scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Epigram #3

Mind gusts whisping skin drunk in the cold,

The A/C reriddles clamors of the heart.

posted by ferret at 1:05 am  

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ode to My Dead Plant

My Dead Plant on Ziyang Lu

Because of an airconditioner, our contrivances to try and make things more comfortable, you died.

It was hot, and my girlfriend wasn’t having it.

It kind’ve pissed me off.

I had so hoped that you and I could have been good friends, but alas, you gone and kicked it.

Sent off to the Garden of Eden, aboreum uptopia, or whatever place it is that plants are supposed to go mythically, where it’s always sunny and raining at the same time.

Thanks, a lot Sap. Or is it Flora?

Regardless of your gender, I have decided to throw you in the trash can.

It has now occurred to me that I, being human, rather like the ideas of life, of love, and of goodness,

but damn if I’m not attracted to just letting everything around me go to hell.

Just looking into the undifferentiated meaninglessness that sits on the edge of the psyche and saying, well, fuck it.  At least now and then.

You, my leafed friend, were the unfortunate victim of this tendency.

This could be a chemical problem. One that you could consult your doctor about. There are a slew of new medicines available to treat this condition called… ahem.

I’ve always thought of it as an inability to avoid the abyss that sits on the edge of my psyche. I really can’t blame myself. It’s actually framed quite nicely:

Like the water of a giant backyard swimming pool, with beautiful people slanging super-straight labcoat-white teeth in designer bathingsuits all laughing and playing. Death, looking uber-stylish with a lei slung around his sickle is lying on a chaise drinking maitai after maitai extolling the virtues of taking a dip. Most people just treat him like an idiot drunkard who crashed the party, but he scares the hell out of me. I spend the entire party staring into the abyss while all my friends score.

I must say there are benefits to looking into the abyss of one’s self.

Weird shit just pops out of there:

like leprechaunic fantasies of riding around in jetplanes with oil barons, deciding the fate of a small island in Dubai shaped like an ostrich with a pot of gold in the middle.

***

Oil Baron

So I really thought the pot of gold in the middle was over the top.

Ferret

No, it couldn’t be. I mean, how else are you supposed to swim Scrooge McDuck style?

Oil Barron

Well, unfortunately it’ll be too hot for the time being. You know…

Ferret

Oh yeah, the desert.

Oil Baron

Yeah, that. But I’m working on importing a giant cooling system to blast continually cold air on it so that I can swim in the gold pile in the middle of my ostrich shaped ocean of sand.

Ferret

Sounds sweet.

Oil Baron

Yeah.

Ferret

Hey, isn’t gold heavy?

Oil Baron

It’s damn heavy. That’s why I’ve got to wear the special suit when I swim. It’s designed to ionize the gold or something like that. I don’t really understand how it works, but apparently they’ve been doing military testing with it for about three years now.

Ferret

Man, is there anything that oil can’t do?

Oil Baron

Make more of itself I’m afraid.

Ferret

Some say that’s a matter of contention.

Oil Baron

Come on, let’s not get carried away by fantasies.

Ferret

Sorry. What’s that plant over there in the corner doing?

Oil Baron

It’s supposed to offset my carbon footprint.

Ferret

It’s dead.

Oil Baron

Yeah. Well, it’s not working very well right now. I’m going to have to get someone to fix it.

***

It’s good to know that the world’s wealth isn’t going to waste… hopefully my plant didn’t either.

posted by ferret at 12:43 am  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Li and Zhou: Essay the Chances of Prostitutes

[Li and Zhou sit in an office in Beijing perusing pages of an English language magazine set to be printed in Shanghai.]

Li

Zhou, get a load of this.

Zhou

What?

Li

[reads]

“In a strange twist of irony, Li Jian from Guizhou Province was unable to succeed at failing. In a protest against China’s college entrance exam, which he had failed twice before, Mr. Li attempted to score a zero. Despite a valiant effort, Mr. Li’s plans were thwarted. He was awarded 12 points for his essay, in which he compared story writing to prostitution, and another 20 points for his minority classification. A widely published writer of stories in his own municipality, Mr. Li is considered a bright young man capable of matriculation. He plans to take the exam for a fourth time. This time to pass.”

