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Title: The Extra 50 Bucks

2009-02-14 11:43:46 编辑 删除

归档在 Free-style poet | 浏览 9168 次 | 评论 0 条

                Title: The Extra 50 Bucks


Hong Wen 

Translated by Ginger Huang

Lead: Yi Qing is a writer and world traveler. As a freelancer, he has worked in drastically different fields as ranging from publishing, investment, film, drama, to news commentator. His blog is linked to most of the major portal websites in China, and the average hits per day is 140,000. He is, in particular, an autobiographer of political figures with untraditional perspectives. You can read more about Yi Qing at http://blog.ifeng.com/1384941.html.


I cannot quite remember the name of that hill in Paris, but there is a story in the artist village that I will never forget.

It was a dusky day, ready for rain. The sky looked a like a Chinese painting. Our dutiful guide, a girl from Taiwan whose last name was Wang, told us that since we had come all the way to Paris, we would not waste our time if we got our portraits drawn. I was fancying the idea when a painter of Middle Eastern descent waved to me. As I approached, he elegantly showed me the seat and began his painting. I sat there perfectly still, trying to be the best model I could be; many Chinese tourists crowded over, in their normal manner. Our interpreter told me that the bearded painter was an Iranian who had obtained French nationality. He drew in exaggerated style, far from the sereneness so familiar to Chinese painters.

At first, our artistic friend mistook us for being Japanese; but when he found out we were indeed Chinese, he apologized profusely. I told him it was perfectly fine, since we were the Asian tourists in France anyway. He happily gave me the thumbs up, as I did the same to compliment his artwork that resembled me.

It was a good painting, causing quite a stir in the crowd. Trying to match my compliments to the superior quality of his painting, I told him that I was in the publishing business and that I believed it would please him a great deal if I put his portrait in my book to introduce to Chinese readers.

He paused for a second. After getting the full meaning from our interpreter, he smiled and responded with a firm “No.” He explained that things simply didn’t work that way. His artwork had his copyright, and if I published it in my book, I would be breaching that right. Having said this, he continued to concentrate on my portrait.

The people surrounding us did not pay much heed to the conversation; they were too busy comparing me with the portrait, debating whether it resembled me the most and the least. But I was carried away by what he had said. In France, as well as in the rest of Europe, copyright protection is something like mianzi (saving face) protection in China. It is very much valued by each individual. In France the individual’s copyright is even safeguarded by the government, which in turn, becomes a motivation toward personal innovation.

The sky continued to grow dim, but in the end it did not rain. My new friend snapped his fingers and I knew my portrait was ready. I paid an extra 50 bucks to buy it (in addition to the labor fee) and received another friendly snap in response. What he didn’t know was that the extra 50 bucks had not bought me a canvas of my face, but rather an enlightenment I still carry with me to this day.














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Yi Qing is a writer and world traveler. As a freelancer, he has worked in drastically different fields as ranging from publishing, investment, film, drama, to news commentator.