In view of my malady’s contribution – the striking contrast between this contribution and different phases of paralysis in my life - I describe these phases.
This new attitude challenges all attempts to overcome the malady – hide it, conceal it and adopt the prevailing rehabilitation methods. Thus I turn myself into a “guinea pig” using my life as a test-tube: using the fact that I am confined to a bed and wheelchair as a means of discovering more about life.

The investigation produces a new set of experiences and I find myself living in a new world, paralysis introducing the world to me as an unknown planet.
I define a new planet – a new sense of light, space, air and gravitation. The feeling is that an encounter with disability is almost like an encounter with an extra-terrestrial form of life, a sensation of involvement that resembles science fiction, like travelling to another part of the cosmos.

I explored my disability through taking walks in my wheelchair to a natural resort near my house. I felt on these occasions that an investigation into my stillness was also an investigation into the stillness of the trees, the riverbed,  the nearby running river, the stillness of the sky above, and the stillness of the earth below.
Each person has a skull and a skeleton which, unless fractured, remains still. I felt that investigating disability was equal to an investigation of the general presence of stillness in each and every individual.
As I was doing this, I had a feeling that until then my life had been caught up in the habit of over-appreciating movement and under-appreciating stillness. I discovered within myself a sort of blindness about the value of inertia and the role it played in human life. This distorted the perspective I had of non-movement and non-performance.

The thought occurred to me – how come that one accepts a bouquet or even a single flower as a token of happiness, celebration and blessing. Flowers cannot do anything nor can they perform through movement. They cannot wave their leaves, they cannot move their petals nor can they act upon anything by using their stem. It occurred to me that in this sense one could assess flowers as being “paralyzed” or even “disabled”. Flowers are rooted in the soil of their growth in a way that reminded me of being confined to an unchanging place - either my bed or the seat of my wheelchair. However, being bed- or wheelchair-confined was regarded by me until then as almost a disaster. How come then, I ask myself again, that I did not consider the condition of a flower a disaster? Why did a bouquet symbolize an abundance of happiness and life? Could I learn from flowers that being inert in almost every possible way could result in ultimate beauty – a beauty so great that it exists beyond words?
The thought occurred to me that each flower must have an extraordinary capacity. It knows how to bring together many still elements, the immobility of the earth, of its stem, of its roots, leaves and petals – and to produce something that is far more than a heap of sheer rubble or waste. Through accumulating so many such unmoving elements, it knows how to bring about a great wonder, the splendor or blossoming. I was toying with the thought that there must exist many thousands of different kinds of flowers, each of which knows how to transform its own characteristic inert elements (its special leaves, petals, stems, etc.) into a unique way of blossoming. In short, I concluded in my mind that flowers possess a great knowledge which I, as a disabled person, realized I did not have. Like most of the plant world, I too possessed a large accumulation of still elements – my still limbs, still bones and still muscles. However, I had failed thus far to produce a new far-reaching meaning. I felt a need to try and grasp that wisdom which every single plant around me seemed to exhibit. I wanted to become at least as intelligent as a plant.

After having looked into the world of flowers and trees, an even more disturbing thought occurred to me. What about the earth, the hills or a mountain? All of them are nothing more than sheer minerals. The earth displays great stillness – unless stricken by an earthquake. A mountain performs even greater marvels than the earth – the Himalaya’s grandeur seems to attract tourists the world over. People are willing  to travel great distances only to witness this outstanding power. Nature seems to know how to extract this overwhelming sense of majesty from a mere amalgamation of minerals. Seen from this perspective, minerals appeared to possess an essential knowledge which I had not yet discovered in my inert system.

