the loop that kept getting larger
Warmer this morning. 80s later this afternoon. Windy. Heard several crows–an especially loud one right after I started running, another when I reached Edmund, near the spot they’ve identified as containing poison ivy and that they’ve marked with big warning signs. Didn’t glance at the river even though I ran on the river road as part of each loop but I did see Dave the Daily Walker! We greeted each other and remarked on how long it had been since we’ve seen each other. Was raced by a young kid as I ran up a hill beside his house. So much energy and exuberance. Encountered some workers filling a pothole in the road–they were wearing masks. Ran past some beautifully yellow trees on 47th ave. Can’t remember if I saw any red ones.
moment of the morning
Before my run, I walked Delia the dog. Right by one of my favorite houses–the one with the cat that has deemed themselves queen of the block, sometimes escorting you down the sidewalk, and with the bright orange and pink and yellow zinnias, and with the big water bucket for dogs with a Bob Dylan quote on it, and with the “Any Functioning Adult, 2020” yard sign–I heard the gentle singing of the wind chimes and the wind through a pine tree and crows softly (yes, it sounded soft, not harsh) cawing, and a trickling fountain all at once. What a wonderful symphony of sounds!
wonder mood: curiosity
Also before my run, I read through some of my notes and did some free-writing about wonder and my vision. I have three types of wonder:
- delight (finding my blind spot)
- curiosity (questions, facts, information, anecdotes about scotomas and seeing/not seeing)
- awe (the magic/power of my sight, and sight/brain in general)
As I ran, I thought about curiosity. At first, I had the idea (after running down the hill on 33rd and turning left on the river road) of doing a series of questions that I wonder about–a mix of questions about the physical process of seeing and other questions, like the classic childhood hypothetical–“Would you rather lose your hearing or your vision?”. Then later (I can’t remember where I was running when this happened), I thought about a block of texts combining some of the most interesting/strange/unsettling/important facts about blind spots into a cento.
Here’s a strange anecdote I discovered: King Charles II of England liked to aim his blind spot at a prisoner’s head before they were decapitated. Googling this, all mentions of this story lead to the neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran and his mention of it in his popular articles about blind spots. Is this story true? After some more digging, I discovered this line from an abstract on an article about Faraday and his eyesight:
in the second volume of the Philosophical Transactions it is recorded that Mariotte demonstrated the blind spot ‘to the Royal Society before King Charles II in 1668.
Then I found Mariotte’s article from 1668 here. Pretty cool. In my brief search, I couldn’t find much else–no instances of King Charles II actually doing this, but I did learn that he helped create the Royal Society from which this paper comes and also a bit more about him and his reign (which I’m sure I learned back in 11th grade when I took AP European History). He was called The Merry Monarch, partly for the hedonism of his court–apparently, he was obsessed with sex–and partly because of how relieved/happy people were to be done with Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans. I also learned that in the 1660s, there was a lot of anti-Catholic hysteria with many Catholics being executed. Are these the prisoners that Charles II decapitated in his mind?