Friday, 21 January 2011

Freaked out on Mars

One of the books I seem to tell people about fairly often is 'An Anthropologist on Mars'.
It's written by Oliver Sacks who also wrote 'The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat' and is the guy who Robin Williams played in 'Awakenings'. It's 16 years old now and it must be at least 10 since I first read it but several of the stories really got stuck in my brain and there's one in particular I keep going back to. To put it into context, the book is a series of case studies looking at people who have some sort of brain abnormality, either something caused by an accident or illness or something they were born with. There's a daredevil surgeon with asperger's syndrome, a buddha like religious convert with a grapefruit style brain tumour and then there is a woman, an expert in her field, who has autism.
The field this woman is an expert in is the human slaughtering of animals for human consumption. She lectures about it all over the world, consults widely, is credited with patents and so on, but she is not comfortable with people and is seemingly incapable of forming relationships. One of the things she has invented is a device that holds a pig securely but without cruelty so that it can be killed accurately and quickly without unnecessary suffering. Although she doesn't feel comfortable getting close to people, she recognises the psychological benefits of things like hugs, so she builds one of these machines for herself, and sometimes she wriggles into it and it gently compresses around her and hugs her.


I'm flat hunting. It's depressing. Pooch has got a place in a house on stilts surrounded by water in which ducks and swans swim. We used to walk there on sundays sometimes and say how cool it would be to live there. I am pleased he has somewhere nice sorted out but also fairly gutted. All I really want to do at the moment is sit in bed drinking champagne and having the occasional cry. I guess that makes me Elizabeth Taylor circa 1970. But you guys can call me Liz.

Elizabeth Taylor
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