When I first observed my physical condition, I could certainly find disability present throughout the whole of my system. Clearly, most of my muscles could not move nor could most of my joints and bones. In short, one could say that I made a discovery – I discovered how disabled I was. However, no matter how much I tried to find within the condition of my system a potential through which I could further my life – I again and again failed to find or discover such a potential. It seemed to me that such a potential simply did not exist. Disability was a dead-end which led nowhere rather than a main street that would lead one to many new destinations. Thus for as long as I was seeking for a latent potential in my condition, that would allow me to reach other domains than the ones I already knew I found no way out. I was locked in my condition, and being locked in it was the only discovery I could make about it. What introduced a major change in my way of life was the attempt to create or invent a new way of using disability rather than trying to discover something old that existed in it. This new approach was about using disability as a means of creating a new potential in my life. Let me try to clarify the issue of producing the potential of disability, rather than discovering this potential. In order to explain the difference between what I mean by “producing” and “discovering”, one could say that whereas Columbus discovered America, some other people thousands of years before Columbus must have invented the raft, the boat and finally the ship. What is relevant to disability is not the discovery of America but the invention of the raft (it was always there) and therefore it could be discovered by Columbus. However the potential of disability is not part of the world, has never been a part of the world and will never be a part of the world unless people invent it. The potential of disability cannot be discovered. Instead, just like a raft or the “Santa Maria”, through disability one could produce, in an artificial way, a potential that never existed in a natural way. That is, one could artificially create this potential, thus bringing into being the as yet non-existent presence of a new type of disability. This new model of disability would be a type of physical paralysis which had a potential. This new brand of a handicap would serve as an instrument, which could be used in a variety of new ways. The “Santa Maria” had just such an artificial potential - to sail either to India or America or any other new continent on the face of the globe. This potential, made available by the ship, was completely artificial and man-made. Not one ship – not the “Santa Maria”, the “Mayflower”, nor even the “Titanic” grew on trees - nor were they harvested in any field. All of these vessels have the potential of sailing just because they were man-made and thus designed to have this potential. I would like to introduce a more modern (and thus more updated) analogy to the way in which I approached my condition. Since the middle of the 20th century, most people would agree that mankind has the potential of going to the moon. Two hundred years ago, only lunatics would have believed such a thing. What changed the attitude of people between 1750 and 1950? Certainly, the moon itself remained exactly as it was during those 200 years. Why did people in 1950 believe that the moon was accessible whilst their ancestors in 1750 believed it to be inaccessible? The moon itself remained as yellow and round as it had always been. The difference between those two historical eras was that only in the 20th century did mankind invent and produce both astronauts and the space shuttle. Strangely enough, the potential of mankind to go to the moon was not brought about by the moon’s presence, but rather by the presence of astronauts and space shuttles. Coming back to the issue of disability- as long as I was thinking of a potential I could discover through studying the nature of the “moon” (that is, a potential I could discover by studying the nature of disability itself) I could only fail time and again, and regard all such attempts as “lunatic”. It was only when I turned to the production of an “astronaut” (who could travel in a “space shuttle”) that my attempt began to make sense. What was required was to invent a new concept of mankind and of what a human being is. Just like in the case of space travel – no one could conceive of an ‘astronaut’ before such a thing existed (was artificially invented) – the same also held true of disability. What was required was to invent a new way of using paralyzed muscles, bones and joints, thus creating a new human entity and a new way in which to live human life.

