During the introduction to Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye, the world-renowned doctor and author apologizes for not being able to narrate more of his book, as he’s still dealing with a tumor in his eye. Instead, Richard Davidson takes on Sacks’ carefully chosen words and does a great job.
Like Sacks, Davidson has a soothing, lilting voice that makes you feel he’s sharing a secret with you alone. His subtle bedside manner-like tone works perfectly since Sacks’ real-life patients share stories here that touch upon what must surely be some of their most private fears. A concert pianist loses her ability to read music. A novelist loses his ability to read, but not his ability to write. Sacks also shares his own lifelong struggle with “face blindness”, the inability to recognize familiar faces. (Jane Goodall suffers from the same condition.) In each case, Sacks and Davidson bring a genuine warmth to The Mind’s Eye, which may bring you to tears from time to time.
But The Mind’s Eye does not set out to manipulate emotions in order to provoke a reaction. Instead, Sacks brings his usual scientific rigor to the book, an approach he has successfully taken for several decades. Sacks really wants to understand why these people suffer from these rare illnesses. That’s why he carefully monitors each patient and records his precise observations. That’s why he makes house calls at the concert pianist’s apartment. Sacks wants to learn exactly how she functions in the real world on a day-to-day basis. It’s this attention to detail that makes Sacks a great doctor, a great writer, and a truly amazing human being. It’s also why The Mind’s Eye will keep you eagerly listening from one chapter to the next. Ken Ross
From the author of the best-selling Musicophilia (hailed as "luminous, original, and indispensable" by The American Scholar), an exploration of vision through the case histories of six individuals - including a renowned pianist who continues to give concerts despite losing the ability to read the score, and a neurobiologist born with crossed eyes who, late in life, suddenly acquires binocular vision, and how her brain adapts to that new skill. Most dramatically, Sacks gives us a riveting account of the appearance of a tumor in his own eye, the strange visual symptoms he observed, an experience that left him unable to perceive depth.
In The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sacks explores some of the most fundamental facets of human experience: how we see in three dimensions, how we represent the world internally when our eyes are closed, and the remarkable, unpredictable ways that our brains find new ways of perceiving that create worlds as complete and rich as the no-longer-visible world.
©2010 Oliver Sacks (P)2010 Random House Audio
First, I must admit that I am a fan of Oliver Sacks and have read all of his books. My favorite remains "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," but this book is unique among his offerings. In this book he has a number of chapters about blindness and its meaning for individuals. He then takes a chapter to describe his own fall into blindness. As always, Sacks combines a knowledge of the literature in neurobiology, psychology and psychiatry to shed light on his personal experience. This book lacks, perhaps, the charm of his earlier books, but it is informative in a much deeper way. It might be helpful to have some background in neurobiology, but it isn't necessary to gain great benefit. The final chapter deals with what he has learned about perception in this context and to what degree to we configure our own reality and world. Very informative. The reading of Sacks and Richard Davidson is very good.
Oliver Sacks is and has been one of my favorite non-fiction writers. This collection of case studies is very similar in format to "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat", and as such, chronicles many of the possible screw-ups, major and minor, that our beloved brains can devise.
I am neutral on the narration, which was quite good and straightforward, but I think audible should list the other narrator and not bill the book as being thoroughly narrated by Sacks.
I am only giving this book a 4 out of 5 because there did not seem to be enough exploration into the reasons why, or how, some of these cerebral malfunctions develop. For example, on the topic of face blindness, the Heather Sellers memoir "You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know" suggests the possible causes as early life head trauma, or genetic relationship to schizophrenia. On the other hand, Sacks merely mentions one possible developmental detour of the fetal brain. He does not discuss with any thoroughness the circumstances, environmental or genetic, that could lead to these dysfunctions.
Anyway, It's a good listen, and a great fit for anyone who is interested in brain science, brain malfunction and its consequences.
If you're a fan of Anthropologist on Mars, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for Hat, etc., then you'll enjoy this one too. It's not better but it's as good as his previous tales.
*O.Sacks only narrates preface and Ch. 6. The other narrator (the voice of whom many will recognize; he was narrator for the 90s computer game, King's Quest: Land of the Green Isles,lol) starts to get VERY annoying because he can't find the rhythm and flow of the text. He keeps throwing emphases on the wrong words and phrases; he's obviously trying too hard with the "storyteller" voice. That's only reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5.
I found the book, as most writings by Sacks, to be uplifting, profoundly humane, and deeply revealing of the utter strangeness of the human mind. Whenever I read Sacks I am always shocked at how little we know about how our minds work. How amazing the human brain is, even in cases of dysfunction. The stories of how people transcend, and thrive, with the various impairments of the visual system, show the resilience and tenacity of the human species and its ability to adapt.
Fascinating stories about vision, its fragility and its capacity. The words are colorfully descriptive as Sacks tries to convey the disposition of the people and the visual anomalies they are experiencing (including a large chapter about Sacks' own loss of vision), and I only wish that I could somehow go beyond and sample the experience of their vision myself. In some cases I can come pretty close (could find a stereoscope, for example), but for some reason this book left me feeling wanting for more depth.
I've found Sacks' other books have more fascinating characters, perhaps in part because the description of those patients' unique traits comes easier when they can be seen in action (mistaking your wife for a hat, e.g.). Not that The Mind's Eye didn't have its own cast of fascinating characters, particularly Oliver Sacks describing his own progressive loss of vision in one eye, probably one of the best chapters in this book because the doctor can observe the symptoms for himself. My other favorite parts revolved around internal representations in the brain and how they correspond to real-world activities like language use and recognizing collections as an object (e.g. your face).
If the complexities of vision perplex you like they do me, I highly recommend this book and Sacks' The Island of the Colorblind.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
If you enjoyed Anthropologist on Mars, The Mind's Eye is the book for you. It's format is ostensibly the same: 7 hour long essays on people with neurological problems--in this book, neurological problems that affect the perception of visual stimulation from the outside world. Fascinating stuff with a lot of science, not dumbed down, but still presented in such a way that most laymen would have no difficulty understanding, especially those who have read Sacks before.
Non fiction- science, history,biography,80% classics 10% other fiction 5% misfits 5%
Oliver Sack's books are a revelation. They reach us in a new way. They reach a depth that books of similar ilk don't even approach. I find myself haunted after reading this book, just like all his other books. Its as if my subconscious is still pondering the insights and humanism of what I've read weeks after finishing one of his books. I find his description of his own battle with eye problems in this book so effecting, and his perspectives on sight will forever change how you perceive vision and blindness.
the unfortunate downside of all his books. is the sometimes overwhelming level of verbosity and medical / scientific jargon. Its all SO worth it in the end though,at least for me. His work will not only forever hold a place in my head- but also in my heart.
I cant write this review without commenting on the amazing job the narrator does with all of sack's books!! the fit of author and narrator are PERFECT! I must see what other work this great narrator has done.
If you enjoyed this, read - a leg to stand on- also available here. It is amazing!
The chapter describing his own loss is the most compelling. Other parts are flatter than his other books, simply not as vivid or compelling. Worth it if only for the good chapter
Maybe he's running out of material but this one didn't hold my interest as much as "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat"
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