Jonah Lehrer, in this piece in Seed, talks to Oliver Sacks, and tells about the not-so-well-known aspects of Sacks’ life, which made him the empathetic writer and neurologist that he is. Of course, it also tells how Sacks came to write Musicophilia and what it means to him, personally:
Musicophilia is not just a collection of neurological case studies. There is an unexpected thread running through the book. That thread is Sacks’s life. Even as he explores the neurology of music, Sacks returns, again and again, to stories from his own past, almost as if he’s rediscovering them. There are the famous patients from Awakenings, who were unfrozen by the sound of music. There are the musical hallucinations of his mother, who, at the age of 70, was temporarily seized by patriotic songs from her childhood. And there’s the tale of Sacks’s own musical healing so that at times it feels like a memoir told through the prism of music. In Musicophilia, Sacks is both a sensitive observer and a subject. As usual, his own story is inseparable from the stories of his patients.
“I had no intention of writing a book devoted to music,” Sacks says. “I’m not a musician or an expert on music…but this book found me. I began to revisit all of these older stories and present them in an explicitly musical light. That’s the way writing is sometimes. One doesn’t know what story one is telling until the story is told.”
Take a look!