Blindness  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"In the 1960s, Paul Bach-y-Rita invented a device that allowed blind people to read, perceive shadows, and distinguish between close and distant objects. This "machine was one of the first and boldest applications of neuroplasticity." (Doidge 2007) The patient sat in an electrically stimulated chair. Behind the chair, a large camera scanned the area, sending electrical signals of the image to four hundred vibrating stimulators on the chair against the patient's skin. The six experimental subjects eventually could recognize a picture of the fashion model Twiggy."

Lazarillo de Tormes (1808-12) by Francisco de Goya "Before the blind man could withdraw his long nose that was choking Lazarillo, his "stomach revolted and discharged the stolen goods in his face, so that his nose and that hastily chewed sausage left (Lazarillo's) mouth at the same time".
Enlarge
Lazarillo de Tormes (1808-12) by Francisco de Goya
"Before the blind man could withdraw his long nose that was choking Lazarillo, his "stomach revolted and discharged the stolen goods in his face, so that his nose and that hastily chewed sausage left (Lazarillo's) mouth at the same time".

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors. Various scales have been developed to describe the extent of vision loss and define blindness. Blinding has been used as an act of vengeance and torture in some instances, to deprive a person of a major sense by which they can navigate or interact within the world, act fully independently, and be aware of events surrounding them. An example from the classical realm is Oedipus, who gouges out his own eyes after realizing that he fulfilled the awful prophecy spoken of him. Having crushed the Bulgarians, the Byzantine Emperor Basil II blinded as many as 15,000 prisoners taken in the battle, before releasing them.

Contents

Society and culture

In literature and the arts

Blindness in literature

In Greek myth, Tiresias was a prophet famous for his clairvoyance. According to one myth, he was blinded by the Gods as punishment for revealing their secrets, while another holds that he was blinded as punishment after he saw Athena naked while she was bathing. In the Odyssey, the one-eyed Cyclops Polyphemus captures Odysseus, who blinds Polyphemus in order to escape. In Norse mythology, Loki tricks the blind God Höðr into killing his brother Baldr, the God of happiness.

The Bible contains numerous instances of Jesus performing miracles to heal the blind. According to the Gospels, Jesus healed the two blind men of Galilee, the blind man of Bethsaida, the blind man of Jericho and the man who was born blind.

The parable of the blind men and an elephant has crossed between many religious traditions and is part of Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu lore. In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.

Poet John Milton, who went blind in mid-life, composed On His Blindness, a sonnet about coping with blindness. The work posits that [those] who best Bear [God]'s mild yoke, they serve him best.

Slaver-turned-abolitionist John Newton composed the hymn Amazing Grace about a wretch who "once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see." Blindness, in this sense, is used both metaphorically (to refer to someone who was ignorant but later became knowledgeable) and literally, as a reference to those healed in the Bible. In the later years of his life, Newton himself would go blind.

"Three Blind Mice" is a medieval English nursery rhyme about three blind mice whose tails are cut off after chasing the farmer's wife. The work is explicitly incongruous, ending with the comment Did you ever see such a sight in your life, As three blind mice?

Bob Dylan's anti-war song "Blowin' in the Wind" twice alludes to metaphorical blindness: How many times can a man turn his head // and pretend that he just doesn't see... How many times must a man look up // Before he can see the sky?

Contemporary fiction contains numerous well-known blind characters. Some of these characters can "see" by means of fictitious devices, such as the Marvel comic superhero Daredevil, who can "see" via his super-human hearing acuity, or Star Trek's Geordi La Forge, who can see with the aid of a VISOR, a fictitious device that transmits optical signals to his brain.

Metaphorical uses

The word "blind" (adjective and verb) is often used to signify a lack of knowledge of something. For example, a blind date is a date in which the people involved have not previously met; a blind experiment is one in which information is kept from either the experimenter or the participant in order to mitigate the placebo effect or observer bias. The expression "blind leading the blind" refers to incapable people leading other incapable people. Being blind to something means not understanding or being aware of it. A "blind spot" is an area where someone cannot see, for example, where a car driver cannot see because parts of his car's bodywork are in the way.

Namesakes

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Blindness" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools