Monthly Archives: May 2018

an illustration of scholarly “good manners”



scholarly good manners.jpg



Crediting any and all findings shared with the writer.

From the introduction by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Professor Joy S. Kasson to the Penguin Classics edition of a Louisa May Alcott novel.

Note the acknowledgment in a footnote of Professor Kasson’s.





In this regard, see my post:



— Roger W. Smith

   May 2018

from an armchair therapist: how many disputes get resolved



You’re on the outs with someone. If you were violent sorts, it could have come to blows.

You argue back and forth until you are blue in the face. A therapist or marriage counselor should have been summoned, perhaps (I wouldn’t actually advise it), but neither one of you has gotten around to it.

You reconnect haphazardly after a day or two of smoldering anger.

You start talking about something or other. You are both into it (because of a substratum of past shared experience and concerns), meaning into whatever topic of conversation happened to come up. It could be something that you started the conversation with: say, “You won’t believe what happened to me the other day.”

The other person is listening with interest. The topic engages you both.

You forget momentarily that you are both supposed to be in a temporary “state of war,” that you have been arguing, on the outs.

You never do get around to addressing the “momentous” issues that were dividing you.

You hang up the phone. You realize that you are feeling better and are experiencing a big sense of relief.

What was so important about the supposed issues? you think. We are back to being friends.

Such a relief.

It’s better to …



— Roger W. Smith

   May 2018

“A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest”










I am reaching the end of the novel Work: A Story of Experience by Louisa May Alcott, which I have been reading for a few weeks by fits and starts (as is often my pattern), carrying it everywhere with me.

What a revelation, and what a writer.

I won’t spoil the book for would be readers by telling too much of the plot. But, it starts out with a young woman trying to make her way in the world in often tough circumstances; then there is a sort of Pride and Prejudice style romantic angle involving multiple relationships; and, at the end, the Civil War has broken out, and this profoundly affects the lives of all the major characters.

There are many autobiographical elements in the story.

The final chapters, in which the Civil War has profoundly affected and changed all the characters’ lives, contains heart-rending scenes of wounded soldiers being treated in hospitals. Obviously, Alcott drew upon her own experience as a Civil War nurse.

Regarding these concluding chapters and scenes, one of Walt Whitman’s great Civil War poems comes to mind: “A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown.”

I rank it right up there with three of Whitman’s greatest poems: “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”






A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and the Road Unknown


A march in the ranks hard-prest, and the road unknown,
A route through a heavy wood with muffled steps in the darkness,
Our army foil’d with loss severe, and the sullen remnant retreating,
Till after midnight glimmer upon us the lights of a dim-lighted building,
We come to an open space in the woods, and halt by the dim-lighted building,
’Tis a large old church at the crossing roads, now an impromptu hospital
Entering but for a minute I see a sight beyond all the pictures and poems ever made,
Shadows of deepest, deepest black, just lit by moving candles and lamps,
And by one great pitchy torch stationary with wild red flame and clouds of smoke,
By these, crowds, groups of forms vaguely I see on the floor, some in the pews laid down,
At my feet more distinctly a soldier, a mere lad, in danger of bleeding to death, (he is shot in the abdomen,)
I stanch the blood temporarily, (the youngster’s face is white as a lily,)
Then before I depart I sweep my eyes o’er the scene fain to absorb it all,
Faces, varieties, postures beyond description, most in obscurity, some of them dead,
Surgeons operating, attendants holding lights, the smell of ether, the odor of blood,
The crowd, O the crowd of the bloody forms, the yard outside also fill’d,
Some on the bare ground, some on planks or stretchers, some in the death-spasm sweating,
An occasional scream or cry, the doctor’s shouted orders or calls,
The glisten of the little steel instruments catching the glint of the torches,
These I resume as I chant, I see again the forms, I smell the odor,
Then hear outside the orders given, Fall in, my men, fall in;
But first I bend to the dying lad, his eyes open, a half-smile gives he me,
Then the eyes close, calmly close, and I speed forth to the darkness,
Resuming, marching, ever in darkness marching, on in the ranks,
The unknown road still marching.


— Walt Whitman




I am not a literary critic, but one doesn’t have to be one to appreciate Whitman fully. He didn’t write for critics.

