- 页码：第1页 2012-07-16 17:36:35
At Night You're Not Lonely i asked if she wanted to leave Shenzhen, and she shook her head. In her opinion, the isolation had some good aspects, because it pressured people to make decisions. "The result is that people will have more ability," she said. "And they'll have more creativity. Afterward, there will be more different ideas. It won't be a matter of everybody having the same opinion." I said, "How do you think this will change China?“ She fell silent. I had no idea how I would answer the question myself, although I like to think that once people learned to take care of themselves, the system would naturally improve. But I had seen Shenzhen’s fragmentation—the walled factories, the solitary people far from home—and I wondered how all of it could ever be brought together into something coherent. I lookes at Emily and realized that the question wasn’t important to her. Since coming to Shenzhen, she had found a job, left it, and found another. She had fallen in love and she had stood up to her boss. She was twenty-four years old. She was doing fine. She smiled and said, “I don’t know.“ Anniversary The plainclothes agents tried to pick out protestors, looking for old women in bad clothes. But the women often recognized the cops, and they did their best to avoid the interaction. It became a slow-motion chase: a crewcut man walked toward a pack of middle-aged women; the women scattered. For a spectator, this was one of the most depressing sights in all of Beijing—the great chase of China’s dispossessed, the used and the abused, the young men without education seeking older women without security. You knew whom to root for, but you also knew that nobody was going to win. The Games In a sense, the nation’s wholesale transition—from their own athletic traditions to those of the West—had left China with the worst of both worlds. They had adopted the competiveness and nationalism, which were the bluntest and most obvious characteristics of Western athletics, but they had missed out on all the subtleties. In my own experience, these were the only things that actually had any true value. As a child, my participation in athletics had revolved around my father, not a sports school, and his most important lessons were often counter-intuitive: that it was better to lose with class than win at all costs, and that the final goal wasn’t victory but self-improvement. For many people in the West, athletics are simply part of a well-rounded education and a healthy life. … in the summer of 1968, a developing-world country hosted the Olympics for the first time. Prior to the start of those Mexico City Games, thousands of students gathered in protests; one of their complaints was that their country shouldn’t spend money on an event that would scarcely benefit the millions of Mexicans who lived in poverty. The government called out the troops, who fired on protestors, killing hundreds. The Games went on as planned. The exact toll of the massacre was never determined, and since then, the event has essentially disappeared from the popular view of Olympic history. It’s rarely mentioned in the Western press, and for the next three decades the Games didn’t return to the developing world. Translation It was hard to teach from a book like that. The details themselves were probably true—certainly, there were rascals in South Carolina—but that didn’t make this information a useful starting point for a student in a remote Chinese city. They needed context, not trivia; a bunch of scattered facts only confused them. Probably, these datails had been culled from American newspapers, where they had actually served a purpose. In the United States, journalists worked within a community, and often their stories inspired change. This was one of the noblest aspects of the field, as well as the most widely celebrated. Any American journalist knew the history of Watergate: how dedicated reporters helped bring down a corrupt administration. That was the model for a good journalist—if your community had a rascal problem, you exposed it, even if the rascal was the president of the United States. Straight to Video And there was something particularly warped about the images being sold as movies in a city like Wenzhou, which had so many trade links with the outside world. A basic premise of the United States‘ globalism had always been that the national understanding. There wasn’t much need for Americans to travel personally; products moved much more easily. In theory, it made sense, but now the lack of a human dimension was obvious. In China, most people had contact with American brands and products, but it was rare for a Chinese to have any personal interaction with foreigner… … the world might not seem a smaller, more understandable place if you sent off cigarette lighters and received Hollywood in return. Election ..in 1948 and 1949, when the Kuomintang finally fled to Taiwan, moving the ancient treasures was a top priority. Archaeologists had two options: they either followed the best artifacts across the strait, or they stayed in the mainland, where all the good sites were. …“if you look at the great Chinese leaders--….