>Non Fiction: “Into the Silent Land”

This book was written by Paul Broks, the neurologist who participated in the documentary about Pat Martino. That was the film that covered Pat’s aneurism, resulting amnesia and the long term effects of the brain surgery.

The book is a collection of essays on patients that Paul Broks has come in contact with as a neurologist. He describes number of cases of people with brain injuries and what effects these have on their personalities. In these chapters the book reminds  me of stories by Oliver Sacks.

Where “Into the Silent Land” differs is in the chapters that consider the nature of consciousness and the nature of “I” (i.e. when you say “I am reading this” – where is the “I”). Broks relies on some dream-like and some purely fictional  chapters to explore these ideas. For example, he has a whole chapter devoted to the “transporter incident” story – where a person is copied and transmitted to Mars, but the machine fails to destroy the “original”.

One of the more interesting chapters of this book discussed Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide”, and his method of working. Stevenson taught himself to dream on purpose to come up with plots for his stories. In fact he wrote about his method. Here is a link to what he wrote.

I started reading this book with no intention of finishing it, but the stories drew me in and in the end I read the whole book.

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