Oliver Sacks

  • bismahas quoted2 years ago
    The testing I had done so far told me nothing about Dr P.’s inner world. Was it possible that his visual memory and imagination were still intact? I asked him to imagine entering one of our local squares from the north side, to walk through it, in imagination or in memory, and tell me the buildings he might pass as he walked. He listed the buildings on his right side, but none of those on his left. I then asked him to imagine entering the square from the south. Again he mentioned only those buildings that were on the right side, although these were the very buildings he had omitted before. Those he had ‘seen’ internally before were not mentioned now; presumably, they were no longer ‘seen’. It was evident that his difficulties with leftness, his visual field deficits, were as much internal as external, bisecting his visual memory and imagination.
  • bismahas quoted2 years ago
    science became poetry, and the pathos of radical lostness was evoked.
  • bismahas quoted2 years ago
    Perhaps I could find advice or help in the medical literature— a literature which, for some reason, was largely Russian, from Korsakov’s original thesis (Moscow, 1887) about such cases of memory loss, which are still called ‘Korsakov’s syndrome’, to Luria’s Neuropsychology of Memory (which appeared in translation only a year after I first saw Jimmie). Korsakov wrote in 1887:

    Memory of recent events is disturbed almost exclusively; recent impressions apparently disappear soonest, whereas impressions of long ago are recalled properly, so that the patient’s ingenuity, his sharpness of wit, and his resourcefulness remain largely unaffected.

    To Korsakov’s brilliant but spare observations, almost a century of further research has been added—the richest and deepest, by far, being Luria’s. And in Luria’s account science became poetry, and the pathos of radical lostness was evoked. ‘Gross disturbances of the organization of impressions of events and their sequence in time can always be observed in such patients,’ he wrote. ‘In consequence, they lose their integral experience of time and begin to live in a world of isolated impressions.’ Further, as Luria noted, the eradication of impressions (and their disorder) might spread backward in time—‘in the most serious cases—even to relatively distant events.’
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