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Out of darkness - A memoir

Book cover with portrait of Zoltan Torey.

Zoltan Torey
ISBN: 0-330-36421 9

Zoltan Torey has lived a "rich and eventful life". He became blind in his early twenties following an industrial accident and, contrary to advice at the time, he decided to actively develop his visualisation skills as a way of understanding and interacting with the world around him.

Tentatively at first, and then with more confidence he would picture people's faces, houses, landscapes and activities. With practice he was able to create images in his mind, then fine tune then with feedback and clues from his other senses. Walking down a street he would picture the houses, and where there was an acoustic gap he would look, visualising along what he thought might be a driveway with a garage and gardens.

While understanding that these images are approximations, Zoltan's ability to generate, hold and manipulate the pictures in his mind had many benefits, allowing him to "see" and enjoy the world around him. Psychologically these mental techniques meant he could continue to live in a world of light and colour.

As his confidence increased he found himself able to visualise more complex mechanical and technical problems, and later to replace the roof guttering on his multi-gabled house (much to the alarm of his neighbours). While typing he would watch the key's hitting the paper and even see the typing mistakes.

Born in Hungary in 1929, Zoltan recalls a privileged childhood surrounded by good company, books and theatre. His father, head of a large motion-picture studio, would bring scripts home for his son to read. This creative environment was an important part of his youth and stimulated his imagination - a skill he would perfect in later years following his accident. It was the start of a remarkable journey that culminated in the publication of The Crucible of Consciousness, an academic work that presented a new theory of the conscious mind.

At the time of his accident, and with no hope of recovering his sight, Zoltan decided he would pursue his interest in the puzzle of human consciousness. He gave up dentistry and enrolled in a university psychology course - "a pioneering adventure" that required some improvisation as he did not use Braille and there were few facilities in the 1950's. On graduation, unable to get full time employment, he started researching and writing his manuscript "The Crucible of Consciousness" which was later published to much acclaim.

Zoltan's memoir is told with humour and honesty, and shows what can be accomplished by opening the mind to life's possibilities.

" ... his story is an exemplification of the unexpected and almost limitless powers of adaptation which the human brain can achieve" Forward by Oliver Sacks MD 2003.


Out of darkness is published by Picador (Pan Macmillan Australia) and is available in print from bookshops and online booksellers.

July 2003

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