Michelle's Reviews > An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks
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's review
Nov 17, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: favorite, must-buy, non-fiction

Oh, how I love Oliver Sacks. He is such a great writer. He writes with such compassion, such honesty... Each chapter in this book is great, and Oliver Sacks writes the BEST footnotes.

Interesting parts this book:
Anton's syndrome is a syndrome where people are totally blind, "but make no complaint or report of their blindness. They do not know they are blind; the whole structure of consciousness is completely reorganized--instantly so-- at the moment they are stricken" (pg 13, in a footnote)

"Rodolfo Llinas and his colleagues..., comparing the electrophysiological properties of the brain in waking and dreaming, postulate a single fundamental mechanism for both-- a ceaseless inner talking between cerebral cortex and thalamus, a ceaseless interplay of image and feeling, irrespective of whether there is sensory input or not. When there is sensory input, this interplay integrates it to generate waking consciousness, but in the absence of sensory input it continues to generate brain states, those brain states we call fantasy, hallucination, or dreams. Thus waking consciousness is dreaming-- but dreaming constrained by external reality" (pg 57, in a footnote)

"Dr. J. Langdon Down told me of a boy at Normansfield whose sense of touch was so delicate and his fingers so deft that he could take a sheet of the Graphic and gradually split it into two perfect sheets, as one would peel a postage stamp off an envelope" (pg 193, in a footnote)

"Christopher Gillberg writes of a fifteen-year-old autistic boy whose mother had died of cancer. Asked how he was doing, the boy replied, 'Oh, I am all right. You see I have Asperger syndrome which makes me less vulnerable to the loss of loved ones than are most people.'" (pg. 207)

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