Image source: The Hollywood Reporter
Some of you may have heard of Oliver Sacks, and some of you may have not. He was a British neurologist and author, probably most well-known for his collections of case histories, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars. In these books, he describes the cases he has handled about patients struggling to live with all sorts of neurological conditions, from Tourette’s syndrome to autism, Parkinson’s disease, hallucinations, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and so on. Dealing with these patients must have been a great challenge but also a great experience.
In particular, the case that gave Oliver Sacks’ famous book its name, the man who mistook his wife for a hat was a patient who suffered from a condition called visual agnosia. This caused him to be unable to interpret the things he sees, even if he had perfect eyesight. When given a rose, he was able to identify the colour and shape, but unable to form a conclusion that it was a rose, until he took a sniff of it. Similarly, he had tried to lift his wife’s head off her shoulders because he had thought that she was the hat that he had worn to his appointment.
For people who do not have such conditions, we may not be able to relate to how it feels like, but we can seek to understand through Oliver Sacks’ wonderful works. He had chosen to write engaging and compelling stories of his patients via the books he published, as a method that is more relatable for the audience, rather than medical papers.
Now, you may ask, what has this got to do with fountain pens, and why is this article appearing on this fountain pen blog? Oliver Sacks has something in common with us – he uses fountain pens for his writing. While he said he sometimes types on a typewriter, he in fact prefers writing. He owns a fountain pen for about 30 to 40 years, and it is his favourite tool from the desk. His desk consists of an eclectic mix of various items – watch this interview of him here. Can you identify what pen he has? Also, check out the exotic-looking pen cup!
There was a Kickstarter campaign that was launched to crowdfund a feature documentary on Oliver Sacks. The interviewer has spent 10 years talking to Oliver Sacks, which was not something easily achievable, considering that Dr Sacks was a private person. I’m curious as to how the documentary would play out. If you’d like to support them, here’s the link to the campaign: The Animated Mind of Oliver Sacks.
I am the founder of this website.
Chemist by day, slacker by night, fanatic of stationery all the time.
I write with my left hand, but can also do the same with my right hand – it just won’t look very pretty.