[bookshare-discuss] Re: about the optacan

  • From: "Evan Reese" <mentat1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 12 Feb 2006 19:16:58 -0800

As I said, I can't seem to take a two-d drawing and translate it into a three-d 
object.  Some of my math teachers and I have tried, but my brain just won't do 
it.  But I love tactile maps - especially this big wooden one we had in my 
third grade classroom of the U.s. with all the states you could take out and 
feel the shapes.  It was also a relief map, so you could look at the mountain 
ranges and the Great Plains.  We also had many relief globes there.

Again, that's one of the things I enjoy most about Tolkien:  He was so good at 
describing his geography that I could put together a good mental map of most of 
the regions people were traveling through.  Nowadays, it seems that fantasy 
writers seem to figure that if they provide a map, then they don't need to 
describe the lay of the land very much.  Or, more likely, they probably don't 
have as much interest in building such a detailed world as Tolkien did.

I can also hear music in great detail in my head.  I can consciously play a 
piece, but most of the time there's something running in the background anyhow.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Kellie Hartmann 
  To: bookshare-discuss@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Saturday, February 11, 2006 10:13 AM
  Subject: [bookshare-discuss] Re: about the optacan

  I'm really amazed by people's ability to look at a diagram using an opticon 
one piece at a time and mentally synthesize it. I've never been able to look at 
something in pieces and imagine the whole. This inability sometimes hampers my 
Scrabble playing. Incidentally, I was born totally blind. I won't even let 
anyone teach me chess because I know that my inability to imagine the board and 
the consequences of future moves would make me a terrible player, and who wants 
to learn a game just so they can lose? <lol> 

  I do know one totally sighted person who says she can't visualize anything in 
her head. I think it's a worse handicap when you're blind though because if 
you're sighted you can actually look at something, such as a chessboard or 
diagram, all in one piece instead of trying to take it in one little bit at a 

  I am completely hopeless at looking at tactile 2/-d drawings and 
understanding how they would be in 3-d. It was a big problem in middle school 
math. I also can't make mental maps, although I can use tactile ones 
meaningfully. I like tactile tables and bar graphs, but more complicated 
representations are completely incomprehensible to me. I can't even visualize a 
simple object in my mind and think at the same time. <lol> I've come to the 
conclusion that this ability, or lack there of as the case may be, isn't 
necessarily related to how much vision the person has, although it seems from 
discussions on the subject that having more vision or having had more vision 
even in early life does help. 

  On the other hand, I can hear music in my mind in great detail, either things 
I've heard before or things I mentally compose myself. I thought that everyone 
could do this, until a really interesting discussion I had with a group of 
people on the subject. One of the people definitely has much greater musical 
ability than me, but he says that when he hears music in his mind it's 
basically the sound of himself humming and that's all. I've heard one piece 
that he composed, and it was incredibly complex--I really wonder how he can do 

  Okay, enough of my ranting--I have a cold and am just sitting here at the 
computer trying to distract myself.

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