where the writers are
The Eyes Have It

I recently befriended a blind photographer in Japan. He isn't just partially blind. Because of a heart condition and glaucoma, he had his eyeballs removed and protheses inserted. (He has posted pictures on Flickr of himself without eyeballs.) 

I initially contacted him regarding essay 1571 on 壇 (platform; podium; altar; circles) because I wanted to use the following photo, to which he kindly agreed:

Photo Credit: Hirosan

It's one thing to point a camera at a waterfall that you can hear, but he photographed an ad that contained a visual pun. (The word "modern" incorporates the yomi ダン.) How did he know to do this? I'm at a loss!

At any rate, I couldn't wait to tell my language partner, Kensuke-san, about my new friend (with whom I have since had several exchanges via email and on Facebook). I didn't want there to be any confusion about whether Ryo-san could see to some degree, so I said this to Kensuke-san up front:

目玉がない人です。
He's a person with no eyeballs.

目玉 (めだま: eyeball); 人 (ひと: person)

I figured this was probably way too crude an expression for Japanese sensibilities, but at least it would be perfectly clear.

Kensuke-san murmured the following:

かわいそうです。
Poor guy. 

I reassured him with this:

ポジティブ態度があります。
He has a positive attitude.

態度 (たいど: attitude)

Kensuke-san said that was a good thing.

I had no idea that we were having a "Who's on first?" conversation. As I later realized, he had misunderstood me from the start.

[To read the rest, go to Joy o' Kanji!]