The Economist’s “Prospero” interviews Oliver Sacks about face-blindness (a condition he is affected by) and writing about experience:
You write about conditions that are familiar but also very foreign, which many people have not experienced. Can one ever really know the experience of someone else through description?
I sort of sit in the middle here. I think I quite like Bertrand Russell’s distinction of knowledge by description and knowledge by acquaintance … no description could match what’s happening to me now. But one must try as hard as possible to be precise and eloquent. I think concrete examples of what it’s like are very telling.