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Aesthetics and disability?

I've been posting most of the interesting links I find to my

This one, though is something I think needs to be discussed in greater depth and
doesn't allow for comments from readers that I'm aware of.

Tom Connors, "On Esthetics & Disability"

I have to agree that it's very difficult to see past a disability or difference at first. No matter what we want to tell ourselves, the first things we judge by are physical appearances and observable behaviors. I seriously doubt that anyone is going to walk up to me and not see the dog. I've hardly ever been mistaken for a sighted person. There are some exceptions, but they are rare and I'm not able to come up with one off the top of my head.

I've heard the argument that the online world is so much better in some ways because people can't judge by appearances. But that's not really completely true. My disability is so much a part of me that it almost always comes up in my writing. It affects what I do and what I write about.

It's not bad, just different. And that's part of aesthetics. It's what you are going to see first along with my word choice and blog layout (unless you're reading in an rss aggrigator or on a friends page). It is one more piece of me that you have to encounter and it may have an influence on what you think of me.

I don't have a problem with that. I like myself as a blind person. I'm trying to learn to assimulate my pain into myself as a part of me, but not let it take over my life. So, to make a long opinion piece even longer, yes, I do think there's an aesthetic of disability, but I think there is an aesthetic for each person. Yeah, I'm different, my difference is sometimes more obvious, but each of you are different. Even if you're just a "normal" (whatever that is) person, there are unique differences that only you have.

What do you think?

Thanks to
The Mote in the Light
for the link to the article.


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Apr. 22nd, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
being mistaken for a sighted person online
I guess it depends on where a person is writing and what about... There are places online where I do participate, sometimes for months, without my blindness ever coming up... Usually it's on psychology-related groups or theology groups, music groups, etc. Blindness never comes up until I ask someone to quit quoting excessively or something, and then people have the questions about how I use the computer, etc. It's not really that I intentionally hide my blindness--I discuss it quite openly if it comes up in the course of something I'm talking about; but there are some topics that I can discuss without ever needing to mention blindness.
Apr. 22nd, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
Re: being mistaken for a sighted person online
That's a good point. A lot of what I participate in is either blindness or RSD related. Or if it's not, I often end up linking to my blog and then people see the picture of Julio and I or read about Julio and I and the rest comes up. Probably when I have time to get in other circles, then blindness won't be as big of an issue.
Apr. 22nd, 2006 08:00 pm (UTC)
This is a real thought provoker. There are oh so many times I wish I could just put my blindness on the shelf and not think about it for a while. But that, of course, is impossible. It's as much a part of me as my hair, my skin, and my cat allergies. But so often (I would even venture to say most often) it's absolutely the first thing people notice, and some just get stuck on that. They can't see my obvious brilliance apart from my disability. *smile* I'd really love to be known as Kevin the history lover, Kevin the liberal thinker, Kevin the frustrated Mariners fan, and for some I have made that transition. But to others I continue to be, and will probably always be, that blind guy. thanks for posting the article.
Apr. 22nd, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's unfortunate that some will never get to know us as the people we are with our disabilities. To them, we are the disability first. Some of thisi has been rumbling around in my head for a while. There's definitely a lot to think about.
Apr. 24th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC)
The article
Isn't disability a normal state of being in the first place?

Apr. 24th, 2006 11:33 am (UTC)
Re: The article
It is, but most people don't see it that way. What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that there's an aesthetic of disability simply because there's an aesthetic of anything. Appearances become part of how a person is viewed. You could argue that in some ways, there's an aesthetic involved in any relationship whether it's the person who rings up your purchase at the grocery store or your best friend.

The first definition in my dictionary says that aesthetic is a definition of what is beautiful. That can be extended, however, and in my Reflective Woman class, it was. Does that help?

Thanks for commenting.
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