Saturday, June 28, 2008
NBCC Members Judged 2008 MCC Grants
"I was a judge for this category this year, along with NBCC members Robin Hemley and Natalie Danford, novelists Brad Kessler and Thisbe Nissen; we worked hard, reading sine 473 initial manuscripts, all with author's names removed, over a period of weeks, then meeting in Boston for several days of nonstop consideration. (Plus a good fish dinner!)"
Continue reading here: CRITICAL MASS: Friday Roundup
MCC Recognizes Artists for Exceptional Work
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2008
MCC Recognizes Artists for Exceptional Work
39 Visual Artists, Choreographers, Musicians and Authors Awarded $7,500
(BOSTON, MA) -- The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) has recognized more than 60 Massachusetts artists for creating work of exceptional quality in a range of disciplines. MCC’s Artist Fellowship Program will award $7,500 unrestricted grants to 39 artists, and distinguish 24 others as finalists. These outstanding artists were selected from 1,800 applicants in the disciplines of choreography, drawing, painting, fiction/creative nonfiction, poetry and traditional arts.
Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellows include Steve Almond, author of Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America; Xujun Eberlein, author of the just-released short story collection Apologies Forthcoming; and Joan Wickersham, whose memoir The Suicide Index will be published in August.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Human Flesh Search: Old Topic, New Story
Since Ms. Fletcher generously quoted comments I emailed her, I thought I might as well share that email dated May 23rd in its entirety –
Thanks for the kind note. Indeed these are important questions. I tried to address them in the article you mentioned; let me try to expand a little bit.
I do believe that "human flesh search," in terms of its large scale and angry connotation, is unique to
For one thing,
For another, privacy is not a traditional Chinese concern, and there is no clear law to punish exposing someone's personal information on-line. Chinese also believe that "the law does not restrict the masses." Combine this with a culturally based inquisitiveness that does not have any strong tradition of respecting privacy, and you get people who are willing to go out (or stay in) and gather information to be propagated to others.
On top of all this I think there is some pleasure in the idea of making information available when there has been such significant suppression of both thoughts and facts over the previous five decades.
Several other cultural elements are also at play here. On one hand,
The communist tradition of deploying "people power" to carry on the Party's tasks might also have facilitated the birth of "human flesh search," though in this case it might be another case of backfire.
However, instead of targeting individuals, if this force turns itself to government monitoring, I think it will help reduce the corruption that is commonplace right now.
In the end, it will depend on which characteristics of the trend dominate – nosiness or the desire to get information out. The latter would be a good thing, and I do think there is some indication that things are trending that way. (One of my recent blog posts touches indirectly on this).
In any case I expect there will be lots of undesirable activity mixed in. It would be interesting to compare this to something like Wikipedia, which is another venue for harnessing spare intellectual capacity.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you need any further information, and when your article comes out.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Jiang Qing (蒋庆) on Women and Confucianism
The following is my translation of an excerpt from the speech Jiang Qing gave on April 16, 2005, during the "Cultural Dialogue and the Development of Contemporary Academy" forum in Shenzhen, China. The speech was titled "Liberty, Democracy, Three Cardinal Guides, and Feminism." The "Three Cardinal Guides" referred to in the text are: the sovereign guides the subject, the father guides the son, and the husband guides the wife. – Xujun
[In translation] Jiang Qing:
In his speech just now, Professor Tu Weiming views the Three Cardinal Guides as uni-directional, because the sovereign's authority is higher than the subject's, the father's higher than the son's, and the husband's higher than the wife's. Professor Tu asks whether I think the Three Cardinal Guides can be developed further. I think this needs some specific analysis.
Though Confucianism talks about heaven-father and earth-mother, about yin-yang harmony and unity, there must be an absolute, leading role, otherwise the universe would be in disorder.
When this natural order of the universe runs through societal and familial relationships, it becomes the Three Cardinal Guides. The relationships are indeed uni-directional, which is the greatest, most positive characteristic of the Guides. We all know that as far as morality is concerned, a moral principle is an absolute command on the actor. It is not a reciprocal or symmetric interpersonal demand. There is no negotiation on morality. To follow the Guides is not to obey a particular person; it is to obey one's own absolute moral obligation.
