Howard Axelrod's new book is The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude.
From his Q & A with Caroline Leavitt:
Can you please talk about what it means to see differently?--Marshal Zeringue
Everyone, I think, has had some experience with seeing differently. After you fall in love, or after a friend has died, or even after you finish a beautiful book--in each case, the air around you feels distinctly different: your eye penetrates in ways it didn't before, and you become attuned to the world, for whatever period of time, in a new way. Of course, if you went to an ophthalmologist, she'd say nothing had changed, but if you went to a phenomenologist--imagine the eye chart!--or just a good friend, she'd agree that something had. Sometimes these changes in vision, which are really changes in consciousness, happen through accident, sometimes through effort, and sometimes through both. That combination of accident and effort is what my book is about, but my change in vision started more prosaically, with a physical change in vision.
When I was blinded in my right eye, the difficulty was of making sense of a world that had suddenly become larger, whose rules had changed in an instant. Without depth perception, nothing looked solid to me; I no longer trusted physical surfaces--they looked permeable--and, soon enough, no longer trusted my own surfaces, the parts of my identity that came from circumstance. My blindness started me on a search for a deeper kind of orientation, for something other than the visual world that I could trust. Which, ultimately, is what sent me into solitude in...[read on]