Oliver Sacks on music and amnesia


14 Responses to “Oliver Sacks on music and amnesia”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey, posting anonymously because my sign up has not cleared yet.

    I just wanted to say that if you haven’t already, you should immediately read John Varley’s story “Just Another Perfect Day”, [published in 1989 or 1990] which is the story of a man who can only remember things that have happened to him in the past day. That is to say, he resets when he goes to sleep.
    He, too, has a wife who still loves him, etc. and writes himself a letter each night before he falls asleep, which he then reads in the morning.
    The text of the story is the text of the letter
    I suppose truth is at least as strange as fiction.


  2. Dan Wineman says:

    There’s a lot more on Clive Wearing in the Memory and Forgetting episode of the always amazing Radio Lab.

  3. Sarah says:

    This reminds me that I saw a piece on Mr Wearing last month. As one can imagine, it’s both poignant and wryly humourous – Wearing makes sense of his condition by constantly believing that he has just come out of a long illness, and several times he gives the same speech to the camera crew about how he feels his case has been terribly mishandled by the doctors – that in fact he can’t recall a doctor ever once coming to see him. Then his wife comes back into the room, his face lights up and he rushes into her arms for the hundred millionth time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    WNYC Radio Lab had a piece about Clive Wearing in their show Memory and Forgetting. Thanks to podcasting everyone is able to listen to this great show!


  5. Stefan Jones says:

    Oliver Sacks will give a lecture about this subject in Portland, OR on October 18th:


    Sacks is an interesting speaker. A bit of a introvert uncomfortable with public experiences; he doesn’t do signing or after-talk shoulder rubbing.

  6. alicke says:

    i’ve seen him speak, and afterwards he had a q&a session. not a signing per se, but he does interact with his audience (at least, he did in my case). highly recommended, especially if you’ve read his books.

  7. RevelryByNight says:

    For anyone interested in seeing this in action, I recommend watching the documentary Equinox: Prisoner of Consciousness. Honestly, watching Clive’s boundless joy whenever he sees his wife is one of most touching things I’ve ever seen. Tragic as his affliction is, the fact that he lives his life in 2 minute spurts filled with the passion of music and the love of his wife is stunning.

  8. genevieve says:

    I should imagine he will include Debussy somewhere in that book – I have heard he had progressive brain damage towards the end of his life but could still write music.
    Sacks is a terrific writer for the layperson.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There is a great episode of WNYC’s Radiolab regarding Oliver Sacks’ study of Mr. Wearing. Fascinating stuff.

    It is show #304 and I highly recommend checking it out.

    - Dissuggs4u

  10. Anonymous says:

    The story of the amnesiac is amazing — he and his wife (who tells the story) are featured in an episode of Radio Lab, and it’s really astounding:


  11. Anonymous says:

    There is a fantastic radio piece about this on RadioLabs: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2007/06/08

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dr. Sacks told Deborah and Clive’s story on a recent episode of Radio Lab focussed on Memory and Forgetting. It can be found at http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2007/06/08

  13. Anonymous says:

    One of my favorite anthologies is The Vintage Book of Amnesia (compiled by Jonathan Lethem), which has non-fiction essays (including one by Sacks) and short fiction, all about the subject.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Is the documentary available on video/DVD? The Equinox one?

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