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June 18 2012

Design for knife: can cutlery help people with disabilities?

Is it possible to reinvent the knife, fork and spoon? Justin McGuirk meets designers who are shaking up the cutlery world

If design is everything "from the spoon to the city", as the Italian architect Ernesto Rogers put it in 1952, writing about design tends to gravitate towards the larger end of the spectrum. After all, there's not much to say about a spoon. Or is there? I've found myself thinking about cutlery twice in recent months. The first time was in an airport restaurant as I tried to hack my way through a steak with a serrated butter knife. Here, the security protocols of post-9/11 airports were getting in the way of a good meal.

The typographer Adrian Frutiger once remarked that "If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape." Frutiger was referring less to instances where the cutlery was literally the wrong shape – as my knife was – than to those where the designer had styled it to be more memorable. He believed that spoons, like letters, were merely tools – "one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page". For the diner or reader to be comfortable, the cutlery or typeface has to almost disappear. For modernists like Frutiger, there was a morality to design: every function had a perfect form, and to exceed that with some expression of ego was to stray into decadence. The critic Reyner Banham put it succinctly: "There is almost nothing a designer can do to, say, a spoon, a cup, a rolling pin, a wine glass or a broom, except fuck it up."

The conservative, almost unchanging nature of cutlery design shows that, while we are open to all sorts of culinary experimentation, we are intolerant of any extra interface between us and our food. I spoke to Alberto Alessi, who has commissioned some of the best-known cutlery sets of the 20th century (in so far as any cutlery set is well known), and he said: "It is very difficult to modify tradition. Maybe in two or three cases we've had a designer who had the courage to change a fork from four tines to three – and it was really dramatic." One such set, with a three-tined fork and curvaceous handles, was designed by the architect Jan Kaplicky. It didn't sell.

Although we all think we know what a fork and a spoon look like, designing one is somehow far from straightforward. Jasper Morrison once joked that it took him four years to design a fork, whereas a spoon – known as "the face" of the cutlery set – is easier. The spoon you have in your mind is an archetype, one that Alessi describes as "a clear representation of the maternal code". Spoons, you see, are embedded with our memories of being fed as children. Knives and forks, on the other hand, belong to the paternal code.

But not all forks and spoons are archetypes, which brings me to the second occasion lately when I found myself thinking about cutlery, rather than just shovelling food with it. I was at the Design Academy Eindhoven earlier this month, and one of the graduating students had designed a cutlery set for people with hemiplegia – a paralysis of one side of the body. Mickael Boulay's concept was to create a set that can help the patient develop his or her motor skills. Working with a young hemiplegic, he created four sets – one for each stage of development. The first two sets are strange globular things, like palaeolithic tools with a space-age finish. Designed to be easy to grip, the fork resembles a toy elephant, and serves merely to steer the knife between its two front legs, or tines. As the patient's skills develop from a fist-grip to a finger-grip, the cutlery evolves into much more recognisable forms.

Boulay has this encouraging idea that "the human body is like plastic", and that just as we can become disabled, we can "unbecome" disabled. The adaptability of the human hand, even the partially abled one, is written into his cutlery set.

Alessi also tells a story about that adaptability. When he approached Achille Castiglioni to design a cutlery set for him in 1980, the Milanese maestro held a hexagonal pencil between his fingers to demonstrate that the hand is "designed" to be adaptable to all sorts of forms, and that functionalists had taken things too far. Castiglioni's set, called Dry, had unorthodox square handles and was extremely popular – though not as popular as another maestro's a few years later, Ettore Sottsass's Nuovo Milano cutlery, whose handles were designed to be "like a stone polished by the sea".

The question raised by Boulay's set is whether it would appeal to a non-hemiplegic customer. Would the association with disability turn people away, or would it open our eyes to the possibilities of eating with something other than an archetype? Indeed, the fact that we still use these ancient implements for pronging and slicing made me realise how little things change. The personal fork has been around since 4th-century Byzantium (although it didn't arrive in Britain until the 16th century). I wonder how long it will be before it is superseded by a new archetype. Will it be defined by a change of diet, or is the food we eat defined as much by our cutlery? © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

January 26 2012

Adrian Cave obituary

The architectural career of my friend Adrian Cave, who has died of cancer aged 76, exemplifies the way disability issues have moved to the foreground of our culture. At an age when others consider retiring, Adrian embraced the concept of inclusive design and pioneered the transformation of disabled access to public buildings, so that it became integral to the creative vision rather than an add-on.

