And, like everything else in his life, he pushed himself as far as he could possibly go, culminating in a California State Record in 1961 with a 600-pound back squat. Dr. Oliver Sacks discusses his days as a power lifter in LA’s “Muscle Beach” … Oliver Sacks participated in many sports throughout his life, but never dedicated himself so completely to, nor expressed himself so clearly through, any quite like powerlifting. What most people don’t know is that Oliver Sacks was also an obsessive weightlifter. Google+. I began lifting near the end of my undergraduate years, around about the same time I started writing. We looked at each other, our bodies half-destroyed by lifting. The literary Internet’s most important stories, every day. Zion Hospital in San Francisco and at UCLA. Oliver Sacks was born in 1933 in London, England into a family of physicians and scientists (his mother was a surgeon and his father a general practitioner). It was not enough to have good intentions—to intend to work out more or harder—I needed a clear plan of when and how, otherwise lethargy and fear would kill the intention before it was enacted. While I was in hospital in 1984, feeling sorry for myself, with a long cast on my leg, I had a visit from Dave Sheppard, mighty Dave, from Muscle Beach days. By. 10. He explains this in his memoir, On the Move: “My motive, I think, was not an uncommon one; I was not the ninety-eight-pound weakling of bodybuilding advertisements, but I was timid, diffident, insecure, submissive.” Take a look around any given weight room and you will see this same desire played out in a hundred different forms by people working to build the version of themselves they would like the world to see. So, yes, Oliver Sacks’s writing, like any writing, partakes in showboating, even when cloaked in modesty and self-effacement. Dave said that was his limit, but I, with a vain-glorious impulse, asked for 575. Home Body Building Oliver Sacks: on Weightlifting. In general, I was something of an embarrassment to the neurology department but also something of an ornament—the only resident who had published papers—and I think this might have saved my neck on several occasions. Your goals, which seemed so clear in your head a moment ago, suddenly seem to dissolve into the air; that person is a lifter, you are just someone who lifts. I could have been the “before” guy in one of the commercials Sacks mentions: a lanky stick figure without an ounce of fat or muscle to spare. It offered me a framework with which I could better understand the other aspects of my life, especially writing. Oliver Sacks, says Mcindoe, found challenge, fulfillment, and self-expression in weightlifting. I regret that I never took up her invitation. I’m an inveterate storyteller,” confesses the celebrated neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks at the start of Oliver Sacks: His Own Life.. “I tell many stories, some comic, some tragic.” When I went one Sunday afternoon to the lifting platform on Venice Beach, Dave looked at me, the new kid, and challenged me to match him in the front squat. Excerpted from On the Move: A Life, by Oliver Sacks. Muscle Beach had many greats, including Dave Ashman and Dave Sheppard, who had both lifted in the Olympic Games. The same was true of writing. I took photographs on Muscle Beach, trying to catch its many characters and their haunts; this went hand in hand with a project for a book about the beach—descriptions of people and places, scenes and events, in that strange world which was Muscle Beach in the early 1960s. Oliver Sacks died today, 30th August 2015.. Back in the 50s/60s in California he was Dr. Sacks, a neurologist all week, but a gay, leatherclad biker called Wolf at weekends. WhatsApp. I became strong—very strong—with all my weight lifting but found that this did nothing for my character, which remained exactly the same. In On the Move, Sacks described his record-breaking back squat as his introduction to the weightlifting world, the “equivalent, in these circles, to publishing a scientific paper or a book in academia.” It was his opportunity to say “Here I am, look what I can do.” Whatever our passion or profession, this is what many of us spend our time in search of: a panacea for our imposter syndrome, a chance to announce, to the world and to ourselves, that we are good at what we do. But it is so easy to be discouraged by the success of those around us. To my surprise—I had hardly ever done front squats before—I matched him. There were occasional weekends when I was on call at UCLA and others when I supplemented my meager income by moonlighting at the Doctors Hospital in Beverly Hills. Oliver Sacks, M.D. I like to imagine that the suit- case still exists and that it may turn up one day. I was told he was unmatched at the front squat, a much harder and trickier lift than the back squat, because one is holding the bar in front of one’s chest rather than across one’s shoulders, and one must maintain perfect balance and erectness. There was outrage when I got back, and I thought I would be fired on the spot. Oliver Sacks, MD, FRCP. Oliver Sacks’ reaction to seeing someone soar above his level of ability is the one we would all like to have: inspired, motivated, determined. But if one of Hal’s arms was useless, the other was a world-beater. The part of his brain which took pleasure in mathematics was drawn to the sport’s numerical side. Sacks is a symbol of the importance of writing, the power of explorati… Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. All around you are fellow lifters to compare yourself to, their numbers lit up in yellows, blues and greens. I matched him pound for pound, up to 500, but thought I was finished when he went from 500 to 550. The sport seemed to appeal to something deeper in him than his attraction to numbers and physiology. But my colleagues—and the patient—spoke up for me, and I was strongly cautioned but not dismissed. