Tuesday, December 25, 2007


A couple of days ago, Jodi was talking with a friend about crying during TV shows and movies. I thought back to the last time I cried over a story, and it turned out to be a newspaper article a few days ago. It's not sad, it's moving. I keep meaning to translate it but my time is being taken up elsewhere. Here's the first few paragraphs:









A 20 square-meter room is full of seated blind people. They concentrate together, listening attentively.

A man walks over and stands next to the television set, and says into the microphone: "Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Mind's Eye. My name is Dawei, and I will be watching a movie with you today. I've just gotten a haircut, a buzz-cut; I'm wearing a grey sweatshirt over a white shirt, blue jeans, and brown leather shoes.

"This guy's great!" somebody in the audience whispers.

A Well-Lit Theater

The movie has started, but the lights are still on.

"The setting is a private swimming pool, filled with crystal clear water. Next to the pool is a small white bungalow. Now the director's name is on the screen; his name is Scott. The camera enters the bungalow, where white shades in front of the window sway gently..."

On the screen I can see the name of the movie: "Matchstick Men". David explains: "In American, matchstick man means somebody who cheats other people. So this movie will tell the story of two con artists."

This is an ordinary siheyuan, a traditional courtyard house, in the Zhonggulou area of old Beijing. It is not only a home but also serves a function that makes it fondly spoken of by Beijing's blind residents: this siheyuan is host to the Mind's Eye Theater. The movie narrator's name is Dawei (David?), 40 years old, who for the past three years conceived and operated this mini movie theater for the blind. The Mind's Eye shows one movie a week; over the course of the theater's lifetime, it has shown over 100 movies to more than 4000 blind moviegoers.

And it gets even better. Maybe somebody in Beijing recognizes this place. If I were there I'd search it out for fun.


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