Sunday, October 25, 2009

Feeling up the page

A braille edition of Playboy magazine (photograph by artist Taryn Simon)
This edition features no advertisements or images.

There was actually a lawsuit in 1985 won by the blind about the braille version of Playboy. The government had banned the library of congress from printing further braille editions of Playboy, and a judge ruled that this was a violation of the first amendment. The baffling question that I am left with is why the braille edition disturbed the government more than the one with naked pictures in it.

It's also kind of odd to think about the idea of blind people using their sense of touch to bring erotic visual information into their minds.

Braille, in itself, has always fascinated me, because it involves a shifting of the senses normally used to intake written information. I've always wondered how some of the basic nature of language changes when words and books become purely tactile objects in space. For a reader of braille, every letter and every word has a distinct 3-dimensional shape and form.

In the case of porn, this shifting of the senses towards the tactile is an even stranger notion, because, usually, when people view porn images they are tempted to create a tactile/physical fantasy about them, as sex has so much to do with the sense of touch. But for the blind, they need to use the sense of touch to actually feel out this erotic information across the page.

Wow, that's actually kind of creepy to even think about.

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