I’m a big fan of the writing of Orhan Pamuk, in particular his novel My Name is Red, which follows the lives of Turkish miniaturists and includes a piece of historio-medical information which may have ruined my life. Namely: miniaturists focused so closely and constantly on the impossibly small images they were rendering that many of them ultimately went blind. Now, how do I spend my time? Writing, reading, drawing…essentially my main activity is to peer into a box. Oh, hell.
For the first twenty-one years of my life I had perfect vision – in fact, I have a clear memory of looking into the treetops as a child, while waiting for the schoolbus on a grey Seattle morning, and seeing a small white butterfly at the very apex of an evergreen. But when I turned twenty-one-and-a-half, I suddenly needed glasses (the optometrist helpfully informed me that eyesight almost never deteriorates between the ages of twenty and forty. So I must really be straining ’em!).
Now I live with the (likely prescient) terror that I am slowly destroying my eyes, and will eventually have to give up all the activities I most love. In high school my friends and I played a sort of oddly specific form of “Would You Rather?” in which we tried to decide which sense we’d be most willing to give up. I never did come up with a satisfying answer.