Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sacks, Oliver (2011): The Mind's Eye

What is it about?

The book, like Sacks' books in general, is about neurological deficiencies or abnormalities - often described with patient case histories - and how those effect how people with them experience the world.

As a particular feature of this book, it also includes Sacks' own case history which documents his own gradual loss of vision in one eye.

Was it good?

Well, the book is as good as Sacks' books generally are. The case histories and Sacks' commentaries about them certainly are fascinating, but there somehow is a lingering feeling that when one has read one or two of his books, reading more by and large adds more case descriptions and commentaries. Thus, the books is enjoyable, but does not really provide strikingly new insights or points of view if one is already accustomed to Sacks' way of looking at the world.

The main take-away for me?

As with other Sacks' books, the main take-away for me is that one can experience and perceive the world in very different ways especially if one lacks one of the senses, such as vision. Indeed, Sacks describes some blind people who have developed a sensitive 'facial sense' (sensing very slight alterations in air currents) and/or auditory sense resembling echo location (e.g. making clicks with the mouth and then hearing how the clicks reflect back from physical objects) such that they can navigate in their physical surroundings without a cane or other such aids.

Thus, not only can different people sense and experience the world in very different ways, but also it seems that an average person utilizes only a small fraction of the sensory potentialities that 'in principle' are available.

Who should read the book?

I think that the book is of quite general interest, and it is difficult to think a particular segment or demographic that would especially enjoy or dislike it. Well, perhaps if one is undergoing a sensory deterioration or has recently lost a sense, the book most probably would be of particular interest and a source of encouragement.

The book on The mind's eye

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