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By Nicholas Mirzoeff

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In place of royal charity, the Revolution hoped to construct a national, moral and egalitarian system of assistance for the blind, which did not entail any change in the medical care of the blind. Although there was a seemingly absolute distinction between the pathological blind and the normal sighted, it was soon blurred by further classification among the ranks of the pathological. As the nineteenth century progessed, it became clear that, despite the physical limitations of blindness, it was regarded as less morally debilitating than other sensory loss.

Dibutade retained a prominent place in academic discourse throughout the nineteenth century, remaining a subject for painters until the difference and superiority of the Greeks was plain to all. In 1821, Shelley exclaimed: 32 BODYSCAPES Figure 6 Joseph Wright of Derby, The Corinthian Maid (1783–4), Paul Mellon Collection, © 1994 Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington. We are all Greeks. But for Greece we might still have been savages and idolators. The human form and the human mind attained to a perfection in Greece which has impressed its images on those faultless productions whose very fragments are the despair of modern art, and has propagated impulses which can never cease, through a thousand channels of manifest or imperceptible operation, to enable and delight mankind until the extinction of the race.

Fried 1983:149) Certainly the actor addressing the audience destroys the illusion of the performance but the paradox remains that they know the audience is there. Diderot was not afraid that the actor might communicate with the audience in general but that he might speak to the parterre, the popular audience standing in front of the stage. This group was never envisaged in the eighteenth century as 40 BODYSCAPES being equivalent to the entire audience, as Fried translates it, but were disparaged as a rowdy, disruptive group of pleasure seekers.

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