18 Inspirational Oliver Sacks Quotes To Remember Him By

Oliver Sacks was a famed writer and neurologist who explored the brain and human condition. He wrote intensely about the power of music. While he has passed away, here are some inspiring quotes that he continues to live through.
Flickr / Bill Holsinger-Robinson
Flickr / Bill Holsinger-Robinson

1.

“Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

2.

“My religion is nature. That’s what arouses those feelings of wonder and mysticism and gratitude in me.”

3.

“If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.”

4.

“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.”

5.

“If we wish to know about a man, we ask ‘what is his story–his real, inmost story?’–for each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative, which is constructed, continually, unconsciously, by, through, and in us–through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions; and, not least, our discourse, our spoken narrations. Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other; historically, as narratives–we are each of us unique.”

6.

“Language, that most human invention, can enable what, in principle, should not be possible. It can allow all of us, even the congenitally blind, to see with another person’s eyes.”

7.

“To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.”

8.

“To be ourselves we must have ourselves – possess, if need be re-possess, our life-stories. We must ‘recollect’ ourselves, recollect the inner drama, the narrative, of ourselves. A man needs such a narrative, a continuous inner narrative, to maintain his identity, his self.”

9.

“The miracle is that, in most cases, he succeeds – for the powers of survival, of the will to survive, and to survive as a unique inalienable individual, are absolutely, the strongest in our being: stronger than any impulses, stronger than disease.”

10.

“Music, uniquely among the arts, is both completely abstract and profoundly emotional. It has no power to represent anything particular or external, but it has a unique power to express inner states or feelings. Music can pierce the heart directly; it needs no mediation.”

11.

“Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring it’s memory.”

12.

“At 11, I could say ‘I am sodium’ (Element 11), and now at 79, I am gold.”

13.

“Very young children love and demand stories, and can understand complex matters presented as stories, when their powers of comprehending general concepts, paradigms, are almost nonexistent.”

14.

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

15.

“One must drop all presuppositions and dogmas and rules – for there only lead to stalemate or disaster; one must cease to regard all patients as replicas, and honor each one with individual reactions and propensities; and, in this way, with the patient as one’s equal, one’s co-explorer, not one’s puppet, one may find therapeutic ways which are better than other ways, tactics which can be modified as occasion requires.”

16.

“We have five senses in which we glory and which we recognise and celebrate, senses that constitute the sensible world for us. But there are other senses — secret senses, sixth senses, if you will — equally vital, but unrecognised, and unlauded. These senses, unconscious, automatic, had to be discovered.”

17.

“I have to remember, too, that sex is one of those areas—like religion and politics—where otherwise decent and rational people may have intense, irrational feelings.”

18.

“When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”


You were completely right Mr. Sacks, and your presence will surely be missed in this world. TC mark

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