Adrian was the UK's first registered access consultant. In the past 10 years, he worked with architects including Norman Foster and Herzog & de Meuron and advised at the formative stages of projects such as Crossrail, the Olympic village, Tate Modern and the revamp of the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London. His mantra was "access with elegance". At Christopher Wren's Royal hospital, in Chelsea, west London, he concealed a lift behind 18th-century panelling to aid those with difficulties climbing the staircase, satisfying English Heritage in the process.

Adrian worked as a Samaritan and with Emmaus House on behalf of the homeless. He was made OBE for his dogged work in the transformation of a defunct cinema near his home into Ealing Community Resource Centre.

He was born in Great Bromley, Essex, and attended Ampleforth college, North Yorkshire. He adored adventures, such as navigating the canals with his grandchildren and walking with friends in Italy or Spain. He is survived by his wife, Felicity, whom he married in 1964; his son, Ben, and daughter, Zoe; and five grandchildren. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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January 25 2012

Liverpool's DaDaFest wins prestigious prize

The international disability and deaf arts festival has scooped the Lever Prize

The DaDaFest in Liverpool has won this year's prestigious £10,000 Lever Prize, just over a year after I wrote about fears over the festival's future funding due to Arts Council cuts.

The UK's largest disability and deaf arts festival, which attracts international artists was chosen by senior representatives of the 30 largest companies in the north west to receive the prize.

In 2011, DaDaFest celebrated its 10th anniversary, having begun in 2001 as a community arts event. Over the last decade, it has attracted 100,000 visitors.

When it started, there were a handful of performers; last year the number of artists has swelled to 313, with a total of 1,200 participants and visitor numbers expected to reach at least 11,000.

The festival's aims are simple – to inspire and celebrate talent and excellence in disability and deaf arts. The performances took part in mainstream venues – Liverpool's theatres, art spaces and galleries, so the festival was accessible to all audiences.

At the time, festival's artistic director, Garry Robson, explained its ethos. He said: "DaDaFest is here to present the work of deaf and disabled artists, whose work is on a par with mainstream artists.

"Disabled and deaf people are not simply passive consumers of a tragic destiny but active participants in all areas of life, with a unique and valuable cultural perspective that we plan to share during the festival."

In 2011, there was an international feel to the festival with performances from north and south America, Europe and Australia, as well as the UK. American writer and director Christine Bruno is performing Screw You Jimmy Choo, a play "about a woman obsessed with men she can't have and shoes she can't wear."

Ugandan hip-hop artist Rockin Ronnie, who is involved with Krip Hop Nation, a collective of musicians based in Berkeley, California, wrote and performed a festival theme song.

The festival's CEO, Ruth Gould, said that research undertaken to evaluate the festival shows that 75% of participants have gone on to get employment in the creative arts sector.

"At DaDaFest we know that the arts give us a voice; give us a hope in a world where we feel excluded, forgotten and ignored," she says.

Previous winners of the Lever Prize, named in honour of 19th soap magnate and philanthropist William Lever, include Liverpool Biennial, Tate Liverpool and Manchester International Festival.

Each year the prize is judged by the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) in partnership with Arts & Business North.

Arts groups, buildings, events, festivals, libraries and archives are all eligible and in addition to the £10,000 cash prize the award opens the door to collaboration with the region's top businesses. Last year's winner of the Lever Prize was the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester.

Gould said: "We're delighted the NWBLT have acknowledged the unique work DaDaFest does in representing disability and deaf culture in the north west and internationally.

"The award and resulting creative collaborations with NWBLT members will allow us to present an even more relevant and enticing festival later this year."

Geoffrey Piper, chief executive of NWBLT said: "DaDa's success in landing the 2012 Lever Prize is a truly outstanding achievement having seen off an extremely impressive range of the north west's other well-known arts organisations to win this major accolade."

This year's DaDaFest takes place from July 13 to September 2. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

November 21 2011

Guardian wins people's choice award for excellence in disability journalism

Judges praise 'thoughtful, entertaining, rigorous and enlightened' coverage of Guardian series on disability and the arts

The Guardian's "outstanding" coverage of disability issues was recognised on Sunday night when it picked up the first ever People's Choice award for journalistic excellence.

