Section 1 of 3: Recommended Photos/Videos/Reading
|Global (in English)||Greater China (in English)||Greater China (in Chinese)|
Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the
Web Adrian Chen, Gawker
What an Academic Who Wrote Her Dissertation on Trolls Thinks of Violentacrez Whitney Phillips, The Atlantic
Martha Raddatz and the faux objectivity of journalists Glenn Greenwald
The New York Times and Biased Reporting on Venezuela Venezuelanalysis.com
The Problem of the New York Police Michael Greenberg, NYROB
The League of Dangerous Mapmakers Robert Draper, The Atlantic
How Paul Ryan Convinced Washington of His Genius Alec MacGillis, TNR
It’s Not Freedom vs. Truth; It’s Daniel Bell vs. Mark
MacKinnon (and David Bandurski) China
Is Mo Yan a Stooge for the Chinese Government? Brendan O'Kane, Rectified.name
I'll Always Be American China Elections
Previewing the Legislative Council Election: Its Democratic Half China Elections
On Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China Hidden Harmonies
Previewing the Legislative Council Election: Designs and Strategies China Elections
You'll Never Be Chinese Mark Kitto, Prospect Magazine
Section 2 of 3: Brief comments
I have never read any books or essays by Mo Yan previously, and I do not intend to do so either. In so saying, I am not trying to make any points. But nowadays I won't read any novels unless I have to force myself to; I even feel that novellas are too long for me; so maybe only micro-novels are alright with me.
But it was a good thing for Mo Yan to win the Nobel Prize, because it satisfied the Nobel obsession of many Chinese people. Of course, some people are upset because they can no longer pose the perennial question of "How come the Chinese can never win a Nobel Prize?" Instead, they will have to ask other questions such as "How come Mo Yan won this Nobel Prize?" and "What difference will it make now?"
I was amazed that even before the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced, some Chinese Internet users were already criticizing Mo Yan en masse. They said that Mo Yan did not deserve the Nobel Prize. When the result was announced, these critics were angry. Some said that this was aiding and abetting the dictatorship. Although I take no interest in Mo Yan, I am interested in observing and thinking about the social reactions. I am interested in the criticisms, and I came to realize something.
First of all, who are Mo Yan's critics? My observation is that they are mostly liberal intellectuals and their fans. There is a small number of leftists, which I am going to ignore due to the small number. I will be mainly talking about the liberals.
The liberals treat this as an important event because they regard the Nobel Prize for Literature is an embodiment of the western world that they adore. The liberals have two reactions over Mo Yan's win: anger and understanding. Why anger? Simply put, Mo Yan did not pass their "political test." They rarely discussed the actual writings of Mo Yan. Instead, they complained that Mo Yan did not actively oppose the government before. Therefore, their western overlords erred in giving the Prize to Mo Yan this time. Why understanding? This other group of liberals scoured through the works of Mo Yan and found some fragments that appear to oppose or insult the Chinese government. This showed that the western overlords were keen-eyed and did not err in giving the Prize to Mo Yan this time. Therefore, these two groups of liberals actually shared the same line of thinking (with respect to the western overlords).
When the Reforms began last century, I was cultivated as a liberal. I very much agreed with the liberal concept of "de-politicization." At the time, our lives encompassed many different things of which politics was just one. However, politics was pervasive in every aspect of our lives, and became the ultimate authority in our judgments on everything. We were obviously unhappy. Therefore, I was very supportive of intellectuals who advocate the "de-politicization" of our society. This was also the mainstream thinking at the time.
But many years of "de-politicization" later, I found that those who advocate "de-politicization" on the Internet today are full of politics. When Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize this time, the intellectuals seemed oblivious to the fact that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and not a Nobel prize for Politics. Their criticisms against Mo Yan's win was completely politicized, and very much similar to the various "political tests" that the government was making back then -- they didn't care about the expertise of the person and they only cared whether the politics of the person passed the test that they made up. The intellectuals who criticized Mo Yan this time usually abhor Mao Zedong's theory of literature, but their behavior showed that they were Mao's good students who believe that literature exists to serve politics.
