My Intellectual Parents, #1

I learned today that neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks has terminal cancer.

Dr. Sacks has written a number of popular science books, most famously The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and Awakenings. His prose style is lyrical and poignant and incisive (though at times weirdly humorless). His books introduced me to the wild difference between reality and what the brain perceives. His books showed me that some of the bizarre experiences I've had since childhood are symptoms of classical migraine. His work underscored for me the fact that each person is a world unto themselves, a strange little dome that absorbs many things and ignores many more, creates from whole cloth and and reflects itself in memory, a little gem of perception and misperception, of insight and distortion, struggling to communicate a bare fraction of what it experiences, whether real or imagined. Each little world is doomed.

Sacks is one of the people whose work fascinated me, who pointed me to many other science writers, other doctors. I don't know if his written legacy is any comfort to him now. I hope it is. I wouldn't be the same writer I am now without him.