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Things No Longer There

A Memoir of Losing Sight and Finding Vision

Susan Krieger

Publication Year: 2005

    Things No Longer There is a lovingly crafted collection of personal stories about the author's struggle toward enlightenment while losing her eyesight. It is also, more broadly, about invisible landscapes—places of the heart that linger long after they have disappeared from the world outside. In these ten brief tales and one novella-length intimate drama, Susan Krieger takes us on a series of adventures in vision, a journey both inward and to various parts of the country. We travel with her as she goes birdwatching before sunrise in the New Mexico desert, learns to walk with a white cane, revisits an old love, returns to a summer camp of her youth, and reflects on the nature of blindness and sight.
    Krieger's touching memoir explores the ways that outer landscapes may change and sight may be lost, but inner visions persist, giving meaning, jarring the senses with a very different picture than what appears before the eyes. This book will reward both the general reader and those interested in disability studies, feminist ethnography, and lesbian studies.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Things No Longer There draws from my personal experiences to elaborate on a theme of losing sight and finding vision. I wrote this book during 1994–2003 and 1979–80, two periods of emotional significance in my life. Over the years, a core set of friends and colleagues have read these stories and given me responses which have improved ...

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pp. 3-5

This book is about things no longer there in the outer world that are still very present in the mind. In it, I explore the way outer landscapes may change but inner visions of them persist, giving meaning, jarring the senses with a very different picture from what appears before the eyes. Things No Longer There: A Memoir of Losing ...

Part 1: Vanishing Landscapes

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1. Things No Longer There

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pp. 9-15

I tend to give exact directions. A friend, noticing this once, told me about how her father gave directions: “You turn left at the corner where the big tree used to be in front of that house they tore down last year, then right in a few blocks where the pharmacy was, near the stoplight.” The image of trees and buildings no longer standing ...

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2. The Vision Fire

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pp. 16-27

Last year, Point Reyes burned. The 90,000 acre national seashore that juts out into the Pacific like a bent elbow north of San Francisco burned in a huge fire that lasted for sixteen days. The fire started near the summit of a hill near Tomales Bay and burned all the way to the sea, sending up massive dark clouds of smoke, raging ...

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3. Saving a Tree

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pp. 28-35

In the yard behind my house is a big, misshapen Monterey pine towering high above all the houses nearby. The tree’s upper limbs are green and reach toward the blue sky. But the gray lower limbs and trunk are shorn and bare, as if someone took a chain saw and sliced off all the growth further down, leaving only that bright ...

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4. Half Moon Bay

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pp. 36-45

Less then an hour from my house is a town called Half Moon Bay, where a broad sweep of white-sand beach shaped like a sliver of a half moon gently embraces a cove of blue sea. When the fog lifts, the sun shines through, glinting off the glassy, blue-green water and the warm, inviting beach, producing a feeling of peacefulness ...

Part 2: Inner Visions

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5. Lesbian Invisibility

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pp. 49-63

Of all lesbian topics, the key to the rest, it seems to me, is that of lesbian invisibility. This is a subject I take so for granted that even to think about it seems a huge undertaking. I am a lesbian. So much hinges on that statement, or on the need to begin with it. Why is it so necessary to say, “I am a lesbian”? Why is it so hard to say? Both ...

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6. I See Her in My Mind

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pp. 64-77

Last fall, I was traveling in the Southwest with my lover when we stopped for dinner one night at a roadside Mexican restaurant. It had black wrought-iron bars on the windows and multicolored Christmas lights still strung on the eaves from the year before. As we stepped inside, the restaurant looked cavernous, dim ...

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7. Lesbophobia

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pp. 78-89

When I think about my fears of lesbianism, my first image is of walking down the street and having small children call after me, taunting me. I live in San Francisco and you would not expect this to be a problem here as much as in other places, but I wonder if the difference is exaggerated. Once, not long ago, I walked down a street ...

Part 3: Blindness and Sight

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8. Losing My Vision

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pp. 93-101

I am losing my eyesight. I am not sure if my vision loss will continue for a few years more or indefinitely. Already my visual world has changed. I no longer see clearly objects at a distance—trees, buildings, street signs. There are many things I simply do not see— small lines, light colors on light backgrounds. In the mid-distance ...

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9. Birdwatching before Sunrise

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pp. 102-121

On a dark, chilly morning that felt like nighttime, I was excited to be off. I woke at 4 a.m., showered, brewed strong coffee, poured it into a thermos, took coffee cake, my binoculars, camera, flashlights, and warm clothes. I stepped carefully through the low-lying, dark country house where I was staying, moving from the kitchen toward ...

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10. Blindspots

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pp. 122-137

A few months ago, I was hit by a car. I was walking a block away from my home and about to cross the street when a red car hit me. I was tossed up on the hood of the car, spun around, brushed against the front windshield, and thrown onto the sidewalk. I was hurt on my right leg and arm but nothing was broken, nothing severely ...

Part 4: An Intimate Memory

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11. The Lesbian-Straight Divide

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pp. 141-230

Our experiences often stay with us, not encapsulated in general terms but beneath the surface as a complex of images, bits of conversation, sensations of place, details not always accessible, but sometimes seen when recalled with an inner eye. In this novella, I present an inner vision that has long ...

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pp. 231-234

This book began with a memory of searching for a summer camp of my youth and has ended with a dramatic account of an intimate relationship that stays with me vividly still. In stories and small dramas, I have described changing geographic landscapes—a camp by a lake, a national seashore after a fire, a threatened pine tree ...

Bibliographic Notes

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pp. 235-238

E-ISBN-13: 9780299208639
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299208646

Publication Year: 2005