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What’s it like to face a faceless world? Acclaimed neurologist Oliver Sacks once apologized for almost bumping into a large bearded man, only to realize he was speaking to a mirror. Sacks and photo-realist painter Chuck Close—geniuses from opposite ends of the creative spectrum—share their experiences of living with a curious condition known as “face blindness,” or prosopagnosia. With RadioLab’s Robert Krulwich, they discuss the challenges of maintaining interpersonal relationships—when even family and close friends appear as strangers.

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Strangers in the Mirror

What’s it like to face a faceless world? Acclaimed neurologist Oliver Sacks once apologized for almost bumping into a large bearded man, only to realize he was speaking to a mirror. Sacks and photo-realist painter Chuck Close—geniuses from opposite ends of the creative spectrum—share their experiences of living with a curious condition known as “face blindness,” or prosopagnosia. With RadioLab’s Robert Krulwich, they discuss the challenges of maintaining interpersonal relationships—when even family and close friends appear as strangers.

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Moderator

Robert KrulwichRadio and Television Journalist

Robert Krulwich is co-host of Radiolab, WNYC Radio’s Peabody Award-winning program about ‘big ideas’, now one of public radio’s most popular shows. It is carried on more than 500 radio stations and its podcasts are downloaded over 5 million times each month.

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Participants

Alexandra LynchWriter, Painter

Alexandra Lynch paints portraits and still lifes in acrylic, watercolor, and collage. She also writes a motherhood diary at AlexandraLynch.com and lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Lynch is a former writer and editor for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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Oliver SacksNeurologist, Author

Oliver Sacks, a physician and author, has been called “the poet laureate of medicine” by The New York Times. His books and essays, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars, are used in schools and universities around the world.

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Chuck CloseArtist

Chuck Close is a visual artist noted for his highly inventive techniques used to paint the human face, and is best known for his large-scale, photo-based portrait paintings. He has also participated in nearly 800 group exhibitions. In 1988, Close was paralyzed following a rare spinal artery collapse; he continues to paint using a brush-holding device strapped to his wrist and forearm.

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