Sunday, 1 April 2012

Eye-Wateringly Clever

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~ Eye-Wateringly Clever ~

Eye-Wateringly Clever, originally uploaded by Paris Set Me Free.

BONUS: For Street Photography Fans!

This one should really be appearing in one of my strange Paris Top 10s, because it's way too weird for words.

There's this letterbox somewhere in the 19th which was brought to my attention by a couple of American friends, and what you can read on it is truly eye-popping.

It says 'Banque des Yeux', which means 'Eyes Bank'.

It all dates back to the turbulent times of the revolution when battles were going off gauche, droite and centre, and people were getting wounded and wiped out all over the place.

Of course, one of the most delicate parts of the body is the eyes, and with the recent development in explosive engines and materials of all sorts, unfortunates were losing their eyesight by the hundreds and thousands. Which is where the eye bank came along.

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French society being what it was (i.e. highly pretentious, judgemental and obsessed with personal appearance), only having one eye didn't do much for your chances of climbing the social strata. One didn't generally 'do' one-eyes in those days, and, despite the heroic deeds and tragic circumstances this loss might readily suggest, it was generally considered an impediment as much societally as physically, almost on a par with leprosy.

People would do anything to try to combat this disability.

The eye bank was exactly what it sounds like: a place where you could borrow very realistic glass eyes, if necessary ordering a brand new one if they didn't have one close enough to your existing lenswork. War veterans would pop in and pop one in, as it were, before important occasions to ensure they 'looked' their best.

And in an astonishing precursor to the modern video rental store, what with these events generally finishing very late and the false orbs becoming extremely uncomfortable after a few hours, some Richard malin (clever Dick) dreamt up the idea of this facility, where you would simply take out your glass eye on the way home as you were passing and pop it into the 'eye-box'. So simple you can almost feel the tears welling up. On one side, at least.

And why not...
© 2012 
Sab Will / Paris Set Me Free - Contact me directly for photo tours, interviews, exhibitions, etc.

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