Saturday, August 13, 2005


Chinese-American Shanghai weblogger Mark Wang wrote an entry on his weblog about his desired superpower:

I wish I could at will, switch appearance between being laowai and Chinese. Perhaps being able to quickly suit up from my usual mild-mannered Asian identity, a la your favorite comic book superhero... yeah, that's it! ;)

So his post is cool and thought-provoking in terms of racial relations and colonial identity, but it got me to thinking that I should write down the superpower abilities I've always wished I had.

Actually, they are not so much superpowers as they are abilities to manipulate the world around me in order to study it better. Mainly, they are the following two:

First, I wish I had the ability to superimpose guide-lines—straight and curved—onto my field of vision, and be able to lock those gridlines onto physical objects in order to track their movement or trajectories. For example I might ask myself, if I were to shoot a bullet along that roofline, would it pass above, below, or through those powerlines? If I had a magic laser-straight line that I could draw along the roof and magically extend across the road to the powerlines, I could predict where such a bullet would go. Or see that girl over there? She has a great walk! I'd like to draw a line connecting her two hips, then extend it out in either direction and watch it oscillate wildly as she walks across the road.

My other wished-for superpower is to be able to color the air different colors to track gas movement. For example, is that person across the subway car sleeping or not? Well, if I knew how hard they were breathing then I could know for sure. So I would turn the air in the car green, then turn all air coming out of their nose pink, and watch it swirl out of their nostrils and into the car. Or I'm playing cards with friends in Bifengtang, and I want to know how much smoke from that table over there is actualy reaching us. I would have the smoke from their cigarettes turn a bright sunflower yellow that would be very visible as it wafted across the room towards us.

So I guess it's no surprise that I was slated to be a scientist for a while. I'm just curious about the way the world works, and how we can interact with it.


At Aug 16, 2005, 10:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said:

that's so strange -- i've also fantasized about the ability-to-see-air superpower, yet i've never heard anyone else mention it.


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