Oliver Sacks (on awakening to the end)

Oliver Sacks is the neurologist and professor who was brought to cinematic life by Robin Williams in Awakenings, helping and observing as Bob DeNiro’s coma patient emerges from the darkness. (Side note which I vaguely promise will not turn into an intolerably long digression, but the length of whose prefatory remarks must even now be giving pause to sensitive and perceptive readers such as you: I notice suddenly the number of films in which Williams is the psychiatrist/healer. Not just Awakenings, but his gruff and brilliant therapist to Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, and his turn as Patch Adams, the unconventional MD who used humour and nonsense to heal and console his patients. All of which did Williams no good at all in calming his own demons, or so it would seem. Terminate digression.)

Sack’s books on psychological oddities and wonders — Awakenings was his second book, I think, followed by such titles as The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Musicophilia, An Anthropologist on Mars — made him famous and beloved, though not always embraced by medical rivals. Now that he’s dying, as he announced recently, I want to read more than I have. Typical.

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