June 21, 2010

"The Writer Who Couldn't Read."



"[Howard] Engel couldn't see words with his eyes. His visual cortex was broken. But he could 'see' when he used the motor part of his brain, first by tracing letters on a page, then by 'writing' those same letters in the air, and then, strangely, when he shifted to copying letters with his tongue on the roof of his mouth. Tongue-copying was the fastest."

10 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

I wish someone would make a little cartoon like this about the asteroid story in the previous post.

traditionalguy said...

Another amazing human will to adjust to conditions. Now somebody tell me again why they think that there is no possibility of "Free Will" in use by a descendant of Adam.

E.M. Davis said...

My wife often ridicules (perhaps too strong of a word) for when I'm thinking of things, I draw letters, numbers and symbols on my leg with my pointer finger. It's usually when I'm driving long distances.

My visual cortex isn't broken, but I do this anyways.

A.W. said...

This is reason 349 why the ADA, or at least something very close to it, is a very good idea. Very often the disabled person can really do amazing things to overcome, but then gets stymied because some non-handicapped person won't let them.

Don't believe me? Look at me. i have a disability that makes it very hard to write by hand. but only by hand. if you put a keyboard in front of me, the disability is erased. But throughout much of my life i wasn't allowed to have that keyboard. does that make any sense at all?

c3 said...

What's with the "neurology jag" today. If you're interested in more such stories read this

Methadras said...

I personally believe that many neurological issues like this are a form of debilitating synaesthasia.

Christy said...

Similar thing happens to me rarely. Doctors diagnosed an optical migraine. I was reading the Federal Register one afternoon and suddenly a large circle appeared in which all the writing therein was as if it had been cut into tiny bits and scrambled. I could see clearly in the periphery of my vision but everywhere I focused was scrambled. Lasted about 20 minutes (during which I saw our physician's assistant.) Has happened 3 times in 13 years, always when I was seriously stressed. Oh, and it isn't just scrambled writing, it's scrambled anything, but the printed page helped define the limits of the problem.

prairie wind said...

I heard this story on my way to work. Fascinating. Reminds me of those stories of the small child who has half his/her brain removed because of...I suppose cancer, but don't know for sure. Interesting that the brain has other paths to use, if only we can find them. As happy as these discoveries are, they make me sad, thinking of people who suffered before the something-new was learned.

rhhardin said...

Saint-Exupéry wrote awful airplane stories.

If they're not supposed to be pointless and boring, what's the airplane doing in them?

I read every airplane book in the Keene Valley NY library as a kid doomed to vacation in the mountains.

Omnibus Driver said...

barMy worst nightmare!

Reading and writing are such a deep part of who I am and what I do that I'd have serious psychological issues if this were me. I'm not fond of audio books, because they are based on someone else's perception of the words on paper.

I've always joked that I'll be lifting the coffin lid and declaring myself unable to leave this world until I finish that last book. Truly, the thought of losing the ability to comprehend the written word and form my own thoughts, pictures, emotions... sadder than anything else I can think of!