I just wrote a blog post
about my school memories and how deafness affected my school experience, and one paragraph seemed particularly relevant to this book, so I'll repost it here:My favorite part of these school trips was the ride [to the audiologist]. The car we rode in was large, at least to my mind, and the back seat faced backwards. Even as a kid I enjoyed other perspectives; I would hang upside down off the jungle gym to see what everything looked like upside down, and purposefully choose other seats on the opposite side of my classroom every once in awhile to see what small things were different over there. So, riding backwards in a car going forwards was absolutely fascinating to me.
I soak up visual stuff, I really do. A lot of deaf people tend to do that, particularly if they were deafened prelingually (I fall right on the cusp; I likely had mild hearing loss as I learned to comprehend speech, but not the profound loss I have now). I love photography and the way computer editing can transform a photo from what the subject looks like in real life. I love different perspectives, as I mentioned above. I absolutely cannot stand when I can only hear something and not look at it, and television programs or college lectures that simply feature one person sitting there talking easily put me to sleep.
This book made me panicky. Seriously. Oliver Sacks has a chapter in here about how he grappled with the possibility of total blindness, and has to deal with monoscopic vision. The last chapter is about how blind people create a world of sight within them, drawing on previous experiences and what they can touch. The rest of the book follows the same theme of how the brain interprets what we see and how it can fail. Oh, man, I did not want to be thinking about the possibility of not being able to see. No hearing? No big deal. Whatevs. No sight? Panic attack.
Since the book evoked a strong reaction in me, I liked it; I don't care what the reaction was. At times it could get a bit dry. One paragraph would be easily readable and relatable and the next would be filled with scientific terminology and buzzwords. I appreciate that Sacks has a large collection of correspondence people have sent to him, telling them their own experiences with various neurological occurences. At times, though, I think the people who write to him are prone to exaggerate, to try to sound interesting. I hope he doesn't take everything at face value, but it doesn't seem like he does.
I didn't realize that Sacks was as old as he is. He's in his seventies, at the time of this writing. I do hope he is able to share many more of his experiences.