A lacuna is a gap of knowledge. A space of unknown. A missing part of information.
Being born blind leaves one with the biggest, darkest unknown and an enormous gap of missing visual information. Those born blind, or who go blind younger than 5 years old, are missing the knowledge of what it is to see and thus the knowledge of what anything and everything should look like. What would it be like not having any reference for what to imagine? What would sounds mean to someone who has never seen what makes them?
It’s interesting to think of what the mind would create as an attempt to fill this gap as it is impossible to imagine for someone who has experienced sight. I’ve always been curious and absolutely terrified of what a world in darkness would be like, and how different sound would be – how sound would feel.
In the case of Paul Gabias, blind shortly after birth, he says he is able to picture how a table looks. “My image of the table is exactly the same as a table… It has height, depth, width, texture; I can picture the whole thing all at once. It just has no color.” (Wolchover, 2012)
He has formed this image through his sense of touch and through echolocation, but as he has never seen colour he is unable to picture the table, or anything else, with colour (Wolchover, 2012). In a sense, while researching this, I have discovered another lacuna: A gap in my knowledge and in the knowledge of any sighted person – the physical impossibleness to picture something with no colour at all. It’s fascinating to think that this “non-visual imagery”, Gabias describes, is not a void but rather a way of seeing that sighted people will never be able to imagine or comprehend.
Dreaming for those born blind is also a phenomenon sighted people couldn’t begin to imagine. Those with sight will close their eyes and the darkness acts as an indication to the brain and the body that sleep is about to occur. For those who don’t have this differentiation, it would feel completely different. When people born blind dream, they don’t dream so much with sight but rather with their other senses and with occasional abstract imagery. They experience much more to do with sound, touch and scent than those who can see. (Hiskey, 2010)
Daven Hiskey. 2010, ‘How the Blind Dream’. Viewed 25 March 2017, <http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/07/how-the-blind-dream/>
Natalie Wolchover. 2012, ‘How Do Blind People Picture Reality?’. Viewed 25 March 2017, <http://www.livescience.com/23709-blind-people-picture-reality.html>
William Kremer. 2012, ‘Human Echolocation: Using Tongue-Clicks to Navigate the World’. Viewed 25 March 2017, <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19524962>