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. 





Getting Started Again

When I started drawing the first issue of Finder in 1995, I had no idea how to begin. I had the same good case of white-page/blank-brain as I often get when blogging-- which I almost never get writing anything else. I say "start drawing" even though my issue was really a "start writing" situation, because I didn't know the difference at the time. I had a little pile of things I wanted to happen, but no way to get them started.

Whenever I'm stuck, I return to books. Usually I'm stuck because there's a piece missing, without which the other pieces don't make sense. I have a mighty mulch-pile of books and art and music in my head, but there's always room for more. Around about that time, FROM HELL was running in TABOO from Tundra Publishing. In it, Moore and Campbell's ghastly killer has his first victim recite "Salutations to Ganesha." This is because, as he says, the Hindu god Ganesha is to be acknowledged at the outset of any endeavor, as he is called "The Lord of Obstacles." He puts 'em down, he picks 'em up. 

So I started Finder with Ganesh, and it worked. Ganesh is, if nothing else, a god with a sense of humor. So, here, I am no more able to come up with anything to write than I can flap my arms and fly to the moon, I return to him. It's Mardi Gras in four days, and I can't imagine that he wouldn't love a holiday like that.

This version of Ganesh looks like a squeak toy... but that's OK for Mardi Gras, I think.   

This version of Ganesh looks like a squeak toy... but that's OK for Mardi Gras, I think.