Guo Du -- TRANSITION in Chinese -- is my transient stream of consciousness, and tales of the self-endangered species of unthinking Homo sapiens ________________________________ "过渡" 是我一刹那的遐思狂想, 掠影随笔, 和有关一群自称＂智人＂的灵长目笨猴自找灭亡的故事。
I wondered why I had come to yet another alumni gathering. Year after year, we repeated the same dumb stories to the best of fading memories, and laughed with undiminished vigour. Luckily, I was seated next to Ken. I knew I could count on him to disrupt pathetic nostalgia.
“The world’s ending again,” he said when appetiser was served. “How’re you guys spending the last few days?” We were next to Vincent and Jill.
Vincent seemed instantly animated. “We—” referring to his tribally specific Brotherhood of Dongguan Christians “— will be dining together on the 21st.” He answered through a mouthful of salad, flashing a kaleidoscopic mixture of masticated lettuce and colourful capsicums.
“You guys plan to enter Heaven as a tour group?” Ken asked.
“That’s right,” Vincent replied, sucking his teeth.
Truth seeking is a human spirit most amazing to some, but damn annoying to others.
For centuries, European scientists who pointed out Earth was not the centre of the universe got thrown into Papal dungeons, but they never gave up. One wonders how something so plainly observable, once shown, could have been rejected by Galileo’s learned peers. Whatever the reason for their blindness, it is still with us today, more prevalent than ever.
More than 10 years after the 911 drama, some continue to question how the impossible happened. Many have a background in science and engineering. They face professional pressures from government contracts, and get arbitrarily labelled “conspiracy theorists” by those who wish that Newtonian physics could be banned.
The following Danish production (with English sub-titles), is an intelligent presentation of the painfully obvious that the world has chosen not to see. The professor in it said ignoring the truth threatens our civilisation. It certainly does. But the Tolstoy quotation at the end summed up the apathy and blindness well.
If you like it, do consider making an exception and circulate it. That unfortunately is the only way to breach the Iron Curtain drawn over the Free World, by the Free Press.
Another “conspiracy theorist” is Ferdinando Imposimato, the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, former Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations, author or co-author of seven books, and a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy.
The hot line rang in its old fashioned tone, more tired than hot. Nishihara let it ring a couple more times.
“Mr. Prime Minister? The President of the United States wishes to speak with you. Is it convenient?” A man’s voice came through.
“Ah, yes, of course.”
“Please hold Sir.”
While holding, Nishihara took a comb from his breast pocket and ran it through his thin hair. A strand of hair came off with it. He noticed regretfully that the oily dandruff had returned. He wiped it off carefully, almost ceremoniously, with a paper tissue, then folded it into a perfect square before depositing into the top secret dust bin.
Recently watched a debate hosted by Intelligence Squared (Square Intelligence?) on Hidden Harmonies. The motion was “Western Liberal Democracy would be wrong for China”. Those who still believe content matters in debates would be hugely surprised by the result which overwhelmingly (like, 100 to 1) favoured Anson Chan’s cliches.
In a way, it demonstrated the depth of prejudice against China in the “West”. Perhaps it’s understandable. Many in the audience are facing deeply threatening social uncertainties without a leader in sight. The great minds in their countries have been marginalised by their brand of politics designed to select opportunistic and photogenic followers who would gladly promise everyone their own moon if elected. By contrast, China’s experimentations, though far from perfect, have served the country comparatively more effectively, at least more rationally, a fact that the Democracy faithful must find uncomfortable to admit. Those “against” the motion therefore had an overwhelming emotional advantage.
Young members in the audience grew up with TV news. They have been conditioned to make judgements based on “watching” rather than reading and thinking critically. Complex conflicts in unpronounceable places, between tribes with names they can't spell, are presented and “analysed” in 40-second clips, concluding with the presenters suggesting in tone, if not actual words, who the bad guys are. Next: messages from McDonald’s and Durex.
If Anson Chan had learnt anything from her colonial masters, it was the art of uttering gibberish with confidence, in a haughty tone, nearly public school with Chinese characteristics. Contemporary patsies are much more comfortable with her style then Zhang and Jacque's boring substance and logic. They used only part of the head, namely the brain. Anson Chan used the whole thing, including ostentatious dimples. Let’s face it: Why should rationality matter here any more than in presidential debates?
Ultimately, every society deserves the government it gets. The puzzling thing is China has never been interested in competing with the Democracy Empire for an international award in government design. Yet many in the “West” seem more concerned with China’s imperfect political model than their own mounting problems.
My Conspiracy Theory alone cannot explain. Perhaps cultural shadows from a religious past are still lurking in the “Western” psyche, incubating a neo-Missionary Complex? Democracy, after all, has evolved into an amorphous “faith based” belief. And could there be an element of escapism as well?
Inspired by bewilderment, I wrote a flash fiction “Chinaman’s House”.
