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Journal d'un nomade

Journal d'un nomade

Restless, shifting, fugacious as time itself is a certain vast bulk of the population of the red brick district of the lower West Side. Homeless, they have a hundred homes. They flit from furnished room to furnished room, transients forever - transients in abode, transients in heart and mind. They sing "Home, Sweet Home" in ragtime; they carry their lares et penates in a bandbox; their vine is entwined about a picture hat; a rubber plant is their fig tree. (O. Henry)

The woman who never fell in love

I had never heard of Temple Grandin until I read An Anthropologist on Mars, a book by the well-known neuroscientist Oliver Sacks, back in 2007 when I was living in The Hague. Temple is an American autistic scholar who, contrary to the myth about autism, can not only talk but also write books and participate in scientific conferences. When Sacks was gathering material for his book, he paid her a visit in Denver, Colorado. On that occasion Temple pronounced a sentence which inspired Sacks for the title of his book. She said to Sacks that she felt like "an anthropologist on Mars".

Temple, born in 1947, also confessed to him that she had never had any sexual relationship or love story, be it platonic. She had never been attracted either by men or women. Nevertheless, she can imagine the pleasure that others may feel when they date someone or indulge in a love affair. Even if she leads a solitary life, she doesn’t feel frustrated. The need for kisses and hugs merely doesn’t exist in her mind. She can understand music but she is not moved by any melody. Is Temple Grandin happy? Apparently she is. She is a normal woman according to the criteria dictated by her brain.

The conclusion I could draw from Sacks’ book was that, as a song says, "no one is to blame". The basic elements of our "mental hard drive" can never be changed. Except in some rare scientifically recorded cases where some areas of the brains were damaged. But this is another story.

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