Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I Only Have Eyes For You

I've never, ever, written any fiction of any length that was any good. As an example, as a teenager I once thought of a story idea that even I knew made no sense: there's this blind guy, see, and one day he meets a girl that he can see. Why, and then what? I never had any idea, although if I tell you that I thought maybe it's because the girl was radioactive, perhaps you'll see how I don't have the deft poetic touch you'd need to turn this into something worthwhile. But I'd think about this idea every couple of years, and wonder if there was anything to be gleaned from it.

Well, Jack Fucking Pot: This is from a feature story in Wired about prosopagnosia, or face-blindness, which is, as the name implies, a complete inability to recognize faces:

WHEN ZOË HUNN WAS 14, her three closest friends decided to enter a modeling contest in a London department store. The girls tried to convince Hunn to sign up, too. She thought it was a silly idea; looks didn't matter to her, and she had no idea whether she was pretty. She had never paid much attention to her face – it didn't seem to represent who she was.

Though she didn't know it, Hunn was severely face blind. Her father had the same problem. Both just assumed that they were bad with faces, in the same way some people are bad with names. They developed elaborate coping strategies, like focusing on voices and searching for clues in a conversation. Inevitably, they embarrassed themselves.


In the summer of 2003, she traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, for the annual theater festival. On the third night, she saw a performer who was unusually memorable. He was a tall mime with white hair and vivid black eyebrows. She stared at him. He was the first person she felt she'd ever really seen.

Later that night, the unimaginable happened: Hunn recognized him in a bar. It was like being thrown a lifeline. She mustered the courage to introduce herself and told him that his performance made her laugh. He smiled and thanked her. She learned his name was Mick, and that was all she needed. She was in love. It didn't matter that he was a 44-year-old mime trying to make ends meet. She could see him.

Mick, for his part, was captivated not by her beauty but by the way she watched him as if her whole world depended on the sight of him. It was a performer's dream, and Mick melted in the intensity of it. Despite the protests of her parents, they moved in together within a few months.

And it turns out, she was totally radioactive! No, it doesn't. In fact, the article never gets back to Zoe and Mick, which is too bad. But at least I got to use the story title that I wanted to use all those years ago, as the title of this entry.

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