"I think I understand for the first time what it's like to be blind," he says.
"I know how imprisoning it must be, don't misunderstand. And what a cruel deprivation of ordinary freedom it is. But still, I imagine, there's something good in it. It makes easy--necessary--a certain experience that's rare and enviable. It's the experience of paying attention all the time, with that attention never slackening, so that everything is at once very distinct and very complicated... And I've thought of something else, that's harder to describe... The world of blind people... I mean the world you see, the world I sometimes inhabit in my imagination, too... it's terribly unstable. There's always a hole just in front of your feet. You know about the hole, yet you have to keep on walking. But you feel dizzy all the time.. And very free, too. It doesn't really matter, matter in the old way, I mean, if you... if you fall."
'As she did yesterday, she can direct toward him an intelligent facsimile-look with movements of her head. But never real looking: an exiting from the head by means of sight, an exchange of looks, complicity with the eyes. The faces of the blind are not in dialogue with other faces as faces. Only with other faces as flesh. Touch, the sole complicity.'
'The independent life of faces depends on sight. If you sight goes, the face largely dies. Or becomes tentative, provisional. A representation--maybe skillful---of a face; not a real face. An object-face.'
'The faces of the blind are set above their bodies like lanterns that have been turned down, or extinguished. A face with dead eyes, lacking the visual clues for learning expressiveness from other faces, will never invent that whole vocabulary by itself. Haphazard or approximate signals of feeling may be attempted, out of the longing to conform to an imaginary uniform ideal. But were it true to its own condition, the face without sight has neither reason nor means to become any more expressive than a hand or a foot or a breast.'
'How does an inexpressive face age? More slowly, one would suppose. A sightless face, one that's never learned to be consistently expressive by watching other faces, probably remains unlined many years after the exertions of expression have creased and wrinkled seeing faces of the same chronological age. Maybe Hester isn't as young as she looks. With another rhythm of use, another rhythm of aging.'
'It was that energy of self-approval commemorated in the sturdy dome which had always charmed Diddy. Who didn't find it easy to love himself. And felt no greater admiration than those who could. Those who could affirm their lives. Diddy, not pious toward himself, revered the relics and clues of innocent well-being. The vision of a man who does not inhabit, but simply is, his life. Amos Watkins the Pious had his acolyte. In this mediated sense: Diddy the Pious.'
American Petroleum Association
'...A deliquescent running-down of everything becomes co-existent with Diddy's entire span of consciousness, undermines his most minimal acts. Getting out of bed is an agony unpromising as the struggles of a fish cast up on the beach, trying to extract life from the meaningless air. Persons who merely have-a-life customarily move in a dense fluid. That's how they're able to conduct their lives at all. Their living depends on not seeing. But when this fluid evaporated, an uncensored, fetid, appalling underlife is disclosed. Lost continents are brought to view, bearing the ruins of doomed cities, the sparsely fleshed skeletons of ancient creatures immobilized in their death throes, a landscape of unparalleled savagery. One can redeem skeletons and abandoned cities as human. But not a lost, dehumanized nature. Having been freed for so long from human regard, from the scrutiny and aspirations of people, the barren mountains of Tyrrhenia cannot resemble any known mountains on the planet. How they would shudder and sweat in the unsubstantial air...
So Diddy's life, since the customary opaque medium has begun leaking away. The soft interconnected tissuelike days are unstrung. The watery plenum is dehydrated, and what protrudes are jagged, inhuman units. The medium steadily evaporates; the teeming interlocked plenitude is drained of its sustenance. Dies. All that's left is arbitrary and incomprehensible. Including human speech, which declines into mere sound. Diddy goes on speaking, just like everyone else. Words like acrid, chalk-colored cubes spill out of a rotating cage. After scooping them up, Diddy lays out one implausible word after another creating the plausible semblance of a line. Signifying ordinary intentions, promises, opinions, requests and denials, agreements and disagreements. Though he no longer understands why. And though it's hard enough just to exhale and inhale, without expending the little breathe he retains on speech.
As the water line sinks, mere events loom up--monstrous, discontinuous. Diddy gasps for breath and, where he moves, bruises himself. Diddy, a failed amphibian. For whom all tasks have become senseless, all space inhospitable, virtually all people grotesque, all climates unseasonable, and all situations dangerous."