A blind alley avoided.

Published by: mike on 29th Oct 2017 | View all blogs by mike

    This is just a reply  to a few previous blogs of mine.  I enquired if degenerative 

blindness affected memory and I am inclined to Squidge’s point of view as she has practical experience of the matter . Did deafness affect the way in which Beethoven wrote music?   Apparently not on a major scale! All one can say is that it was rather tragic for someone  - whose vocation required that he must read and visualize the world -  to lose his sight.   It is even more  tragic for Beethoven to be unable to hear his own compositions.  BBC television recently broadcast some programmes about Jacqueline du Pre.  Her story is  an even more tragic case of an illness that separated  her from her cello.  But my grandfather did not go blind and his memories - when aged - seem far more those of a blind man than someone who can see. He retreated completely into his past and his imagination. Memories become mixed up. We might call this brainstorming  or magical realism, whatever,or put his memories in the context of French literary theories that are beyond the comprehension of mere mortals.

         But this does not affect the plot of blindness. I will, however, have to think of another way to tell the story.   He does recall the Arab tradition of oral story telling to a great extent. An Arab story teller would be perfect, but I have not the skill for this, and I am not an Arab!   (The ghost in this story is Edward Said.)

      The problem of blindness is still with us.  Early last week  I attended the performance of a play which was staged at a brand new theatre.  This theatre is on the south bank of the Thames and fronts the river.  On the north bank is the Tower of London and the theatre is virtually next to the new town hall.,  In front of the town hall is a huge display promoting the charity ‘Sight Savers.’  The display highlighted the severe problem of blindness in the third world.  Most of the  problems  can be cured by an operation, but Opthalmia is not mentioned.

         I have just read Mary Beard’s history of Ancient Rome.  The issues of women and slaves in the Nile Delta of 1832 seem somewhat similar to those of women and slaves in Ancient Rome  especially as Arabia  formed part of the Ottoman Empire.  But this might be going too far.  I think Mary Beard and this great, great grandfather might be on the same wavelength?

          The blind journalist, and historian  - began his London career in 1820 and was active in Plymouth before then.  Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837.  I think  he is more of a Georgian than a Victorian.

      Before his travels in the Middle-East, he had written a history of India; a history of  travel writers;  he also originated a periodical/newspaper which might have been a precursor to the ‘London Review of Books’ and  he wrote a history of  Ancient Greece in which he tries to tell the lives of ordinary people.  As he was a Georgian, Gibbon might have been the historical mentor. 

    I wonder if Mary Beard is a Georgian in spirit?   The Festival Hall on the South Bank has  been celebrating the music of the Russian Revolution in a series.,  I  attended a few of these concerts and bravely questioned one of the young ushers.  She confessed that Karl Marx had not been on her school syllabus

    The play at the new theatre is great fun,  It is a farce about the young Karl Marx when he lived in Dean Street, and features a punch up at the British Museum in which Charles Darwin becomes involved. I wonder what Marx would have thought of a theatre that is embedded in a block of  expensive,luxurious flats that now  front the Thames?

    The concert  - that  heard from the upper gallery in a packed concert hall - featured Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad Symphony‘  This was last Friday.  It was being recorded by the BBC so it might be heard on the third programme.  An academic gave a talk about the symphony before the concert.  But I think the story behind this work is well known.

 

 

 

 

Comments

1 Comment

  • mike
    by mike 22 days ago
    Dear Squidge,
    Evidence supports what you say. The journalist became blind between about 1840 to 1846. The original journals were written in 1832, 1833. There is one later travel book published in 1853. This recalls a boat journey from Egypt to Europe in 1832. It just recalls the boat trip back home, All one can say is that the journalist has great powers of recall. But someone else might have a different opinion. The later book on Egypt had been extremely well reviewed - that is, according to the blurbs at the back of the book. A few reviewers refer to it as a ‘romance’ However,the word had a different meaning then. This is the book dedicated to his daughter - written when he was blind,
    At the time he wrote the journals his, family lived in Switzerland and he confesses that they went there because he was a disciple of Rousseau. I remember reading the ‘Confessions’ years ago and read ‘The Social Contract’ as part of a course, but it is all long forgotten. But this throw a rather odd light on a modern reading of his travel writing and might explain why he wrote about common folk and his views on education, He wrote a tract on the education of the people that had been re-printed in the 1970’s as a university source document, He might well have known Mr Birkbeck!! Perhaps he came back to England because of the onset of blindness? Who knows? But I am sure his daughter would have had the same education as his sons.
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