This new brand of disability – which must first be invented for it to exist at all – would have to be different from what exists now, in that the new invented type must serve as an instrument. Paralysis, instead of existing as an unavoidable given condition, should, I suggest, serve as a means of achieving specific aims.
At this point, we need to be clear about the terms “means” and “aims” as they are used here. To clarify the point, I will compare the invented brand of paralysis with certain organs of our biological make-up. The human eye can be considered as an organ that reveals the visual aspect of the world to us. Our eyes show us the colors of the world, its shapes, light shadows, and so on. When we consider our eyes in this way, it is important to emphasize that the world has its own colors, shapes, light and shadows, and all the rest, regardless of whether we see them or not. Had we no eyes, we would not see the world, but it does not follow from this that the world would have lost its colors, shapes and all the rest. The sun, we may assume, would be as glowing as it is, the sky would be as blue even if we couldn’t see them.
Our eyes, however, do not only reveal to us the visual aspects of the world; they also disclose to us the colors of movies, the shapes of letters, the fit of clothes, and a long series of other visual stimuli, which our eyes are trained to observe. Our eyes were not born as reading instruments, but were made to become so through the invention of letters, printing and even spectacles. An illiterate person looking at a printed page would not know what letters look like or identify a word or a sentence.
In short, reading eyes are an organ that was invented and produced by mankind. The same may be said of eyes that follow the development of a movie on a screen. To take these examples a step further, let us consider eyes that look through a telescope and see the universe as it was half a billion years ago: that is, eyes trained to observe distances of half a billion light years away. Such eyes would reveal to us not only the colorful aspects of the world and its shapes and shades, but also the spatial dimensions of the cosmos itself. Now let us return to our original comparison: The analogy between the way in which our sight works and the way in which paralysis can be put to use. The invented model of disability that I have in mind could be used as an instrument to reveal a hitherto almost unknown aspect of the world. I believe that disabled muscles, joints and bones, if trained to become an organ that I believe they can become, would serve to detect the stillness of the world. This new organ, made of paralyzed tissues, would reveal to us the still aspect of reality in a way which we have, I believe, never known. In what follows I intend to describe and analyze this stillness in the way I experienced it when it was revealed to me through a use of my disabled system. As I viewed the world through my paralysis it seemed to expose new aspects of its own stillness, aspects to which I was completely “blind” until I began using my paralysis to unravel them.
As I observed these aspects of stillness it was very obvious to me that they belonged to the world in any case – whether I acknowledged them or ignored them (as I believe most of humanity does). I realized that the world itself has always held and probably always will hold stillness which is far more profound and elaborate than most people have ever suspected. This stillness has never been available to us because we have not trained ourselves to be attentive to it. Disability, if used as an instrument, can serve such a purpose: it can allow us to encounter this complete aspect of reality that has remained outside the range of our experience.

Let us consider another example of a human organ which through being trained can reveal an ever broadening aspect of the world. The human brain when trained to think mathematically can reveal the physical, chemical and biological laws that prevail in nature. What our brain discovers is that the world is governed by mathematical principles. Even when we do not analyze the world mathematically we assume that its workings must follow mathematical principles. The world is ruled by the laws of mathematics even when we ignore these laws. However, the more the natural sciences make progress the more accessible to us does the source of mathematical laws become. When our brain is equipped with the adequate physical, chemical and biological knowledge, the world which we then observe will yield an abundance of further mathematical insights and rules. My feeling is that paralysis, when regarded as an organ that can be trained to detect the stillness of reality, can act according to the same rule. The more paralysis will have made progress in exposing the unknown stillness of the world, the more additional resources of stillness will the world reveal to it. My own personal experience as a disabled person had already shown me that the depth of stillness which awaits us in the very core of reality seems to be almost unlimited. We have so far ignored an almost endless abundance of stillness which can become available to us deep in the presence of the world around us.
In order to clarify this notion I applied a metaphor. I likened our “natural" biological traits to the ingredients needed for preparing a dish. Very few people would want to consume most of these ingredients – flour, salt, sugar or a raw egg. Thus there exists a striking contrast between the ingredients that are used to prepare a dish and the “end-product” that one would want to eat. The initial ingredients would need to be chopped, spiced, boiled, fried or baked in order for them to become a delectable dish. This resulting “final product” would bear little resemblance to the “raw materials” from which it was made.

With this notion clear in mind I ask myself whether all our natural biological “resources” were being put to use. In other words, did we possess some additional biological traits that still existed in us as “raw material”, without us, thus far, having discovered a way of cultivating them. At first glance almost all our biological resources seemed to have been exhausted. I had already recognized the various ways in which sight, thinking and movement have been humanly remolded. I could equally trace back the transformation of a myriad of other natural “processes” – hearing (in speech, music, etc.) taste (through the development of a variety of different cuisines) and even clothing (clothes and even haute couture replacing animal skins or furs in maintaining the body’s temperature).
I felt that a search was taking place within me – I was exploring my own life, looking for a biological aspect that was present in me in its “raw” condition. Then suddenly, I was struck by a new sensation. I experienced, for the first time, the paralysis of my system as a “raw material”. All at once I no longer felt my immobility as the “end product” of my malady. The question arose: what if through using my paralyzed bones in some innovative way I could plan a hitherto unknown form of life. Can I address my disability as an aspect of myself which could reveal as yet un-thought-of potentials? Could I consider my inertia as the ingredients of an as yet unknown dish which I will season, spice, chop, boil, fry or bake in order to produce in the world completely new flavours.

