Points of Contact

Disability, Art, and Culture

“Staring at Yellow and Green” by Sarah Ruden

“On the other hand, I still envy ‘normal’ people, or those without any disability that they’ve been forced to acknowledge. Their self-forgetfulness must be so natural, so peaceful. They do not have to be conspicuous. As a teenager, I was addicted to looking at color in nature, yet there wasn’t a great deal of it to look at in rural northwestern Ohio. I would scout back roads on my bicycle, especially in June when the wheat was young, and chartreuse-colored on low ground. Other discoveries as well fascinated me: a tiny ice-cream truck making its way to a migrant workers’ camp on a Sunday, its manic bells the only sound in the enormous flat landscape: a dummy hanging from a tree the day after Halloween; the mere shape and angle of certain farmhouses in their yards. I became known as a writer of bad poetry, and a strange, mesmerized person—and a hiding one, in that I needed to process all of this intake in isolation; in my room or in the hayloft or in the woods, I would rehearse visions again and again in my head, and I hated interruptions. Repeatedly in my mid-teens I lost contact with reality. I would convince myself that a pool of May floodwater in a field was going to stay and deepen into a pond. Or the cloud banks above the woods would start to look like genuine mountains: I would work out some geography in which Ohio had high mountains bordering it, near enough to see. I remember two dreams to which I was extremely attached, replaying them while awake and taking a long time to accept that events in them hadn’t actually happened and couldn‘t happen. In one dream I was floating above the field behind the barn, hanging from several small helium balloons and able to steer myself high or low; for a while I was sure I could take a book up here and read in the sun and wind, as I had before. In the other dream, I walked many days, in great joy and hope, until I reached a city with very steep, very green hills all through it. In certain of my moods, this seemed to be something I could do again once school was out for the summer. The pressing realities of my late teens took away these comforts. The first time I was hospitalized with a breakdown was at twenty.”

More books with contributions by Sarah Ruden
Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides

The Greek Plays

Abraham's Dice

Abraham’s Dice

Hippias Minor

Hippias Minor

Nation and World, Church and God: The Legacy of Garry Wills

Nation and World, Church and God

The Norton Anthology of World Literature

The Norton Anthology of World Literature


The Art of Comedy

“Where are my laurel leaves?” (Theocritus Idylls 2)

The Greek Poets

The Best American Spiritual Writing 2004

The Best American Spiritual Writing