Monday, 1 June 2015

The world of the blind

And now for something completely different… imagine that the Earth’s space program progresses nicely and we continue to explore space, venturing farther and farther afield until one day we discover an Earth-like planet populated by people just like us with one critical exception, they are all blind; so completely blind from birth that even the concept of vision is meaningless to them.

How would this world differ from our own? They would have technology and culture of course, but both would perforce be primitive compared to ours. They could build things by touch, carve wood, collect food and maybe farm to some extent. But despite being just as intelligent as us they would be backward; their science stunted by their inability to see.

Perhaps very occasionally one of them would have a flash of vision and this would be thought of as a paranormal phenomenon and the person claiming the vision would be dismissed as a charlatan.

Culturally they would be much different. They would have art; music, singing, sculpture, but they would have no painting and drama would focus on the audio. They may well have developed certain art forms to a much higher level than us purely due to being denied access to other areas. They would certainly have developed language to a much higher degree than us. They would be able to able to convey sense and meaning much more efficiently than us. If we taught them our language it would seem like little more than vague grunting to them.

They might have developed some form of continuous narrative produced by every person all the time. For example any person entering a room would announce their identify, their position, their purpose and would learn from the narratives of the other people in the room who they were, the layout of the room, the location of other doors and obstacles in the room.

But do not think they would be nice people on a nice planet. Their morality would be very different from ours, and much more brutal. Murder would be commonplace, for the simple reason they would often get away with it. A silent strangulation would be impossible to attribute to any particular person. In a crowd one could kill another and walk away. Other crimes would be equally easy, and the ambient morality would reflect the lack of accountability.

We visitors from Earth may well be horrified at the casual violence and the disregard for each other’s welfare that these people showed.

As we walked down their streets we would see the venality on their faces as they planned murder, rape and theft and their smugly confident looks as they got away with their crimes, secure in their anonymity.

We might be disinclined to have much to do with them. We would be unable to change the mentality of a planet with billions of blind people on it. We could hardly go in and tell them that we were going to police them from now on and we could see everything. They would not believe us or even comprehend what we were saying or believe it if they could be made to understand.

It would be a planet to be avoided.


Anonymous said...

Was there a point to this entry?

Nationalist said...

I did consider a final paragraph explaining the relevance of the post, but then I thought, no let the readers figure it out for themselves. ;)