Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cristina's Currently Reading...

An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales by Oliver Sacks

First off, I realize this is an older book (published in 1996) but I've only recently been introduced to the works of Oliver Sacks, A Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center. He's written Awakenings (yes, the movie was based off this book), The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and most recently Musicophilia (which is currently on the NYTimes bestseller list).

I've only read the first chapter and it's already drawn me in. It's in the same vein as Man Who Mistook His Wife in the way it's a series of neurological case studies he's encountered. The first chapter is about a relatively well known abstract painter who is in a car accident - and afterwards he has lost the ability to see color. It's like he's watching a black and white TV set all the time. Even if he tries to remember what things look like (or even his dreams), in his mind they are all in black and white. Since his whole life has been about color usage in his paintings, he is devastated by this loss. He stops eating foods of color, and opts to eat rice, coffee or other black and white foods. He attempts to keep painting but has to completely adapt to a new way of approaching his art.

If you are interested in bizarre neurological case studies, this book is definitely the way to go. The writing is not dense, and easy to read. The foot notes are equally interesting - did you know Anton's Syndrome is a form of brain damage that causes blindness, but the person fails to recognize or admit that they are in fact blind?

Read it.

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