Know your hallucinations! You can with the latest by neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks. Sacks’ “Hallucinations” offers a taxonomy of them, with hallucinations set out by cause: migraine, loss of sight, epilepsy, and others. That in itself is interesting enough, as Sacks describes how hallucinations differ from imagination and dreams, and are brain-events now observable with brain imaging.
But Sacks offers a couple of more tantalizing threads. More than once, he offers purely neurological explanations of experiences associated with the supernatural – as for the tunnel of light in near death experiences, and for the “universal” human experience of nighttime demons.
And he offers his own experiences with drug-induced hallucination, with a style that rivals Dequincy’s or Huxley’s. I never thought to read a sentence that begins “Before shooting up the morphine” and goes on to comprise both “Froissart” and “Henry V”. It was intriguing to follow this man on that trip.
-Alfred E. Numen