My friend and teacher Nancy Mack invited me to visit her seminar on Lev Vygotsky, Mikhail Bakhtin, and the social nature of language. When I took her course ten years ago, it was the most stimulating subject I encountered in graduate school. It tapped my long-standing interest in Russian literature and led eventually to the essay A Word Is The Search For It. I called on Bakhtin for theoretical support for Blowback, a talk about the Supreme Court’s Buck v. Bell decision given last year at the Ohio State University Law School. Otherwise, I haven’t worked much with the Russians for several years. Like the swallows in Osip Mandelstam’s poem, the Russians return dependably in the seasonal cycle of my attention. Something as simple as an invitation to speak to a class can herald their arrival. There is an untold story that I need to tell about Osip and Nadezhda Mandelstam’s influence on me when I first lost the ability to read books. And I’ve mused for along time about affinities between Mandelstam and Walter Benjamin and the totalitarian machines that sought to destroy them. So I’m adding Osip to this web site’s Dramatis Personae. Nadezhda Mandelstam, one of the greatest Russian prose writers of the 20th century, will join him there in due course. Thanks to Nancy for steering me again in this compelling direction.
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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.
Kiki: Man Ray’s Dada Muse
Lee Miller: Surrealist Muse
Miss Tic: Paris Street Art
Poet and street artist Miss Tic isn't exactly a kid in a hoodie with a can of spray paint. Maybe she can still run like hell when the police show up, but can she sprint in high heels? Well-known in international avant-garde circles, her work is exhibited now at the Venice Biennale as well as the alleys of Paris. Read more. See Ethics of Love for a video montage of Miss Tic's provacative poetry. More Paris Street Art.
The Lake and the River
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.
What is a village? A small place, yes, as wide as the world, layered with histories and stories, where you can walk wherever you want to go. My vision of that place is Yellow Springs 2.0.
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).
Re-imagining accessibility through the transformations of culture -- particularly the transformative promise of accessible technology for people with disabilities -- is the work of the Fair Use Lab. What does Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster have to do with accessibility? Read more: Shape-Shifters in the Fair Use Lab [MiT6 2009]
In the moment when Paul Strand photographed her surreptitiously on the street in New York, the social engineers who created a system for licensing beggars never imagined that a blind woman had culture or could make culture. She herself may not have imagined it. Paul Strand probably didn’t give her much credit for making culture, either. Read more: Curiosity & The Blind Photographer [MiT5 2007] See more on blind photographers.
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