The publicly-nominated Ability Media International award, created by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, recognises "creatively excellent work that has either been produced by disabled people or promotes a greater understanding of disability issues".

The judges praised the Guardian for its "thoughtful, entertaining, rigorous and enlightened" coverage of issues facing disabled people in a series of pieces about disability and the arts.

The award was presented at a star-studded ceremony at London Studios, attended by UK media and arts luminaries including Downton Abbey actor Dame Maggie Smith, childrens TV pioneer Anna Home and filmmaker Mike Leigh.

Jane Jutsum, Leonard Cheshire Disability Innovative Projects director and co-organiser of the AMI awards, said: "The Guardian has an impressive record in its coverage of disability issues. Its features and news coverage are thoughtful, entertaining, rigorous and enlightened and demonstrate the inclusion and journalistic responsibility not always apparent in our national press."

The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, said: "Diversity is a central part of what we are trying to do at the Guardian. I hope we are at the forefront of allowing a range of voices in, getting other points of view and raising issues of vital importance to people who previously weren't heard. That is why it makes me very proud to receive this AMI Award."

Ability Media is an initiative by Leonard Cheshire Disability aimed at giving disabled and disadvantaged people access to all forms of digital media training, providing a springboard into the industry. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

May 31 2011

Selwyn Goldsmith obituary

Author of Designing for the Disabled

Selwyn Goldsmith, who has died aged 78, was the author of Designing for the Disabled (1963), a comprehensive architectural planning manual providing guidance on access for disabled people to facilities and buildings. This was an entirely new concept in the UK at the time.

When he was commissioned to write the second, expanded, edition of the book, published in 1967, he selected Norwich as a representative city for his research. He studied the local population and based his findings on their experience. He interviewed 284 wheelchair users, and carried out detailed analyses to develop his hypotheses. A significant initiative arising from his research was the concept of the dropped kerb: 15 were installed at intersections around the city and this facility is now a feature of urban landscapes throughout the world.

Born in Newark, Nottinghamshire, he was educated at Abbotsholme school, Staffordshire, and read architecture at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, completing his qualification at the Bartlett School, University College London, in 1956. He contracted polio immediately afterwards, which resulted in his being paralysed on one side of his body.

Goldsmith then met Bill Allen and Duncan Guthrie, from the Polio Research Fund, and Gordon Ricketts, the secretary of the Royal Institute of British Architects. They developed the idea behind Designing for the Disabled.

After a spell as buildings editor at the Architects' Journal, Goldsmith joined the Department of the Environment. In 1981, he produced reports on mobility housing, and was a key figure in the international year of disabled people. In 1982, he became the first architect to receive the prestigious Harding award, for his services to disabled people.

He was appointed to the Prince of Wales Advisory Group on Disability (now The Disability Partnership), and his international reputation led to numerous invitations to address architects, therapists and government bodies throughout the world, and particularly in the Netherlands.

In 1989, Goldsmith turned his attention to the question of women's lavatories, asking why women always seemed to have to queue in public buildings. He conscripted his wife, Becky, whom he had married that year, to assist his research with many visits to shops, museums and theatres. Their findings revealed a massive disparity in the provision of male and female toilets. The research was published in the Times and professional journals; it was also included in a major survey of sanitary provision written by Goldsmith for the Department of the Environment. He called a subsequent article on the subject "Ps and Queues".

In 1992, Goldsmith retired from the DoE, and set about writing a new book, Designing for the Disabled – The New Paradigm. Partly autobiographical, this work focused on the needs of wheelchair users, ambulant disabled people, children and families with pushchairs. In 2000, he published his last book, Universal Design.

I first encountered him in 1962, and we worked together many times in the ensuing years. He was never an easy person to deal with; he held strong views and enjoyed nothing more than an argument, always tempered with his zany sense of humour. He displayed an honesty that made him unpopular in some circles, but his integrity and charm won him great respect even among those with whom he battled.

He is survived by Becky, two sons from his first marriage, and three grandchildren.

