While I am out (there)


I’ve been an installation factory, and am at the point I wanted to reach: production finished, underlying structures built, with just a bit more color here and there, then final assembly when I return next week. Now I am the prep and packing division (both specialist and labor). Tomorrow I am the chauffeur, off to Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, glad that the next destinations are each within a day’s drive. In the meantime, if the following quote appeals to you, this excellent article resonates strongly with one of the several not-new-but-more-in-depth ways I’ve been thinking. I’m looking forward to exploring further and conflating with other lines of thought at Ragdale (and a welcome quiet season at home).

“You might imagine that “disability studies” is just one more category of identity that’s purely for political advocacy, interesting only to those directly affected by issues of accessibility, accommodation, or special rights. But “disabledness” is a far more slippery designation than even the other notorious ways cultures have of historically organizing themselves—along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity, and the rest. And while these latter categories have also been shown to be much less stable than once thought, disability is another matter altogether. There are at least two big reasons why disability concerns are everyone’s concerns.

First, it’s a false divide to make a we/them: either able-minded, able-bodied, or disabled. After all, how cultures define, think about, and treat those who currently have marked disabilities is how all its future citizens may well be perceived if and when those who are able-bodied become less abled than they are now: by age, degeneration, or some sudden—or gradual—change in physical or mental capacities. All people, over the course of their lives, traffic between times of relative independence and dependence. So the questions cultures ask, the technologies they invent, and how those technologies broadcast a message about their users—weakness and strength, agency and passivity—are important ones. And they’re not just questions for scientists and policy-makers; they’re aesthetic questions too.”

Sara Hendren (someone I’ll be reading more from)