Friday, September 16, 2011

My Own "9/11" Complex

... reposting a personal essay from three years ago.  

The Camphor Suitcase
(Published in Literal Latte, 2008)

In the recent Year of the Snake — I remember because it's my daughter's sign — the image of a maroon suitcase made of camphor wood began to follow me like a phantom. It became most vivid in the dusk as I drove home from work, when my mind was free from corporate politics and daily domestic troubles. Along the road from Newton to Wayland, the famous New England autumn painted my windshield with shifting hues of golden red, dark red, light yellow, bright yellow, eclipsing shades of green and other unnameable colors. For me, born in southwest China, New England’s icy five-month winter imposes an unjust imprisonment; spring is practically non-existent; summer plays the double role of benefactor and spoiler; only the brilliant and solemn autumn calms my soul. But it failed me that year.

I hadn’t set eyes on the camphor suitcase for 13 years. (>>read the complete essay here)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"9/13 Incident" Special Issue

Today is the 40th anniversary of the "9/13 Incident" that resulted in the death of Lin Biao, a man whose name was second only to Mao's during China's Cultural Revolution. Remembrance, a Chinese e-journal devoted to CR research, has published a double issue this week on the event and its aftermath. The editorial states:
The political earthquake that occurred on September 13, 1971 greatly changed China – the "thorough victory of the Cultural Revolution" myth,  the "proletariat headquarter" myth, the "united, victorious line of the Party's 9th Congress" myth,  and the myths of how wise and great Mao Zedong was and how his sharp eyes could perceive the minutest detail, all tumbled in one huge sound [of a plane crash] in Öndörkhaan. Most of the six hundred million Chinese then, no matter they were the "force" or "subject" of that "great revolution," no matter the differences between their social status and living conditions, felt the power of that quake. Because of it, many people's life trajectories were changed, and even more changed their thought trajectories. After 40 years, to recall the marks of "9/13" left on individual lives and to assess the main characters of the event and the related national history, is interesting and meaningful.
I was in middle school at the time, and I experienced shock and confusion. Even today there are still many unanswered questions about Lin Biao's alleged defection and the plane crash. Several articles in the special issue of Remembrance are written by children of the army generals accused as Lin Biao's co-conspirators. I heaved a deep sigh reading their memories. They provide a rare glimpse into the politics of China's highest echelon at the time. If you can read Chinese, click here.

(Note: I volunteer to host Remembrance on my website because the high quality e-journal has been publishing valuable materials on CR that can't be found elsewhere. Due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, the monthly journal does not have a website in China.)