Fushan kids back in bus


San Francisco—30 April 2011:
Buzz, "Core Interests" & A Solitary Oar


The noise is even worse.

The world loves what it should hate and hates what it should love. Who said that? Saint Francis of Assisi, the gentle spirit of light and love? I think so. But the world refuses to learn the lesson of love.

The stranger's face tells the tale. The stranger's face flush with ale. Rhythms without reason, it's the season. Sense, tense, alone by the fence.

Sound without logic or reason.
Reason without logic or sound.

Monique trs oblique.

Sense, since; whence, thence? ...
Sens, puisque; d'où, ? ...
gǎn (感) gǎndo (感到), yīnwi (因为) yīnyu (音乐);
(从) cōngming (聪明), nǎlǐ (哪里) nǎlǐ (哪里)? ...

Mind muffled
in a library;
          wǒde (我的) wǒde (我的);
your ...

Many minds
—Never mind!—
          dānd (单独) ddān (独单);
Library-of-Congress "minds"
          i (爱)
          zi (在)?

Dove of love of?
     colombe de l'amour de?
          gēzi de i de ma (鸽子的爱的吗)?
doing some thing;
under crisp white sheets,
or down by the river bank in the mud.

It's a world    
out there
some where.

Is it?

Don't know, don't care,
she says,
turning, tossing hair,
blond, bare:
"Shut the fuck up."


Zzzzzzzzzzzzz ...


China seems to have fallen in love with buzz words—ones they have learned by sending their kids to school in the United States. A favorite these days is "innovation." Even Hu Jin Tao visits the universities in China urging students to "innovate." Clearly China would like to invent the next iPhone. Manufacturing is fine but it is only a small piece of the pie. If you can invent what you're manufacturing, then you get the whole pie.

What they do not understand, however, is that invention requires intellectual freedom. You can't be locking people in jail—real thinkers who are asking for political change—and expect to have an environment of innovation. It does not work that way. Innovation is an attitude; it requires an environment that encourages creative thought. You can't force the next iPhone from a mind that is told on the broader level not to think. That is wishful thinking and greedy thinking too. It is asking for the fruits of intellectual labor without taking risks.

Who's Hu that he thinks China can shout itself to innovation?

Another American buzz-word phrase adopted by the Chinese government is "core interests". They apply this combination of words to anything they covet and don't want anyone to question. They use the phrase to sanctify their desires! Take Tibet, Xinjiang, or Inner Mongolia; take the Diaoyu islands; take all those other islands off Vietnam, Korea, and Russia: They are all vital to China's "core interests". China also invokes another pair of buzz words: "ancient territory". All they covet is part of China's "ancient territory", which seems to know no limits, and is not open to discussion. These "ancient territories" are all of course rich in resources, spacious, strategically located ... Anyone who wants their country back is labeled a "separatist" and is considered to be a dangerous person.

But please do not think I don't like China. Rather, it is the government I find irksome. They have learned the language of the West—the slick buzz words—but they have not learned to think. And too often they replace thinking with the racket of officials like Foreign Minister Jiang Yu. Shouting convinces no one; lies only drive people away. Nevertheless, the West quietly sits and listens, trying to figure out what is making China so upset while China accuses the West of precisely what it, China, is doing. If you are going to adopt Western language, adopt its logic as well.

But I suppose I am partly guilty of the same thing. I am learning the Chinese language but not always Chinese thought. Consider a recent incidence of this: I got an email from a young female friend. It read as follows:

      qingqidenihao.wanfanchrguoma? ...

Due to a lack of separation between the pinyin syllables and some misspellings, I was not able to decipher it; so the next time I met with my friend Wei Feng, I asked him to translate it. "Hello, darling. Have you had your dinner? ..." But he explained this to me: "Every Chinese girl will ask a guy if he has eaten. It is considered polite."  In other words, she was not asking me if I wanted to have dinner with her. This resolved an earlier phone incident in which a young woman seemed to be asking if I wanted to have dinner with her but did not follow up on her question. I suppose it was my secret wish to have dinner with her, or at least to think that she wanted to have dinner with me. Thus a person may say one thing but mean something else. I had learned the language but not the thought. Complicated, yes, but many things are.

Consider also those expat "Misty" poets—mngmng shīrn (蒙蒙 诗人)—from China:

Red waves
drown a solitary oar

("Youth" by Bei Dao)

Unable to state directly what bothered them, they made "oblique" references in their poems.

Or consider the current generation of "Jasmine" protesters out for a random Sunday stroll. They have learned from the days of Tiananmen Square to complicate things. Without any formal pattern to their protests, it is hard for government authorities to know who are protesters and who are not and to make arrests.


Illumination: Seeing the Light in Hong Kong