Oliver Sacks has died

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. 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.

–Oliver Sacks

The man himself has died.


  1. says

    And of course, there are people already asking why some obituaries for the man mention that he was gay. How about because the accomplishments of LGBT people are ignored, dismissed, or downplayed throughout history. No, his sexuality might not be relevant to a discussion of the man’s achievements, but for the LGBT community, it is important to note. Hell, it’s important for wider society bc is humanizes gay people by showing that we’re *everywhere* and we do *everything*.

  2. dannysichel says

    I’m glad I sent him a fan letter a few years back, while he was still able to enjoy it.

    Incidentally, PZ, I enjoy most of your blog posts.

  3. Nancy New, Queen of your Regulatory Nightmare says

    I was fortunate enough to go to a Philadelphia Free Library event where he was the guest speaker, right after his “The Mind’s Eye” came out. His ability to reach a lay audience, whether speaking or writing, was amazing.

  4. Al Dente says

    I’ve read and enjoyed several of his books. He was a clear, concise writer who was excellent at explanations and obviously cared about people.

  5. methuseus says

    @Tony #4 – The reason to mention that he was gay is the same reason to mention that other people were survived by a heterosexual spouse and children. It helps give us a sense of who that person is in some way. If in doubt, I think it makes sense to have included his sexuality. People just want to hide the gay away. The same way many of them also want to hide the black or Hispanic populations away.

  6. ragdish says

    A sad loss to Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience. He was one of the reasons I chose to become a Neurologist. Unlike some of his contemporaries Dr. Sacks never imposed any walls or barriers between himself and his patients. Indeed, he would treat them as equals and towards his end, he would often take casual walks with with his patients at nursing homes in the Bronx. And it is because of those humble patient interactions that he gave us new perspectives on the neural basis of mind and consciousness. I will truly miss him.

  7. davesrose says

    As the movie Awakenings alluded to: Sacks was very shy and private. Many intellectuals can be: some are gay, some are straight (and some are probably bisexual as well)…and some will leave a celibate life. It is often alluded that Lincoln might have been gay, but I think it’s more apparent that he was a depressive (and obviously had relations with women). We did lose a great doctor and writer: I really enjoy his books since he does treat each patient with respect and dignity: it’s human nature to try to empathize, and he had a great way of giving a POV of the patient.