The Five Senses

The bulk of today's entry was sparked from things that I read in the most recent issue of the New Yorker.

Helen Keller was the topic of one article that I read. Now I am sure that most people are familiar with the name. Most people will even know the story that goes with the name. Its a story of hope and perseverance that has been told many times before almost to the point of overkill. For those who do not know the story, Helen was both blind and deaf from a very early age, but she learned to communicate with the rest of the world through her teacher Anne Sullivan.

In fact its a story that I had heard so often that I usually dismissed it when I saw it appear somewhere in my reading, but this time something new occurred to me when I read the story. In two new biographies on her, they talked about Helen having a sex life and this made me wonder. What would sex be like without being able to see and hear the other person? Smell, taste and touch would be all that remain.

Yes, I realize that blind people have sex and in some ways are probably much more intimate than people who can see. Its been stated over and over that their power of touch is much more acute than a person who can see, because this is how they interact with the world. This heightened sense was even discussed in a scene from the Jim Jarmusch film called Night on Earth.

In the scene a cab driver picks up a very striking blind woman. He starts asking her questions about what it is like to be blind and eventually the topic of sex comes up. She emphatically tells him that when she makes love it is with every fiber of her being. She goes on to say that the experience is far more intense than anything that the cab driver can imagine. The cab driver shuts up at this point.

This scene is just one of five that all happen at the same time in different parts of the world. Its been a while since I have seen the film, but I think that the five locations are Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome and Stockholm. I recommend renting it if you want something slightly different. Another excellent Jim Jarmusch film is Dead Man with Johnny Depp in the lead role.

Now that I think about it some more, I really don't want to know what sex is like not being able to see or hear. I think if anything my curiosity is more a sign of ignorance rather than understanding. These are people with feelings and they have sexual drives just like veryone else.

The other article that I found interesting was about the music of Wagner. Since most of what I know of classical music has come from usage in popular films, I try to read as much as I can about it. Yes, I know that music must be heard in order to be understood, but why write album reviews then if a description isn't important.

I can recognize some famous pieces of classical music. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is familiar to me and I can identify quite a bit of Mozart through its use in films, but my knowledge of Wagner is very limited. About the only piece that I know of his is the Ride of the Valkryies used to great effect in Apocalypse Now.

The major thrust of the article was the connection between Wagner and Hitler. Very strange, but understandable at the same time.