Is there another poem that brings the Civil War home with such harrowing clarity and force? All expressed with such remarkable concision. So much expressed with an economy of words and just the right images. To say just enough (and how much!), and nothing more.



— Roger W. Smith

    May 2018








I posted the following review of Alcott’s novel on

One reviewer’s comments caught my eye: “kitsch; too many good people.” This is unfair and unfounded. The book does have a Victorian quality about it, and at times verges on being overly sentimental. But it is beautifully written, and compelling. It also accurately depicts harsh realities of its time and place. Women should appreciate its insight into their concerns and the obstacles they faced then. But, bottom line (I am male), this is a brilliant novel that is worth reading for the beauty of its prose alone. I often found myself stopping to read passages over again and make note of them. Why this novel is not better known and not more widely read escapes me. It’s up there with the works of acknowledged masters.

caveat emptor



I have learned to abhor so called print on demand booksellers.

They are sort of like cockroaches. If you are looking for a book online — from, or a bookstore/bookseller with a web page — and, say, you enter a search term such as “Theodore Dreiser” or “Sister Carrie,” you will get far more hits than you need or want.

Many of them are for on demand publishers. For instance:

Lightning Source Inc.

Forgotten Books

Trieste Publishing

Andesite Press

I was recently fooled, as it were, by seeing the name Trieste Publishing for a bookseller. I ordered a hard to find book of essays by William Hazlitt from them.

Trieste Publishing sounded like a bona fide publishing house, not an on demand publisher.

The book arrived in no time. It was what in booksellers’ parlance is termed an ex-libris copy, an ugly photocopied book from a public library with marks and stamps on it.

Some time ago, I ordered the lengthy novel by David Graham Phillips Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise. It was out of print. It was sold by Indypublish.Com. It came in two volumes with a plain dark blue cover. There were no words on the cover.

The title page simply read Susan Lenox Her Rise and Fall.

They couldn’t even get that right. The novel’s title is actually Susan Lenox: Her Fall and Rise. If you read the novel, you will see that the difference in titles makes a big difference.






Here are some more ludicrous examples.


The cover of Theodore Dreiser’s novel The “Genius,” published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


book cover, The 'Genius' (Create Space).jpg


I was astonished to see the cover of this edition. How could they have a portrait of Albert Einstein on the cover? Dreiser’s novel was based loosely on the life of Greenwich Village artist Everett Shinn, who in no way resembled Einstein appearance wise, and of course was from a totally different world, so to speak. The “publishers” did not bother to ascertain what the novel is about.


The cover of Theodore Dreiser’s novel The Financier (which is based on the life of the American financier Charles Tyson Yerkes), sold by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.


book cover, 'The Financier' (Create Space).jpg



The financier, Yerkes, died in 1905. He was active in the late nineteenth century in places such as Chicago. Dreiser knew of him. In the CreateSpace cover illustration, he is dressed in garb appropriate for Benjamin Franklin.



The cover of an edition of Theodore Dreiser’s Plays of the Natural and Supernatural, sold by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.



book cover, 'Plays of the Natural and Supernatural' (Create Space)



The cover of an edition of Theodore Dreiser’s play The Hand of the Potter, sold by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.



book cover, 'The Hand of the Potter' (Create Space).jpg




The illustrations look like they could have been done by Bruegel or an Italian Renaissance painter.





It’s disturbing, to me, to see books being marketed by firms that have entirely no knowledge of books or their content. A related problem which concerns me is that such sellers clutter up the online market for books, so that one can’t find which editions are in print that are worth purchasing.



— Roger W. Smith

   May 2018

empathy II



“Lisha, ain’t you got no heart? can you remember what Hepsey told us, and call them poor, long-sufferin’ creeters names? Can you think of them wretched wives sold from their husbands; them children as dear as ourn tore from their mothers; and old folks kep slavin eighty long, hard years with no pay, no help, no pity, when they git past work? Lisha Wilkins, look at that, and say no ef you darst!”


— Louisa May Alcott, Work: A Story of Experience, Chapter Sixteen (“Mustered In”)





No doubt some carping reader/critic would not hesitate to ridicule such sentiments today. Perhaps for being too saccharine or weepy.

But true empathy begins with both clear eyed observation of injustices large and small, and PITY. Something in short supply that is often looked upon as being not to the point. By heartless, callous, haughty individuals who think that to show pity amounts to weakness and that to be “above” such sentiments shows they are emotionally or morally superior.



