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Need help finding a reason for someone of to lose an eye

Discussion in 'Research' started by John Penny, Nov 11, 2020.

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  1. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Why does it have to be anything significant? He got a scratch, the eye became infected, it had to be removed - simple. Of course as a pirate he now has to spend the rest of his life making up ever more bizarre stories about how he lost the damned thing! (And getting rid of anyone who knows the truth!)

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  2. It's pretty easy to lose an eye. I am like a sorta normal US kid (very rural though..and we had weapons) and two times I have come close: Once my friend and I were doing something very stupid, which was throwing an arrow at each other! and trying to block it with wood chips? anyway.. when one is young and stupid. anyway, arrow in my eye. luckily not a hunting arrow! but yeah, at the doctor, patch all of that and I was lucky and can see now but that eye has never been the same.

    second time my brother wanted to show me a fencing move, and so- for whatever reason- I took down my actual sword from the wall (or maybe he did?- I swear it was all his idea anyway) he messed up the move and I stabbed him right along side the nose into his eye. A sound and feeling I will never forget- it haunted me like a low level ptsd for a while. Instantly his eye filled with blood and closed up- very lucky that it slid in the side and was not a cm the the right or he would have a glass eye now.

    So yeah, pretty easy and for very stupid reasons!


    -j
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. Tannhauser

    Tannhauser New Member

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    Thought you could use this in conjunction with Don Coyote's idea
    Shortly after I was born my brain expanded and crushed the anterior pituitary gland and olfactory bulb against my skull, taking out the sight in my left eye. (The eye is still in place but useless). With the olfactory bulb gone, I have no sense of smell either.

    Best wishes.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

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    Did he really lose an eye? Or does he just wear an eye patch for the real reason pirates are depicted wearing them?

    The real reason is that most sailors, not just pirates, would wear them in what we think of as the pirate era (16th-18th century), and the reason they did was to preserve night vision. They regularly had to climb in and out of the ship's hold, and they had to be able to see the whole time, which meant their eyes had to quickly adjust to the dark when they went into the hold. There was no lighting down there, and it would have been way too dangerous to bring a candle or torch, because the hold was full of gunpowder. One stray spark would've blown up the ship.

    Keeping one eye covered preserved night vision in that one eye. Flip up the eye patch as soon as you were in the dark, and it would instantly become adequate night vision in both eyes. That was the only way they could safely navigate below.

    If your character really did lose an eye, he's at a serious disadvantage. He can't preserve his night vision. He'll be stumbling blind when he goes into the hold.

    If he really has two good eyes, his "how I lost my eye" story could be his way of having fun with landlubbers who have no idea why sailors wear eye patches, should he encounter any. He can make that as outlandish as you want.
     
    LAG likes this.
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I should very much like to see the source for this info about pirates wearing eye patches. I like to follow threads back because they often lead in new directions.
     
  6. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

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    I used to be an outdoor ed instructor. It was one of the stories we told the students on nightwalks, as we explained how night vision works. I learned it in staff training. But then, some of my students said they'd seen the same thing on TV--I think it was one of those explainer shows, but I don't remember which one--so there should be some outside source, it's just not one I can immediately link to.
     
  7. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    My lazy ploy didn't work. Arrgh.

    Here are some sources
    Why Did Pirates Wear Eye Patches?
    Eyepatch - Wikipedia

    There are a couple of reasons why I was skeptical (you knew I was skeptical, right?). One, I was skeptical about how dark it would be in the hold. After all, a pirate has to go fetch another barrel of rum and know he didn't fetch water or gunpowder. They have to have enough light to see, which means they don't need to adapt.

    Two, above deck and in a fight, a patch is a hindrance because it screws up depth perception. One definitely wants good depth perception when faced with the pointy end of a sword. Or even the edge of a deck.

    And generally, I just didn't think much of the adaptation theory. In that I have to stand corrected (which is just abaft the mizzen). It definitely works, per the above sources. For me, an amateur astronomer, the clincher was there. If this worked, why wasn't patch-wearing a common recommendation for backyard astronomers? All the advice I've ever seen just says give yourself fifteen or twenty minutes.

    Ah, but then I found this
    Observing with an Eyepatch?
    and this
    Ahoy matie, do you use an eye Patch? - General Observing and Astronomy - Cloudy Nights
    and many more. In case anyone else does a bit of stargazing, there's the added benefit that you can open both eyes while looking through the eyepiece. Nice! And now you know what to ask for on your next birthday.

