|In an An Anthropologist on Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales (1995) neurologist Oliver Sacks concludes that “defects, disorders, [and] diseases… can play a paradoxical role, by bringing out latent powers, developments, evolutions, forms of life that might never be seen, or even be imaginable, in their absence”.
The expression to be feeling like an ‘anthropolgist on Mars’ was used by one of his patients, Temple Grandin, who has been subject of a recent BBC documentary describing her as having a special understanding for animals, and here especially for cows.
.. disturbing or astonishing? … While hard to answer, this does cause one to reflect on just how might a personâ€™s unique abilities be influenced and eventually fostered by circumstances. As well what creates this special talent, and to what price do other abilities pay. Nevertheless it also can be read as a sign to abilities that lay dormant in us, because of the techniques one has to develope just to operate within the everyday. In this respect the concept of extreme talents calls into question at the same time a perception considered as ‘common standards’ …
UPDATE (LATER THAT DAY): Ok, I have to admit I haven’t seen this series when I wrote that post, but now here these two links:
– for german speakers there is a whole series aired by arte this year on youtube >> first part
– and for english speakers the search for savants will do it >> entry point might be this one