Berlin Diary: Braille Lights

     |    Friday, der 12. November 2010

Last night I watched Antoine, a documentary shot in French-speaking Canada about a 6 year old blind boy.  In school, Antoine learns to use a Braille punching machine. This typewriter like contraption is loud! and makes dots on paper in specific patterns that can be read with the fingers.  I loved the idea of letters taking on physical form. It is a sensuous idea. Language becoming touchable. The film accompanies him in his daily life – we experience how he gets around using the senses seeing folks under employ: touch, taste, sound, hearing. The film also slowly unveils Antoine’s inner life, expressed in a story he tells about a woman who disintegrated into thousands of drops of water while taking a shower. This “Madam Rouski” as he calls her, had contacted Antoine for help in restoring her to her old form.

Antoine lost the retinas in both of his eyes as an infant. There was too much oxygen in the incubator he lived in for three months. The incubator atmosphere caused his retinas to disintegrate.

In school, Antoine learns to use a Braille punching machine. This typewriter like contraption is loud! and makes dots on paper in specific patterns that can be read with the fingers. I loved the idea of letters taking on physical form. It is a sensuous idea. Language becoming touchable.

During the talk after the film I was distracted and enchanted by the lights on the ceiling of the Zeughaus Kino.  I took pictures of them and later, the lights appeared to me to echo what I experienced watching the film.  I saw rods and cones in those halogen lamps. Later over tea, I showed a friend the pictures in my camera viewer.  She said that the points of lights reminded her braille. Indeed.

On further thought, you could say, the lights could be atoms. That Madam Rouski dissolved into her molecular elements. Yes. And so did Antoine’s retinas. They are all still out there somewhere. We are breathing and living them.

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xhiller