Braille for Giuliani, a Micro Essay

Cover of Planet of the Blind....man and dog....

See all the apparently whole people walking around in their hidden half bodies. The joke is they’re temporarily “not” disabled so they get to pretend they’re complete. Compared to them the cripples are Odysseus or Wonder Woman.

At least the folks in my tribe fully understand the shifting vicissitudes of the inner life. Andrew Solomon put it this way: “Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.”

Being disabled is the only “whole” condition there is.
Being disabled is to laugh and cry simultaneously.
Being disabled is to wish always to free the zoo.
Being disabled is the truest quality of happiness.

Throw off whole-person costumes you able bodied types!
Dance with us!

**

Meanwhile, a memory from 1994:

I was at the guide dog school and it was Sunday. I did some unrehearsed and ridiculous dances with my dog. I had a blues harp and I played and lunged around the room and she jumped and wagged. My hair was crazy. I was a Viking beserker, the stranger you don’t invite home to meet your mother. I was cross-eyed and happy and unkempt. I was blind Enkidu. And that’s when a knock came at the door and I opened it and there before me was the Mayor of New York City and his family—his wife and children and a photographer, and the president of the school. “Hi,” said Rudolph Giuliani, “I’m Rudy Giuliani.” It was 1994. Rudy wasn’t yet “America’s Mayor” and he hadn’t yet cashed in all his political and PR capital as “the man who cleaned up New York” but he was working on it. Instead of his daily charcoal Armani suit he was wearing a “Members Only” aqua baseball jacket and blue jeans. He was having a day in the country. Life was “tres sportif” and photogenically arranged, save that now the Mayor was meeting Volroth the Hairy whose forest green cable sweater was covered with dog fur; whose hair was pure electrolysis—his hair almost on fire with weirdness. To better understand this moment, you must know I’m a lifelong Democrat, without reservation and I wasn’t certain I should touch Giuliani, for I am truly a primitive; he might have had cooties; but his kids were there, and my dog Corky was poking her head into the hallway and Giuliani’s little daughter had come forward and was reaching out and so I shook the man’s hand because what else could I do—and I said something about the wonders of the guide dog school and its amazing dogs and staff. And the Mayor smiled. He had one of those glacial smiles. Its chief asset was its largeness. And the entourage moved on.

**

The invention of a tactile alphabet produced the promise of literacy for the blind, which sounds significant enough, but I think it’s also useful to think of literacy as Peter McClaren describes it: “an animated common trust in the power of love, a belief in the reciprocal power of dialogue, and a commitment to ‘conscientization’ and political praxis.” The blind appear in a communitarian sense when they’re given books and the means to read them. Books, especially in Braille represent a common faith in the power of community.

Someone should have taught Braille to Rudy.
The poor bastard. Like everyone in the Trump circle, he’s just a half human walking pretend-whole-person charade.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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