Praise for A Blessing Well Disguised
"In this candid memoir, Broadway and opera stage designer Burlingame (Sets, Lights, & Lunacy: A Stage Designer’s
Adventures on Broadway and in Opera, 2013, etc.) shines the spotlight on his broken childhood and his painful—but
enlightening—loss of eyesight.
In 1966, Burlingame was only 31 but was just starting to receive professional accolades as a stage designer on Broadway in addition to his working with the renowned producer David Merrick. Burlingame ultimately became co-chair of the design department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, but he continued to grapple with turmoil caused by his past. As a gay man who grew up in the 1930s and ’40s in Arlington, Virginia, Burlingame had learned to hate himself and his abusive, alcoholic father, who once threatened his mother with an ax. To make matters worse, the author discovered that he was slowly going blind. His job at NYU allowed him the financial privilege of receiving psychological help from Edward Edinger, an influential Jungian analyst. This honest, swiftly paced account details Burlingame’s 20-plus-year journey of self-discovery as he came to terms with the past and prepared for a future without eyesight (he’s now fully blind). A fan of Jungian analysis, Burlingame includes color pictures of his own dream-inspired artwork, as well as descriptions of some meetings with Edinger. He first thought of his blindness as a curse from an evil god who poked out his eyes, and he wondered how a blind artist could be any good. Yet as he realized his own self-worth, he eventually considered his blindness to be a blessing: “Going to the heart of the matter, maybe one way to understand ‘what good is a blind man?’ is to ask the fundamental question ‘what good is any man or woman?’ ” Burlingame admirably reinvented himself: Unable to design sets due to his failing eyesight, he embraced the art of quilting. Though at first he was afraid to walk with a cane through the sometimes-hostile streets of New York City, he eventually fell in love with two guide dogs who helped him navigate. Unlike his father, who committed suicide, Burlingame made peace with the past and at almost 80 has learned to love his inner child and “inner gay brother.”
Unblinking account of a man’s journey from despair to joy."
"The task of discerning personal authority is the central summons of the second half of life for each of us must sort through the cacophonous traffic within to find, and hopefully live, our truth in this world. That embodiment of soul is our gift to the world. A Blessing Well Disguised is a roadmap of one man's journey, but it speaks for all of us, and reminds us all of us how far we have yet to travel towards a similar kind of meeting with our own souls."
James Hollis, Ph.D. Jungian analyst, author, lecturer and educator
“Yes, Lloyd Burlingame’s A Blessing Well Disguised is inspired and inspiring, but to me, it was also disturbing. Because it is so honestly and vividly written, I could not help questioning my own ability to respond heroically to the devastating challenges he was forced to confront. This made the book even richer and a rewarding experience even beyond what I had expected. Disturbed I may be, but doubly grateful.”
Joseph Caldwell, novelist and playwright
“This gripping tale of personal emancipation starts with a loveless childhood, struggles with self-doubt and sexuality, and almost dies under the wheels of a New York City taxi. Never defeated for long, Burlingame reaches stardom as one of Broadway’s best set designers, uses his “aha moments” and therapy to challenge blindness and society’s silliest restraints. His tale is a lesson in finding love, freedom and striking new talents.”
William Loren Katz , author, civil rights historian
“Jungian psychology is new to me, and in this fascinating book, I found learning about it both keenly interesting and easily accessible. As a screen writer, the technique of ’active imagination’ dialogues the author has with his inner selves make for riveting theatre. Burlingame’s book is a thought provoking fast read -- a remarkably well written journey of the soul. Highly recommended.”
Mick Casale, playwright /screenwriter, Professor NYU Graduate Department of Film and Television
“The Jungian journey is fascinating. Although I am a non-visual person with little or no experience of visual art, I found the description of the author’s dream paintings very evocative and illuminating.”
Karen Keninger, Director, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress
"Intimate, candid, inspired and inspiring, "A Blessing Well Disguised: A blinded artist's inner journey out of the dark" is exceptionally well written and presented. Informative and thoughtful, Lloyd Burlingame's personal story is an exceptional and highly recommended read that would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to any personal reading list or community library American Biography collection."
Small Press Book Watch
"If you're looking for a new life direction or some personal inspiration while dealing with the daily grind of life, try picking up a copy of Lloyd Burlingame's memoir, A Blessing Well Disguised: A Blinded Artist's Inner Journey Out of the Dark. Burlingame was born into a family with a highly rejecting, alcoholic and mentally disturbed father who committed suicide while the author was yet a child. In addition, the author experienced an episode of sexual abuse which further heightened his sense of "differentness" and lack of acceptability to himself. He early on rejected the realization of being gay and tried to deal with the issue in adulthood without really dealing with it. With an established career in stage design art, Burlingame found his eyesight becoming poor and he then had to accept the fact that he would eventually become a blind artist. Like his father, he felt alone, misunderstood and angry, and he contemplated ending his own life. Fortunately for readers, he instead got a seeing-eye dog named Hickory and he entered Jungian therapy. He began to pay attention to both his "Grind" and his "Muse." And he realized that both inner voices were equally potent and equally valid.
The choices made by the author are not for everyone, but his message of continuing through life while ridding oneself of personal demons is a universal message. Most of us would not choose blindness to find our way out of our troubles and most of us do not choose an alternative lifestyle to find peace. What is wonderful about A Blessing Well Disguised is that Burlingame challenges us all to locate our innermost fears, acknowledge them, and then get on with the life we were dealt rather than the dream life we wished for ourselves as children. And, in doing so, we all have the promise of meeting our inner child, filled with wonder for the life given to us, a life we accepted and made meaningful."
Karen Pirnot for Readers' Favorite