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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: memoir
A blind flaneur wanders into some preposterous situations from time to time. With a website like this one, preposterous situations also find him. This morning I was thrilled by an invitation to be a judge at the Writers Get Violent boxing match on Thursday night in Paris. Alas, I am in the States today, and I don’t know how I could get it together to cross the pond just now. Break my heart! Continue reading
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.
I’m thinking about giving this book as a gift… and now I’m beseeching Santa to consider giving it to me, too! Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes” tells the story of a family that included Charles Ephrussi, the prototype for Swann in Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu. Renoir immortalized him in The Luncheon of the Boating Party (he’s the gentleman in top hat seen in profile in the background). Here is Nancy Pearl’s thumbnail book review on NPR:
One of the great scenes in my life, something like the great banquet scene in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, unfolded at my mother’s nursing home when an Elvis “stylist” crooned to us after the annual friends-and-family Thanksgiving dinner. Most of the ladies at our table, my mother included, didn’t know whether this Elvis was an impersonator or the real deal. But they remembered how to swoon.