Milo’s post reminded me of the surprise I had, 30 years after first reading Brave New World, when (thanks to the generosity of The Paris Review, which started providing some of their archives online, free for the taking) I came across an interview with Aldous Huxley. By most accounts, not least your high school English teacher’s, he was a visionary, right? So ponder this, if you did not already know it:
How did you happen to start writing? Do you remember?
I started writing when I was seventeen, during a period when I was almost totally blind and could hardly do anything else. I typed out a novel by the touch system; I couldn’t even read it. I’ve no idea what’s become of it; I’d be curious to see it now, but it’s lost. My aunt, Mrs. Humphry Ward, was a kind of literary godmother to me. I used to have long talks with her about writing; she gave me no end of sound advice…
Helen Keller, of course, is the better-known go-to story for amazing on this front. But still. I read in another interview, which I can no longer find, that this condition stayed with Huxley for the rest of his life, and from what I remember of his description, the more degenerative the condition became, the more inspired he became. You can see the good soul, not to mention the visionary quality of his thinking in the video below (if you can stand the interviewer, who is tedious, it is worth more than the half hour it will cost you in time):