Looking back now at the "de-politicization" advocated by the intellectuals and looking at the "politicization" of intellectuals today, I finally realized something about the "de-politicization." The so-called "de-politicization" back then was not really meant to eradicate all politics from our lives. The intellectuals only wanted to eradicate the politics that they did not like and replace it with the politics that they like. The treatment of Mo Yan on this occasion showed that the process has been successfully carried out. The "political tests" back then is now in disrepute after the "de-politicization." Today, there is a new politics which holds the absolute and sole right to speak with political correctness. Today, the intellectuals can conduct their own "political tests" of others and make fools of common folks like us.
Of course, "de-politicization" is merely one aspect. After the Reforms began, the intellectuals and the authorities began to transform our thinking from both sides. These were very successful transformations. We were rescued from one type of superstition and thrown into a different type of superstition ...
2012 Nobel Lecture. Storytellers.
I am a storyteller, so I am going to tell you some stories.
When I was a third-grade student in the 1960s, my school organized a field trip to an exhibit of suffering, where, under the direction of our teacher, we cried bitter tears. I let my tears stay on my cheeks for the benefit of our teacher, and watched as some of my classmates spat in their hands and rubbed it on their faces as pretend tears. I saw one student among all those wailing children – some real, some phony – whose face was dry and who remained silent without covering his face with his hands. He just looked at us, eyes wide open in an expression of surprise or confusion. After the visit I reported him to the teacher, and he was given a disciplinary warning. Years later, when I expressed my remorse over informing on the boy, the teacher said that at least ten students had done what I did. The boy himself had died a decade or more earlier, and my conscience was deeply troubled when I thought of him. But I learned something important from this incident, and that is: When everyone around you is crying, you deserve to be allowed not to cry, and when the tears are all for show, your right not to cry is greater still.
Here is another story: More than thirty years ago, when I was in the army, I was in my office reading one evening when an elderly officer opened the door and came in. He glanced down at the seat in front of me and muttered, “Hm, where is everyone?” I stood up and said in a loud voice, “Are you saying I’m no one?” The old fellow’s ears turned red from embarrassment, and he walked out. For a long time after that I was proud about what I consider a gutsy performance. Years later, that pride turned to intense qualms of conscience.
Bear with me, please, for one last story, one my grandfather told me many years ago: A group of eight out-of-town bricklayers took refuge from a storm in a rundown temple. Thunder rumbled outside, sending fireballs their way. They even heard what sounded like dragon shrieks. The men were terrified, their faces ashen. “Among the eight of us,” one of them said, “is someone who must have offended the heavens with a terrible deed. The guilty person ought to volunteer to step outside to accept his punishment and spare the innocent from suffering. Naturally, there were no volunteers. So one of the others came up with a proposal: Since no one is willing to go outside, let’s all fling our straw hats toward the door. Whoever’s hat flies out through the temple door is the guilty party, and we’ll ask him to go out and accept his punishment.” So they flung their hats toward the door. Seven hats were blown back inside; one went out the door. They pressured the eighth man to go out and accept his punishment, and when he balked, they picked him up and flung him out the door. I’ll bet you all know how the story ends: They had no sooner flung him out the door than the temple collapsed around them.
I am a storyteller.
Telling stories earned me the Nobel Prize for Literature.
What are the allegorical meanings behind these stories? Here are some conjectures from Chinese Internet users.
Story #1: This story is addressed to the critics inside China: "Right now, it is fashionable to fight the establishment and object to everything that the government does. Can one be allowed not to do so?"
Story #2: This story is also addressed to the critics: "I said something unintentionally, but you over-interpret and nitpick. Although you may look like a brave warrior, you are just as naοve as I was back then."
Story #3: The story is even more vicious against the critics: "You stand in the rundown temple of morality and you cast me out into the storm of criticisms. Ultimately, it is you who will be punished by the heavens!"
