From My Readings: Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

sacksNo man is an island, entire of itself. (Donne)

Is being an island, being cut off, necessarily a death? It may be a death, but it is not necessarily so. For through ‘horizontal’ connections with others, with society and culture, are lost, yet there may be vital and intensified ‘vertical’ connections, direct connections with nature, with reality, uninfluenced, unmediated, untouchable, by any others.

This brings us to our final question: is there any ‘place’ in the world for a man who is like an island, who cannot be acculturated, made part of the main? Can ‘the main’ accommodate, make room for, the singular? There are similarities here to the social and cultural reactions to genius. (Of course I do not suggest that all autists have genius, only that they share with genius the problem of singularity). Specifically: what does the future hold for [them]? Is there some ‘place’ for [them] in the world which will emply [their] autonomy, but leave it intact?


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