On his 18th birthday, Ryan Knighton was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a congenital, progressive disease marked by night-blindness, tunnel vision and, eventually, total blindness. In this penetrating, nervy memoir, which ricochets between meditation and black comedy, Knighton tells the story of his 15-year descent into blindness while incidentally revealing the world of the sighted in all its phenomenal peculiarity.
Stumbling literally and emotionally into darkness, into love and into adulthood, he uses his disability to provide a window into the human condition. His experience of blindness offers unexpected perspectives on sight and the other senses, culture, identity, language and our fears and fantasies. (From Penguin Canada)
Seeing is itself touched with elegy. Reality seems to press its light into us, it is happening, but that's not the way things are. The eye can process only so many images per second, taking in sights the way a camera takes a series of stills. The reality we see is the sketchpad comics we made as kids, me and my brothers and sister. Draw a stickman taking a step on one page, and on the next draw that same figure, only his foot is slightly further ahead, and again on the next page, draw this figure, but with his foot on the ground. Flip through them quickly, and he appears to walk. That's the mechanics of the eye, too. We think we are seeing life as it happens, but pictures are missing. Moments disappear between the stills and make up our unwitnessed lives. To see is to miss things. Loss is always with us.
From Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton ©2006. Published by Penguin Canada.