Tuesday, December 7, 2021 at 8pm
Working Alongside Oliver Sacks: Kate Edgar in Conversation with Lisa Gornick
Presenter: Kate Edgar
Discussant: Lisa Gornick, Ph.D.
Location: Register via the button below to receive the Zoom link
Kate Edgar—who served as editor, assistant, collaborator, and travel companion for Oliver Sacks for over thirty years, and is currently the Executive Director of the Oliver Sacks Foundation–will be in conversation with Lisa Gornick, Ph.D.— voluntary faculty member at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Treatment and Research, and author of four novels and numerous essays—about Oliver Sacks’s precocious and prodigious involvement with writing, both as a reader and author.
In what promises to be a wide-ranging and intimate discussion, the two will explore the psychic origins of Dr. Sacks’s identity as a writer, the roots of his intellectual life in the model of the 19th century poet-scientist from which psychoanalysis was born, the divergent reactions to Sacks’s work in scientific and literary communities, his experiences and conflicts about writing and filming his patients, and his response to literary fame. In addition, Ms. Edgar will share insights about Dr. Sacks’s idiosyncratic writing habits—including losing manuscripts, producing drafts at unpublishable length, ceaseless revisions, and often needing reassurance—and the role she played (in concert with his analyst of fifty years) in stabilizing him such that his enormous body of work could come to completion.
Kate Edgar began working for Oliver Sacks in 1983. For more than three decades, she collaborated with him as editor, researcher, assistant and friend. She was the creative director for the recent documentary Oliver Sacks: His Own Life. She is currently the Executive Director of the Oliver Sacks Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to increasing understanding of the human brain and mind through the power of narrative nonfiction and case histories. Under her leadership, the foundation’s goals include making Dr. Sacks’s published and yet-unpublished writings available to the broadest possible audience, preserving and digitizing materials related to his life and work and making them available for scholarly use, working to reduce the stigma of mental and neurological illness, and supporting a humane approach to neurology and psychiatry.
Lisa Gornick, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and graduate of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Treatment and Research, where she is on the voluntary faculty. She is the author of three novels—The Peacock Feast (FSG, 2019), Tinderbox (FSG, 2013), and A Private Sorcery (Algonquin, 2002)—and a collection of linked stories, Louisa Meets Bear (FSG, 2015). Her stories and essays have appeared widely, including in The New York Times, The Paris Review, Prairie Schooner, Real Simple, and The Wall Street Journal.