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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Other and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

A federal appeals court declared that US currency discriminates against the blind. US paper money is unique in my experience, because bills of different value are the same size. Other currencies have size increasing in value.

The US eccentricity has one saving grace. It was used by Jorge Luis Borges in his story "The Other" to remind readers that he was essentially blind at the time he wrote it.

In the story, Borges meets his younger self. The point is that he has changed so much that his younger self is like a different person. He explains the strange event convincing young Borges that he has been transported into the future (and to Cambridge Massachusetts where older Borges was to give a Norton lecture) by showing him one of the US bills which are stupidly all the same size.

Borges wonders why his younger self had no recollection of the meeting making it a surprise (a mild one from the tone -- it was hard to surprise Borges) to his aged self. He concludes that his younger self was dreaming and forgot the dream as is natural.

Then he trembles realizing that he now knows the exact date on the bill.

With the new reformed US currency, Borges would have to use some other hint to make sure that his readers know about his eyesight.

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