• Selwyn Goldsmith, architect and disability rights campaigner, born 11 December 1932; died 3 April 2011 © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

April 21 2011

See the world in a new light

Dr Patrick Degenaar explains how retinal prosthetics may one day allow humans to see in ultraviolet and infrared, a concept explored in a film unveiled at the HUMAN+ exhibition in Dublin

The purpose of retinal prosthetics is to restore sight to patients who have a degenerative condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which affects one in 3,500 people. In the condition, the retina's light-sensing cells – rods and cones – become inactive and eventually die. Symptoms start with night blindness and worsening tunnel vision, but eventually there is a total loss of sight.

In 1992, research showed that the eye's communication cells – known as retinal ganglion cells – remain intact in patients with retinitis pigmentosa. The discovery opened up the prospect of restoring some form of visual function to these people by controlling the cells' communication patterns.

In the past two decades since the research was published, hundreds of millions of pounds have been invested in retinal prosthesis research. Unfortunately, in contrast to the development of cochlear implants – which restore hearing to the deaf – progress has been slow. The highest resolution prosthesis to date was created by the Retina Implant company based in Tübingen, Germany, whose 1,500-electrode implant has allowed one of their patients, Mika, to distinguish large white characters on a black background.

One of the key challenges has been the fundamental architecture of our visual system. The eye is not simply a camera, but the first stage in a system for understanding the world around us. There are around 50 different types of processing neuron in the retina, and more than 20 types of retinal ganglion cell. So the visual cortex of the brain expects to receive the visual world encoded in a "neural song" of many different voices. Precise coding to reproduce this song is hard to achieve with implanted electrodes and the result is that the patient sees phosphenes – flashing dots of light – rather than what we would normally define as sight.

Optogenetics, an exciting new gene therapy technique, has the potential to bypass many of these problems and last year was hailed as Method of the Year by the journal Nature. Invented in the lab of Ernst Bamberg at the Max Planck Institute in Frankfurt eight years ago, the technique uses gene therapy to sensitise nerve cells to particular colours of light. Intense pulses of this wavelength of light make the photosensitised nerve cells fire. (Neurologists call each firing of a nerve an "action potential" – the currency of information in the nervous system.)

So in optogenetic retinal prosthetics, rather than performing highly complex surgery to implant electrodes into a patient's retina, a solution of a special virus would simply be injected to introduce new genes into the nerve cells. The patient would then wear a headset that records and interprets the visual scene and sends coded pulses of light to the retina. As a single pulse of light can generate a single action potential, the information encoded from the visual scene can be much more in tune with the neural song expected by the visual cortex.

The OptoNeuro European project I lead at Newcastle University is researching this new approach, and we hope to start human trials towards the middle of this decade.

The first optogenetic retinal prostheses will not deliver perfect vision, so we have teamed up with the London-based design practice Superflux to explore how the user's interaction with this new technology can be made more practical and meaningful in the coming years. The key objective is to maximise the useful sight restored to the patient while also exploring the unique possibilities of this new, modified – even enhanced – form of vision.

In their concept video Song of the Machine (above), Anab Jain, Jon Ardern and Justin Pickard explore the personal and emotional complexities that might arise once this science leaves the lab and begins to touch our daily lives. The title is derived from the idea that in optogenetic retinal prosthetics the body is itself modified to interface with the machine in order to appreciate the neural song.

Even if resolution is low, the prosthesis could allow users to experience the visual world in wavelengths beyond those perceptible to normal-sighted humans. For example the eye absorbs ultraviolet light before it reaches the retina, and nature finds it difficult to make infrared light receptors. Such constraints do not affect modern camera technology.

This "multi-spectral imaging" could be used for purely pragmatic purposes, such as telling at a glance whether an object is too hot to touch. Alternatively, it could create a certain visual poetry by allowing us to experience a flower in all its ultraviolet glory – as seen by honey bees.

By exploring these possibilities in our research, it may be possible to improve the experience of the patients who will eventually wear these prostheses, allowing them to enjoy some of the benefits of the new field of augmented reality.

Dr Patrick Degenaar is an optogenetics researcher at Newcastle University where he leads the OptoNeuro project

Song of the Machine is on show as part of the HUMAN+ exhibition at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin, which runs until 24 June © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

March 24 2011

January 05 2011

Accessible publishing is good business

Accessible publishing has historically been a logistical challenge. Getting books printed in Braille or developing alternate formats to make books accessible to readers with disabilities were efforts that often fell to charitable organizations. Budget contraints and the sheer volume of work left a wide gap in the availability of titles.

