But still, I'm headed elsewhere in this chapter—headed to some "place" where the terms and people interact. And in heading there, I would surely have to pass by or through—perhaps even stay in—the lives of deaf students. My map codes them as the indigenous population of the country of deafness, long since taken over by terms, traders, teachers, missionaries, lawyers, medical practitioners, scientists, politicians —colonists all, if you will. By and large their colonial enterprise has been situated around issues of (il)literacy—literacy of and for the deaf, the illiteracy that is often equated with deafness. This colonial form of literacy is one of "other people's children," as Lisa Delpit characterizes it, a literacy usually advocated and carried through "with the best of intentions by middle-class [and usually white, and usually hearing] liberal educators."
So it is that as a white, middle-class, liberal, but not very hearing educator—I turn my discussion of the rhetorical construction of deafness (as a disability) in our educational system to "literacy." In using literacy as my frame, my lens, and indeed my photo I hope to superimpose, quadruply expose—and simultaneously lay side by side—all four of the possible maps I've just considered: the history of deaf education, the terms of and in the deaf educational system, the people "giving" to the deaf educational system (who are, of course, doing plenty of taking, too), and, finally, the people "taking" from the system (the deaf students who irrefutably give as well).
In constructing this rhetorical-cultural map within the grids of literacy, I cannot avoid the significant "problem of speaking for others"; I realize that "the neutrality of the theorizer can no longer, can never again, be sustained, even for a moment." I would not pretend otherwise. But still, I must write (which I also submit is different than speaking), and I must theorize and go about "naming silenced lives." I try to do it with sensitivity to those silences, with respect for the ruptures that even I have surely created within the system and within the lives of those who work in the mines of deaf education and of those, too, who try to navigate through its minefields. In some ways I am each of them; in some ways, I am not any of them.
My combinatorial method is thus somewhat Ciceronian—the Cicero who opens the second book of De Inventione (2.1). Here he relates the story of the "citizens of Croton" who sought out a famous painter (Zeuxis of Heraclea) to paint for them "a picture of Helen so that the portrait though silent and lifeless might embody the surpassing beauty of womanhood." Zeuxis proceeded by gathering all the city's most beautiful women, then selecting the five most beautiful from among them "because he did not think all the qualities which he sought to combine in a portrayal of beauty could be found in one person." Thus, his finished portrait was a beautiful composite representing a beauty, Helen. Cicero follows this example in writing about rhetoric: "In a similar fashion when the inclination arose in my mind to write a text-book of rhetoric, I did not set before myself some one model which I thought necessary to reproduce in all details, of whatever sort they might be, but after collecting all the works on the subject, I excerpted what seemed the most suitable precepts from each, and so culled the flower of many minds."