From the author of the best-selling Musicophilia (hailed as "luminous, original, and indispensable" by The American Scholar), an exploration of vision through the case histories of six individuals - including a renowned pianist who continues to give concerts despite losing the ability to read the score, and a neurobiologist born with crossed eyes who, late in life, suddenly acquires binocular vision, and how her brain adapts to that new skill. Most dramatically, Sacks gives us a riveting account of the appearance of a tumor in his own eye, the strange visual symptoms he observed, an experience that left him unable to perceive depth.
In The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks explores some of the most fundamental facets of human experience: how we see in three dimensions, how we represent the world internally when our eyes are closed, and the remarkable, unpredictable ways that our brains find new ways of perceiving that create worlds as complete and rich as the no-longer-visible world.
During the introduction to Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye, the world-renowned doctor and author apologizes for not being able to narrate more of his book, as he’s still dealing with a tumor in his eye. Instead, Richard Davidson takes on Sacks’ carefully chosen words and does a great job.
Like Sacks, Davidson has a soothing, lilting voice that makes you feel he’s sharing a secret with you alone. His subtle bedside manner-like tone works perfectly since Sacks’ real-life patients share stories here that touch upon what must surely be some of their most private fears. A concert pianist loses her ability to read music. A novelist loses his ability to read, but not his ability to write. Sacks also shares his own lifelong struggle with “face blindness”, the inability to recognize familiar faces. (Jane Goodall suffers from the same condition.) In each case, Sacks and Davidson bring a genuine warmth to The Mind’s Eye, which may bring you to tears from time to time.
But The Mind’s Eye does not set out to manipulate emotions in order to provoke a reaction. Instead, Sacks brings his usual scientific rigor to the book, an approach he has successfully taken for several decades. Sacks really wants to understand why these people suffer from these rare illnesses. That’s why he carefully monitors each patient and records his precise observations. That’s why he makes house calls at the concert pianist’s apartment. Sacks wants to learn exactly how she functions in the real world on a day-to-day basis. It’s this attention to detail that makes Sacks a great doctor, a great writer, and a truly amazing human being. It’s also why The Mind’s Eye will keep you eagerly listening from one chapter to the next. Ken Ross
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Window on Brain Malfunction
- Pamela Harvey