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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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Category Archives: Walter Benjamin
Passage des Panoramas, Paris. [Photo by deneux_jacques] Thanks to deneux_jacques for sharing this image in the Creative Commons. See his superb photo set, Ah, Paris! Imaging Paris documents places in the city and the images that inhabit them. “Just as … Continue reading
I’ve alluded several times to Walter Benjamin’s 1937 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” I cited it as a kind of shorthand for several ideas that I want to explore in a blind flaneur. After … 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
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 … Continue reading
Two 19th-century illustrations depict Place de la Bastille in the years before and after Victor Hugo ‘s description of the Elephant in Les Misérables IV.6. 2: [above left] Elephant caparaconne d’or by Alvoine, from the time of Napoleon; [below left] … Continue reading
[Photo by gadl] Art is everywhere in Paris. You don’t have to stand in line or pay 10 euros to enter the museum. As the flaneur knows, the museum is the street. You pay with your attention. This image represents … Continue reading
Illuminations (1968) is the most-widely read anthology of Walter Benjamin’s writing in English. The essays gathered there, including “Unpacking My Library” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” were chosen by Hannah Arendt. She also contributed … Continue reading