Friday, September 28, 2007

The Blind Leading the Blind

I recently finished reading Oliver Sacks' book "Island of the Colorblind." It tells the story of his two trips to Micronesia where he visited Pohnpei, Pingelap, Guam, Rota and Saipan.

Let me start by saying, 57 pages of footnotes for a 199 page book? 57 pages?! Someone has to learn to organize his thoughts! Who wants to keep hopping to the back of the book all the time? It's like reading one of those "create your own adventure" children's story books.

His description of the sakau ceremony particularly tickled me. Here is a quote from the book, "The roots were all macerated now, their lactones emulsified..." blah, blah, blah. This is the writing of a person whose body went to Pohnpei, but whose mind was left behind in some ivy-encrusted East coast library.

The final 100 pages or so go on and on and on and on and on and on about cycads and the diseases that they may or may not cause. Ironically, these are the pages where the author becomes blind. He is traveling through breathtaking islands with extraordinary people and spellbinding history, but all he can see is cycads. Nothing else is visible to him.

Well, that is your book review for the day. I feel like I should write something about Micronesia every now and then, so there it is.


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