wtorek, 11 listopada 2014

Yan Lianke

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/23/opinion/Yan-Lianke-finding-light-in-chinas-darkness.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

Yan Lianke on Writing in China

BEIJING — China’s efforts to promote socialism in the late 1950s and early 1960s resulted in what is euphemistically known as the three years of natural disasters, during which more than 30 million people starved to death. One evening when I was a young boy, not long after the catastrophe, I followed my mother as she went to dump garbage outside the wall that surrounded our village, a poor and isolated town in central China.

Holding my hand, my mother pointed to the white clay and yellow earth of the wall, and said, “Son, you must always remember, when people are starving to death they may eat this white clay and elm tree bark, but if they try to eat that yellow earth or the bark of any other kind of tree they will die even faster.”

Mother went back inside our house to cook and left behind a long shadow. I stood in front of the edible clay gazing out at the sunset, the village and the fields, and an enormous sheet of darkness gradually approached.

From that point on, I developed a keen appreciation for the somber side of our existence. I came to understand that darkness is not the mere absence of light, but rather it is life itself. Darkness is the Chinese people’s fate.

Today’s China is no longer the China of my childhood. It has become rich and powerful, and because it has solved the basic problem of providing 1.3 billion people with food, clothing and some spending money, it has come to resemble a bright ray of light that illuminates the East. But beneath this light lies a long shadow.

When I look at contemporary China, I see a nation that is thriving yet distorted, developing yet mutated. I see corruption, absurdity, disorder and chaos. Every day, something occurs that lies outside ordinary reason and logic. A system of morality and a respect for humanity that was developed over several millenniums is unraveling.

Life is gloomy and depressing. Everyone is waiting for something dreadful to happen. This uneasy and fearful expectation has produced a collective sense of anxiety.

No one can tell us where the nation’s speeding locomotive of economic development will end up. No one can tell us what price should be paid for human feelings, human nature and human dignity, now that money and power have replaced socialism and capitalism. What is the price for abandoning the ideals of democracy, freedom, law and morality?

More than a decade ago, I went several times to visit an AIDS village in my home province of Henan. The village had close to 800 residents and more than 200 were infected with H.I.V. The majority were workers between the ages of 30 and 45 who had become infected because, in the pursuit of wealth and a better life, they had gone in groups to sell their blood and became infected in the process. Death was as frequent and inevitable as the setting sun. It became so dark it seemed as though the sun had disappeared permanently.

China may boast of having several thousand years of civilization, but when an old man collapses in the street, everyone refrains from helping him out for fear of being implicated, even as the old man bleeds warm, red blood. What kind of society do we live in when a pregnant woman dies on the delivery table and all of the medical technicians flee in order to avoid responsibility, leaving behind a tiny soul uttering a feeble cry?
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It is a writer’s job to find life within this darkness.

I am reminded of Job, in the Old Testament, who after experiencing countless misfortunes said to his wife as she was urging him to curse God, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” This simple response demonstrates that Job understood that his suffering was merely God’s way of testing him, and was evidence that darkness and light must exist together.

I don’t pretend that I have been uniquely selected by God, as Job was, to endure suffering, but I do know that I am somehow fated to perceive darkness. From these shadows I lift my pen to write. I search for love, goodness and a perpetually beating heart.

At a symposium last week, President Xi Jinping met with a group of artists, including the Nobel Laureate Mo Yan, and talked about the value of art in China. According to the official China Youth Online, he said, “For art workers to be successful, they must breathe together with the people, share their fate and feel their feelings, rejoice at their joy, grieve at their grief, and serve the people like a willing ox.”

But only the pursuit of true art, unencumbered by anyone, can help us find the delicate light, beauty, warmth and love that are hidden in the darkness.

Yan Lianke is a novelist whose most recently translated work is “Lenin’s Kisses.” This article was adapted from his acceptance speech for the 2014 Franz Kafka Prize. It was translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas.

wtorek, 21 października 2014

Nadzieja dla Indonezji

   

250 milionowa Indonezja ma nowego prezydenta. Po wygranych w lipcu wyborach, Joko Widodo zainaugurował wczoraj pierwsza kadencje. Choć dyktatura Suharto upadla ponad 15 lat temu i Indonezyjczycy kilkakrotnie wybierali już swoich polityków w wolnych wyborach, to żaden z nich nie wzbudzał takiego entuzjazmu jak Jokowi. Po części wynika to z jego osobowości: jest w naturalny sposób skromny, otwarty i po prostu sympatyczny. Jako burmistrz Jakarty, a kiedyś swojego rodzimego Solo, zrobił tez dużo dla zwykłych ludzi, wprowadzając np. powszechne ubezpieczenie zdrowotne czy pomagając w edukacji najuboższych. Znany jest z walki z korupcja.

Wyjątkowość Jokowi polega jednak i na tym, że jest on pierwszym prezydentem spoza skostniałego establishmentu Jakarty, który wyrasta jeszcze z ery Suharto. Zatemy pytanie, czy Jokowi będzie w stanie powtórzyć sukcesy lokalne w skali całego kraju, zależy również od tego, w jaki sposób sobie relacje z tym establishmentem ułoży.