Ideally, all books would be available in a variety of formats to accommodate the needs of any reader — a scenario that benefits publishers as much as it does readers. In the following interview, Dave Gunn (@AccessGeek), technical manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and a speaker at TOC 2011, talks about how far accessible publishing has come and how technological advancements are making accessible publishing easier.

How has accessible publishing evolved?

RNIB, DAISY, ePuBDave Gunn: RNIB's work on accessible publishing standards began with our foundation in 1868 when we were known as the "British and Foreign Society for Improving Embossed Literature for the Blind." Focused primarily on the provision of materials in Braille and other tactile formats, we were involved in leading work on the development of standards and production technologies.

At the end of World War I, many soldiers had lost their sight in action and returned home to a society ill-prepared for their needs. RNIB was involved in pioneering work to record audio versions of books, developing prototype technology called long-play recordings — a recording standard that was eventually adopted by the music industry. The technology at the time was a big leap forward, even if it wasn't that practical, as a single "Talking Book" was typically played back over 10 double-sided 12-inch long-play records.

Standards and technology have moved on significantly, allowing us to offer a much more flexible and practical service to many more people. Over the years, there have also been considerable developments in technology for Braille and large-print production, for both hard-copy and electronic consumption, with electronic Braille displays offering a practical alternative to embossed pages for some users.

However, the current developments in ebook technologies present an opportunity for the most significant change to accessible publishing in decades. In fact, ebooks could benefit all users, irrespective of their preferred reading format.

Dave Gunn will explore the technologies and opportunities of accessible publishing at the Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (Feb. 14-16, 2011).

Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD

What's the current state of accessibility standards?

DG: The DAISY standard was developed by an international consortium to improve the availability and quality of mainstream publications to people with print disabilities. For the last 14 years, the DAISY standard has provided a common way for disability organizations, like RNIB, to convert print documents and create flexible resources to meet the needs of their client groups.

The vision of the DAISY Consortium, is "a world where people with print disabilities have equal access to information and knowledge, without delay or additional expense." Developments in ebook formats and readers/players mean that this vision has come a big step closer to being realized.

The EPUB format has historically shared technology employed in the DAISY format, and starting this year, DAISY will adopt the EPUB 3.0 specification for delivery of the text-only configuration of DAISY. This is part of a scheduled path of harmonization between DAISY and EPUB formats. It is intended to enable publishers to produce publications that are accessible to people who have historically not had access to text, with little or no additional effort for either the publisher or end user.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires governments to provide accessible information. Are there current processes that publishers can adopt so they don't reinvent the wheel?

DG: As each signing country has ratified the UN Convention, they have been implementing solutions based on the accessible formats and standards in use in that country. For example, standards for the coding of Braille varies from country to country, and there are some country-specific differences in implementation of DAISY.

Standards for accessible electronic documents, outside of web accessibility, are still very much in their infancy. In many respects the publishing industry is on — or near — the cutting edge, especially when considering emerging ebook technologies.

How will accessible publishing change in the near term?

DG: The convergence of DAISY and EPUB is just one of many positive steps for accessible publishing. Most of the major ebook formats have at least some mechanisms to support accessibility, and many of the popular reading devices and software have built-in features, such as text size adjustments, color variation, or synthetic speech, all of which provide essential access to people with disabilities. At RNIB we would like to see these features become standard.

Historically, there have been few opportunities for people with print disabilities to access their books of choice, until now. This presents an opportunity for publishers. Many people with print disabilities are hungry for books, having previously received limited access to just a small pool of best-sellers and classics.

The future of accessible publishing no longer needs to rest solely on the shoulders of charitable organizations, nor should it be driven by a moral obligation, corporate social responsibility, or legal drivers. People with disabilities are consumers who just want to be able to buy and read books at the same time as everyone else. For the first time, the technology is available to enable people to pay to read books in a choice of formats — all from a standard ebook. Now it is up to publishing and related industries to take up the opportunity, so they can see the benefits from making ebooks accessible to all.

This interview was edited and condensed.


