The Irish Savant’s Problem
- Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay by Kate Tunstall
Continuum, 238 pp, £17.99, August 2011, ISBN 978 1 4411 1932 2
That, I suppose, must be my mother’s eye, up there on the monitor: that bobbing dark yolk, fringed by wriggling capillaries and the stainless steel of the speculum that holds her lids apart. I’m down the corridor from the operating theatre, waiting to drive her home with her patch and new lens. On the live action screen, I watch a scalpel take aim at her pupil and pierce the cornea at a point on its circumference, opening up for the instruments that will detach the cataracted lens, scrunch it to pieces and hoover the pieces away. After that moment when the metal first nicks the jelly, it’s all commandingly impersonal. The servicing of ‘the soft machine’ (as William Burroughs called the body) proceeds to anaesthetising muzak, and tomorrow or the next day my mother, only a little sore, will start to see the world again through her new synthetic lens. For me, there will just be a faint twinge, thinking how this keyhole to the soul, so deep and so watchful, can abruptly translate into a probed gelatinous mass, quivering like an egg as it fries.