Jokowi jest dzieckiem indonezyjskiej demokracji- wskoczył na szczyt dzięki poparciu ludu, ponad głowami establishmentu. Opozycja mająca większość w parlamencie może mu jednak teraz utrudniać życie. Ostatnio przegłosowała np. ustawę ograniczajaca mloda demokrację: burmistrzowie i prezydenci miast maja nie być już wybierani w wyborach bezposrednich, a przez członków lokalnych parlamentów (czytaj: miejscowe koterie). Jeśli Jokowi na prawdę chce ukrócić korupcje w Indonezji i uczynić system gospodarczy tego kraju bardziej przejrzystym i sprawiedliwym, to będzie musiał naruszyć wiele oligarchicznych interesów. Jeśli wypowie wojnę wszystkim-przegra. Potrzebne więc będą kompromisy.  

Pamiętać też należy o nierozliczonej przeszłości systemu Suharto, o represjach, morderstwach politycznych- liczba ofiar sięgać może nawet dwa miliony. Teraz dopiero otwiera się ku temu okazja. Główny rywal Jokowi w wyborach gen. Prabowo, był w tamtych czasach szefem służb specjalnych i ma krew na rękach. Przez wiele tygodni nie chciał uznać swojej porażki, teraz zaś przewodzi opozycji. Jeśli poczuje się zagrożony np. groźbą procesu, zrobi wszystko by nowego prezydenta utrącić. Już teraz krążą pogłoski o przymiarkach do impeachmentu.

Krotko mówiąc, przed Jokowi stoi na prawdę duże wyzwanie. Nie ma sensu rozbudzać zbyt wielkich nadziei, ale trzymać kciuki i cieszyć się dziś z tego wyboru warto. W Indonezji, a być może i w całej Azji płd.-wsch., pojawił się polityk jakiego dotąd tu nie było.

(Ja w każdym razie nie słyszałem, by któryś z indonezyjskich czy tajskich generałów był fanem heavy metalu ;) )

środa, 1 października 2014

HK


http://www.chinapost.com.tw/china/local-news/hong-kong/2014/10/02/418517/p2/HK-protest.htm

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski in Washington D.C.




https://twitter.com/XHNews/status/517210981844279296

piątek, 26 września 2014

Pierre Ryckmans, RIP



W sierpniu odszedl Pierre Ryckmans, znawca Chin. Naukowo zajmowal sie chinska sztuka, szerszej publicznosci znany byl jako autor ksiazek o Chinach epoki Mao. Tlumacz Konfucjusza.
Tak moglby brzmiec jego najkrotszy profil, ktory pomijalby jednak sedno rzeczy.

Zmarl bowiem jeden z najwiekszych wspolczesnych eseistow, i wspanialy erudyta. Jesli o kims powiedziec mozna "umysl renesansowy" to wlasnie o nim. To ktos, kto opisujac Chiny lat 70-tych potrafil cytowac przy okazji np. Kazimierza Brandysa...A jego eseje o Chestertonie, Simone Weil, czy Matce Teresie? A jego sfilmowana powiesc "Smierc Napoleona"? Co wiecej, rownie doskonale pisal po francusku (swoim macierzystym jezyku), co po angielsku.

Coraz czesciej lapie sie na mysli, widzac jakas gruba ksiazke, czy warto wchodzic w te 400, czy 500 stron, nawet jesli ma pochlebne recenzje. W Kindlu od dawna trzymam ostatnia pozycje Ryckmansa (pseudonim Simon Leys), zbior jego esejow z roznych dziedzin pt.The Hall of Uselessness: Selected Essays . Przeczytalem zaledwie kilka o chinskiej poezji i malarstwie. Inne czekaja. Wolalem ciagle miec te frajde przed soba. Teraz nadszedl moze czas ostatecznej konsumpcji...    

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/12/Simon_Leys_Chinafile_remembrance_sinologist
http://www.chinarhyming.com/2014/08/12/pierre-ryckmans-simon-leys-1935-2014/

czwartek, 25 września 2014

China's "Leftover" women

http://shanghaiist.com/2014/04/14/interview-leta-hong-fincher-part-one.php

.....[...I]n the interviews that I did with men and women in their twenties and early thirties, I found that gender norms really are evolving. So, the younger generation really does believe in more gender equality. They do have more gender-equalitarian beliefs on the whole. I mean, obviously there are a lot of exceptions, but I would say that the younger generation on the whole is more progressive, especially in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

What I argue, though, particularly in my dissertation where I really focus on residential real estate, [is that] the real estate boom following China’s privatization of housing has led to resurgence of gender inequality and created new forms of really stark gender inequality in wealth, because there’s this inextricable link between marriage and home-buying in China. So, when a young couple decides to get married, the norm is that they’re supposed to buy a home in the private market. And that’s when the older generation’s traditional patriarchal beliefs come into play. Buying a home is an extremely complicated financial transaction. And, because homes are so exorbitant now, it is virtually impossible for a young person to buy a home on their own. They have to rely on the heavy financial input from their parents or elders. And so, basically what happens is that you have to have the pooling of family assets to buy a home, and when you come to these vast quantities of money, where the parents and the elders have been saving and scraping their whole lives, that combines with a whole bunch of different norms. One is the norm that the man is supposed to be the official breadwinner and that the woman doesn’t need to own property.

