And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Multitude; for we are many."
At the request of many families* I’m uploading here my favorite short story ever. I first came to know it through Donna Haraway’s work. I kept seeing the reference – I think it’s the name of a chapter in Situated Knowledges, referenced somewhere in A Cyborg Manifesto, and appears a couple of times in her reader – and got to Varley’s sci-fi anthology with the same name. Although the other stories are good, The Persistence of Vision – curiously the only one that cannot be considered science fiction per se – is just absolutely astounding, a mind-blowing fragment of fiction that opens the doors to new forms of relating with each other, of perceiving things around us and ourselves, of seeing the world. ‘Seeing’ might not be the best term… The Persistence of Vision is a first-person description of a wanderer who encounters a society inhabited and built solely by deaf and blind people.
In the antipodes of José Saramago’s Essay on Blindness – another brilliant novel which tackles how vision persists and insists in shaping our cosmology, our relations and our language – TPV does not see (lol? blindness as being merely a negative attribute, a lack of vision. And although its main character is also a seeing/able-bodied person, TPV does not describe him as having some sort of advantage in comparison with the blind. Quite the opposite. By entering a world built by and for the deaf-bind, the ‘able-body’ becomes the ‘disabled’ one, and the narrator begins to find the richness of dethroning vision from the top of the the senses’ hierarchy. This, of course, allied with Varley’s hippie-influenced and highly speculative feminism and anti-racism.
Enjoy your reading! -> John Varley – persistence of vision