The philosophical spider

Oliver Sacks, talking about his recent autobiography:
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/oliver_sacks_on_hallucinations/
“Yes, well, I was living then down on Venice Beach in the early 1960s, and there were a lot of drugs around. And people said to me, if you really want something striking take Artane. Artane is a belladonna-like drug which is used in treating Parkinson’s. And they said just take twenty, you’ll still be in partial control. Anyhow, I took these tablets. At first I noticed nothing. I had a rather dry mouth, difficulty accommodating, my pupils were dilated. Nothing else. Then I heard a car door slam and footsteps, and I thought it was my friends Jim and Kathy. They often visited me on Sunday. I shouted “Come in!” and we chatted. I was in the kitchen.

“There was a swinging door between the kitchen and the sitting room. I said, “How do you like your eggs done?” And we chatted in the four or five minutes while I prepared their ham and eggs. Then I walked out with the breakfast on a tray and . . . there was no one there. I was so shocked I almost dropped the tray. It hadn’t occurred to me for a moment that all this was hallucinated, at least that their part of the conversation was hallucinated. I thought I’d better watch myself. But this was followed by some even stranger things, including having a conversation with a spider. I think the spider was real enough; there weren’t any visual elements.

“But then the spider said, “Hello,” with a voice like Bertrand Russell. And for some reason it didn’t surprise me any more than Alice was surprised by the White Rabbit. I said, “Hello yourself.” And we had a conversation. Actually, an abstract conversation about some points in analytic philosophy.

“Many years later, I mentioned this philosophical spider to a friend of mine, an entomologist. He nodded his head and said, “Yes, I know the species.”

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under science & natural history

One response to “The philosophical spider

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s