I can undertake such a project only if I equip myself with several working assumptions that will serve as guides on this journey.
The first assumption is that I will be using paralyzed muscles, disabled joints and immobile bones. In the “cooking” metaphor these would be the ingredients from which I intend to prepare my “dish”. They have in their raw state little or no flavor. The worthlessness of my inert body-parts would be analogous to salt, flour, and raw eggs which most people find completely dull and unappetizing. Similarly my muscles, joints and bones are certainly a part of my life and as such they evidently exist, but only in a way that has very little value for me.
When I look inwards into my own system I can find no trace of the potential which I am looking for. What I find in my system are the motionless muscles, bones and joints but these bear no witness to any potential that lies beyond them. The “dish” metaphor would explain this: one could search into a raw egg for as long as one liked, one could study the nature of flour or observe all the different aspects of salt. Even the most thorough study of these ingredients would not yield the faintest sign of, say, a baked cake. Were one to expect to find a baked cake in salt, in flour or in a raw egg one would conclude that such a thing as a baked cake simply does not exist. Indeed nowhere in the world can a baked cake be found. The only way to find a baked cake is to bake it. Being disabled I felt that the same held true of the potential of disability. One needed to “bake” it for it to be present at all in the world. The potential I was in search of could only be the result of my own endeavor to produce it. In principle producing this potential would be the only way which would allow it to exist.
I assume that the “recipe” for developing disability can only be found in “recipe books” – it cannot be found in the world of nature where everything is uncooked. Thus the recipe for the cooking of disability into its becoming a new dish should be written in terms that are as general as possible. Being a recipe it must be understandable by any reader who wants to follow the instructions. Any reader should be able to open the book, read the “recipe” and “cook” the same ingredients in that person’s own “kitchen”. The potential of disability must belong not only to my own system, but rather should be relevant to the life of any other reader of “recipe books” who wants to do his own cooking, in other words what I intend my paralyzed body to undergo in order to develop itself, should become a process which anyone can use and reuse with any other inert system.
Another assumption is that the potential I am trying to develop through my paralysis can be of a physical nature only. In other words, the nature of this potential cannot be either mental or spiritual. The “baked cake” metaphor can again clarify this point. The ingredients that go into a cake (or for that matter into any dish) are all of a material nature. Flour, salt and a raw egg exist physically in the world of matter.
The “end product” of such “raw materials” is as material as the ingredients. A cake, however delectable the chef made it, can never be a mental product – it is as physical as the oven in which it has been baked. My inert bones can be likened to the salt in my metaphor, my paralyzed muscles to the flour and my disabled joints can be represented by a raw egg. If this analogy is carried further, the potential of my condition can be compared to a cake that has already been baked. The enterprise that awaits me as a disabled person can be symbolized by the baking of a cake – a project carried out in its entirety, through matter alone.
I assume that in order to develop the potential of disability one needs an environment that can be instrumental to this purpose. The “cooking” metaphor would provide such an environment – a kitchen with refrigerator and stove. The kitchen as a whole would provide an environment for the transformation of the ingredients (the raw materials) into a baked cake (the end product). The refrigerator would be an environment for storing the ingredients (eggs, milk) whilst the stove would be a different environment serving a different purpose – an environment without which no baking or frying could take place. For the process of transforming the ingredients into a baked cake all three environments (kitchen, refrigerator and stove) are required.
In like manner my handicapped bones, muscles and joints need an environment which would allow them to be transformed into a new potential. My handicap needs a “refrigerator”, a “stove” and, even more, a complete “kitchen” for it to become the kind of organism I desire.
I likened the bed to which I was confined to a “refrigerator”. My bed served as an environment which, for almost twenty-four hours a day, maintained my disabled muscles, inert bones and paralyzed joints – all the ingredients for my “cooking” process. I likened my wheelchair to an environment which held my body for the specific purpose of transforming my disability – my wheelchair became the “stove”. As for the “kitchen” in the metaphor, I used a natural setting – a park with trees, greenery, flowers, a river and a blue sky. This natural setting served as “kitchen” since it held both the “ingredients” (myself) and the “stove” (my wheelchair) as my disability was being converted (“baked”) into a new potential.

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