1888 photo of Helen Keller and Anne Sullicvan found

From the AP article:

Researchers have uncovered a rare photograph of a young Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan, nearly 120 years after it was taken on Cape Cod. The photograph, shot in July 1888 in Brewster, shows an 8-year-old Helen sitting outside in a light-colored dress, holding Sullivan’s hand and cradling one of her beloved dolls.

Experts on Keller’s life believe it could be the earliest photo of the two women together and the only one showing the blind and deaf child with a doll — the first word Sullivan spelled for Keller after they met in 1887 — according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which now has the photo.

Helen Keller as a child

Simply put, Helen Keller is one of my heroes. The first time I encountered her story, I was in grade school – only eight years old. It was the 1979 made for television version of the Miracle Worker with Patty Duke as Anne Sullivan and Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller. I recall being inspired by the story, but also horrified. I empathized with Keller’s situation so strongly that it scared me. I remember trying to fall asleep after the movie and feeling physically sick, nauseous, as I tried to comprehend what it would be like to be Helen Keller. Never to have heard nor seen anything – no birds in the Spring, no conversations, no colors, nothing.

At that moment I realized, if not my mortality, then my limitations as a human being. I experienced something which I later realized – as a Philosophy student – was akin to an existential moment. I know, I was eight. That’s awfully deep for an eight year old, right? I guess. Obviously, I didn’t really understand what was happening to me. It was only years later that I was able to put it into some kind of context. Regardless, it affected me deeply.

Helen Keller was born almost completely shut off from the world and yet she learned to talk and more importantly, write. Anne Sullivan was pretty amazing as well. She believed that Helen could be taught and she had both the patience and perseverance to do it. Reading the news about this photo made me think about these events from almost thirty years ago. It captures an amazing moment in the lives of two amazing women.

Read the full article here.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

Helen Keller

Sometimes you can judge a book by it’s cover

Neil Gaiman has finished his latest book and has book working with the talented Dave McKean to design the cover. he posted the version he and Dave are happy with, but the publishers still need to approve. I love the semi-final cover. The distressed type is great and the illusion in the gravestone is cool. The color and the texture of the background is great too, dark and somehow soothing. I can’t wait to read it!

Graveyard Book cover

Click image to see large version

Go Vote!

No, not that kind of vote, Super Tuesday has already passed! One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, is celebrating his blog’s seventh birthday by posting one of his novels online for free. Which one? We get to choose! Go vote now and in a week, the book with the most votes will be available for download! From his post:

What I want you to do is think — not about which of the books below is your favourite, but if you were giving one away to a friend who had never read anything of mine, what would it be? Where would you want them to start?

Pretty cool!

Heeding the Call


I’ve recently begun reading the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. I’ve always been fascinated by the mythos, but never actually read anything by him. I love the dry, supernatural detective story style. I love the tension that he builds up – he does it so well that you’re never sure that the main character will make it out alive, even though the story is written in past tense – they obviously did survive. He is truly a master of suspense and horror.

Here is the beautifully written opening paragraph from The Call of Cthulhu:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace of a new dark age.

It puts me in mind of modern scientific discoveries, and society’s reactions to them. Consider how much farther have we gone since he wrote that. I’m not saying we’ve reached the point of madness, nor that we ever will, but we are bombarded with so much information these days (scientific or otherwise) that we have to block much of it out in order to stay sane. I can’t contemplate what a three parent embryo means to me, or whether eating cloned hamburgers will cause cancer or birth defects. While purposeful ignorance is a far reach from madness, maybe we’re instinctively protecting ourselves. There are those in the world today whose beliefs imply that maybe a “new dark age” wouldn’t be such a bad thing.