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Oliver Sacks: His Own Life. And, slowly, I improved. Boys growl into the mirrored walls, grafting under the strain of their own male gaze. This all flew in the face of my lackadaisical nature, but I stuck to it. Pinterest. Even as each person pursues their own interior quest, the weight room makes everything public. It is, as Weschler says in the film, “a master class in how to die.” Like boxing, weightlifting reflects many characteristics of the craft and discipline of writing. Women sweat against the old ideas of delicacy and fragility, building bodies to break convention’s strangling molds. It’s the same in writing. I set out slowly and gave her the ride in Topanga she desired. Paul Edward Anderson (October 17, 1932 – August 15, 1994) was an American weightlifter, strongman and powerlifter.He was an Olympic gold medalist, a world champion, and a two-time national champion in Olympic weightlifting. There were two gigantic men—Chuck Ahrens and Steve Merjanian—who had a semi-divine status and were somewhat aloof from the rest of the Muscle Beach crowd. That is when he wasn't on Muscle Beach going in for weightlifting competitions! All rights reserved. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. After this, I was accepted on Muscle Beach and given the nickname Dr. Squat. Listen to Oliver Sacks read another excerpt from On the Move: Oliver Sacks is the author of Musicophilia (Knopf, 2007) and a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine in New York, New York. When we look at the person lifting next to us, all we see is the weight on the bar and how easily they can move it. Being a freelance writer often feels very much the same. One of Hal’s arms was almost paralyzed and hung loosely from his shoulder in a “waiter’s tip” posture. Sacks’s careers as both a doctor and a writer were defined by his quest to demystify the connections between body and mind, to understand how the lump of pink flesh and electricity inside our skulls could produce something as complex, contradictory, and variable as a human being. I got an apartment near Muscle Beach in Venice, just south of Santa Monica. The part of his brain which took pleasure in mathematics was drawn to the sport’s numerical side. Lifting is at once highly solitary—a solo sport in which most of your time is spent in competition with yourself—and highly communal. I had always intended to write more but had never moved that desire beyond a fantasy, never expressed it out into the world and made it real. Haruki Murakami’s gentle, aimless prose is synchronized into the calm, solitary rhythms of running and swimming. Anderson contributed significantly to the development of competitive powerlifting. Huge though he was, Chuck was eager to become even huger, and one day he appeared suddenly, filling the entire doorway, while I was working in neuropathology at UCLA. “What fools we were,” Dave said. 372. I did this—just—though I had a feeling my eyes were bulging and wondered fearfully about the blood pressure in my head. I sometimes wonder why I pushed myself so relentlessly in weight lifting. Learn more about this month’s book club here. He was “coning”; this is the rather mild term used for a terrifying event in which, with excessive pressure in the head, the cerebellar tonsils and brain stem get pushed through the foramen magnum at the base of the skull. 30 Broad Street, Suite 801 "In a series of bestselling books drawn from his own remarkable life and clinical career, Sacks has been an explorer of unfamiliar territory in the human brain. New York, NY 10004. Hemingway’s frustrated fascination with machismo was written in bloodstains on the boxing and bullfighting rings. But I put on my shoes for weightlifting and kept going and, slowly, I improved. Whether or not I could have written such a book, a montage of descriptions and verbal portraits interlarded with photographs, I do not know. On one occasion there, I met Mae West, who was in for some small operation. They claim a byline you have never managed or an award or a job title, and your heart can sink. Diana Wichtel on memorable interviews and Oliver Sacks. But these comparisons almost always lack proper context. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. I had pushed my quadriceps, in squat- ting, far beyond their natural limits, and this predisposed them to injury, and it was surely not unrelated to my mad squatting that I ruptured one quadriceps tendon in 1974 and the other in 1984. Oliver Sacks chronicles the hilarious errors of his professional life and the fumbles in his private life. Thank you for helping us continue making science fun for everyone. I had fantasies of his raiding the neuropathology lab, going to the brains—a little formalin would not deter him—and plucking out their pituitaries, as one might pluck blackberries, and, even more gruesome, of his initiating a string of bizarre murders, in which the victims’ heads would be cracked open, the brains torn out, and the pituitaries devoured. Oliver Sacks: His Own Life has been screened at international film festivals. So I lost almost all the photographs I had taken in my three years near the beach; only a dozen or so somehow survived. It is filled with people grunting and gurning their way towards a body that matches the inner self they would like to possess. Body Building; Oliver Sacks: on Weightlifting. I said, “Fine!” in what was meant to be a strong, confident voice but came out as a feeble croak. My motive, I think, was not an uncommon one; I was not the ninety-eight-pound weakling of bodybuilding advertisements, but I was timid, diffident, insecure, submissive. I ducked sporting situations and, when involved, cracked jokes rather than risking sincere failure. is a physician, a best-selling author, and a professor of neurology at the NYU School of Medicine. That we are good enough. Copyright © 2015 by Oliver Sacks. S Book Club is back, motorcycles, and Steve had invented a new lift—the bench. We don ’ t know is that oliver Sacks stands to the sport ’ s College ), and satisfied... 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