Friday, November 9, 2007

music on the brain

I think the next nonfiction book I want to read is Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks. I've had Sacks recommended to me by several people, I think Shan especially mentioned The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat (a title that I thought sounded like something from Chesterton). Sacks is a neurologist and this new book is how our brains interact with music. The Guardian has an excerpt up on their website which managed to make me go a bit teary-eyed. He describes the experiences of a man who suffered severe brain damage from a form of encephalitis. His memory, for most things, just isn't there, lasting less than a minute in the present and compounded by retrograde amnesia. But he retains the musical ability that he had before his illness when he was a musicologist. And he is madly in love with his wife.

It sounds impossibly redemptive, right? If it were a movie, I'm sure that the music would be like some magical key that would unlock his way to his own history; and I know that it's nothing like that in real life. A story wouldn't be satisfied with such incomplete healing. It's devastating to have no sense of your own past beyond a second, but the idea that some of his emotional memory survived is comforting in a way.

P.T. again tomorrow. I'm sure they're going to scold me for letting my knee collapse during barre... oh well. I won't be repeating the experience if I can help it. Completely mortifying. No more barre for me. I'm going to limit myself to non-standing-up exercise for the near future-- that sounds a bit pitiful, doesn't it? Hey there's still cycling. And lifting weights. Alex is on my case to work out my arms anyway.

Off to watch some Doctor Who. I think "Blink" might be the most frightening episode yet. It's the sort of scary that makes you just a bit nervous to turn out the lights.

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