The Case of the Color Blind Painter

The following extract describes the diet of a painter afflicted with achromatopsia after a concussion – essentially he saw the world in black and white – not just red-green colorblindness, but everything is totally monochromatic.

The ‘wrongness’ of everything was disturbing, even disgusting, and applied to every circumstance of daily life. He found foods disgusting due to their greyish, dead appearance and had to close his eyes to eat. But this did not help very much, for the mental image of a tomato was as black as its appearance. Thus, unable to rectify even the inner image, the idea, of various foods, he turned increasingly to black and white foods – to black olives and white rice, black coffee and yogurt.

From Oliver Sacks’ book, Anthropologist on Mars
I think it would be cool to do a design book of black and white foods. Oreos, black beans, rice, sour cream, brinjals, charcoal bread, black sesame mochi… I (just yesterday) bought another load of books from Amazon, including two books on doodling (in french and also on drawing small plants and animals), one book of design for food, two books for liangze’s birthday coming up, and Rachael Hale’s French Dog (after I thoroughly enjoyed her French Cat). I’m really excited about the food design one, especially with Kikki.K’s new food/recipes line of stationery (rubber stamps, stickers, recipe binders).

Here’s another quote from the Oliver Sack’s book Szeling lent me

Autism was only identified in the 1940s and was not a term, or even a concept, in the 1860s. It is a condition that has always existed however, affecting occasional individuals in every period and culture. Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger described it as an ‘aloneness’, or mental aloneness, being the cardinal feature of autism. The other defining feature of autism, for Kanner, was ‘an obsessive insistence of sameness’, in the form of repetitive, stereotyped movements and noises, or stereotypies, most simply; then in the adoption of elaborate rituals and routines; finally in the appearance of strange and narrow preoccupations – high focused, intense fascinations and fixations.

Reminds me of a certain someone I know.
Two of liangze’s most common/autistic fixations:
1) Shaping his two index fingers and thumbs to form a tiny diamond shaped hole through which he looks at stuff to see how clear he can make the image by reducing aperture size. He can spend a good half an hour with this home-made aperture glued to his face, looking at everything around him.
2) When left to his own devices (when he tags along when I meet my friends) and we are talking about their relationship problems, he tries to be polite by not eavesdropping and slowly starts to suck all the air out of his drinking glass to as to create a vacuum for the glass to stick to his face.

I think neurology is a really disturbing subject to study. I wonder if Sacks sees disorders in everyone he meets.


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