Excerpt from “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks:
I had stopped at a florist on my way to his apartment and bought myself an extravagant red rose for my buttonhole. Now I removed this and handed it to him. He took it like a botanist or morphologist given a specimen, not like a person given a flower.
“About six inches in length,” he commented. “A convoluted red form with a linear green attachment.” “Yes,” I said encouragingly, “and what do you think it is, Dr P.?”
“Not easy to say.” He seemed perplexed. “It lacks the simple symmetry of the Platonic solids, although it may have a higher symmetry of its own. …I think this could be an inflorescence or flower.”
“Could be?” I queried
“Could be,” he confirmed.
“Smell it,” I suggested, and he again looked somewhat puzzled, as if I had asked him to smell a higher symmetry. But he complied courteously, and took it to his nose. Now, suddenly, he came to life. “Beautiful!” he exclaimed. “An early rose. What a heavenly smell!” He started to hum “Die Rose, die Lilie …”
Reality, it seemed, might be conveyed by smell, not by sight.