Therefore, under the requirement of the Three Cardinal Guides, even if the sovereign is unkind, the subject must be loyal; even if the father is unloving, the child must be filial; even if the husband is unjust, the wife must be faithful.
However, the traditional Three Cardinal Guides proscribe the uni-directional morality requirements mainly to the subject, the son, and the wife. From a modern point of view this is a deficit, it is incomplete. The Guides should be supplemented with the uni-directional morality requirements proscribing to the sovereign, the father, the husband as well. This is to require that the sovereign be absolutely kind, regardless whether the subject is loyal; the father be absolutely loving, regardless whether the son is filial; the husband be absolutely just, regardless whether the wife is faithful.
Another layer of the Three Cardinal Guides is that, in each relationship, the guiding party also bears the responsibility. For example, if the son has behavioral problems, the main responsibility is the father's, not the son's.
Confucianism speaks about different roles of husband and wife, but not equality between them. This means man and woman each have a particular role in the social and family order, and that each should realize his or her own value of existence. I really don't understand Western feminism; I think feminism is actually poisoned by masculinism. Why? Because when the universe was created everything was not equal. Absolute equality is not possible and does not exist. Differences and unevenness are natural. A woman's role in family, as in society, is different from a man's. This bears natural rationale.
But Western feminists want everything to be equal between men and women, like the earth fighting the heaven for equality. How can this be possible? If men can do something, women must want to do the same. What is the measurement here? It is men. Feminism uses men's standards to measure women. The feminist is adopting a male value system; she is trying to realize her value by male standards. This disregards the importance of "difference." If a woman really wants to achieve her potential, she should instead realize her unique, particular female value, and not aim at the abstract, general, so-called "equality" that imitates male values.
Confucianism opposes both masculinism and feminism, but advocates gender differences under an orderly heaven-earth universe and harmonious yin-yang unity. Feminism is to be commended for its historical role in opposing overbearing masculinism. However when it goes to the extreme, Confucianism does not agree.
Monday, June 23, 2008
TNYRB Review of Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
Casting a Lifeline
A Review by Francine Prose
Sixty pages or so into Ma Jian's novel Beijing Coma, the hero, Dai Wei, is troubled by the memory of a harrowing anatomy lecture that he attended as a university student. Taught by "a celebrated cardiovascular specialist," the class observed the dissection of the fresh corpse of a criminal whom the government had just executed (in celebration of National Day) and whose organs had been speedily harvested for transplant.Dai Wei's moral revulsion was tinged with personal anxiety, for this was not the first time that politics had placed a serious strain on his love life. In high school, he had been interrogated and beaten by the police for meeting his girlfriend in a cement culvert, the only place they could be alone. And now the distressing physiology lesson reminded his college girlfriend of why she had been so reluctant to obey her parents' wish that she cross the border from Hong Kong to study medicine in the brutal, unenlightened People's Republic. How she longed to go to Canada...
Read the entire review
Friday, June 20, 2008
"Collision Puts Taiwan and China in Same Boat"
"Last week, a Japanese frigate on patrol, Koshiki, collided with Lien Ho, a deep-sea sports fishing boat from Taiwan. The incident was virtually ignored by the media in the West. Yet future developments from this provocation will bear close watching." Read the complete report here>>
Thursday, June 19, 2008
PIF Magazine Interview on "Apologies"
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Confusion Democracy for China
Xujun’s recent article on The China Beat and the comments it engendered made me think a little bit more about the whole concept of democracy. I can’t help but admire Jiang Qing, he really is a man who believes in his cause, and his cause does seem worthy. His epic search for good governance is reminiscent of both the spiritual search that Siddhartha undertook in search of enlightenment and the adventures of Odysseus.
Of course most people who go off in search of something don’t end up being noticed, let alone becoming Buddha. Much of the trick in making an impact is finding the right stopping place. Had Jiang Qing decided he liked Christianity, or gone on to become a libertarian it is unlikely any would have heard his name again. But, as it happens, he stopped on Confucianism and that does seem to strike a chord with many in
While the article itself seems to be more about the man and his journey, the comments all seem focused on his landing point. Few of those who commented embrace the idea of a Confucian state, deriding it as a quaint but impractical, if not simply bad, idea. I share in that skepticism, though not the derision, but it is worth pointing out that what is proposed is quite similar to the evolution of democracy in
What did strike me strongly in the things Jian Qing said was that popular will alone is not sufficient for good governance. To put this in a more western turn of phrase, how do we protect democracy from the voters?