After decoding these stories, we can go back to the full essay with this understanding: "I was a poor child growing up in a rural village. I came across all sorts of bitter experiences during my childhood, and I was often insulted. My elders also suffered many insults. But I can tell stories. After the reforms began (in China), I became a well-known writer through the good policies of the Communist Party, until I ended up this day on the podium of the Nobel Prize. Without the Party, there would not be a writer like myself, who even has the rank of deputy bureau director. The Communist Party is my godparents, and her kindness is deeper than the ocean and higher than the sky. You are wrong to criticize me. I reject your criticisms. Right now, this expert storyteller will stand on this podium and use his stories to rebut you. There is no point to fight me. With your intelligence, I don't expect you to ever decode the meaning of these three stories."
Story #1: The Chinese people are brought up as expert actors.
Story #2: I feel sorry for being a human.
Story #3: God is always working against the Chinese.
Story #1: The Chinese are "forced" to become expert actors.
Story #2: Do not ask other people to think exactly the same as you do.
Story #3: Mass campaigns often result in tragedy.
Story #1: You don't have to cry, but you have to pretend to cry. Under these circumstances when everybody is acting, it becomes normal to make denunciations.
Story #2: Very often, Mo Yan is upset due to misunderstanding the superiors.
Story #3: God often ignores the majority opinion of people.
Story #1: Everybody is acting, including crying, not crying, making denunciation ... it is human nature to do so.
Story #2: Everybody is talking to themselves, including me, the officer ... communication is like a conversation between a chicken and a duck.
Story #3: People are stupid, human values are meaningless ... existence is rational.
Story #1: Do not force others people to state their position. Alternate viewpoints should be tolerated.
Story #2: Do not show off, because your brash actions merely expose your own immaturity.
Story #3: Democracy is not necessary good. The consequences are worse when the majority of the people turn out to be wrong. From the religious viewpoint, God is watching what the people do and reward/punishment awaits; alternately, God is unpredictable and the consequences can be severe if you guess wrong. From the personal viewpoint, a gentleman does not stand underneath a shaky wall (for fear that it would collapse); however, the apparently safest place may actually be very dangerous. From the decision-making viewpoint, majority opinion can be wrong and one has to accept the consequences. Therefore democracy is not necessarily a good thing.
Story #1: In most case, people are play-acting. Different viewpoints and independent actions should be allowed, because the majority do not represent the truth.
Story #2: The senior official said that there was no one at the empty seat, but Mo Yan insisted that he be counted. When one is young, one tries to find reasons to show off. Reflect and repent.
Story #3. Seven persons died when the temple collapsed during the thunderstorm. Most of us are sinners, and God has made his choice. Sometimes God's choice is the opposite of what people choose.
Story #1: I have the right not to express my opinions on that other Nobel Prize winner from China.
Story #2: I am not necessarily wrong if I refuse to express my opinions.
Story #3: You all think that I am wrong, but I am not necessarily the one who is wrong.
Story #1: Human nature gets twisted under totalitarianism.
Story #2: They don't know what they are doing.
Story #3: Populism hurts everybody.
Story #1. Mo Yan is an actor.
Story #2. Mo Yan knows how to gain the attention of senior officials.
Story #3. Mo Yan knows how to make stories up.
Story #1: Denouncing others is a common human flaw in a totalitarian regime.
Story #2: Keep justice in your heart, but do not hurt those who carry no malice.
Story #3: Those who use God and the people are their justification in order to achieve their own selfish goals will be punished.
Story #1. Totalitarianism is false and deceptive, and therefore the enemy of truth. Those educated under totalitarianism are hypocritical and amoral.
Story #2. Those slaves liberated from totalitarianism cannot adjust to normal human relationships. They are either too proud (which is the same as too humble), too selfish or too sensitive getting the respect from others. These are the consequence of totalitarian oppression, and will take more than one or two generations to eliminate.
Story #3. Do not think that things will be better when democracy arrives. Be careful about those who use democracy to do bad things, or the violence of the majority, or the crimes of the majority!
Story #3. Why were there seven people in the rundown temple? Why not nine people? (explanation: the Central Politburo recently reduced its size from nine to seven persons).
Story #1. When most people have been brainwashed, an un-brainwashed person sometimes get crushed by the majority.