— posted by Roger W. Smith

   May 2018

my refuge



“She was not happy, … and when life looked dark and barren without, she went away into that inner world of deep feeling, high thought, and earnest aspiration; which is a never-failing refuge to those whose experience has built within them

‘The nunnery of a chaste heart and quiet mind.’ ”

(The passage concludes, as above, with a paraphrase of Richard Herrick’s poem “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars.”)


— Louisa May Alcott, Work: A Story of Experience





Beautiful words. Beautiful thoughts.

They express what I myself always do when depressed, and am now doing (which is why the words seem so to speak to me).

Someone has let me down.

I retreat to that inner world and it sustains me. Now and always.

I always have my books. Writing. Solitary pursuits of the mind.

Others may scoff and invent baseless caricatures of a Silas Marner.

Cruelty becomes them.



— Roger W. Smith

    May 26, 2018

Scotch marriage record of my ancestors (my Smith grandfather’s great-grandparents)



John Gilchrist-Agnes Christie marriage record.jpg



I am one fourth Scotch through my paternal grandfather Thomas Gordon Smith (1885-1967).

Posted here is the marriage record of my grandfather’s great-grandparents on his paternal grandmother’s side.

My grandfather’s great-grandfather on his paternal grandmother’s side was John Gilchrist of Scotland. John Gilchrist married my grandfather’s great-grandmother Agnes Christie. Their daughter Jane (Gilchrist) Smith (my grandfather’s paternal grandmother) emigrated to the United States in 1872.

The marriage of John Gilchrist and Agnes Christie took place in Paisley, Scotland in 1833. “MC” on the marriage record stands for Middle Church. Middle Church describes the area around a parish and also the religious denomination associated with that area. The couple were Presbyterian.

If any family member ever goes to Scotland, they might want to check out Paisley. The newlyweds John and Agnes lived on North Croft Street in Paisley in the late 1830. They later moved to Niddry Street in Paisley, where they were living as recorded in the 1841 Scotch census.

Paisley is where their daughter Jane, my grandfather’s maternal grandmother, was born in December 1834. She died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1907.

Paisley was at one time famous for its weaving and textile industries. Prior to emigrating, Jane (Gilchrist) Smith, my grandfather’s maternal grandmother, was employed as a “winder of cotton.”

Jane’s father John Gilchrist, whose marriage record is posted here, is described as a blacksmith in early records and later as a “boilermaker journeyman.” He was born 1811 to 1815 (a range of years deduced from ages shown on later records). The year 1811 is likely. There was a John Gilcrhis [sic] baptized to a John Gilcrhis and Jean Cameron on 1 Dec 1811 in Paisley (Abbey). This is probably my ancestor.


— Roger W. Smith

    May 2018





See also my post:


“Jane (Gilchrist) Smith (1834-1907)”


William Handy, Love Swain marriage record




William Handy-Love Swain marriage record



William Handy-Love Swain marriage record




William Handy (1762-1856) of Sandwich, Massachusetts — sea captain, whaler, ship owner, farmer — was the grandfather of my mother’s grandfather Henry Thomas Handy (1845-1916). He served in the Revolutionary War.

He married Love Swain (1779-1857) on August 25, 1796 in Sandwich when he was 34 years old and she was about 17 years old. They had nine children. Love (Swain) Handy was a direct descendant of Daniel Swain, one of the founding purchasers of Nantucket.

Posted here is a copy of the marriage record, which I have transcribed as follows:


August 25th, 1796

William Handy and Love Swain both of Sandwich were married by Revd. Jonathan Burr.


Rev. Jonathan Burr was pastor of the First Church of Sandwich and preceptor of Sandwich Academy.



— Roger W. Smith

    May 2018





See also my posts:


William Handy (1762-1856) of Sandwich, MA



“my Revolutionary War ancestor”

Carl Nielsen, “Homesickness”








Posted are three renditions — one by a tenor, one by a soprano, and one by a mixed choir — of a beautiful song by the Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Nielsen composed over 290 songs and hymns, most of them based upon verses and poems by well-known Danish authors.

The song “Hjemvee (Underlige Aftenlufte!)” (translated as Homesickness; Odd and unknown evening breezes!) is a setting of a text by the Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger. The poem was written in 1805 and was occasioned by homesickness Oehlenschläger suffered during a four-year trip to Germany, France, and Italy.

