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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon August 26, 2011
Blindsight is a rarity, a most often trauma-induced medical condition in which a person without sight can "see" through the blindness without consciously registering images. A person with blindsight will navigate around a garbage can without ever visualizing the obstacle. Blindsight is seeing without seeing, the brain doing a workaround.

Simon Lewis developed blindsight after being crushed body and soul in a horrible 1994 car wreck that killed his wife of five months, left Lewis in a four-month coma and became the start of a decade-long crawl back toward daylight.

Storyboard, Panel 1 of 5: Lewis is a Hollywood kid who loves the movies and starts by shooting a high schooler, backyard version of "Macbeth." Some time later a string of progressively more main-stream B-movies follow. At the top of that heap is "C.H.U.D.2." Then the young producer latches onto a hokey script and hustles to sign 70s has-been John Travolta. The movie is about a tough talking baby who telegraphs his thoughts to the audience and bam, "Look Who's Talking" is the smash hit of 1989, beating every other hit of the year including "When Harry Met Sally" and "The Little Mermaid." At about the same time, he meets Marcy and records another triumph when she, "talkative and vivacious," agrees to marry him, "pale and bookish."

Storyboard, Panel 2: March 2, 1994. If he would have paused outside the fancy Italian restaurant they both loved to tie his shoelace before getting into their brand new Infiniti he would have driven through the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and McCadden Place a couple seconds later and missed being T-boned by that white 1978 van running the stop sign full-throttle at 75 miles per hour. In a home nearby a couple eating dinner thought a bomb had gone off. They ducked under their dinner table.

Storyboard, Panel 3: The paramedics first on the scene report no survivors in the Infiniti. Witnesses say they saw a young man climb out of the van and sprint up McCadden, never to be identified. It takes over an hour to splay the Infinity open. Rescuers are shocked to discover Lewis has a pulse. Every second that passes, more blood leaks internally filling every available space under his skin. More brain cells die. By the time Lewis is admitted to Cedars-Sinai his body has swollen to twice its normal size. Four months later, one day in April, Lewis' eyes open.

Storyboard, Panel 4: The road back is a long one. More than ten years. Lewis had lost everything. Then with struggle, gained much back. His legs are fitted with a NESS L300, a neuroprosthesis that sends impulses to nerves to help him walk. He's now a middle-aged man in his 50s. "A little advice," someone says to Lewis, "Find love again." In 2010 he writes a book "Rise and Shine" an extremely detailed chronicle of his ordeal. Life moves on.

Storyboard, Panel 5: Lewis' story doesn't have an ending, happy or sad, that packs everything up in a little square box with a cover. The ending is ambiguous and undetermined, the way life works. Lewis makes contact again with the film community. He works on a script from long ago and like the rest of us Lewis continues on, "living the non-movie version of his own life."

The Pitch: The summary doesn't begin to size up the story which is almost science fiction in its treatment of how the brain functions in reaction to terrible trauma and works to heal itself. The story is inspirational. How do you go about remaking a life? There's an otherworldly quality to Lewis's rehabilitation that blurs reality and perception and reshapes what we mean by consciousness and cognition. To me, "Blindsight" is a hero's story of endurance and resilience.
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