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Ribbon of DarknessInferencing from the Shadowy Arts and Sciences$
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Barbara Maria Stafford

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226630489

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226630656.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

The Jewel Game

The Jewel Game

Gems, Fascination, and the Neuroscience of Visual Attention

(p.167) 12 The Jewel Game
Ribbon of Darkness

Barbara Maria Stafford

University of Chicago Press

Historically, ornamental gems have not only decoratively diverted humans from the more serious tasks at hand, they served as riveting artifacts calculated to aid mental concentration. Extravagantly shaped and variegated minerals thus also provided a training ground for the development of high-level human selective attention. Using Rudyard Kipling's memory-challenging "Jewel Game"--a key episode in the British author's Great Trunk Road novel, Kim [1902]--as a springboard, this essay reflects on contemporary neuroscience’s potential to illuminate the distracting, as well as the coherencing, power of shiny colored objects. Talismans, amulets, crystals, charms “fascinate” that is, they possess illusionizing optical properties to focus the eye and hypnotize the mind without words.

Keywords:   Amulets, Crystals, Fascination, Gems, Jewel-Game, Memory-Training, Optical Illusions, Rudyard Kipling, Selective Attention, Talismans

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