The opportunity one sometimes has to hear John Coltrane playing Soul Eyes. That’s a sentence for the indirect object is perfectly implied. If you don’t get it you don’t.
If you don’t get that I’m blind but not deficient in imagination or discernment well, you don’t get it. Artists at the famous arts colonies and conferences don’t grasp this. I’m used to it.
I’m a poor, blind, unknowing wretch.
I’ve been writing against disability as pejorative metaphor for thirty years.
What can I say?
The narrow highways of ableist fancy take the sighted to the shopping malls of vanity where no reappraisal of physical trauma will ever jar their consumerist ambitions.
By day I want to go from the white square to the black. I don’t require much. Ambient chess in the wind torn world.
I have a sense of myself as a social thorn. And the ablest types are happy to confirm this. What they don’t know is I come from a culture that makes excellent thorn soup.
Scientists think they’ve discovered the secret to Coltrane’s high notes. They think it has to do with the man’s glottis.
I say its thorn soup.
ABOUT: Stephen Kuusisto is the author of the memoirs Have Dog, Will Travel; Planet of the Blind (a New York Times “Notable Book of the Year”); and Eavesdropping: A Memoir of Blindness and Listening and of the poetry collections Only Bread, Only Light and Letters to Borges. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Fulbright Scholar, he has taught at the University of Iowa, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Ohio State University. He currently teaches at Syracuse University where he holds a University Professorship in Disability Studies. He is a frequent speaker in the US and abroad. His website is StephenKuusisto.com.
(Photo picturing the cover of Stephen Kuusisto’s new memoir “Have Dog, Will Travel” along with his former guide dogs Nira (top) and Corky, bottom.) Bottom photo by Marion Ettlinger