Is this a nightmare? Thus five minutes after I had played tic-tac-toe with him, he recollected that “some doctor” had played this with him “a while back”—whether the “while back” was minutes or months ago he had no idea. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. “Whatever you want.”. But this too failed to “work”: he dutifully kept a brief daily notebook but could not recognize his earlier entries in it. “I know ’em all by name, and I don’t know a Nimitz…. The sisters were right—he did find his soul here. “No, I can’t say we have. “That’s an aircraft carrier,” he said. If I don’t work here, I’ve been put here. All of us, at first, had high hopes of helping Jim—he was so personable, so likable, so quick and intelligent, it was difficult to believe that he might be beyond help. “No, it’s not,” I answered. I did, and I was moved, profoundly moved and impressed, because I saw here an intensity and steadiness of attention and concentration that I had never seen before in him or conceived him capable of. “It isn’t that, someone loves me! Jimmie does not know that he has lost these memories and therefore is not able to mourn the loss of them. Where we had hoped for an abundance of information and feeling from his brother, we received a courteous but somewhat meager letter. He knew the elements, compared them, and drew the periodic table—but omitted the transuranic elements. We did various tests on him (EEG, brain scans), and found no evidence of massive brain damage, although atrophy of the tiny mammillary bodies would not show up on such tests. A sudden, improbable suspicion seized me. He loves his brother, he recognizes him, but he cannot understand why he looks so old: “Guess some people age fast,” he says. He almost never gets lost or disoriented in the garden now; he patterns it, I think, on loved and remembered gardens from his youth in Pennsylvania. But Xena severs the rope attached to the mainsail with her chakram, causing the boat to drift inland. Looking at the gray-haired man before me, I had an impulse for which I have never forgiven myself—it was, or would have been, the height of cruelty had there been any possibility of Jimmie’s remembering it. “Is that complete?” I asked when he’d finished. It was not, apparently, that he failed to register in memory, but that the memory traces were fugitive in the extreme, and were apt to be effaced within a minute, often less, especially if there were distracting or competing stimuli, while his intellectual and perceptual powers were preserved, and highly superior. It’s crazy, it’s scary…. He remembered none of them—or indeed that I had even asked him to remember. Fully, intensely, quietly, in the quietude of absolute concentration and attention, he entered and partook of the Holy Communion. Perhaps I could find advice or help in the medical literature—a literature which, for some reason, was largely Russian, from Korsakov’s original thesis (Moscow, 1887) about such cases of memory loss, which are still called “Korsakov’s syndrome,” to Luria’s Neuropsychology of Memory (which appeared in translation only a year after I first saw Jim). The downfall to this, other than the obvious memory loss, is that Jimmie is not really able to feel emotion. “Gross disturbances of the organization of impressions of events and their sequence in time can always be observed in such patients,” he wrote. He had come to love the navy, thought he might stay in it. And as he found this out, he grew fretful and restless again, and wandered the corridors, uneasy and bored and with a sense of indignity—games and puzzles were for children, a diversion. Then we turned up a short nasty report from Bellevue Hospital, dated 1971, saying that he was “totally disoriented … with an advanced organic brain-syndrome, due to alcohol” (cirrhosis had also developed by this time). Neuropsychologically, there is little or nothing you can do; but in the realm of the Individual, there may be much you can do.”, Luria mentioned his patient Kur as manifesting a rare self-awareness, in which hopelessness was mixed with an odd equanimity. (If a man has lost a leg or an eye, he knows he has lost a leg or an eye; but if he has lost a self—himself—he cannot know it, because he is no longer there to know it.) You remember telling me about your childhood, growing up in Pennsylvania, working as a radio operator on submarines? Xena does her biggest flip of the series in this episode. “There are no prescriptions,” Luria wrote, “in a case like this. Could it be that he sustained some massive trauma at this time, some massive cerebral or emotional trauma in combat, in the War, and that this may have affected him ever since? He was cheerful, friendly, and warm. The same depth of absorption and attention was to be seen in relation to music and art: he had no difficulty, I noticed, “following” music or simple dramas, for every moment in music and art refers to, contains, other moments. He remembered the names of various submarines on which he had served, their missions, where they were stationed, the names of his shipmates. Then, as a savory smell drifted up from the dining room, he smacked his lips, said “Lunch!,” smiled, and took his leave. He had two striking skills—Morse code and touch-typing. I can see you’re a doc.”, “Well, you’re right, I am. “Isn’t this a lovely spring day. (I can only wait for the final amnesia, the one that can erase an entire life, as it did my mother’s….). There had been some memory impairment, of the Korsakov type, in the middle and especially the late Sixties, but not so severe that Jimmie couldn’t “cope” in his nonchalant fashion. Am I a patient, am I sick and don’t know it, Doc? Convinced there must be a way out of the curse, Xena confronts Cecrops, who confides how much he yearns to feel the earth beneath his feet once more. At this point, persuaded that this was, indeed, “pure” Korsakov’s, uncomplicated by other factors, emotional or organic, I wrote to Luria and asked his opinion.

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