In an outpouring on Thursday, leading thinkers, writers, and fans reacted to an essay published in The New York Times by neurologist and bestselling author Oliver Sacks.
Sacks, 81, whose lifelong work has explored the essence of what it means to be alive, wrote an op-ed titled “My Own Life,” in which he revealed that he’s dying of liver cancer:
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.
Sacks, a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine and the author of dozens of books and essays, has been described by The Times as a “poet laureate of contemporary medicine,” though in the eyes of some critics, he is more artist than scientist.
Sacks’ breakthrough book, “Awakenings,” drew portraits of his patients as they emerged from a deep, postencephalitic haze. It was adapted into the 1990 movie by the same name starring Robin Williams as Sacks. It was also the inspiration for a play, “A Kind of Alaska,” by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter.
As seen through Sacks’s writing, his patients’ disorders often revealed as much about the human condition as the human brain.
Here are some of the reactions to the news Thursday:
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