This is a blurb I wrote for Temple Grandin’s extraordinary book, Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior. Ms. Grandin was made famous by Oliver Sack’s profile in the New Yorker, An Anthropologist on Mars, subsequently collected in a book with the same title. Rupert Sheldrake’s Dogs Who Know When Their Master is Coming Home is another seminal book on this subject, which the Dispatches will henceforth take an active, ongoing interest in. Input from readers is most welcome.
“In three decades of interacting with dozens of naturalists and animal behaviorists, I have only met two who had the “special connection with animals” that Temple Grandin writes about—who had the extraordinary empathy, the ability to enter the minds of other speces (particularly mammals), who seemed to be almost more on their wavelength than on that of their fellow humans. Both of these people had learning disorders—one severe dyslexia, the other non-verbal learning disorder, which is characterized by the same sort of hyperspecificity — one sees everything in great detail, but has difficulty processing and evaluating the information— with which autistics and, Ms. Grandin argues compellingly, animals see the world. Her insights are absolutely fascinating and groundbreaking contributions in the field of animal awareness, in which so much remains to be discovered. This book is deeply moving and a triumph on many levels, not the least the understanding of herself and her condition that Ms. Grandin has succeeded in achieving and conveying so lucidly and putting to such productive use. She is an inspiration for us all.”