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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: public sphere
Today is the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, an august occasion to be sure. So leave it to Beaver to upset the apple cart. Ron Reagan, irreverent son of the 40th President, says Republicans venerate his old man like a fetish. Ron still thinks of him fondly as “Dad” – the sunny 50s-60s type who could groan like Ward Cleaver when he caught the Beav smoking dope in the bedroom. Now Ron’s making the grand book tour to promote his piece of the legend, My Father at 100.
via AlJazeeraEnglish: “Despite the best efforts of Hosni Mubarak’s government, images of millions of Egyptians protesting on the streets of Cairo, Alexandra and Suez have been beamed around the world. But while the clashes between anti- and pro-Mubarak protestors dominated the airwaves, the journalists covering the fighting became targets themselves. Many were harassed, arrested and beaten while others had their equipment confiscated, but they continued to cover the story. The government pulled the plug on the country’s internet connection, cut the phone lines for a time, poured propaganda out on state-controlled media but the momentum of the demonstrators was unstoppable. We trail the coverage of one of the biggest political protests in Arab history, one that came together online, dominated the headlines and sent tremors all the way from Sanaa to Washington.
This week’s images from Tahrir Square in Cairo give a passionate urgency to the metaphor of the Arab street. Since 9/11, American media have used the phrase widely as shorthand for Arab public opinion. But a researcher at York University in Toronto says its meanings are more nuanced. As it’s used in American media, the term often is associated with Irrationality, volatility, and violence. In Arab media the usage is more affirmative, suggesting “main street” or the will of the people. Arab media also apply it globally, speaking in turn about the American street. Why don’t we say that? I hear it as a metaphor for the public sphere, and the free discourse that sustains it. Where else would a flaneur locate it?
What did we do for yucks before Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert? U.S. Presidents said the darnedest things and preserved it for posterity with secret tape recorders in the Oval Office. So now we can listen to Lyndon Johnson belch and kvetch about his crotch, from nuts to bung hole, thanks to Put This On. And the true beauty of it is this: it’s all in the public domain, available for Rabelaisian mashups, because we the people paid for the office and the tape recorders.