Posts Tagged ‘Oliver Sacks’

The Macmillan Dictionary is no more. I’ve still got mine, from school, 30-odd years ago; now it will only be eBooked.

(T)he message is clear and unambiguous: the future of the dictionary is digital,” said Stephen Bullon, Macmillan Education’s publisher for dictionaries.

Maybe not just dictionaries.

‘A select committee report shows a worrying decline in the number of people using libraries,’ according to Sameer Rahim in The Daily Telegraph.’To save them, we need to visit them.’

I’ve just moved house and have yet to explore the half-a-dozen in my area. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing just that, searching out interesting books and not forgetting to mark my presence by filling in as many council satisfaction surveys as I can.


I doubt many young, reasonably well-paid professionals (or poorly-paid non-professionals, come to that) use libraries. Apart from anything else, lots of people just don’t read – your choices now go some way beyond a book, three terrestrial channels, or the latest Jam LP. (Have you seen the video games out there these days?) But even those who do don’t go to libraries because they don’t like them, and books are very cheap to buy.

I always think libraries are a weird mixture of quiet and noisy, and they look and smell like every single local authority building I’ve ever been inside. Shelves full of Iron Maiden and Madonna compilation CDs in cracked, opaque cases, posters about STDs and local walks and telling you not to be rude to the staff, really old-fashioned PCs, and a few books. The ones you want are rarely there, even though the charges if you return a book late are mad. They have horrible carpets, uncomfortable chairs, and you can’t get a cup of tea. I don’t think any of this is fixable, unfortunately.

Oliver Sacks’ Hallucinations sounds very interesting. The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars

Writing without a scintilla of sensationalism, Sacks relates his experiences in the late 60s with LSD, mescaline, cannabis, amphetamine, chloral hydrate and even injectable morphine, culminating in the astonishingly complex and extreme hallucinations occasioned by his taking 20 Artane pills (a synthetic drug related to belladonna).Suggested to him by his pals on Muscle Beach (a casual aside in the text, but I happen to know that Sacks was a champion weightlifter in his youth), the Artane provoked completely veridical hallucinations of friends coming to visit him in his LA home, his parents arriving by helicopter, and even a conversation with a philosophic spider who’s opening comment was: “did I think that Bertrand Russell had exploded Frege’s paradox?”

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