The Mind’s Eye

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As perhaps befits a book about visual impairment, I listened to Oliver Sachs’ The Mind’s Eye on MP3 rather than actually reading it. The whole audiobook experience is kind of interesting—the material just kind of flows past at a fixed speed rather than speeding up or slowing down according to what I’m paying attention to. Old fashioned reading definitely has a lot of advantages, but you can listen to MP3s while walking to work.

The book is from the medical journals of Oliver Sachs, writer/neurologist extraordinaire and all the stories are pretty gripping. It’s not at all a book about public policy, but thinking about some of the patients does put certain things in a different light. One woman lost the ability to read, and then over time the optical centers of her brain are continually—and mysteriously—degenerating in a seemingly uncurable way. It seems like a terrifying, miserable experience to me. But she still had a nice middle class life and income in New York. The whole thing struck me as an excellent case study in the idea that in modern day rich countries you start to get a lot of disjoint between happiness and well-being and money and income.