Timothy took the sherry from Adam, his neighbour and buddy. “Cheers,” he toasted.
“Mmm. Nice and dry.”
“18 year. We bought it at the airport.”
“Good God.” Impressed by its age and origin, Timothy took another sip.
“Have you seen that monster on the east side, at the turnoff to airport?”
“That red and white house? Of course. How could anyone miss it. Fred’s doing the plumbing. Apparently fresh off the boat with a ton of gold from China.”
“I figured —” Adam was interrupted by his ten-year-old barging through the basement door: “The basement’s on fire Dad!”
“Is that how you greet people Simon?”
“Uncle Timothy.” Simon obliged, forcing a polite smile.
“Hi Simon.” Against the window light, a waft of pale blue smoke escaped Simon’s curly blond hair. It hung above his head, as if pausing to find out what was being discussed, before dissipation.
He returned to his father. “The socket’s smoking and sparking Dad, making your old desk smoke too.”
“Can’t you see Uncle Timothy and I are having a conversation? We have the best sockets in this house, Simon, before everything was made in China. Now go back down to play.”
“It’s smoky down there Dad.”
“Well, go to your room then.”
“Chaps these days are easily alarmed.” Adam beamed with unwarranted parental pride as Simon disappeared into the haze, after giving a “whatever you say” shrug. “So, that’s why. A Chinese house. That explains it. They have very different tastes when it comes to colour don’t they?”
“Rather bold if you ask me,” Timothy smirked. “Fred said it has six bedrooms. Probably another shipload of mothers and third cousins expected.”
“Good grief! I thought their police castrate men with more than one kid in the market. The Council should pass a law against gaudy building colours though. They hurt my eyes. I almost ran off the road.”
“And limit the number of bedrooms,” Timothy dabbed his eyes with a handkerchief. “This smoke’s getting pretty bad Adam.”
“Oh quit whining like a Frenchman!” Adam waved a hand. “We have four bedrooms here. Two only collect dust. Someone should talk to the Chi —” he was stopped by a fit of cough. The smoke spewing out from the basement was getting darker and thicker. Simon left his room, eyes on his iPad as he walked outdoor.
“Jesus! This damn smoke. Want another one?”
“Twist my arm mate. Nothing like a good dry sherry. We still make them best don’t we?” Timothy handed the glass to Adam, then covered his nose with the handkerchief. He leaned back and squeezed his eyes shut to lessen the sting, wondering why on earth would anyone paint his house red and white.
Zhou Mi Mi’s Chinese novel “Wen Qu Pu” is cleverly built around the vicissitudes of a group of mainland artists living in Hong Kong. In this haven of quick money, where superficiality is efficiency, a fine painter works as a stagehand, poets become bums, getting stuck in self-romanticised chaos, writers mass produce fatuous scripts for local TVs. One woman writer even prostituted physically to keep food on the table, but never stopped writing.
It’s a small circle. They all know each other, getting into each other’s way competing, loving, hurting, caring, despising and helping.
Artists’ struggles are touching because they are driven by passion, and perpetually haunted by a professional self-doubt and insecurity. After having dedicated years of their lives to practising music or dancing or painting or writing stories, desperate artists are vulnerable to unscrupulous agents, producers, publishers or employers. An artist’s strive for excellence is against severe odds. In the end, he depends on the judgement of those who may not have nominal appreciation for their hard work and talents.
The dilemma is that most artists need an audience, but are forever exasperated by how little anyone knows “true art”. However, if there were a sudden enlightenment en masse in his art, he would become a craftsman. Of course he could move on to a higher plane or different artistic dimension. But if he does, and succeeds, he would again leave his audience behind, and relapse into grumbling about nobody knowing anything about his art.
Beauty cannot exist without vulgarity. Similarly, wisdom and vision are meaningless without a critical mass of stupid people.
Art is not alone in being ruled by the “tyranny of the Average” though. Being exceptional in any area unfortunately means being surrounded by mediocrity, getting irritated like a fish which hates to be wet.
I don’t normally comment on specific political issues because of an inability to figure out what people are arguing about. But I’d make an exception for Diao Yu Tai. The crisis is at best an opportunity to secure longer term calmness between China and Japan, at worst a mutually destructive trap that they step into open-eyed.
The situation in summary: Disturbing status quo has always been a clear bottom line to an overwhelming majority of Chinese, regardless of political inclination. Beijing knows that. Inability to face down this challenge would seriously damage their legitimacy, Chinese style.
On the other hand, Japan might have taken too many steps by now to retract with face and dignity intact. Most Chinese and Japanese don’t wish to see further escalation of this conflict. Many worry about Japan regressing back to militarism in a general sense, but that would be overlooking the fundamental changes they have gone through since the last war. Sure, they have quite a few right wing nut bars; which country doesn’t? Their politicians maybe self-serving opportunists but that’s a universal trait in their profession, especially those who depend on votes for a living.
