Oliver Sacks

Freed from the Factitious Urgencies of Earlier Days

Oliver Sacks

Excerpt from "The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.)," by Oliver Sacks, The New York Times, July 6, 2013:

My father, who lived to 94, often said that the 80s had been one of the most enjoyable decades of his life. He felt, as I begin to feel, not a shrinking but an enlargement of mental life and perspective. One has had a long experience of life, not only one’s own life, but others’, too. One has seen triumphs and tragedies, booms and busts, revolutions and wars, great achievements and deep ambiguities, too. One has seen grand theories rise, only to be toppled by stubborn facts. One is more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty. At 80, one can take a long view and have a vivid, lived sense of history not possible at an earlier age. I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like, which I could not do when I was 40 or 60. I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together.

I am looking forward to being 80.

Read the entire editorial...


See also: "William Maxwell, the 'Wisest, Kindest' Writer," Fresh Air, Jan. 25, 2008

Back into Personhood

"I think this may be very, very important in helping to animate, organize, and bring a sense of identity back to people who are out of it otherwise. Music would bring them back into it into their own personhood, their own memories, their own autobiographies." ~ Oliver Sacks, author of Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

[Thanks, Alex!]

The Theater of the Mind

Charles Bonnet said he wondered how ‘the theater of the mind’ could be generated by the machinery of the brain. Now, two hundred and fifty years later, I think we’re beginning to glimpse how this is done.”

~ Oliver Sacks, from “What Hallucination Reveals about Our Minds,” TED Talks (February 2009)