A watch is no longer a simple watch but has detail the ordinary observer probably would not notice. When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: ‘Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far’.
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Sacks’s point seems to be that societal definitions of what is and isn’t “acceptable” are arbitrary and, in the case of people like the twins, actively cruel.
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Previous neurologists analyzed John and Michael’s mental abilities, but only in the narrowest, most quantitative senses (in much the same way that neurologists in the 1960s failed to identify cases of Tourette’s because they didn’t try to get a sense for their patients’ personalities or day-to-day behaviors).
In Part One, Sacks discusses neurological disorders that can be construed as deficits in an ordinary function of the brain.