word of the day: touch

by erika

Hi Friends,

ez has a friend at school who is blind. ez loves this friend and is eager to learn braille because of him. He even looked for braille valentines at the store (there weren’t any), but chose some with glitter so that his friend could have something to feel and could, perhaps, read his friendship in the upraised sparkle. What a thing–to look for the language of our dear ones to try to better communicate with them– to find the ways that are specific to them so that they can feel our love.That my five year old has this capacity and curiosity about loving sends me aloft.

I have never researched the braille alphabet until this morning. It is beautiful– complicated and elegant at the same time. Based off of Barbier’s “night writing,” Louis Braille’s new cellular notation was the first binary form of communication in the modern era. A man who lost his vision in a childhood accident riffed off the French military exercise of night writing, creating our first key-hole view into the language of computers. Until this morning, night writing meant a full moon, a half-emptied glass, and a tear-sodden piece of parchment. Or deft hands moving over the glowing skin of a lover. Or a last minute flurry on the keyboard for that paper on Descartes’ Passion of the Soul.

word of the day: touch

Braille and night writing both use the fingers to communicate– they use touch to be in touch. Nicole Krauss writes about “The Age of Silence” in her most brilliant book, The History of Love, and how “at night, when it’s too dark to see, we find it necessary to gesture on each other’s bodies to make ourselves understood.” In today’s age of noise, we spend much of our time using our fingers to hammer out things for the eyes to see, not the body to feel. Our poor hands, so much work with so little sensation in return. I am just now noticing the metal slick of my keyboard, the smooth wet slate feeling of my mousepad. I spend more of my day with this object but rarely do I feel it.

Perhaps it is due to this sense of alienation that I have taken to carrying a rock lately, a reminder that my hands need a tactile treat. They give and give and give but how often do they receive? That small, rough, pink pocket stone has a braille all its own; it holds the night writing of a million years, and a history of love and loss longer than anyone could ever record. And while Safeway may never carry braille Valentines, ez and I will keep searching for new ways for our love to be raised up and truly felt. touch.

Love to all,

not-so-silent e