I had to mull over your letter [of apology] for a bit before responding. As you probably know, [Ann] and I are on good terms once again. Hopefully, in a little while, this whole thing will be just a small, bad memory, for all of us. In fact, I’m even helping her find places to contact potential mates. I’d say that we’re friends again. [She] says that she forgives me for any wrongness for which I’m to blame in the way things happened last month, and she’s even admitted that she shares equally in any fault that created that painful scenario in mid-October.
Neither of us communicated with the other as often as we should have, about our feelings and aspirations for our association. And, [Ann] ignored several red flags (me not wanting to kiss her or take her to bed, me not allowing her to meet my family, and others). She says that now, she’ll discuss such flags with men, when she detects them. We’re getting along okay now, and hope that everyone can put all this behind us and continue with our friendships.
Thanks for the clarification on your meaning when you said that you wished that I could not see. I would just say that we all use the information available to us to evaluate someone. While you cannot see today yourself, I expect that if you could see, you’d also use visual cues to determine someone’s worthiness to be your mate. From what you said, you use what you hear and feel (through touch) to evaluate potential mates. You do the same thing I do but just with different senses.
Like it or not, visual cues tell much about a person very quickly. Thus the saying: A picture is worth a thousand words. In less than two seconds the sighted can glean information about people that might take weeks to gather through other means such as what they say. As I’ve argued in previous letters, I don’t believe that this visual information is any less meaningful or valid than that obtained through conversation or other forms of observance. How a person looks says much about the lifestyle they lead, their values and priorities, their health, the crowd they hang with, the drugs they take or have taken, their affluence in society, and so on.
This reality places us vision-impaired folks at a disadvantage, especially those of us who have never seen. Thus, the reason society calls us ‘handicapped.’ The terms ‘handicapped’ or ‘physically challenged,’ while often used in a condescending manner by the sighted when referring to our kind, are nonetheless, accurate.
Without ever having had sight, it’s impossible to understand how time-saving it can be. For example, it might take a blind person weeks to learn that someone they’re dating shoots cocaine. But a sighted person can tell this almost immediately by observing the track marks on the arms of the druggie. It’s true that the sighted person may not know exactly what’s going on. But the haggard look, the bulging eyes, and the scars on the arms are turn-offs, and “shout” loudly to stay away from this person. Now is a person who sees really shallow for heeding these visual warning signs?
Or would it be better to ignore their misgivings and proceed with the relationship until the exact nature of the signs is understood? Clearly, this is a value call. As such, there’s no right answer. Some people say that they’d like to learn more than just what the looks tell them, while others hit the bricks and leave immediately based solely on the looks.
Since life is so short, and since I have reasonably good vision at my disposal for making such judgments quickly and with a high degree of accuracy, I choose the latter. I leave at the first signs of visual warnings, because I’ve found that where there’s smoke, there’s always fire. That is to say that where there’s outer beauty, there is a greater beauty within. And, where there’s outer ugliness, there’s probably something bad on the inside creating that visible sign. It is unlikely that a person blind since birth would ever understand this. But it is a reality in the sighted world nonetheless, one that the blind will have to understand and accept if they hope to ever become fully integrated in the sighted culture.
It’s tempting to write off those who use vision as a dimension for judging others, as shallow. We often observe this same phenomenon when listening to the poor talking about the rich. How often have you heard poor people accusing the rich of being superficial because of all the material things they buy? Perhaps the poor don’t understand the joy in a $5000 shopping spree because they’ve never done it, nor could they afford to. Perhaps jealousy also fuels their resentment. However, in those cases when the poor become rich (maybe they hit the lottery or get a high paying job), almost invariably, they end up spending money on things they would not have when they were poor, things they would have judged as shallow when money was scarce. They buy that bigger house, get braces on their teeth, purchase that $30,000 vehicle with all its bells and whistles, and take lavish vacations that before, they could only dream about.
It’s human nature [for] people [to] use what they have at their disposal to better their lives. My advice to you: While you may not have experience seeing, be careful not to underestimate its importance in our sighted superculture, and don’t judge people who use their vision to pick good mates so harshly, for I’m certain that if you had it, you’d use it too. Your comments seem to say this so hopefully, you understand my point.
Now, let me make a couple points about personality verses looks. In your note [...], I inferred from what you said that you believe that a blind person is more likely to get to know a person’s personality because they don’t immediately rule someone out based on looks. You seem to hold someone in higher esteem who judges based on personality than one who judges based on looks. You implied that a person’s looks should, to quote you, “…be secondary to what you learn of their personality…”
But why? Here, you’re doing what so many appearence-challenged people do. You’re attempting to separate the looks from the personality. As we’ve discussed before, in my view, this cannot be done with any meaning. The personality is a symptom of the whole person. It is but one way that a person manifests himself to the world. That’s true. You can learn lots of meaningful information about the whole person from how they act, what they believe, their temperament, and a whole slew of other traits of personality. I agree.
