ‘come and get you.’ It means who you are is defined from the inside, not the outside. In terms of what’s really important, we don’t have much choice, and that’s as it should be. The decision is made by a larger energy or unconscious process, and when it’s right, you know it… Goethe wrote: ‘Man errs as long as he strives.’ Sit still, meditate, just let the answer arise from the body. (It may take a while.)”
Morris Berman

* * *

“‘Oh, yes, father,’ he said. ‘I’d like to earn a living, I really would. I’d love to learn how to get the shivers. That’s something I don’t understand at all.’ […]

The father could only sigh. ‘Well, it won’t do you any harm to find out about the shivers,’ he said, ‘but you won’t get a living by shivering.’”
—Philip Pullman, “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About The Shivers,” Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

* * *

“When I make a connection between two disparate subjects, I can almost feel my scalp tingle. I imagine the dendrites in my brain reaching out to make new connections to old knowledge. To me, setting my scalp atingle is one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing…”
—Leonard Shlain, Art & Physics

* * *

I’m waiting for that tingle in the scalp.

Filed Under: MiscellanyTagged: anatomygoosebumpsMorris bermannervesnervous systemphilip pullmanQuincy jonesvladimir nabokov

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