Translate The Page
About the Flaneur
I walk through my blindness the way I wander down streets in Paris: unfettered and alive, alert to the raw material of the senses. I am a flaneur. Come along with me. Just don’t try to take my arm, unless I ask. What’s a flaneur? Read the first post, Return of the Flaneur to Galerie Vivienne. After that, try Foot Rage and the Blind Flaneur. Then stay tuned.
Letting Go of Sight
I’ve canoed on Lake Superior for almost as many years as I’ve been losing eyesight. I return year after year like a migrating loon to learn the other side of a slow, uncertain process that we could call “going blind.” After 35 years with the lake as my teacher, I know what lies on the other side. I call it letting go of sight. Read Big Water. See more about the Great Lakes.
Not This PigIf there is an emerging genetic underclass, I could run for class president or class clown. Read more in Not This Pig (2003).
Media in Transition @ MiT
Disabled Americans today have to negotiate for the kinds of accommodations made for FDR, and the caveat “reasonable accommodation” is built into the law. President Franklin Roosevelt did not have to negotiate. He could summon vast resources of the federal government – money as well as brains – to accomplish the work of disability. And it was accomplished with such thoroughness and efficiency that its scale could be called the Accessibility-Industrial Complex had it been directed toward public accommodations and not solely the needs of a single man. Read FDR and the Hidden Work of Disability [MiT8 2013]
Shepard Fairey claimed that his posterization of a copyrighted AP news photo of Barack Obama was a transformative work protected by the fair use doctrine. In other words, it was a shape-shifter. I claim fair use, too, when I reproduce and transform copyrighted works into media formats that are accessible to me as a blind reader. Read Shape-Shifters in the Fair Use Lab [MiT6 2009]
The social engineers who created a system for licensing beggars in New York never imagined that a blind woman had culture or could make culture. She herself may not have imagined it, either. In the moment when Paul Strand photographed her surreptitiously on the street in 1916, he could not have expected that one day blind photographers would reverse the camera’s gaze. Read Curiosity & The Blind Photographer. [MiT5 2007]
Author Archives: Mark Willis
The working class label was everywhere in the 2016 election. Its cachet is likely to fade over time along with Donald Trump’s populist credibility. Before that happens, I want to explore what it means to be working class. It’s not as simple as the pundits, pollsters and political operatives think. Continue reading
I will not snap a selfie with my ballot on Nov. 8. I voted two weeks ago. I’ve paid close attention to this election all year. Uncharacteristically, I have avoided speaking about it in public. Then I read this stark challenge in a Washington Post editorial: “When the republic was in danger, where did you stand? History will ask that question.” I doubt my words will change anyone’s vote now, but for the sake of history, I need to explain my decision.
Let me give thanks again today to Ms. Modigliani. my first reader; to all of you who stroll the site, who are my kind of movement; and to Paris itself, its people and its streets, which have given me a freedom of place that cannot be extinguished by terror and hate.
Via NPR 111415: “In the aftermath of the coordinated terror attacks on Paris, people around the world have been taking to social media to share their grief and show support for the French people. | One image, in particular, has become a kind of icon of international solidarity: a simple, but powerful, black-and-white ink drawing of a peace sign — with the Eiffel Tower at its heart. The picture popped up online last night, and since then it has been shared, liked, tweeted and retweeted as people attempt to cope with the tragedy. | It has become known as the “Peace for Paris” symbol. And its creator, illustrator Jean Jullien, awoke Saturday morning to discover that it had gone viral.”
New Orleans composer, producer and piano doctor Allen Toussaint died last night following a concert in Madrid. He was 77 years old. I learned his name first as the songwriter of “What is Success?” recorded in the 1970s by Bonnie Raitt. It wasn’t the first time I heard is music, I just didn’t know who wrote the hits for Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, and many other R&B singers. Wish I could be in New Orleans to dance in his Second Line!