All entries for Tuesday 14 March 2006

March 14, 2006

The Chinese are patriotists, but that's fine!

Writing about web page,,1710989,00.html

Jonathan Watts gave the best account of China I've ever seen in the Guardian, and that comfort me a lot as being a Chinese. Below is some quotes I want to share:


"In Britain, you have to learn 2,000 years of history; we have 5,000. In Britain, you have to know the geography and famous figures in a country with 60 million people. Well, we are 1.3 billion, and half a continent. And you have a mere 26 characters; we have 7,000."
Given that studying the basics of Chinese identity is likely to take up so much of the curriculum, it is easier to understand why so many people here are so nationalistic: they simply do not have much time to study the outside world.

China vs. Japan

This is an illustration of my prejudices about the two languages, indeed about the two countries, which have become polarised in my mind: Japanese is classical, exquisitely refined and painfully polite; Chinese is romantic but rough edged and distinctly down to earth.

lol! May all the Chinese be as cuddly and fluffy as the panda bears!

The Writers' Ethics

The two loneliest occupations in the world: the light keeper and the writer. (Said by some writer I read, can't remember who now :P)

Loneliness is indeed the very ethic every writer should get hold of at least sometime in their life. And such loneliness is only speakable to their readers, as honeyed words are only applicable for the be-loved. Only in such intimate way (not necessarily positive and sweet) the work of literature would present some value.

One thing I noticed today about being alone (hence aroused some sense of loneliness) is that it provides more opportunities to not only observing more people but also getting closers to them.

All my friends happened to be quite lazy today. 12 o'clock at noon, all their response to my text calling for an efficient working day is 'I'm still in bed'! As if they are all enchanted princesses. So that I was left alone in the crowd for the whole morning and afternoon.

There isn't much scent of loneliness in the library – everyone is accompanied with a book, including me. Wisdom or crap, it is comforting to have someone iterating in the tubes in your brain. But when I took a break and threw myself in the cafe downstairs to get my stomach stuffed – in that noise and the aura of companions – my state of being alone is accentuated, and there the loneliness attacked. Well, even the strong taste of garlic in my hummus sandwich didn't mitigate much. Sandwiches are dead when they are being eaten!

So when this Thai women spoke to me, I was eagerly ready to be a warm hearted 'local'. During our conversation, I found out that she was here to investigate the schools for her children's future. Her son studies in a high school in Luton. Today he has some classes, so she is free to take herself around visiting London. She is a business woman, aged 50, looked 35. Her slight curvy hair looks very sexy while she spoke in her broke English about her shoe business around the world – her next stop was Milan. In her blue print, her son's gonna do economics in the LSE and her daughter to go to a 'safer' environment either in Beijing or Shanghai. They gonna help her to expand her shoe empire.

A person's life can be well reduced to a casual lunch chat. She looks a very determined person, I am quite sure all her objectives will be more or less achieved. Love and kindness to her, when she exited that heavy glass door, I had these words ready in my mind somehow. :P

This encounter interestingly reminded me of a French novel I read not long ago titled 'Platform. All the figures of Thai women in that novel were reduced as sex parlours. Of course that novel was primarily concerning about sex tourism and what prepares the mindsets of these western men going to Thailand for it. It is quite well-written – and maybe that is the problem. There fictions, although very sufficient in its own concerned topic, can be too persuasive sometimes, that in the end of the reading, I kinda forgot about all these highly educated Thai friends I have that are extremely different from what were depicted in the book, and I started to draw a picture of a unbalanced hedonistic heaven of the Orient in my imagination of Thailand. Only till meeting this women today had that picture been supplied with another part of the reality.

I heard that one existentialist writer (can't remember who tho) once asserted that one does not need to travel, it is pretty sufficient to just read the exotic travel writings and let loose of the harness on imagination. Otherwise getting inhabituated in the once exotic context would only destroy exoticness per se. Drawing from my own experience in being in England for two different purposes: once for travel and once to study, I do agree to such assertion to certain extent. England becomes quite mundane after a good two years. One thing I want to add on top of such assertion is that if other people travel around and bring about stories (the ethno flow), it makes more or less the same impact of books. For example, this Thai women travels around to make herself ready to meet the slightly more settled me and an enriched imagination of Thailand is emerging in the mind. That would be similar to reading travel logs about travelling in Thailand.

The only question left to the individual is that whether you want to be a fantasy producer or consumer. If the latter one, of course physically travelling is redundant. But for a writer – such occupation is suitable for any willing individuals – the premise is the willing to produce. Thus the ethic for writers, besides enduring loneliness, is also enduring the mundaneness during the inhabituation when going away after the first few moments of fresh experiences.

Obviously, I am desperately longing for being a writer!

March 2006

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