Damn. Garrison is Definitely Losing it. I’ll Let Him Break the Bad News

The Column: 08.19.22

It was a week of crazy change, a couple of big wallops, and here I am still standing, head bowed but marching forward. An ace ophthalmologist broke the news that my dimming eyesight is the result of glaucoma, which makes me grateful that I’m 80 because if I were young this would be very bad news but at my age I can see a way around it.

And on the same day, the University of Michigan found out that its prized Galileo manuscript is a fake, in which Galileo noted his observations of Jupiter, which led him to challenge 17th-century dogma that the universe revolves around Earth, which made him a heretic — it’s the work of a 20th-century forger — which means (Yes!) that the universe does revolve around Earth and that FBI agents attempting to distract the nation from the Galileo hoax planted top-secret papers at Mar-a-Lago in hopes of unseating the one truly elected (by a landslide) president, Mr. Trump, who is the center of the center of the universe.

If you step outside and look at the night sky, you see clearly that indeed we are the center. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a loser.

The glaucoma news was definitive and I was glad to have it. No need to sit in more ophthalmologists’ chairs, chin on the chinrest, looking at the doctor’s earlobe as he or she peers through the scope into my dilated eyeball — I have the answer: I am (very) slowly going blind. So look to the future and make the best of the deal.

I never was a sight-seer. I know too many amateur photographers who compulsively take pictures of dewy meadows, sunsets, sunrises, wildlife, birds, more birds, and they bring out portfolios of pictures and you’re required to glance at each one and sigh — well, they don’t pass their portfolios to a blind man. He is free of it.

My wife loves fine art. I don’t. Andy Warhol exposed the art world for the sham it am and who needs it? When I gain my blindness, I’ll accompany her to the Met and I’ll wait in the coffee shop and overhear young women discussing their relationships. Mark Rothko is an empty shell compared to women’s descriptions of their partners. They know more about humanity than Van Gogh ever guessed at.

I’ve always preferred music and conversation to the visual arts. Dance is a bore, all the extensions and twirling and dippy-hippy moves. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lakeis all you need to know, and Mahler’s Fourth and the Brandenburgs and some Chopin. Listen to them in the dark and you feel the emotional force full-strength.

My new career, beginning now, is octogenarian stand-up performance and I look forward to the day — in ten years, maybe twenty — when I walk onstage wearing black glasses, carrying a cane, and feel a wave of sympathy from the crowd and I sing:

The blind man stood in the road and cried,
Crying, O Lord, show me the way to go home.

The song is so heartfelt, people get teary-eyed and no longer do they see a white man of privilege, they see a fellow sinner in trouble, and when I have them on the verge of anguish, I go into my storytelling. Homer was a blind man who gave us the Iliad and the Odyssey and in his honor, I shall proclaim:

Speak, Memory, of myself the hero,
Lost time and again, at sea, confused,
Blinded by reckless ambition, and now,
I the wanderer have, by loss of sight,
Regained my memory and found my way
Home to my wife.

It’s a great opening. I’ll tell of my own history — I’m 80, I’ve got buckets of it — and recite poems and sing and when needed go into some blind-man jokes, many of them dirty. A sighted man couldn’t tell them, he’d be lynched, strung up, only a blind man can tell them, so I will.

Blindness is an opportunity, not a problem. Other writers give readings; I don’t. I have no paper, I let memory speak and it does and I’m amazed at what it recalls. My Crandall ancestors were driven out of the colonies in 1776 by my wife’s ancestors, the Spencers and Holmans and Griswolds, and my grandpa James Crandall came to Minnesota where his descendants crossed paths with my wife’s Holmans, and ancient enmity was buried and I fell in love with the family that stole our silverware and drove us to Canada.

So when my blindness is complete, so long as the sun keeps going around the Earth, I’ll be the greatest glaucomedian of all time. You read it here first.

 

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