Friday, May 30, 2008

Born On A Blue Day

Born On A Blue Day by Daniel Tammet was originally published in 2006. My hardcover copy is 226 pages. Rating: 3.5

From Publishers Weekly at Amazon

This unique first-person account offers a window into the mind of a high-functioning, 27-year-old British autistic savant with Asperger's syndrome. Tammet's ability to think abstractly, deviate from routine, and empathize, interact and communicate with others is impaired, yet he's capable of incredible feats of memorization and mental calculation. Besides being able to effortlessly multiply and divide huge sums in his head with the speed and accuracy of a computer, Tammet, the subject of the 2005 documentary Brainman, learned Icelandic in a single week and recited the number pi up to the 22,514th digit, breaking the European record. He also experiences synesthesia, an unusual neurological syndrome that enables him to experience numbers and words as "shapes, colors, textures and motions." Tammet traces his life from a frustrating, withdrawn childhood and adolescence to his adult achievements, which include teaching in Lithuania, achieving financial independence with an educational Web site and sustaining a long-term romantic relationship. As one of only about 50 people living today with synesthesia and autism, Tammet's condition is intriguing to researchers; his ability to express himself clearly and with a surprisingly engaging tone (given his symptoms) makes for an account that will intrigue others as well. Copyright © Reed Business Information

"I have a rare condition known as savant syndrome, little known before its portrayal by actor Dustin Hoffman in....Rain Man.... I have an almost obsessive need for order and routine which affects virtually every aspect of my life." pg. 1

"Numbers are my friends and they are always around me. Each one is unique and has its own personality." pg. 2

"Scientists call my visual, emotional experience of numbers synesthesia, a rare neurological mixing of senses, which most commonly results in the ability to see alphabetical letters and/or numbers in color. Mine is an unusual and complex type, through which I see numbers as shapes, colors, textures, and motions." pg. 2

"I never write anything down when I'm calculating, because I've always been able to do the sums in my head, and it's much easier for me to visualize the answer using my synesthetic shapes than to try to follow the 'carry the one' techniques taught in the textbooks we were given at school." pg. 4

"People with Asperger's often have good language skills and are able to lead relatively normal lives. Many have above average IQs and excel in areas that involve logical or visual thinking.." pg. 6

"Single-mindedness is a defining characteristic, as is a strong drive to analyze detail and identify rules and patterns in systems. Specialized skills involving memory, numbers, and mathematics are common." pg. 7

"I find it almost impossible to 'read between the lines.' " pg. 76

Pg.'s 176-177, two sentences that help people memorize some of the digits of pi (3.14159265358979...):

"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics."

"Sir, I send a rhyme excelling
In sacred truth and rigid spelling
Numerical sprites elucidate
For me the lexicon's dull weight
If nature gain
Not you complain,
Tho' Dr. Johnson fulminate."

1 comment:

Maddy said...

I'm reading this myself at the moment.

I had to giggle at your side-bar [not finished books ] I used to have a real struggle not finishing books once I'd started them. someone would always say 'ah well if you'd read it to the end then you'd have found that it was a wonderful......' I decided life's too short.