The lyrics (see below) express the following impressions and thoughts: The homesick poet is watching the sun set behind mountains in a foreign land. The evening breeze makes him think of similar evenings among beech trees in the woods in Denmark, his native land. He wonders, will he ever see them again?

The composer’s tempo instructions are “Sincerely, warmly (not too slowly).”

The Danish lyrics are as follows, followed by an English translation.



— Roger W. Smith

   May 2018






Underlige aftenlufte!
Hvorhen vinker I min Hu?
Milde, lune blomsterdufte!
sig, hvor hen I bølger nu.
Går I over hviden strand
til mit elskte fødeland?
Vil I der med eders bølger
tolke, hvad mit hjerte dølger?

Matte sol! bag bjergets stene
luerød du daler ned,
og nu sidder jeg alene
i min dunkle ensomhed.
Hjemme var der intet fjeld,
ak! så er jeg ude vel,
skal i nat ej barnligt blunde
i min Herthas grønne Lunde.

Norges søn! jeg vel kan mindes,
du har sagt med smeltet bryst,
at i hjemmet ene findes
rolighedens sande lyst.
Schweizer! som paa klippen bor,
du har talt de samme ord.
Hellig længsel drev med vælde
begge til de vante fjelde.

Tror I da, kun klipper ene
præger sig i hjertet ind?
Ak! fra disse nøgne stene
vender sig mit mørke sind.
Synger granens, fyrrens lov!
hvor er Danmarks bøgeskov?
Gustne flod, som her sig krummer,
dysser ej min sjæl i slummer.

Hjemme rinder ingen floder
i en sid og leret grav,
livets kilde, glædens moder
breder sig, det sølvblå hav,
slynger sig med venlig arm
om sin datters fulde barm,
og ved blomsten sig forlyster
på Sjølundas unge bryster.

Stille! stille! hisset gynger
båden mellem siv og krat,
sødt en mø ved cithren synger
i den tavse, lune nat.
Hvilke toner! milde lyst!
hvor du strømmer i mit bryst!
Men hvad savner jeg, og græder,
mens hun dog så venligt kvæder?

Det er ej den danske tunge,
det er ej de vante ord,
ikke dem, jeg hørte sjunge,
hvor ved hytten træet gror.
Bedre er de vel måske,
ak, men det er ikke de!
bedre, tror jeg vist, hun kvæder,
men tilgiver, at jeg græder!

Tager ej min sang for andet
end et ufrivilligt suk!
Længselsfuldt heniler vandet,
aftnen er så blid og smuk.
Mangen sådan aftenstund
sad jeg i min kære lund,
mindet vender nu tilbage,
det var årsag i min klage.

Tidlig misted jeg min moder,
ak! det gjorde mig så ve!
Danmark er min anden moder,
skal jeg mer min moder se?
Livet er så svagt og kort,
skæbnen vinker længer bort,
skal jeg med den sidste varme
slutte mig i hendes arme?



Wond’rous fragrance in the evening!
Something beckons in my mind!
Scent of flowers warmly wafting,
Tell me what your currents find.
Will you drift o’er plain and strand
To my distant motherland?
Will your odours there reveal
What my aching heart conceals?

Feeble sun! behind the mountains
Furnace-red you slowly sink.
Lone I sit by craggy fountains.
Lovely memory I drink.
Mountains are not in my home.
Ah, too long I must have roamed
And shan’t tonight sleep like a child
In my native arbour mild.

Listen! listen! over where
The boat is rocked twixt wood and reed,’
There a maiden plays her zither
In the gloaming mild and sweet.
Melodies with rapture blest!
Gently streaming in my breast!
But there’s something lost and missing
In the pleasant words she’s singing.

Please don’t take my song for other
Than a soft, unwilling sigh.
With a fervent rush the water
Foams beneath the evening sky,
Oftentimes at such an hour
Sat I in my shady bower.
Memory wells up, returning.
Causing all my hurt and yearning.

Early did I lose my mother.
Oh, it caused me woe and pain.
Demark is s my second mother.
Shall I see her once again?
Life, it is so short and weak.
Fortune calls, but does not speak.
Will I at the final gloaming
In her arms find rest from roaming?