Story #2. There is nothing wrong with fighting for human rights, but the proper method has to be used.
Story #3. It is dangerous to make judgments emotionally, especially when most people think that they are right.
Story #1. You should allow and understand different opinions and behaviors.
Story #2. People should be tolerant, and not be too demanding on the unintentional mistakes of others.
Story #3. Sacrificing others may not save yourself.
Story #1. Mo Yan declined to discuss the origination of the pressure to cry, the culture of making denunciations and the specific socio-political atmosphere of the times. He reduced it all down to an issue of to cry or not, thereby arguing for the right not to cry. So is he revealing something, or is he covering up other more important things?
Story #2. It is common for people to misunderstand or misinterpret others in daily life, and it is fair to suggest to people to avoid or reduce misunderstanding. But Mo Yan is wrong to use a soldier and a superior officer as the characters in his story, wherein the soldier felt "heroic" at first in correcting the officer but felt rueful later. Does Mo Yan imply that subordinates must never cross superiors? If so, then this is the most disgusting story of the lot.
Story #3. In the classical book Ghost Stories, there is a story about a boat full of people crossing the river. Thunder and lightning came, and the boat was about to capsize. Suddenly, the name of one of the passengers appeared in the sky. The boat riders thought that the gods wanted to punish this person, so they threw him into the river. But it was the boat that was smitten and all on board perished, whereas the person thrown into the river was safe. Mo Yan declined to discuss either the issue of just rewards and punishments for actions or the disunity and selfishness in the face of calamity. Instead, he is only boasting that the gods wanted him to win the Nobel Prize.
These three stories are supposed to expose the flaws in human nature. But as always, Mo Yan uses the wily guiles of the Chinese peasant and neutralize the critical edges to incorporate into his own writing. Everything that Mo Yan has written fall into this type of obscurantist exhibitionism.
Story #1: As an individual, I have the right to be different from you.
Story #2: I hope that you will treat me like an individual.
Story #3: God will save someone like me who is abandoned by others.
These three stories are a guessing game. You see whatever you want to see.
(Daqi) A Strong, Solid Bridge - Shuai River, Luoshan county, Henan province
Forty years ago we walked over it. The bridge is said to be built 80 years ago, and it turned out that several dozen tonnes of steel beams and concrete were held up by wooden pylons! All those May 7th soldiers from the May 7th Cadres School who went through Luoshan, Xixian, Huangchuan and other places never imagined that these wooden pylons are still holding up! They can be seen during the dry season but they are under water during the rainy season. I think this is a miracle! So stunning!
According to the microblog for Caijing magazine: "On December 6, the Weibo user @RebirthOfTheFreeMen: 'The support of a bridge on a public road in Luoshan county, Xunyang city, Henan province had previously been covered by river water, but an incredible sight emerged during the recent drought. The bridge is actually supported by wood!' The microblogger emphasized that there was nothing else was done. The Luoshan county roads department said that they heard about this bridge only from the reporter, but they will investigate the matter.
Public intellectual Yu Jianrong forwarded a post from the Weibo user @HumanBodyArt: "There is a public road whose support was previously under the water in the river. Now that the river bed is drying during the drought, a miraculous sight is seen: The steel-beam-and-concrete are propped only by wooden beams. If the bridge should collapse some day, it will be due to overloading!" These photos are not Photoshop'ed. Internet users can verify that." Yu wrote: "I still don't believe it that such a marvelous miracle was wrought by men."
These powerful images tell a compelling story. But what story? It depends on what your personal preference. For example, you can use these photos as proof that democracy (or reform) is urgently needed to protect the public from shoddy construction practice by ruthless builders in collusion with corrupt government officials.
But what is the REAL story behind these photos? If you are astute, you would be able to guess already (see the first photo and check the state of the railings on the bridge!).
According to the investigation by our reporter, a simliar story had previously been reported by Xian Evening News on September 15, 2011 about the Nanqin River bridge in Shangluo city, Shaanxi province.
