Tuesday, May 02, 2017

3 Strings - Tears

Did you watch the video?

Were you moved or inspired by it?

Did you see it on Facebook and pass it along so others could be moved and inspired?

Before you took the story to your heart, before you passed it on, did you investigate to see if it was true? Well I did. and, of course, it's not true. There is no evidence that this has ever happened.

It is a story told by non-disabled people using a disabled person, and exalted one, to tell a story of perseverance and of making the most of what you got - these are lessons for the non-disabled. Trust me, every person with a disability learns these things within the first few weeks or months of being disabled.

So in the days of alternate facts and wishful truths the narrative about the lives of people with disabilities is taken from us, our voices, our stories, our lives are constantly exploited for the emotional needs of the non-disabled. They like a hankey cruncher, a tissue soaker, a mascara runner, and disabled bodies and disabled stories meet those needs. They need lessons about striving and succeeding against all odds, of course their definition of success and of striving are different than many of us in the disability community, but it matters not, because, of course, we matter not. We don't even matter much in the story. We are the background, they are the message.

There are narratives that people need to hear. But they belong to us and need to be told by us.

There are stories that have been lost that need to be explored and reclaimed, we have a history too.

The trouble is the actual,real story of Itzak Perlman as a disabled man, a world famous violinist, holds real interest and has within it real messages. Even more problematic is that the real story puts paid to any notion of Perlman as broken. You'll notice that the story told in the video makes sure you know about his polio, his wheelchair, his crutches and his limp, it has to establish the broken man in order to tell the story, in order to inspire non-disabled to fix their own brokenness. Yeah, a world famous man who has traveled to more places than many of us could even list, if challenged, on a paper unaided by a map, is broken. Yeah a man who makes pots of money is broken. Yeah a man who's name is synonymous with his craft is broken. But, it begins the story and it plays into the narrative that has been written about us for an audience that doesn't include us.

But back to his real story, take the incident with him arriving at an airport here in Toronto and being treated with disrespect due to his needs as a disabled man and how he dealt with that, for example, tells an important story. But, that's a story about a disabled person's encounter with the bigotry and prejudice of the non-disabled. That won't bring on tears, that will be reacted to with excuses for the behaviour of the airport staff - I know I read the comments.

Our lives.

Our stories.

Get your hands of that fucking mythical three string violin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree, at all, with what you're saying.

And I want to add to it: the first time I read this story (which naively I thought was true) there was only a single sentence about Mr. Perlman's legs, very matter-of-fact. There was also only a single sentence about him finishing the concert with three strings - again very matter-of-fact. He is quoted, in that story, with saying only "sometimes you have to see how much music you can make with what you have left."

I mention this because this video was so much more emphatic and over-the-top. In the earlier version, no one alleged that his music was better or even in any way different from what he had played before. No one suggested that somehow the 'disability' of the missing string had called forward some greater artistry.

It seems (here and elsewhere) that the non-disabled community is somehow seeking MORE inspiration-porn than before, and taking over the narratives about people with disabilities much more desperately.

I wonder what that's about. Because, as you point out, it sure doesn't seem to be about the actual person with the actual physical condition -- never mind acknowledging the actual bigotry and barriers put up by us TABs.