Note: Different sites and booklets give varying lyrics and translations. I am not sure if I have transcribed the lyrics as sung with complete accuracy. But, at least the English translation coveys the meaning of the lyrics.




Re an article on amblyopia by New York Times personal health columnist Jane Brody:



“Add Depth to Life, With Early Eye Exam”

By Jane E. Brody

The New York Times

May 17, 2005



My husband, Richard, now 72, was 11 when an eye examination at school revealed that the acuity in his left eye was a mere 20/200, far less than the 20/40 in his right eye.

Though glasses improved the vision in his left eye, they could not restore what he lost – depth perception gleaned from binocular vision – because this defect had not been found and corrected much sooner.

By the time Richard was 11, his brain had learned to ignore the blurry image from his left eye, and he was unable to coordinate the images from both eyes to form a view of the world that clearly shows how near or far objects are. As a result, he could never learn to catch or hit a ball, and he must concentrate hard to navigate highway exit ramps.

Richard was an early and avid reader who excelled in school, so no once suspected his eyes were not functioning normally. But without depth perception, he never would have made it as an airline pilot or interstate truck driver. Also, for unknown reasons, as an adult with amblyopia, Richard is at higher than normal risk of suffering an injury in his good eye and, in effect, becoming functionally blind.


How Amblyopia Develops

The visual cortex of the brain develops rapidly in babies and young children until about age 6. Interference with the image that forms on the retina during this critical time can cause the brain to favor one eye over the other. The great disparity in acuity in Richard’s eyes caused the visual cortex of his brain to rely only on the input from his right eye.

This condition – amblyopia, which is sometimes called lazy eye – can result from strabismus, crossed eyes that turn in or eyes that turn out. When eyes turn in, double vision results and the brain discards the image from one eye to “fix” the problem. When eyes turn out, the brain receives input from only one eye at a time and learns to favor the better eye.

An eye that drifts off center by just a degree is enough to cause amblyopia, but the untrained eye will not notice a disparity until one eye turns in or out by about five degrees.

Other causes of amblyopia include a significant difference in acuity between the eyes (Richard’s problem), an astigmatism in one eye, or severe visual blurring in both eyes caused by nearsightedness or farsightedness. Occasionally, amblyopia is caused by other eye disorders like cataracts.

Despite the great increase in understanding and recognition of this condition since Richard was a child, even now the vision of far too many children remains impaired for life because amblyopia is not detected until it is too late.

Amblyopia is the most common cause of visual impairment in childhood, affecting 2 to 4 percent of children. According to the National Eye Institute, “Unless it is successfully treated in early childhood, amblyopia usually persists into adulthood.”

Dr. David G. Hunter, an ophthalmologist at Children’s Hospital Boston, recently noted in The Journal of the American Medical Association that “amblyopia is an important public health problem, causing unilateral vision loss in 2 percent to 4 percent of the population” and “may be the leading cause of monocular vision loss in children and adults up to age 70.”


Early Detection Is Critical

If a “lazy eye” is not detected and treated at a young age, the vision in that eye gets worse because it is not being used. Chances are, when Richard was a toddler, the acuity in his left eye was better than 20/200, but it lost ground through years of disuse.

Dr. Hunter’s journal article concerned the results of a 49-center study sponsored by the National Eye Institute that sought to determine whether treatment of amblyopia after age 7 might be effective. The study found that some improvement in visual acuity was possible in the “lazy eye” up to age 12, and in some children up to age 17.

But, Dr. Hunter said, it is not yet known whether the improvement will last once treatment stops or whether the loss in depth perception can be reversed.

‘”The sooner amblyopia is detected and treated, the better,” Dr. Hunter said in an interview. “Amblyopia gets less fixable with each passing year.”

Ideally children’s vision should be tested even before they can talk and identify letters on an eye chart. At the very least, during well-child visits, the primary care doctor should perform some basic tests on the eyes of infants and toddlers, he said. Do the child’s eyes look straight and do they reflect light equally when a flashlight is shined on them?

“There needs to be a high index of suspicion in the pediatrician’s office until we finish developing and evaluating instruments for use in a doctor’s office that can measure whether a child’s eyes are in focus,” Dr. Hunter said.

