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Savant who inspired Rain Man dies
December 22, 2009 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Kim Peek, who inspired the title character in the film Rain Man, has died.
posted by h0p3y (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
There's a nice article about him in the Salt Lake Trib this morning.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:30 AM on December 22, 2009


That's sad. He was so young.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2009


One of the most fascinating characters of our time. Could gleam through a book in mere minutes with 98% recall.

One of my favorite anecdotes is when Daniel Tammet, possibly the world's most self-aware savant, involving all sorts of mental math and synesthesia, met Kim Peek (his hero). They bonded instantly. At the end of their encounter, Peek bid Tammet farewell with the words, "One day you'll be as great as me."

To science. To the brain.

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posted by Christ, what an asshole at 9:37 AM on December 22, 2009


Sad. I watched this documentary on him a year ago or so.
posted by anazgnos at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


His reading technique consisted of reading the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye and in this way he could read two pages at time with a rate of about 8-10 seconds per page.

Holy crap.
posted by The Straightener at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2009


"He could recall the content of some 12,000 books from memory."

!!

Thanks for the post, I'd somehow missed the fact that the movie was based on a real person. Would've like to have met him.

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posted by aerotive at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2009


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posted by june made him a gemini at 9:51 AM on December 22, 2009


The movie Rain Man didn't do him justice.

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posted by jonp72 at 9:54 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


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I had no idea Mr. Peek wasn't actually autistic. Thank you for letting us know he had passed.
posted by zarq at 9:59 AM on December 22, 2009


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posted by localroger at 10:00 AM on December 22, 2009


I have a friend whose son was recently born with agenesis of the Corpus Callosum. She hopes that with early intervention services, he can grow up to be a completely normal little boy. Kim Peek (who also had this birth defect) was far from a "normal" little boy and man, but I somehow think that he lived a much richer life than a so-called "normal" boy would have.

Now I'm debating if I should or should not send her this.

And yet, its easy for me to say. Were it my son, what would I wish for him? Kim Peek's life? Or the so-called "normal" life? What would Mr. Peek have chosen?
posted by anastasiav at 10:01 AM on December 22, 2009


Wikipediea led me to discover that David Tammet has a blog. In today's post he talks about meeting Kim Peek.
posted by anastasiav at 10:05 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The documentary that anazgnos linked is great, highly recommended.

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posted by fixedgear at 10:07 AM on December 22, 2009


That's what happens if you don't fly Qantas.

Seriously: .
posted by MuffinMan at 10:08 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Mike Mongo at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2009


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Uh oh, fart.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2009


This is quite sad, but I am relieved in a way that he did not outlive his father, considering how very much he depended on him.
posted by orme at 10:31 AM on December 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw that same TV special that CWAA saw - with both Daniel Tammet and Kim Peek. Peek seemed shy, and a little overwhelmed, but was kind and generous and funny.

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posted by harperpitt at 10:35 AM on December 22, 2009


I have to say that he will always be remembered.
posted by Vamier at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2009


A friend of mine recently found out I'd never seen this movie, and loaned me his copy. It's been sitting on my coffee table for two weeks. Now I really feel like I should watch it.

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posted by CrayDrygu at 10:49 AM on December 22, 2009


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posted by futureisunwritten at 11:01 AM on December 22, 2009


I feel so deeply for his father, who cared for him for so long. And yet, I also agree with orme that it would have been a tragedy for Kim to outlive his father and have to make that transition.

The world is a better and more interesting place for Kim Peek having lived.

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posted by Chanther at 11:35 AM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


RIP Kim

Though the script was inspired by Kim Peek, Dustin Hoffman based much of his character on Joesph Sullivan. Joesph still works at the Huntington, WV library stocking shelves, and his mother does amazing work with Autistic adults with her Autism Services Center.
posted by remo at 11:40 AM on December 22, 2009


Avec le Wikipedia: His reading technique consisted of reading the left page with his left eye and the right page with his right eye and in this way he could read two pages at time with a rate of about 8-10 seconds per page.

I was going to make some joke about whether he was an excellent driver, but anyone who can do something like that should have been carried around in a sedan chair like the most amazing living treasure that he was.

. and !
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2009


I saw him once at the Salt Lake City library, poring over volumes of golf statistics.
posted by mecran01 at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2009


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I got a chance to meet him 13 years ago, when I was 11. He was the guest speaker at a gifted students summer camp I went to in Littleton. Incredibly nice, funny, and personable man. During the Q&A, one of the students asked him how he felt about George Lucas, and he responded by scatting the Star Wars theme at the top of his lungs. He hung out afterwards for a few hours to talk with everybody - it was a pretty amazing experience.
posted by clcapps at 12:49 PM on December 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


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posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:00 PM on December 22, 2009


I met Kim once at the Salt Lake City Library - a friend introduced me to him. He was sitting at a table with two different cities' phone books open in front of him, and it appeared that he was reading both, or comparing them somehow.

When my friend introduced him he said "Yeah, Rain Man," kind of dismissively. He made small talk with us for a few minutes, still reading the phone books the whole time. He was nice, and more social than I expected considering my experience with autistic people.


Thanks for reminding us just how amazing the human mind is, Kim.


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posted by mmoncur at 4:03 PM on December 22, 2009


And he was only aged 58 years. (Or 509,352 hours. Definitely 509,352 hours.)
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 5:19 PM on December 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that such elevated ability in the brain comes at the cost of things such as being unable to do up one's own shirt buttons.

I wonder if elevated abilities in a 'normal' brain would come at the cost of one's sanity. Without filters would it all be too much to process?

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posted by bwg at 5:22 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by dealing away at 11:22 PM on December 22, 2009


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posted by Smart Dalek at 5:01 AM on December 23, 2009


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posted by IndigoRain at 1:10 AM on December 24, 2009


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