I’m currently reading Lawrence Weschler’s wonderful memoir And How are You, Dr Sacks? It’s a book about his forty year friendship with the neurologist Oliver Sacks. Every page seems to contain something worth noting down. I was particularly struck by a section in which Sacks talks about his great hero, the Russian neuropsychologist A. R. Luria. Luria’s someone whose work I’ve circled for a while without ever having the nerve to head in. Now I realise I must, because Sacks quotes just one line of Luria’s, and I am besotted.
Luria’s talking about the body. “The thing is,” says Sacks, “he would grasp the character or nature of various things as a whole.. A sentence of his that has truly resonated for me was, ‘The body is a unity of action’ – since for others it’s just ‘a mass of tissues’ – ‘and that which is cut off from the unity of action is unbodied.‘” Sacks loves that line, and so do I. I’ve been thinking of it ever since. At first it seems like poetry – the body is a unity of action! – but the more I turn it over, the more it seems precise. He is drawing a line around the body. He is grasping the totality of it in a way that seems very useful.
Please believe me, at the same time as I was on the train the other day reading this, I was dipping in and out of recent Eurogamer podcasts, and there’s one podcast in particular that sort of lined up beautifully with Luria. Or rather, Luria seemed to solve a problem we were all struggling with.