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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]
Tag Archives: books
Hester Prynne holds her infant daughter Perl in an engraved illustration from an 1878 edition of The Scarlet Letter. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]
I was very pleased too hear Roger Ebert speak via voice synthesizer yesterday on NPR. I listen to the same kind of machine voice day in, day out. That’s how I read, how I write and edit the words you’re reading now. It isn’t weird or the stuff of science fiction, like 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s no big deal. Like disability itself, it’s an everyday fact of life. Ebert’s comfort level with his surrogate voice will help a lot of people to get used to that kind of accommodation, too.
I’m reading Colum McCann’s fine novel, Let the Great World Spin, winner of the National Book Award in2009 . It is widely acclaimed as a post-9/11 novel even though its setting is 1974 New York, when Philippe Petit made his audacious high-wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center. McCann’s Prologue describes that scene as it was apprehended from ground level on the streets of lower Manhattan. Reading it took my breath away. I heard in McCann’s phrasing the sprawling democratic lists and rolling cadences of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” It’s a robust expression of a long literary tradition.
The new documentary Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search for a Kool Place chronicles the hallucinogenic adventures of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they rode the Magic Bus across America in 1964. The bus driver was none other than Neal Cassidy, the inspiration for Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. The saga was immortalized in Tom Wolfe’s best-seller The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.