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An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks

An Anthropologist on Mars (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Oliver Sacks

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2,851392,037 (4.09)1 / 82
Title:An Anthropologist on Mars
Authors:Oliver Sacks
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1995), Edition: 1st Edition, 7th Printing, Paperback
Collections:ADULT NONFICTION, Your library
Tags:case studies, autism, aspergers, brain injury, color blind, blindness, tourettes syndrome, biography

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An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks (1995)


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English (34)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (38)
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
The video-gone-viral featuring "this autistic boy" drawing New York City in amazing detail after a helicopter trip gets a back story and the artist, Stephen Wiltshire, is introduced in the chapter entitled Prodigies. The inclusion of some of Wiltshire's drawings adds immensely to the book, as do the coloured plates in the chapter about the expatriate from an Italian hill town who obsessively painted his home village in great detail, despite not having returned for decades. (He later returned, in the company of Dr. Sacks, to be honoured with a local exhibition in a neighbouring town - his birthplace is now virtually deserted, ironically similar to his unpeopled paintings.) ( )
  muumi | Jun 14, 2016 |
I've known for many years I wanted to read something by Sacks - now I know I want to read everything by him. His focus is on the case histories, well, actually, on the people. Only by getting to know individuals well and comparing their stories to the literature does he bring together theories and share those ideas with us. He doesn't bang us over the head with an agenda. Nice selected bibliography.

A tidbit: [W]aking consciousness is dreaming - but dreaming constrained by external reality."" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Jonathan Davis, Oliver Sacks
  jmail | Mar 21, 2016 |
Borderline 3/4

I did enjoy the book and learned a fair deal from it, about the topics at hand (autism), and things at random... However it could have been half as long! The seven separate pieces didn't really feel like essays to me - they lacked coherent structure. But I do adore Mr Sachs and will read others of his works - hopefully shorter ones. ( )
  jculkin | Feb 1, 2016 |
This was my first experience of Oliver Sacks, and he's a fascinating writer. You can smell the imprint of The New Yorker on him, dipping in and out of direct reportage and contextual situation. But at the same time, he has a very singular gift: getting inside the phenomenology of cognitive peculiarities. He covers several different subjects—a painter struck color-blind, and finds the world an unappetizing grey; a 50 year old man who gains sight, assaulted by colors and light, unable to make sense of it all; a young adult who joins the Hare Krishna, develops a brain tumor, and becomes frozen in time, unaware of anything since the '60s—and in all of them Sacks tells a story of befriending the patient and trying to feel them out.

As a writer and a thinker, Sacks is excellent. The pieces all flow wonderfully, and you never get the sense that he's walking through a formula or trapped in his language. Many of the asides are especially wonderful, with Sacks always pulling in outside research, historical evidence, and even literary references (particularly concerning Borges' "Funes the Memorious"). He tries to give each patient an emotional arc of their own, but many are driven by his sense of discovery as he tests the bounds of each person's abilities.

The only real downside to the book was in the last two chapters: an extended treatment of autistic savants and of Temple Grandin. This is one area where the book seems kind of dated, as our understanding of autism has only grown over the last two decades. And specifically for Grandin, I had seen the Errol Morris documentary on her life that aired as part of the short-lived First Person TV series. It all seemed old hat, and Sacks' style failed to animate it enough to make up for the redundancy. ( )
  gregorybrown | Oct 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, but queerer than we can imagine.
J. B. S. Haldane
Ask not what disease the person has, but rather what person the disease has.
(attributed to) William Osler
To the seven whose stories are related here
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I am writing this with my left hand, although I am strongly right-handed.
Early in March 1986 I received the following letter:
I am a rather successful artist just past 65 years of age.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Sacks' gelijktijdige beheersing van de diverse niveaus van analyse is benijdenswaardig. Zijn boek, dat zowel elegant als nauwgezet is, herstelt ons geloof in de medische wetenschap als een van de menswaardigste bezigheden.
'Neurologische patiënten,' schreef Oliver Sacks eens, 'zijn reizigers naar onvoorstelbare gebieden.' Een antropoloog op Mars . bevat /.even portretten van zulke reizigers
- waaronder een portret van een chirurg die lijdt aan het syndroom van Tourette, behalve op de momenten dat hij opereert, een kunstenaar die na een autoongeluk zijn vermogen verliest om kleuren te zien maar die daardoor een nieuw gevoel voor het werken in zwart-wït ontwikkelt, en een autistische professor die zich 'een antropoloog op Mars voelt' omdat ze de simpelste omgang tussen mensen onderling niet kan volgen, maar die een carrière heeft opgebouwd vanwege haar intuïtieve begrip van het gedrag van dieren. Deze zeven verhalen zijn paradoxaal, omdat een neurologische ziekte een bestaan tot gevolg kan hebben dat door anderen als 'abnormaal' wordt afgedaan, terwijl in dat 'abnormale' bestaan juist door die afwijkende gesteldheid bijzondere ervaringen kunnen optreden. Oliver Sacks heeft zijn reizigers buiten de kliniek, in hun eigen bestaan gevolgd, hij 'ging op huisbezoek aan de grens van de ervaringswereld'. Terwijl hij rnet zijn patiënten meereist, biedt Saeks ons een nieuw perspectief op de wijze waarop onze hersenen onze eigen, individuele wereld scheppen. In zijn heldere en boeiende reconstructies van de mentale processen die wij als vanzelfsprekend beschouwen - zien, herinnering, kleurgevoel - doet Sacks ons opnieuw verbaasd staan over wie we eigenlijk zijn.
Oliver Sacks (Londen, 1933} verwierf in 1984 internationale faarn met Een been om op te staan. Na De man die zijn vrouw voor een hoed hield verschenen bij Meulenhoff Stemmen zien. Een reis naar de wereld van de doven, Ontwaken in verbijsteringen zijn beroemde studie Migraine.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679756973, Paperback)

The works of neurologist Oliver Sacks have a special place in the swarm of mind-brain studies. He has done as much as anyone to make nonspecialists aware of how much diversity gets lumped under the heading of "the human mind."

The stories in An Anthropologist on Mars are medical case reports not unlike the classic tales of Berton Roueché in The Medical Detectives. Sacks's stories are of "differently brained" people, and they have the intrinsic human interest that spurred his book Awakenings to be re-created as a Robin Williams movie.

The title story in Anthropologist is that of autistic Temple Grandin, whose own book Thinking in Pictures gives her version of how she feels--as unlike other humans as a cow or a Martian. The other minds Sacks describes are equally remarkable: a surgeon with Tourette's syndrome, a painter who loses color vision, a blind man given the ambiguous gift of sight, artists with memories that overwhelm "real life," the autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire, and a man with memory damage for whom it is always 1968.

Oliver Sacks is the Carl Sagan or Stephen Jay Gould of his field; his books are true classics of medical writing, of the breadth of human mentality, and of the inner lives of the disabled. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:36 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

The author profiles seven neurological patients, including a surgeon with Tourette's syndrome and an artist whose color sense is destroyed in an accident but finds new creative power in black and white.

(summary from another edition)

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