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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]
Category Archives: Flaneur
Laurence Stern: “Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine;—they are the life, the soul of reading!—take them out of this book, for instance,—you might as well take the book along with them.” Continue reading
At the end of his 60 Minutes interview last night, Barack Obama acknowledge that one of his biggest transitions as President-Elect is the loss of the simplest of pleasures: taking a walk around the neighborhood. What he says is heartfelt, … Continue reading
I’ve never heard this metric before, although the U.S. Federal Highway Administration tracks and publishes it every month. Maybe it will become a number everyone watches nervously, like the Dow-Jones average, the Body Mass Index, or the weekend movie box … Continue reading
[Source: The Sartorialist] It wouldn’t be Fashionista Street without a flaneur to savor the scene. Thanks to Scott Schuman for documenting spring in Paris! Cathy Horyn writes about Schuman’s and Bill Cunningham’s street photography in a recent On the Runway … Continue reading
As I have lost eyesight over the past thirty years, walking has been the simplest and most dependable solution to the functional limitations of my disability. When I stopped driving cars at age eighteen, walking was the mode of transportation … Continue reading
Mayor Nathan Phillips and wife Esther claim Bay Street in Toronto on February 27, 1960. In his autobiography, Mayor of All the People, he noted that the street was empty on a Sunday morning. Christopher Leinberger’s report on walkable urban … Continue reading
The term flaneur does not appear in the latest report from the Brookings Institution ranking the most walkable U.S. cities. Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin would shudder at the notion that walking and “walkability” could be measured or planned systematically. … Continue reading
The Siren, by John William Waterhouse (circa 1900) [Source: Wikimedia Commons] I worked on a small literary magazine in the 1970s with a graphic designer who was smitten with the intricate book illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley. I should rummage around … Continue reading