Writers are prostitutes? Hah! They should have failed him one hundred percent.

Zhou

You know there’s no way they could have done that.

Li

I know, I know.

Zhou

That would just give him more to go on. Think what kind of ammunition that would be against the educational system. I’ll give him credit though. We’ve got to be the pimps slappin’ our “prostitutes” down!

Li

Ha! Yeah. He does have a point there.

Zhou

Yeah, but prostitutes don’t exist in China.

Li

Of course, according to Li Jian, neither do writers.

Zhou

And neither do we.

[An awkward silence.]

Li

Do you ever feel like your job has a lack of meaning?

Zhou

Sometimes.

Li

I’ve been having this strange dream recently.

Zhou

Really?

Li

Yeah. I dream I’m a bug that’s stuck on a giant beast. I’ve sucked its blood for a long time and grown large and fat. Any moment the beast could discover me, and I’ll be squashed. All of my little twitchers tremble, and I have a hard time sucking the blood. I want to get away, but I know that if I move in the wrong way that would be it.

Zhou

So what happens?

Li

I just stay and wait. I keep taking the blood, and I wait.

posted by ferret at 1:45 am  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Editorial High Jinks


Roo
No way!

Ferret
What?

Roo
You see this picture in your China book?

Ferret
Yeah.

Roo
It means it sucks.

Ferret
What?

Roo
This word means sucks.

Ferret
No way!

Roo
Serious! If something sucks we say 这个很爛哦!That means it sucks.

Ferret
Weird. Maybe they picked it because it has lots of different strokes in it.

Roo
Maybe they just want to play a joke.

posted by ferret at 9:06 am  

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why I believe in Synchronicity

I was sitting on the metro coming home from an extended tour of a bar in Pudong, when I began thinking about China, and people like Gao Chuancai, a true freedom fighter in the Chinese hinterland who risks his life daily for justice, threatening the livelihood of his entire family in the process. His fearlessness in the face of authority is astounding, and to most Chinese sheer insanity.

A time ago I remember being in Chinese class discussing how Western culture was different than Chinese culture. I remember commenting that Western culture values madness, but due to my limited skills I was unable articulate myself well at the time. Confusing, and possibly insulting my teacher. Even when I switched to English, I still found it hard to explain my intuition. What I think I meant was that I thought the West values the activist as an archetype. Whether you think they are loonies or no, activists are an accepted figure on the fringe of our society. In China, this isn’t so. Gao Chuancai is an example of how this is changing.

Just as I was thinking all of this, a fat, slovenly looking man walked into my car on the train and began barking at all the people in Chinese. Most of them looked generally annoyed, and gave him no notice. I couldn’t tell what he was saying, and to be honest, I didn’t try very hard. He struck me as a bum, asking for money. However, as he began to pass me in the car, he stopped speaking in Chinese and began speaking to me in polished English:

Hello sir! Let me introduce myself. I am the fat man on the metro who speaks out against corruption. [As he said this, and everytime he said he was "the fat man on the metro" he slapped his belly.] I go around on the metro lines telling people to stand with me, and declare they will fight with me to work for a more harmonious and free society. I know that if I stand alone, then they will come for me, and will probably kill me. However, if we stand together, then there is nothing that they can do. Let everyone know about the fat man on the metro and tell them to come and stand with me.

It was at this point that I asked him what his name was. He said simply, “I am the fat man on the metro.”

I stood and shook his hand.

At that point, the train stopped, and he quickly moved to another car and began all over again. I sat back down and realized:

I’m not the one he has to convince. Somehow I was already with him before he started talking. But all the Chinese people on the metro around me, were they?

Here’s another account of “the fat man on the metro.”

Here he is at other moments (in Chinese):

posted by ferret at 10:49 am  

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