    The historian in me is obliged to point out that we still don't have any documentary or even indirect evidence that this is why at least a few pirates wore eye patches. Another entirely possible explanation is that it became an artistic convention, not grounded in actual practice at all.
     
    joshua mcdermott likes this.
  8. I would say that i do this sometimes, and it works. I work in Theater and we often have to go from a very bright space (on stage) to off stage.. a very dark place and still be able to see. I am not an actor, so when I am in the bright it does serve me to close one eye as I go, as I live mostly in the dark and only sometimes need to hit the light so no need for a patch since I can easily hold a wink.

    the lack of depth perception is less serious than you may think - you can certainly still navigate and pick things up etc (which is exactly what we are doing most the time) - never been a problem.
     
    skip.knox and Rosemary Tea like this.
  9. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

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    Stargazing isn't such a time sensitive activity. The stars won't move noticeably in 15-20 minutes. But if you're a ship's crew member and you repeatedly climb in and out of the hold, chances are you don't have 15-20 minutes to spare for adjusting your eyes.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Here are some other considerations.
    Why only pirates? Wouldn't the same physical reality apply to all sailors in all ages? But we see no such depictions. I'm guessing the earliest would be late eighteenth century. Which would argue in favor of an artistic conceit.

    I repeat an earlier point that sailors had to have some light below deck. It can't have been utter blackness. But we know the bottom was exactly that, for it was below the water line. Night vision is for low light not the absence of light. Therefore there must have been lanterns. Therefore, no need for eye patches.

    Finally, neither C.S. Forester not Patrick O'Brian put an eye patch on anyone. That's a less direct argument, but there it is.

    Anyway, I can entertain the possibility as plausible, but with counter evidence. It's an interesting topic.
     
    Rosemary Tea likes this.
  11. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

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    It is indeed.

    Remember, the reason for not carrying a light source below deck was gunpowder. There wouldn't have been gunpowder on a merchant ship. So, merchant sailors probably didn't need eyepatches. Navy ships would have had it. And, of course, pirate ships.

    And that's era specific. Gunpowder on ships only became common in the 15th-16th century (and only on ships expected to use it, ie navy). It became obsolete by the end of the 19th century. So, gunpowder was being carried on pirate ships in the very era when we have the pirate with an eye patch trope.
     
    skip.knox likes this.
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    So Navy sailors would have worn eye patches. And since there were more of those than of pirates, I would expect to see sailors (and officers) portrayed with eye patches. But they aren't. Nor do they appear in fiction. So, that's a puzzle.
     
    Rosemary Tea likes this.
  13. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

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    Here's another possibility: this wearing of eye patches wasn't universal, among navy or pirates or anybody (but then, how did the non-eye patch wearers deal with dark holds full of gunpowder?), but a few did hit on that solution. The artists who depicted eye patch wearing pirates had either encountered or, more likely, heard of, those pirates who actually did wear eye patches for that reason, but didn't know the real reason, so it became "pirate wears an eye patch, that's just what he does."
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I like that. I do think this was mainly an artistic conceit, but such things tend to come from somewhere. Whether the source was a pragmatic adaptation or an actual lost eye, it would get noticed by an artist. And the artist or illustrator would want to emphasize the sinister side of pirates, but not of Navy sailors.

    Now I wonder how much of this is purely Anglo-american, and how often it appears in, say, Polish or Arab or Japanese depictions. Rabbit holes rule!
     
    Rosemary Tea likes this.
  15. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

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    Another possible reason for the eye patch not showing up on Navy sailors, particularly officers, is that officers were much more likely to be depicted by an artist in the first place, and officers in the Navy--and on merchant ships, too--kept strict boundaries between themselves and the crew. An officer would rarely if ever have gone into the hold, except maybe for an inspection. Quickly going down and back, fetching stuff, would have been the lowly crew members' job.

    But pirate ships were much more egalitarian. Spoils were divided much more equally, the crew had much more say in decisions, and the captain was more likely to do at least some work alongside his crew. A Navy captain would never do the grunt work, but a pirate captain might take his turn at it.
     
  16. of course, remember this is not a historical fiction site, but a fantasy writers site: So in your world pirates could have any number of reasons for having a patch- as long as its not unreasonable- and may even have been the case- go for it!
     
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