On the joys of rest

On the joys of rest


norman lebrecht

September 14, 2015

The final published notes of Oliver Sacks were perfectly pitched.

In the New York Times he wrote fondly of the family Sabbath he remembered as a child. In the New Yorker, he discussed his mother’s signature Sabbath dish. Click to read them one after the other.

Although never a religious man in the conventional sense, Sacks was able to see as few atheists can the beauties that faith brought into the world and the benefits it can still offer in our over-hasty, ill-considered modern life.

Pause. Think. Rest.

oliver sacks


  • ruben greenberg says:

    Dr. Sacks was an incredibly cultured man, and as we know, music was vital to him. He had knowledge of even rather obscure composers, like Zelenka, whom he found very underrated. As he grew older, music mattered increasingly to him.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Probably he got increasingly ‘hooked’ on the spiritual elements of music, atheist or not, and getting closer to the Final Gate reinforces the hunger of the soul.

  • Peter Freeman says:

    But while the Final Gate is indeed a gate, JB, it is only final to this plane of existence. If it did not lead anywhere else, it would serve no purpose as a gate, as atheists who are also secular spiritualists will attest. Discarnate yet somehow heightened worlds, unknowable to us, await. Music may ease a path to that gate.

  • Richard Dubugnon says:

    Oliver Sacks, with whom I had the chance to correspond by letters, made the simplest and most honest comment on belief here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AnuxDdg2II

    • ruben greenberg says:

      I love coincidences, and I heard M. Dubugnon’s music on France-Musique last night and it was a great joy to get to know the music and the man a little. I’m eager to play such wonderful music. I also corresponded with Oliver Sacks. When did he find the time to answer all of those letters!? What a kind, extraordinary man.

    • John Borstlap says:

      An entirely materialistic view of life, of the world. This sort of Darwinism cannot make the distinction between religion and spirituality, and thinks that the meaning of the radio set is the radio set, and not the radio programme. The reason that people get stuck in religion’s orthodoxies is that the scientific paradigm excludes spirituality. Life is more than science could ever ‘explain’.

  • MWnyc says:

    Speaking of Sacks’s Jewishness, is former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks related to Oliver? I just thought of it the other day when I heard Jonathan opining about something or other on the radio.