When those of us in the sighted population think of blindness, and by extension of the blind, we often make the mistake of thinking of blind experience as one particular thing, somehow the same for all who experience it. The truth is, just like in every other aspect of perception/consciousness, blindness is an endlessly unique experience and each person who lives with it relates to it and develops with it in their own singular way.
In exploration of this very concept, San Antonio-based photographer Michael Nye has published a new book this month via Trinity University Press.
The book, entitled My Heart Is Not Blind: On Blindness and Perception, is both emotionally poignant (in a deeply humanistic way) and, from a philosophical/psychological standpoint, quite thought-provoking. It is a profound statement of the absolute diversity of individual minds/consciousnesses and lives, a reminder of the fact that the world is a different thing for each and every person that grasps at it, and a call to empathy, not only toward the blind experience but toward all types of diversity of experience.
In terms of format, the book features personal life narratives from more than 45 people (including San Antonio accordion guru Juanito Castillo, pictured) talking about their lives in terms of their blindness and in terms of everything else. Each narrative portrait is accompanied by a stunning photographic portrait by Nye, whose eye and technical skill coalesce to produce a truly transcendent product.
Just like every other human experience, we come to find that the narratives contained in this book, and the striking photographs that accompany them, run the gamut from funny to heart-breaking, from inspiring to frustrating, and everything in between.
In his introduction to the book, Nye sets the tone more succinctly than I ever could:
“Not all blind people are blind. Not all sighted people can see. Knowing what the world looks like is not a requirement for understanding. For many, ‘blindness’ suggests a lack of awareness. If that is true, then everyone is blind to what they don’t know.”
If this all sounds as interesting and edifying to you as it should, you can grab the book at tupress.org. This week you can also attend a talk and book signing with Nye at the Twig (details below). And, last but certainly not least, there is an exhibit that acts as a companion to My Heart Is Not Blind on view at the Witte Museum (3801 Broadway, wittemuseum.org) through March 31.
Michael Nye Author Appearance
Free, 5:30-7pm Thu, Feb. 28, the Twig Book Shop, 306 Pearl Pkwy., (210) 826-6411, thetwig.com
Get our top picks for the best events in San Antonio every Thursday morning. Sign up for our Events Newsletter.