While that may seem like a tongue in cheek questions, it really is worthy of pretty serious consideration.
It is not simply that the people voting don’t understand what is being asked of them. The voting processes in the
To get good governance, even political stability, you need a clear set of rules that people, by and large, will adhere to. For a democracy with individual freedom, those rules are pretty complicated since they have to let people do mostly what they want but not anything they want. The wealthy democracies have all found their own mix of freedom and restraint managed by both the force of law and social custom. I guess, when you reflect on it, all of this is painfully obvious, and was well understood by people from Cromwell to
So what does that imply for
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
"A Sichuan Family and Tibet’s Future"
The comments below the article are also very interesting to read as a whole.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Social Pressure, or Humanity? - Letter from Shanghai
Introduction: I received this letter last week from an English reader in Shanghai. I'm posting it with permission, because he has some very interesting points. Either you agree or disagree with him, I'd love to hear your thoughts. – Xujun
I came across your blog today and am interested in your ideas. In the blog post "Heroism, or Humanity?" you talk about the response of the Chinese people to the
Monday, June 9, 2008
The Endless Knots Blog
Introduction: Today I'm talking about writing and gardening (and you'll see where my blog header comes from) on Jessica Lipnack's Endless Knots, an eclectic blog. (She explains the title here.) Jessica is an intelligent, hard-working, and energetic woman expert in the design of virtual teams and network organizations. She has published a pile of nonfiction books on the subject. She has also written a novel haunted by the ghost of Margaret Fuller, the great 19th-century futurist. Since our friendship began in 2004, we have helped each other in our writing careers and also fought over sensitive topics such as
I asked Jessica about her motivation for blogging, interesting things that happened to her blog, and the evolution of Endless Knots, and here is what she tells me. – Xujun
I began my writing career as a reporter when I was sixteen, working for a daily newspaper in my hometown, churning out as many as seven or eight articles a day. That experience, gained over four summers, gave me the training to grab facts and turn them into something readable. Shortly after I got the job, the editor gave me a column, which is where I learned how to explore single topics in more depth - and have fun with it.
When I first went online in 1979, I quickly became addicted to posting to online conferences, originally on EIES (housed at the New Jersey Institute of Technology), and then on many other online networks, listservs, and eventually websites. Soon, I found myself posting similar things in multiple places (the reporter in me has the irrepressible urge to share what I see), writing similar emails to multiple people, and wearing out my keyboard with repetitive strokes.
In early 2005, I had a fortunate request. Because I'd written many books about networks, a client who trusted my opinion asked me to attend a conference on the rising phenomenon of social networks and report back on what I'd learned. There, a blogger described his experience with his blog in such compelling terms that by the time I got home, I'd drafted the first post for what would become my blog (a too-long essay, in fact, to be a real post) that I distributed to my network. Then a few months later, I attended Solstice Summer Writers Conference (at your suggestion, for which I'll always be grateful) and realized that this event deserved to be blogged. The writers at the workshop – Dennis Lehane, Roland Merullo, Meg Kearney, Manette Ansay, just to name a few – were fascinating ... and saying things that I thought others would want to hear. Thus was born Endless Knots. And Solstice took! I finished the novel I was working on in nine months in midst of three work trips to
Some bloggers choose particular topics as their sole focus, a common practice that I regard as absolutely wrong-headed. One of the joys of blogging is that there are no editors pounding on you to stay out of areas where you are just in the infancy of understanding. I'm interested in a lot of seemingly unrelated topics, which means I wander into fields where I'm a complete novice. One brought unexpected gifts. Last December, I did a post about reducing the carbon impact of team meetings, suggesting that "we," meaning anyone reading, develop a checklist to use before traveling endless miles to attend the next face-to-face meeting. The Content Economy, a blog in
Some other, completely unexpected and unusual things have come from my blog: I was asked to teach "The wisdom of bloggers," a course on blogging for creative writers in an MFA program, have had a number of invitations to talk to executives about the power of new social media, and been asked to write a monthly column for The Industry Standard.