That previous report cited Shangluo city's former public road design and inspection engineer Wang Haobin: "This particular bridge was built in the 1960's. The particular method considered that the bridge may not be able to bear too much weight, so that using dense wooden pylons can increase the ability to carry weight and decrease the rate at which the bridge sinks into the ground. This is not an issue of shoddy workmanship or skimping on construction materials. At that time, all bridges were built with the same method."
Last evening at 845pm, deputy director Luo of the Luoshan county publicity department said that they have done a lot of investigation and they have identified the bridge as being the bridge over Shuai River on National Expressway No.312 in Luoshan county. The bridge was constructed by the Japanese during the Eight Year War of Resistance era (1937-1945). "This was the Japanese method of construction, so you cannot appraise it on the basis of modern technology."
In addition, the Xunyang City Public Road Department also did their research. They confirmed that the bridge was situated over the Shuai River at the border between Luoshan county and Pingqiao district. The bridge was built in 1938. In 1979, National Expressway No. 312 was re-routed, and the bridge was abandoned.
Previous Brief Comments
Section 3 of 3: Blog posts
(September 10, 2012) How Useful Are Pre-Election Public Opinion Polls and Exit Polls in Hong Kong? Evaluating poll data from the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme and the Hong Kong Research Association against actual election results.
(July 10, 2012) The Big Brawl in Chaoyang Park Democracy is on the march in China as a female Sichuan TV reporter and her allies beat the crap out of Fifty Cent Gang member Wu Fatian.
(January 11, 2012) "Public Enemy" Han Han The Chinese author gives an interview in the aftermath of the publication of four essays on revolution, democracy and freedom.
(January 6, 2012) Sex, Lies and Fake Deaths A suicide note from a woman raises an Internet opinion storm against her unfaithful husband and his mistress.
(November 9, 2011) An Analysis Of A Hong Kong District Council Election Exit Poll The Hong Kong Research Association conducted exit polls for the Hong Kong District Council election. Were they rendered useless by the pan-democrats' boycott call?
(August 4, 2011) The Missing Dead Baby In The Wenzhou Train Crash An Internet user Guo Yao said that her baby died in the Wenzhou train crash but his name was not included among the list of deceased.
(July 30, 2011) Everything You Want To Know About The Wenzhou Train Crash Communication University of China's public opinion research department catalogs 41 questions from Internet users about the Wenzhou train crash.
(June 29, 2011) The Three Levitating Government Officials Chinese Internet users make fun of a government website that showed an modified photo of three government leaders inspecting a road.
(April 23, 2011) Solving The Puzzle Of Chinese Charity Champion Chen Guangbiao Translation of a China Business investigative report about Chinese 'charity champion' Chen Guangbiao.
(April 3, 2011) The Hyping Of "My Dad Is Li Gang" An investigative report about the origins of the popular saying "My dad is Li Gang."
(March 13, 2011) Earthquakes! A collection of translated microblog posts about the Yingjinang earthquake in China and the Japan earthquake/tsunami.
(February 26, 2011) Fake Western Media Coverage Of Jasmine Revolution In China A number of examples of faked western media news reporting about the Jasmine Revolution in China.
(February 12, 2011) The Pauper Towns of China: Kaili and Minxian Investigative reports about two famous pauper towns in China. More than 60% of the children go out to beg around China during the summer and winter holidays.
(February 9, 2011) Peng Gaofeng Finds His Son Reporter Deng Fei recounts his three-year campaign to find a kidnapped boy.
(January 28, 2011) "My Dad Is My Dad, Li Gang Is Li Gang" Translation of Chang Ping's speech at Fudan University about current affairs commentary and the Internet.
(January 11, 2011) A Fatal Traffic Accident In Nanchong Yet another sensationalistic Internet story: A Nanchong big boss man ran into a motorcyclist and killed him. The police rescued the big boss man and attacked the school teachers who were trying to hold him responsible ...
(January 4, 2011) Fake Daughter Saves Real Father A daughter offers to be the woman of whoever can get her father out of the psychiatric hospital that the police put him in.
Many, many more previous blog posts in the Blog Post Archive ...
Blogroll Press email