It’s like a literary Field of Dreams, this new anthology from the Oliver Sacks Foundation that I blogged about this morning on the professional side, and I’ve been admiring its cover as well as its contents all week.
You can’t really judge a book by its cover, particularly this book – because there is no indication anywhere that I can find as to why the image on the cover was selected. The inside back cover credits the image as L’Eure a Pacy-sur-Eure, a 1924 painting by the artist Felix Vallotton, shown here in its full splendor.
Perhaps the cover image was selected because, among other reasons, Vallotton painted it a year before his death. It may therefore be symbolic of an artist who kept on working productively up to the moment he could no longer hold his implements in hand, and certainly that could be said of Oliver Sacks whose already magnificent writing just kept getting better as he aged.
At the conclusion of the seventh of ten essays in River of Consciousness, titled The Creative Self, Sacks shares this candid self-reflection: “At such times, when I am writing, thoughts seem to organize themselves in spontaneous succession and to cloth themselves instantly in appropriate words. I feel I can bypass or transcend much of my own personality, my neuroses. It is at once not me and the innermost part of me, certainly the best part of me.”
He had more to say about the act of writing:
And on the significance of his busy desktop:
All this topped off by a treasure trove of Sacks delights neatly catalogued on Brain Pickings. One can only hope that there will be more goodies forthcoming from the Oliver Sacks Foundation. It is a marvelous way to embrace and celebrate his legacy.