There Plant Eyes: A Personal and Cultural History of Blindness by M Leona Godin was published this month. The book is also available on Amazon Kindle and Audible. (If you are searching using audio, the title There Plant Eyes is “there” as in here and there, not “their” as in their eyes and my eyes.) Leona Godin is an actor, writer, and advocate who is blind.
This is an important book and I am grateful to Ms Godin for getting it into the public forum. It will go straight onto the curricula of disability studies courses and rightly so. It is a crowded book about blindness through history, culture and memoir. It chronicles in detail how the sighted world has determined the way blindness and blind people have been limited,occasionally deified, and always penalized across centuries and millennia. This stigmatizing and misunderstanding of what blindness is and can do still continues in western cultures though less abusive than before.
Godin is a considerable scholar of literature by and about blind people and the book has references for these books far and away beyond the normal fifty or sixty.
For myself, I wish Ms. Godin would publish the book as twinned volumes – the history of blindness with its hundreds of references and The memoir and acute observations about the culture of sighted people who mostly use sight in such limited and obsessive ways, while continuing a weird fascination with blindness. This is a heavy-weight read, sometimes repetitious rather than a clear path of ideas. It has occasional misinformation such as the reasons for children learning braille and the uses of the white cane where she draws on her own experience only. It is however a must-read.