scruta

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Lesson in Chinese Nationalism

Not all foreigners are devils;

Not all devils are foreign.

posted by ferret at 12:07 am  

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Words: Badinage and Oratorio

(With special thanks to Ms. Dickinson)

Badinage

Oratorio

posted by ferret at 7:57 pm  

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sitting in the Lobby of the Peninsula Shanghai

I want to know why it is that glitter replaced ink,

And all the artworks of a great nation

Were wrapped up in a smirking irony

Embracing the gaudy demands of materialism

But grasping its ideals with wrenched palms.

+++

But then I remember

An embrace never opens up the world.

It silently covets a corner

And creates another hiding place within it.

posted by ferret at 12:37 am  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Selling Out is (not) Selling Out

I saw the following advertisement in a subway station featuring Chinese blogging legend, Hanhan:

A rough translation into English:

I love the internet. I love freedom. I love getting up late. I love night markets. I love race cars. And I also love 29 kuai t-shirts. I’m not some flag-bearer. I’m nobody’s spokesperson. I’m Hanhan. I only represent myself. You and I are alike. I am Vancl.

Is it me, or has Hanhan sold out, and then utilized the ad to explain why he’s not selling out?

Despite the hypocrisy, this ad could also be said to represent an entire generation of Chinese born in the 1980s, the so called 80后. They are caught between their society’s near-moral imperative to pursue wealth, and their desire to define themselves as individuals in a dynamic, quickly changing world.

Can you have it both ways?

Hanhan seems to think so.

posted by ferret at 9:38 pm  

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Words: Grawlix and Minatory

Grawlix

Minatory

posted by ferret at 2:25 pm  

Saturday, July 17, 2010

False Start #46

This is the thing that you’d probably say if you were trying to unravel this Chinese mystery that you see before your foreign eyes, sitting in a land that heard the buddha speak long ago, that understood and forgot, but found his voice lined in its bones. Now you see China as this, a mystery that continually unravels. You think you’ll understand the core, a massive turban that you unravel in your hands, turning over and over, piling up before you that you find impossibly, perversely never diminishes in size. You tell yourself that there must be a core, or that even if there isn’t, that you must think there is.

posted by ferret at 2:59 pm  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

False Start #45

I am of the opinion that hearts do not grow stronger; they thicken.

posted by ferret at 12:40 am  

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shanghai as A Drunken Poet

All day long Shanghai made me think of a drunken poet, reeling his bearded-head around, shaking it in the breeze, as if he knows something that I don’t. The white, wild tangles of his hair seem to say so.

It’s nighttime, and he has just finished engaging in a night of drinking and feasting at an outdoor pavilion by a lake. All around him there are half-eaten dishes of food and empty bottles of beer and baijiu. There’s a pit of embers burning off to the side where there had been a barbecue. Small wooden stakes are sticking out of the ground nearby, monuments to the festivities.

I don’t know where his companions have gone, or why they left him there to contemplate the lake in the moonlight.

I greet him in English, finding it somehow appropriate, “Hello.”

He just shakes his head again, the same way he did before, smiling as he does so.

“What are you doing here?”

He shakes his head again.

“Are you composing poetry?”

Another shake.

I know I’m looking at Shanghai, but I’m compelled to ask, “Will you tell me who you are?”

And another.

I grow frustrated, and sit down next to him at the table, contemplating the mess: crab shells full of ashes and cigarette butts, fish bones piled like offerings to a lowly god of the nearby lake, gobs of pork bellies swimming in seas of purple, coagulating goo, tiny pieces of diced garlic that had once sat in a sea of green vegetables…

I notice that he’s now looking at me, watching me survey the mess. I ask him again, this time almost pleading with him, “Who are you?”

He shakes again, but this time points with his hands, out towards the lake then back across toward the table, as if that gesture itself could relate all that he is – a move from the lake and the forest beyond in the moonlight, full of promise, pristine and untouched to the glaring fluorescent lights just above us and the junkyard of scraps that lay below.

posted by ferret at 11:29 pm  

Monday, July 12, 2010

River Song

In that moment there with our bodies bare

You can’t deny we’re anything but this:

+++

We are bodies struggling, flopping, turning

Heaving against this river called life,

wound with these moments together

In the whirls and rapids, the eddies and falls.

+++

We’ll lash these moments together

As our raft, our rock, our treebranch.

We’ll use them to keep afloat in the torrent.

posted by ferret at 2:10 pm  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Forced Chinese

[Ferret and Glasseye are outside of Logo talking.]

Ferret

I think it’s weird.

Glasseye

What’s weird?

Ferret

I think it’s weird that in Shanghainese people always speak English to me.

Glasseye

What do you mean?

Ferret

I mean. If you came to America, people wouldn’t go out of their way to try and speak Chinese to you. They’d just say, “You’re in America, so speak English.”

Glasseye

Yeah. No, I understand. But that’s the thing about Chinese people. You know S&M?

Ferret

Yeah.

Glasseye

We’re the M.

Ferret

Haha. Okay.

Glasseye

No, seriously.

Ferret

I believe you, but it’s weird. I don’t see why they think it has to be that way. Chinese isn’t impossible for us foreigners to learn, and I bet you’d be surprised how quickly we’d pick it up if we were forced to learn it.

Glasseye

所以我们在说中文吧 .

So let’s speak Chinese then.

Ferret

[startled a bit, then realizing what was said]

好的, 我们说中文.

Okay, let’s speak Chinese.

[There's an awkward pause. Suddenly nobody has anything to say.]

Glasseye

You’re right though. It’s still weird.

Ferret

Yeah, it is.

posted by ferret at 1:14 am  
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