From Homer to Helen Keller, from Dune
to Stevie Wonder, from the invention of braille to the science of echolocation, M. Leona Godin explores the fascinating history of blindness, interweaving it with her own story of gradually losing her sight. There Plant Eyes
probes the ways in which blindness has shaped our ocularcentric culture, challenging deeply ingrained ideas about what it means to be "blind." For millennia, blindness has been used to signify such things as thoughtlessness ("blind faith"), irrationality ("blind rage"), and unconsciousness ("blind evolution"). But at the same time, blind people have been othered as the recipients of special powers as compensation for lost sight (from the poetic gifts of John Milton to the heightened senses of the comic book hero Daredevil).
Godin--who began losing her vision at age ten--illuminates the often-surprising history of both the condition of blindness and the myths and ideas that have grown up around it over the course of generations. She combines an analysis of blindness in art and culture (from King Lear
to Star Wars
) with a study of the science of blindness and key developments in accessibility (the white cane, embossed printing, digital technology) to paint a vivid personal and cultural history.
A genre-defying work, There Plant Eyes
reveals just how essential blindness and vision are to humanity's understanding of itself and the world.