What could be done to untangle this stalemate?
The Japanese government will purchase the Diao Yu rocks from What’s-his-name. Concurrently, their parliament will pass a bill declaring it a special conservation area, forbidding visits or development of any kind for the next fifty years. This would in effect officialise the hitherto unofficial agreement between the two countries, and keep the kamikaze samurais legally restrained. Isn’t this the intention repeatedly emphasised by the Japanese Government?
China will declare the purchase invalid, of course, but with the legal assurance of a development freeze, Japan’s declared intention of purchasing the island to keep it from the lunatics would be proven sincere. China can also promulgate similar legislation to protect Diao Yu Tai for the sake of the record.
Let’s hope this conflict can be resolved sensibly. Now that the US has redirected their benign attention back to Asia Pacific, we should no longer take peace and harmony for granted.
I am a dangerous guest to invite to polite dinner parties because I refuse to pretend religionists are mentally sound or harmless. They are not.
Though some pious individuals are indeed innocuous, even nice, enthusiastic about love, religions which controlled many parts of the world for centuries remain a potent and ambitious political ghost, desperate to be reincarnated. Their power depends on the faithful followers, renewable in the schools with Government support
Perhaps I should first highlight the definition of religion. My dictionary says it’s “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods”. According to this reasonable definition, Christianity and Islam are monotheistic religions. Buddhism and Daoism are fundamentally atheistic and irreligious. Confucian teachings are simply irrelevant in this context. Labelling them religions was perhaps just ignorance on the part of those who cannot accept the existence of a godless ancient civilisation. But for the SAR government to continue with this perplexing classification is . . . I have no polite word for it.
But why can’t I keep my mouth shut and respect other’s “Freedom of Worship”?
The United States of America sue a bunch of inert defendants. Yes, they are as inert as any suspect could be, highly inorganic in fact. They are a bunch of coins. Ridiculous? Another conspiracy theory? At the bottom of this post is the civil docket for case No. 1:08-cv-00230-LHT-DLH which anyone should be able to look up from the Department of Justice site. Having gained some experience now in the Rule of Law, I am less surprised than I could have been.
I think the “defendants” have so far remained silent; but their prospect of self-defence does not look good.
The following is guest blogger Brynjar Danielsson’s piece on what happened.
I love America. In spite of everything I still love America, because no matter what they do they can never kill this idea that is America. An idea that has shone as a beacon of light ever since 1776. The world would be a darker place to me without this America, and I cannot conceive it.
But they are doing their damnedest to smother America now.
My own rude awakening came in 2007, during the primaries of the previous election, when I witnessed their dismantling of due process of the law. That was the day they raided the Liberty Dollar, seizing all of its assets, computers, and having the company's bank accounts frozen - all without so much as a cease-and-desist. We had been supporting Ron Paul, and we were eagerly awaiting the delivery of copper coins that bore his likeness, so we could go around handing them out to people while spreading the word - the message of 'no more senseless wars and monetary madness'. They confiscated them all that day, nearly 2 tons worth of copper - plus all the other metals owned by the company. All we could do was to band together in collective defense, in a class action suit to protect our property and our rights. The case remains in a limbo to this very day, and we are not holding our breaths waiting for victory.
Through all of this we also witnessed the surreal as the empire struck back. They had taken the absurd to a whole new level in a counter-charge as they effectively waged war on metals. I take a kind of perverse pleasure when I try to explain this to people, especially those in the legal profession, as I show them the case docket sheet; jaws invariably drop to the floor with priceless expressions on dumbstruck faces. Hey, you get your kicks where you can these days.
Naturally the founder of the Liberty Dollar was sicced by the imperial attack dogs. Mr. von Nothaus was pronounced a 'unique terrorist' last year for his troubles. Yet amidst this gloom there was a flicker of light, as media entities such as the New York Sun and the Wall Street Journal questioned this inevitable outcome. The Sun mused that if von Nothaus was branded a terrorist for advocating honest money, what would that make Mr. Bernanke...who even as I write is busy QE-ing all of us into oblivion, to the tune of 40 billion smackeroos a month. The Wall Street Journal had this to say in its own editorial: "...it's a loser's game to suppress private money that is sound in order to protect government-issued money that is unsound." The truth is catching on and hope springs eternal.
As you head to the polls on November 6th, ready to vote for either the lesser or greater of two evils, for they really do amount to the same things - more senseless wars and monetary madness, haven't you had your fill of this farce? Mittens by the way seems to have the upper hand as his pals appear to control Diebold, while the latest indications are Big Money has abandoned Obama. Please consider the words of an all-American hero, when he wrote about his own awakening: " I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902 - 1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American Fruit Companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." Maj. General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket, 1935.
I love America, but I fear for her, and the world.