Monday, January 30, 2017

Flash Nonfiction: "A Memory of the First Battle"

min words | max heart

   A Memory of the First Battle

     Xujun Eberlein
At first our city’s two Red Guard factions engaged in “civilized struggle”—using brush pens and words, big-character posters and leaflets, high-pitched broadcast and public debates, loud diatribes and, occasionally, fists to attack each other—until one side started to frequently parade the streets, shouting insulting and damaging slogans such as “Blah-blah is doomed,” and that nettled the nerve of the said faction, middle and high school and college students who had successfully forced the city government to stop classes, so they could carry on the Cultural Revolution, and so they charged into the city’s firehouses, where fire-fighters had been told not to resist the Red Guards, filled fire engines with sewage from big cesspools of communal toilets, drove to the streets, and sprayed their parading opponents—who might have been able to stand up against water cannons but ended up fleeing helter-skelter from the overwhelming foul smell—making the streets stink for days, so badly that stores stayed closed. That was how piss and shit and fire engines became the first real weapon in our city’s “armed struggle,” preceding steel rods and spears, which would, in turn, be replaced by rifles, machine guns, tanks, even warships, all supplies from arsenals stocked to aid Vietnam’s resistance of the U.S., and when those weapons drew blood we’d hear stories such as friends of an injured student tying a towel below his leg wounds, a first-aid method they thought they had learned from war movies, until the boy shed all his blood and stopped breathing.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Old Adage, New Translation: Calling Deer Horse 指鹿为马

(Note: Zhao Gao (258-207BC) was the highest official under the Second Emperor of the Qin Dynasty.)

[in translation]

Aspiring to gain complete control of power, and anxious that others might not obey him, Zhao Gao set up a test. He led a deer to the emperor and said, "This is a horse." The emperor laughed. "Are you mistaken? Calling a deer a horse?" When the emperor asked the other officials in the court, some remained silent, some followed Zhao to say the deer was a horse, and some said it was a deer. Zhao then back-stabbed those who said the deer was a deer, causing them to be punished under the law. From that day forward everyone feared Zhao and repeated his alternative fact

[Original text] 赵高欲为乱,恐群臣不听,乃先设验. 持鹿献于二世,曰:“马也。”二世笑曰:“丞相误邪?谓鹿为马。”问左右,左右或默,或言马以阿顺赵高,或言鹿者。高因阴中诸言鹿者以法。后群臣皆畏高。(司马迁《史记·秦始皇本纪》)

Related:
This is what Trump voters said when asked to compare his inauguration crowd with Obama’s

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Interesting Photos from Boston Women's March

The following photos were taken by Chinese Americans who also participated in the march today. (I've posted on Facebook a short video I recorded.)

(Photographer unknown)
This photo of a Chinese American woman goes viral on WeChat. Her poster reads "Trump get out!" using a northern Chinese idiom. For more Chinese American photos, see http://blog.wenxuecity.com/myblog/71819/201701/25382.html 

photo by Audrey Wu 
photo by LZ
(photo by Yan)

photo by Yan
photo by Ying


photo by Xia Yu


Friday, January 20, 2017

On Day One of a Prolonged National Mourning

What do we start mourning today then? You tell me.
I will join Boston Women's March tomorrow, but I feel the need to do something on this Friday as well. Not watching anything live on TV–I couldn't stand it. So I am posting a flash fiction piece I wrote right after Election Day, 2016.  I did not post it then, because I was held back by my outrage, disbelief, sorrow, anger, loathing, disappointment, anguish, disgust, trepidation, yet clinging to the constant wishful thought that something would happen to stop the catastrophe, to settle into a resolution.
But settle it never did.  I don't know how we, Americans, got into this muddle. It has started to feel like 1966, in China.  That was also a regime with broad, in fact much broader, popular support.
It doesn't take a sophisticated mind to see how wrong it is to let Trump get into the White House. The following story is not one of reason or morality; it simply reflects the emotions of an ordinary mother, emotions many of my friends experienced.