If you are blind you still have the window of your ears, and if you are deaf you can listen through your eyes. Helen Keller could neither see nor hear. Yet miraculously she found her salvation through language. Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was once on the reading list of most American schools. She earned renown as an activist for women’s suffrage, socialism, and antimilitarism.
On a cold winter night in 1888, Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear with a razor blade. He wrapped it in a cloth and brought it to a brothel. He gave the bloody ear as a token of love to a prostitute named Rachel, who fainted when she saw it. Van Gogh returned home and almost bled to death. This is the most common story of Van Gogh’s famous fit of madness, but there are competing theories.