Another norm is basically a myth that is propagated by the state media in collaboration with the real estate developers and the matchmaking industry. They spread the myth that a man has to own a home in order to attract a bride. Which is why so many parents invest so heavily in buying their sons a home, and then they don’t help their daughter buy a home. In my research, I found just a very consistent, a shockingly consistent pattern, when there’s a son and a daughter, the parents buy a home for the son and they don’t for the daughter. But I also found cases even more disturbing, where the parents don’t even have a son, they have an only daughter and rather than help their daughter buy a home, even though she wants one, they help their nephew buy a home. That is a really big part in the creation of the huge gender wealth gap. [Source]

Conversation with a cab driver





Chinese “Nationalism” And The Desire For War

 Andrew Chubb asks at South Sea Conversations, “to what extent should we really understand the phenomena that get labelled ‘Chinese nationalism’ in those terms?” He translates a conversation with a pro-war taxi driver from the introduction to Phoenix TV host Qiu Zhenhai’s book:
What is good about war? It could leave us broken and destitute.” I decided to have some fun with the driver.

War is good, it reshuffles the cards. Otherwise, people like me will be driving taxis until we’re 80.” His frankness was startling, and I suddenly felt a pang of seriousness.

[…] “If I lose my life, I lose my life. I’m not like those people who own property or companies. I’m even less like the corrupt officials who have riches they can steal. I am a proletarian, with nothing to care about. These days I don’t see any hope, it’s better to just take a gamble.” He was getting more and more forthright.

His answers made me feel heavy and serious. I didn’t feel the need to provoke him any more.

[…] How many of the expressions of Chinese desire for war over remote uninhabited islands have less to do with avenging “national humiliation” or reclaiming “ancestral territory” than with a desire for something, anything, to shake Chinese society up?

Leaving China

At The Economist Gady Epstein writes that middle-class Chinese are emigrating in growing numbers, “in search of a cleaner, slower life”:

FOR years Lin Chen resisted his wife’s entreaties to move abroad. Then, when their daughter was born in 2012, he started thinking about her schooling. He realised he wanted a less stressful education than the one he and his wife endured in their climb to the middle classes, and he wanted to leave space for fun. “My wife and I suffered a lot,” he says. “I don’t want my daughter to suffer through all that.”

And so the Lin family will soon be off to Adelaide, Australia, part of the greatest and most consequential wave of emigration in modern Chinese history: middle-class Chinese seeking not better opportunities or political freedoms but a better quality of life. Chinese emigrants are leaving good jobs, cashing out their high-priced homes (or investment properties) and leaving China’s rat race behind. They are unlikely to find better jobs anywhere else, but the air and water are less polluted where they are going, the social safety-net less frayed and the food safer to eat. And there is no one-child policy.

czwartek, 24 lipca 2014

Korea 100 dni po katastrofie

Minęło 100 od katastrofy koreańskiego promu Sewol. Pisałem o tym szerzej kilka tygodni temu. Odnaleziono właśnie ciało poszukiwanego Yoo Byung-euna, faktycznego właściciela promu i głównego podejrzanego o spowodowanie katastrofy-chodziło o nagminne lekceważenie standardów bezpieczeństwa i korupcje. Okoliczności śmierci Yoo są nieznane, nie żył już od co najmniej kilku tygodni. Postępowanie trwa.
Katastrofa wstrząsnęła Koreańczykami. Nie tylko dlatego, że zginęło ponad 300 ludzi (w większości młodzież na szkolnej wycieczce), ale też z powodu tego, co wyszło na jaw przy jej okazji: skali zaniedbań w koreańskiej żegludze, chaosu akcji ratowniczej, powszechnej korupcji na styku biznesu i rządowej biurokracji.
16 podejrzanych o spowodowanie katastrofy, w tym kapitan, który na samym początku ewakuował się z tonącej jednostki, stoi dziś przed sądem. Nie ustają protesty bliskich ofiar domagających się całkowitego wyjaśnienia okoliczności katastrofy. Wczoraj zorganizowali oni w tym celu marsz, który dziś dotarł do Seulu.
Tymczasem trauma po tragedii przełożyła się na gospodarkę-wzrost PKB znacznie się obniżył, mówi się nawet o początku długotrwałej stagnacji.
Wracam do tego tematu także po to, by choć trochę urealnić obraz Korei Południowej, zwłaszcza w Polsce, gdzie stawia się ją powszechne za wzór do naśladowania. Robią to i politycy i media.
Koreę jest za co podziwiać, ale kraj ten ma swoją pokaźną działkę problemów, o czym nie raz już na tym blogu pisałem.



Ps. Dodajmy jeszcze, że od zatonięcia promu wydarzyło się już w Korei kilka poważnych wypadków komunikacyjnych. Powyższy link wspomina o dwóch, a ja dopisuje jeszcze wcześniejsze zderzenie pociągów w seulskim metrze.