19. Oliver Sacks

July 15, 2013

For years I’ve been an avid admirer of Oliver Sacks: a brilliant and original mind, a great communicator and presenter and (I feel) human being. Thank you for being, Oliver.

By chance, I came to live for many years in the same building as he did. It was by chance again I discovered this, when he got into the elevator one day. After which I saw him a number of times before the penny finally dropped as to who he was—because he is indeed agonizingly shy (his own words)—one senses it; baseball cap down, facing away. That plus my English reticence to speak up meant that the only words ever between us were, Would you sign a copy of your book for me? Yes, of course. And I never took the book to be signed (don’t ask me to explain).

I learned from his NYTimes Opinion recently—a friend cut it out for me, this is not an ad—that Mr. Sacks is soon to be 80, the atomic number of Mercury. The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.) is an uplifting piece full of gratitude for life. I’ve only one objection. I’m okay with his having no desire for a post-mortem life, but a figure of such influence might think twice before telling us he has no belief in it. That is unscientific, Ollie. Stick with I don’t know.  Same goes for you, Richard Dawkins!  Make it very clear you just don’t know, okay?   Okay, okay! You probably have made that clear. I just read stuff and forget, okay?

Creeping up to eighty meself, aren’t I.

2 Responses to “19. Oliver Sacks”

  1. Andy Says:

    Hello, Harry! I love the “watch your ass” drawing and Sacks entry. “I don’t know” is an underused sentence, isn’t it? Have you heard Eleanor Roosevelt line “You know, I don’t think it would be any more unusual for me to show up in another life, than showing up in this one.”

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