braille: dot writing system for letters and notes developed by Louis Braille

Louis Braille, who was blind himself, developed his system in his teenage years while enrolled at the school for the blind in Paris. His sighted teachers felt that abandoning commonplace Latinate letters in favor of running ones fingertips over small raised dots that no one else could read would further isolate blind students. The school therefore banned the writing system, and it wasn’t officially put into use until after Braille’s death.

All of this is true. Another thing that is true is that one hundred years after Braille’s death France was suddenly struck by the notion that they should honor him, so they dug up his remains from a cemetery in the small town of his birth and paraded them through the streets of Paris. Helen Keller gave a speech and they buried him in the Panthéon, the church which, formerly worshipping gods, now preferred a number of white men (and, after 1995, three women) viewed as capable of inflating France’s sense of self.

But not all of Braille made it there. The city of his birth wanted to keep the hero where he had originally been buried, and was finally alowed to keep his hands, laid in an urn upon the now empty grave. It is easy to see the symbolism in this: hands, so central in his work, etc.: how right it must have felt when the wrists of a hundred year old corpse snapped off like dry branches.

titel: braille
stem: eskil vogt
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bron: cappelens forslags konversasjonsleksikon, bind II
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