August 17 2010

John Callahan obituary

Acerbic cartoonist whose work was suffused with angst

In an interview with the small magazine Emergency Horse, the cartoonist John Callahan, who has died aged 59 of respiratory failure, stated: "I like everything that has to do with the extreme, with angst or suffering or intensity in life. My subjects are all very intense – religion, politics, disease. The real mild things in life I'm not interested in." But what distinguished Callahan, a quadriplegic, was that he was genuinely funny about these subjects. A classic cartoon shows a sheriff and posse surrounding an empty wheelchair. The caption reads: "Don't worry, he won't get far on foot."

Unable to control a pen single-handed, Callahan worked on a tablet on his knees, holding the pen with two hands and drawing from the shoulders. Like that other great humorist, the partially sighted James Thurber, Callahan succeeded in channelling his limitations to create a distinctive style in drawings peopled by characters that he described as "kind of demented, as I think most people are".

As disability was his primary subject, Callahan frequently came under attack from the people he described as "self-righteous assholes who presume to defend the disabled", and delighted in publishing these letters on his website.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Callahan was adopted by an Irish Catholic family at the age of six months. He grew up in the Dalles, a small port on the Columbia river. With a rigid ex-army father, and educated by nuns, he started to rebel. He showed a talent for illicit, often obscene, caricatures of teachers and classmates.

Aged 12, he stole a bottle of gin at his grandmother's wake and thereafter descended rapidly into alcoholism. (He was later to blame this in part on having been sexually abused at the age of eight by a female teacher.) In 1972, he let himself be driven by a friend who was as drunk as he was, who hit a telegraph pole. Callahan's spine was severed.

He continued drinking in rehab and afterwards, until in 1978 he had an epiphany, described in his autobiography: "I knew with utter certainty that my problem was not quadriplegia, it was alcoholism." He went to counselling, joined Alcoholics Anonymous, and never took another drink. (This journey was the subject of his 1989 animation I Think I Was an Alcoholic.)

In 1979, John enrolled in Portland State University, where he gained a bachelor's degree in English. In 1981, he returned to cartooning, initially for Portland State's student magazine, the Vanguard, and received his first hate mail after creating a drawing of a street beggar with a sign reading: "Please help me. I am blind and black but not musical."

After graduating in 1983, he started submitting professionally and eventually sold to Penthouse a cartoon of a construction site with a sign: "WARNING! THIS AREA PATROLLED BY LESBIANS." He was soon selling to magazines such as National Lampoon, Omni and Forum.

At this point, like many artists with disabilities, Callahan experienced problems balancing a fluctuating freelance income with welfare payments. But the rise of political correctness created an environment in which Callahan was able to flourish, with such gags as: "This is a feminist bookstore! There is no humour section!!!" His career kept growing, he found an agent, and was eventually syndicated in some 50 publications, winning the praise of such fans as Gary Larson, PJ O'Rourke, Matt Groening and Camille Paglia.

In 1989 he published a first volume of autobiography, Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot, followed in 1998 by Will the Real John Callahan Please Stand Up?

Callahan originated two television series. Pelswick, which ran from 2000 until 2002, was a children's series about a 13-year-old wheelchair user. The cartoonist was creator and executive producer of John Callahan's Quads (2001), a raucously politically incorrect series made by the Canadian animation house Nelvana.

For the last 12 months, Callahan had been dealing with complications from pressure sores, a constant danger for anyone with spinal cord injury. He is survived by his mother, Rosemary, three brothers and two sisters.

• John Michael Callahan, cartoonist, born 5 February 1951; died 24 July 2010 © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

April 26 2010

Le Normal et le Pathologique

Dans sa célèbre étude Le Normal et le Pathologique, Georges Canguilhem rend son importance à la clinique et limite la portée des examens de laboratoire. La médecine n’est pas une science, c’est d’abord une technique. Il met en garde contre la normalisation. Le vivant ne se réduit pas à un simple mécanisme qu’on appréhenderait avec des données quantitatives. Il se définit par sa normativité, c’est-à-dire sa capacité à créer des normes, ce qui le singularise. Le pathologique n’est pas absence de norme, il n’est pas le contraire du normal. Il est plutôt la réduction de la capacité à poser des normes. Être malade, c’est être moins capable de s’adapter à son milieu, c’est réduire son existence à un certain mode de vie… Être en bonne santé au contraire, c’est être en mesure de faire face à l’imprévu, sans avoir besoin de se ménager.

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Reposted fromScheiro Scheiro

April 06 2010

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