You ask how my blog is evolving: I'm still having fun with it. In a few moments, I'm leaving for a morning meeting with a group of bloggers whom I've invited to join me on a panel this week at a technology conference here in
Friday, June 6, 2008
A Conversation on PekingDuck.org
Danwei - Age: 6 years 6 months; Backlinks: 5290
ESWN - Age: 8 years 4 months; Backlinks: 4,530
Peking Duck - Age: 4 years 10 months; Backlinks: 4,540
China Law Blog - Age: 2 years 4 months; Backlinks: 3,900
I'm having a conversation about Apologies Forthcoming with Lisa, an e-friend, on Peking Duck today . Because of the blog's large readership and outspoken, sometimes nasty, commenters, I expect interesting and contentious responses there.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
China: Democracy, or Confucianism?
Last October, when the CCP held its 17th congress, CNN reported the event with the headline "China rules out copying Western democracy." My first reaction to this headline was, So what? That spontaneous reaction might have been an unconscious consequence of my reading Political Confucianism by Jiang Qing (蒋庆), a contemporary Confucian in China. In this book, Jiang Qing draws a blueprint for China's political future based on Confucianism. It is the first such conception since the 1919 May 4th movement that denounced the traditional Chinese ideology as a feudal relic and began the age-old country's modernization efforts.
It seems typical of American thinking to regard either a republic or parliamentary democracy as absolutely the only right model for all countries. For a political system to succeed, however, it needs to be rooted in the particular country's cultural history. Throughout thousands of years, China has never lacked great thinkers, political or philosophical. Which poses an interesting question: why does China need to adopt a Western model for its political system, be it Marxist communism or capitalist democracy? Read the complete article on The China Beat
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Serious Frolic in LitPark
LitPark is an exceptional blog in that it has a lively, entertaining, compassionate, yet thoughtful design, and is participated in by a wide audience from the literary and art world. It is always a learning experience when I visit LitPark. If you are even peripherally interested in literary stuff or writing in general, take a look and you'll see what I mean.
Susan Henderson: I saw too many writers tearing each other down, hording industry secrets as if it gave them an edge, and that was a part of it. The other was that I would regularly talk with writers via email or private rooms at Zoetrope, and the discussions about writing were so interesting to me, at some point it just seemed like a good idea to start having those conversations where others could listen. Not just to share industry secrets, but so others could hear the joys and struggles of writing, editing and trying to get published.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Mayra Calvani Interviews 15+ Book Reviewers
Interview with editor of Midwest Book Review
Interview with editor of Reader Views
For more info and the complete line-up visit: http://slipperybook
Monday, June 2, 2008
In my English writing I sometimes like to invoke Chinese adages or direct translation of Chinese expressions. A Chinese adage is often both pictorial and metaphorical, and I feel that, when rendered it in the right place, it adds freshness and color. While many native English speakers seem to enjoy this aspect of my writing, it is curious that the mixed feelings come mostly from those who know the Chinese language. Cliff is one example - he has worked on World Bank projects in China and his Chinese is quite good.
Another bilingual friend, Carma Hinton, after reading the galley of Apologies Forthcoming, called me to say that although she felt the stories filled a void in the English literature on the Cultural Revolution, she found my rendering of some Chinese proverbs awkward. One particular example Carma gave is the Chinese expression 徒费唇舌 - meaning idiomatically to waste time on explanations, which I used in the story "Second Encounter" as follows:
If he says
Those reader comments interest me very much. What is the appropriately apportioning of an immigrant writer's native language idioms, that is the question.
Those reader comments interest me very much. What is the appropriately apportioning of an immigrant writer's native language idioms, that is the question.
On a related note, a reader made the comments that my work "
On a related note,
a readerof Peking Duck,
made the comments that my work "examining the complexities of the CR from an apolitical, humanistic perspective fills a major void in this subject in the English language medium." It is comforting to know that some English readers have seen through to this.