—all of them had the same goals. They all wanted to modernize China. And yet all of these leaders were eventually defeated…“ He speak softly, with none of the condescension that Chinese intellectuals sometimes showed when talking to a foreigner about history. The Chinese often bragged about the length of their past, but they could be remarkably humble about the present: they readily admitted that, after thousands of years, the experimental cities, the experimental island. Just give us some more time. China wasn’t build in a day. Artifact J ..the prject was designed to establish exact dates for China’s early cultures. Previously, the earliest date in Chinese history for which there was ample archaeological and textual evidence was 842 B.C.,but the Chronology Project came up with a new timeline. Internationally, the project has been heavily criticized –many foreign scholars believe that the Chinese are attempting to fortify their history in ways that are more nationalistic than academic. Some say that the project was motivated primarily by a sense of competition with the West, which has earlier recorded dates for cultures such as ancient Egypt. … ..the inscription is dated in the old Kuomintang style: the Eighteenth Year of the Republic. That was 1929—two years after Wang Guowei downed himself out of despair at the fall of the last emperor. Back then, one of his friends wrote a memorial essay: whenever a culture is in decline, anyone who has received henefits from this culture will necessarily suffer. The more a person embodies this culture, the deeper will be his suffering. Patton’s Tomb I had always thought it was a bad sign for nations to use words like that, and living in China had convinced me that it was unhealthy when people became obsessed with days on which terrible things had occurred. But this observation was easily made from a distance. On September 11 of 2001, when history happened in America, I hadn’t been home. In China, that had always been my perspective as a foreigner. I had arrived in a country that was recovering from trauma, where people sorted through echoes and memories. The actual events were unknowable but the shadows were alive; artifacts mattered, and so did stories. Coming from the outside, I was often impressed by the arbitrariness: the coincidences and confusions, the events that mattered and the ones that were allowed to disappear. The divide between meaning and chaos often blurred. ..when I first lived in China, I was mostly strucked by differences, but over time the similarities became more obvious. Americans and Chinese shared a number of characteristic: they were pragmatic and informal, and they had an easy sense of humor. In both nations, people tend to be optinistic, sometimes to a fault. They worked hard—business success came naturally, and so did materialism. They were deeply patriotic, but it was a patriotism based on faith rather than ecperience: relatively few people had spent much time abroad, but they tended to be bad travelers—quick to complain, slow to adjust. Their first question about a foreign country was usually: what do they think of us? Both China and the United States were geographically isolated, and their cultures were so powerful that it was hard for people to imagine other perspectives. But each nation held together remarkably well. They encompassed a huge range of territory, ethnic groups, and languages, and no strictly military or political force could have achieved this for long. Instead, certain ideas brought people together. When the Han Chinese talked about culture and history, it reminded me of the way American talked about democracy and freedom. These were fundamental values, but they also had some quality of faith, because if you actually investigated—if you poked around an archaeological site in Gansu, or an election in Florida—then you saw the element of disorder that lay just beneath the surface. Some of the power of each nations was narrative: they smoothed over the irregularities, creating good stories about themselves. Artifact Z ..text create meaning, regardless of how arbitrary the process may seem. „what is reality?“ Galambos asks, during one of our conversations in Beijing. „it’s this huge amount of data. There’s this philosopher who had a lot of influence on me, Ernst Cassirer. He wrote this book called Language and Myth. Basically, his idea is that language itself creates reality. For example, in order to have words like nouns, you have to have concepts. When you form concepts, that’s when you’re creating stuff—it’s a creative process. You pick out certain things from the environment, and you give them labels, and you create this reality around you. When you’re a kid, you’re not just learning how to speak; you’re learning how to perceive a reality. It’s almost like a computer language, an internal code makes you able to think. „from a linguistic point of view, this is a very old concept, and a lot of people nowadays don’t believe it. But I think it’s probably to some degree true. Perhaps if you don’t have a word for a certain feeling, or a certain color of the sky, then you don’t notice it. It doesn’t stick out from the background. That’s what words do: they make things stick out. Otherwise, it might just be a big haze of data. In a computer language, you’d call it uninterpreted data. So a language is your browser.“ Acknowledgments ..in a perfect world, Shih would have lived long enough to meet Tang Jigen, the excavator of the underground city. But even one hundred and one years couldn’t outlast the complexities of politics and history. Tang’s first application to visit Taiwan was rejected, and by the time he finally received permission, it was too late to meet his predecessor. And so the young man went to the cemetery in Taipei, burned offerings of incense, and kowtowed before the grave.
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