One early detection method, photoscreening, is in use in some places. It relies on cameras designed to get red-eye reflections. One eye may light up red and the other not, suggesting that the child’s eyes are not properly aligned or that one eye is out of focus. But Dr. Hunter said, “This technique does not yet work well enough to become a standard of care.”

Parents, too, can be on the alert for signs of amblyopia in young children. Do the child’s eyes cross inward? (It’s normal for a baby’s eyes to drift out up to 3 months of age.) Does the child tilt his head at a funny angle when trying to see something? Does the child squint to see clearly?

Also, Dr. Hunter said, “if an older sibling has been treated for amblyopia, the child should be examined by an eye specialist who is qualified to work with children.”

The standard treatment for amblyopia is to block the vision temporarily in the stronger eye to force the child to use the weaker one. Two methods are commonly used: an adhesive patch worn over the stronger eye for two or more hours a day or the insertion of eyedrops of atropine, which blur the vision in the stronger eye for most of a day.

Of course, if visual acuity in the weaker eye is abnormal or an astigmatism is present, this too must be corrected with glasses.

The patch or drops are used for weeks, months or even years, until the weaker eye catches up to the stronger one and the child is able to use both simultaneously to produce a united image.

If strabismus (crossed or drifting eye) fails to be corrected with a patch or atropine drops, surgery may be needed to repair the muscular abnormality.


Just a Drop a Day

Multicenter studies sponsored by the Eye Institute have shown that atropine drops used once a day work as well as an eye patch and may increase compliance with the treatment. This is especially so with older children and teenagers, who may resent wearing a patch and having to explain it to others.

An institute-sponsored study also indicated that for moderate amblyopia, patching the unaffected eye for two hours a day works as well as patching for six hours, a change that should also increase compliance.

During the time the eye is patched, the child should do at least an hour of close-up visual activities, like reading, drawing or working puzzles.







A problem with my vision, which turned out to be amblyopia,  was detected early. I was taken frequently to a very good, leading eye doctor in Boston, Carl Cordes Johnson MD, an ophthalmic surgeon who taught at Harvard Medical School. All the “treatments” failed. During summer vacations from school, I had to wear a patch over my good eye. I hated this, and it never did any good. Of course, the idea was to get my right eye to strengthen.






I was very sensitive about my eye problems as a kid. I thought it meant something was wrong with me. The school bully in junior high school, Bob Dudley, called me a “cross eyed monkey” once. A girlfriend I had once whose father, Herbert Katzin, was a prominent ophthalmologist, was constantly bringing up my vision problems and making me feel embarrassed and ashamed of them.

Times columnist Jane Brody’s article says that early detection of amblyopia is critical. As far as I was concerned, this did not seem to matter. My eye condition was detected very early, and I was always making trips to Boston with my mother to visit Dr. Johnson. Every treatment that was tried did absolutely no good.

I can’t help saying that, in my opinion, these personal health writers are often out of their depth.





Jane Brody writes:

The standard treatment for amblyopia is to block the vision temporarily in the stronger eye to force the child to use the weaker one. Two methods are commonly used: an adhesive patch worn over the stronger eye for two or more hours a day or the insertion of eyedrops of atropine, which blur the vision in the stronger eye for most of a day. …

The patch or drops are used for weeks, months or even years, until the weaker eye catches up to the stronger one and the child is able to use both simultaneously to produce a united image.

This was tried on me in my early school years. Wearing a patch was a complete pain. It did NO GOOD whatsoever.




— Roger W. Smith

    May 2018








A discussion with an ophthalmologist, Dr. Ronald C. Gentile, during an eye examination on March 27, 2017 seemed to confirm some of my suspicions about what caused me to develop the condition of amblyopia.

Amblyopia is quite rare and affects a very small percentage of the population. No one seems to know for sure what causes it.

I asked Dr. Gentile about causes. He said it could be caused by various factors, ranging from genetic factors to environmental factors at the time of birth.

I told Dr. Gentile that I was about six weeks premature and that I was kept in an incubator for a long time. I asked him, could this be a possible cause? He said it certainly could. I then did a bit of research on my own on the Internet. It appears that deprivation of oxygen to blood vessels in the eye of a newborn can impair development of vision in the retina. This seems to confirm what I have always suspected, and it also uncannily underlies the antipathy I have always felt over being denied fresh air and confined in spaces with poor ventilation.