But as discussed above, looks also tell us a great deal about the whole person. They give us one picture of the whole person, personality give us another. Let’s say you have two artists. One paints pictures of people based on what he sees visually. The other paints hers based on what she senses about her subjects’ personalities. Now I ask you: Which of the two portraits would wholly (and thus, better) convey the subject’s true essence? It’d be hard to prove that one picture is any more indicative of the true nature of the person than the other, contrary to popular belief. Popular belief says that we ought to discard the visual portrait and only keep the personality one.
But again, why? The surface beauty is by no means only skin deep, since the personality drives the form the external beauty takes – whether or not she wears make-up and what kind, her hair style, how she walks, whether she manicures her nails, the way she holds her fork when she eats, how she crosses her legs, the clothes she chooses to wear, how heavy she is, and so on. All these things, that some people call traits of external, superficial beauty, are the direct result of how she thinks [and] what she values. In short, her choices in these areas emanate from her personality. Thus, to disregard how someone looks is to ignore some important indicators of how they think. So to talk about personality and looks as separate dimensions of a person is pointless in my opinion, because the two are so inexorably tied together and affect one another so much. I consider myself, not shallow, but astute for being able to size up a person based on how they look. Saves much time in the dating process.
Some argue that personality is the better measure of a person’s worthiness to be loved than how they look, because to them, personality is less transitory (temporary) than looks. They say that beauty fades but that personality traits tend to remain. Again, I disagree.
Personality is probably just as subject to the ravages of aging as the body, since, after all, personality emanates from the brain, and the brain itself is part of a living organism, just as are the legs, breasts, arms, and all the rest of the body parts, and so is exposed to the same deteriorating agents of living. People get wrinkles and blemishes as they age. That’s true. But they also get senile or experience other forms of dementia as they age. They become cynical, and jaded. Or, they become wise and accepting. Whatever. The point is that the brain changes with age and experience, just as does the rest of the body. If you neglect the body, it begins to sag over time. The same is true of the mind. If you exercise and properly nourish the body, it tends to look better. If you exercise and properly nourish the brain, it tends to think better.
Since the brain and body are one (the brain is part of the whole body), it follows that what you do to one, you do to the other. And what benefits one, generally also benefits the other. Eat only donuts without burning them off, and your body gets lazy and fat, and you start to look bad. Your brain also suffers. With all that sugar in the blood, it gets lazy too and wants to sleep and can’t concentrate on tasks at hand. It becomes irritable and forgetful. Over all, it becomes less desirable to be around. Generally speaking, when the body is treated well, it looks more attractive. The personality that results from the healthy body treatment is more enjoyable to others as well. In short, the body that looks good encases a brain that thinks good. When the body looks bad, the brain probably thinks bad too. My own experience with people seems to bear this out. So, looks are no less of a meaningful indicator of a person’s worth than is the mind.
Now, on to [Ann's] computer: It seems that all her problems are solved, since she reformatted her hard drive and started from scratch. I don’t know how [she] came to believe that I had uninstalled IE. But it’s moot now since she’s back in business.
Thanks for the apology. I accept it. It hurt me too, to hear [Ann] in such pain. This is probably why I didn’t clarify my position with her before I did. I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting her. But she seems to be accepting things very well today, and hopefully, this whole experience will help us all to grow a bit.
Thanks for your best wishes for my new relationship. However, that relationship ended a couple weeks ago. We were doing very well. I had gone to visit the ballerina in Pittsburgh for a long weekend. The first two days were wonderful. She was so loving (almost to a fault). But then, in the span of a couple hours, she completely changed. Gone was her desire to kiss and hold hands as we walked around her apartment. And for nights three and four, she chose not to sleep in our bed. She left me there, while she slept in the living room. Her only explanation was that she was having her period, and that during this time, she didn’t like to be touched. However, that explanation didn’t ring true to me. And, it turned out not to be true after I got home. She stopped answering my emails and would not return my calls. And this was after she had told my mother that she hoped that she and I would marry some day, just a few days earlier.
Up till she abandoned me, she was very physically responsive. But she abruptly changed without any truthful explanation. At least with [Ann], I gave her the best explanation I could. But the ballerina gave me nothing at all. So you see, there are worse ways to treat people, than how I treated [Ann]. Some people don’t communicate problems, and the ballerina turned out to be one of those.
Needless to say, even if the ballerina came back and offered an explanation for leaving as she did, I don’t think I could accept it because she has demonstrated that she runs away from problems, rather than discussing them at length and openly. She unilaterally decided to leave, without giving me any input into the decision. It’s hard to forget it when someone runs their relationships like that. So, I’m getting over her and moving on.
Anyway, thanks for listening. Let’s just all try and be friends again, and put this whole mess behind us.