Christopher Nolan

I was saddened to learn today of the death of the Irish writer Christopher Nolan.   As a result of cerebral palsy, Nolan was a nonverbal quadiplegic, but someone figured out that he understood what was going on around him and equipped him with a writing device enabling him to express himself.  He wrote a novel, at the age of twenty one, tapping at a typewriter with a stick attached to his head.  Someone had to hold his head while he did the tapping.  That novel, Under the Eye of the Clock, won the Whitbread Prize.  It’s filled with the kind of inadvertent poetry that brain injury can bring about, and it also provides a rare glimpse into the mind of one who is severely disabled.

The main character, Joseph Meehan, represents Nolan.   After learning that his book will be published, Meehan writes:

“Fossilized for so long now, he was going to speak to anyone interested enough to listen.  As was customary, far into the future he bent his mind, what will erstwhile readers think, he wondered, of my boyhood ephiphany.

“Feeling happy beyond words, he listened to his teachers all afternoon.  They veiled their private worlds by choice, but his private world was so private that demon despair dallied always at his door.  Now he cackled to himself, for now he shared the same world as everyone else; he could choose how much to tell and draftily decide how much to hold back. His voice would be his written word.” 

Amen to that.


2 thoughts on “Christopher Nolan

  1. I’m sorry to hear that. I was very moved and impressed by his book.

    Speaking of Cerebral Palsy, do you have any comments on the new obstetric compensation system in Japan? There was a big article in the Daily Yomiuri on it yesterday.

    Bit of a segue here — is it really that much cheaper to do laundry at night? Do washing machines use much electricity?

    And no, there is no justice — inky shirts will ONLY be visible on days when such viewing will cause the maximum amount of embarrassment to the mother.

    I so hate the uniforms here and each year bring it up to the homeroom teacher. This year I thought I might be getting somewhere (my chief beef at the moment is the shorts — who in the world would want to wear shorts in winter??) — but – of course – today’s ‘renraku’ from the teacher is a nice ‘thanks for the suggestion but – no.’ Needless to say, if your son didn’t have to wear the prescribed t-shirt, he would have been able to wear a clean one from the drawer.

  2. Umm, I’ll get back to you on the obstetric compensation system. I get the Japan Times and I didn’t see anything about it in there.

    As for electricity, if your household runs solely on electrictricity, it’s 40% cheaper between 11PM and 5AM. I think that washing machines are one of the biggest energy users. At any rate, our bills are much lower when I wash clothes at night.

    And your note about uniforms reminds me of the half-dozen complaints I have for my son’s annual school questionnnaire. I want to write “There is absolutely no scientific evidence that wearing shorts in winter strengthens a child’s constitution.” I’m sure that they’ll ignore my comments.

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