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Archive for August 21st, 2016

因为有你,才有了更好的我。… 抱你的时候,我真是觉得,这十几年,和你,仿佛是一场梦。 我会拿着你的球衣,和我未来的孩子说。有个叫李宗伟的叔叔,是爸爸最伟大的对手,也是最好的朋友。 — 于林丹李宗伟

Only because of you, there is a better me. … When I hugged you I felt the past ten years with you had been a dream. I will take your jersey to my future child and say, ‘There is an uncle named Lee Chong Wei, your dad’s greatest rival and best friend.‘  — Lin Dan to Chong Wei

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When Lin Dan hugged then took off his jersey to exchange it with Lee Chong Wei, English-language television commentators said the gesture was one of true Olympian sportsmanship. They were completely wrong, and untrue. It was a deeply personal act, as Lin Dan’s letter (below) will show. Outside Malaysia, Chong Wei would joke that his name-initials LCW means ‘Let China Win’. Friendship and rivalry are simply the flip sides of the same coin: rivalry strengthens friendship and vice-versa, a concept that westerners and Anglophiles seem to have trouble understanding.

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Malaysiakini English editors had on the night of the Olympic semi-final badminton match titled their report, ‘Lee Chong Wei slays Lin Dan‘. They weren’t just false in the word ‘slay’, but the editors also revealed their utter anti-Chinese prejudices and ignorance. Lin Dan’s letter to Lee Chong Wei (below in Chinese and translated English) will show that. It needed to wait a dozen years to write.

More to the point, the letter is a classic. In it Lin Dan reflects the deep and profound Chinese philosophical traditions and especially its existential outlook, preceding even Kierkergaard and Sartre, and in ways that illiterate Malaysian Anglophiles and Malaiyoos will never understand. The existential idea says this, without the existence of One, there is no the Other. Without Chong Wei, there is no Lin Dan and vice-versa; without silver there will never be gold.

Another Lin Dan example: “We’re not measured by results“. A few paragraphs later, he adds, “It took me some effort to beat the Indian kid… When I didn’t want to press on, I would remember my promise I had with you, the promise to meet you in the semi-finals…

The inference is most profound: Lee Chong Wei, feted by all Malaysia as badminton master, could have been possible only because of another Chinese named Lin Dan, a good man from our Motherland.

Lin Dan’s letter first appeared in public in the Chinese sina.com site titled 情怀|林丹李宗伟给彼此的信 . It begins, thus, wuxiong zongwei 吾兄宗伟 My clan elder brother Wei. [Letter in English translation after the hanzi version.]

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林丹的信。他们的奥运四分之一决赛比赛结束后一天。

吾兄宗伟

昨天看你扔下球拍、在空中跳起怒吼的时候,我真的很为你高兴。

  我们俩,认识该有十六年了吧。当年我们还意气风发,那时有陶菲克,有皮特盖德,我们俩还不够出色,第一次交手我赢了,可是我们谁也不会想到,这么多年来,竟然和你打了这么多场比赛。

  我们互有胜负,当然,让我小小骄傲一下,还是我赢得更多一些。但我不想谈成绩怎样怎样,因为你我早已不是可以用成绩来衡量的人。有人叫我“超级丹”,也有人为你感到悲情,因为你,感觉运气总是比我差一点,每次大赛的时候,我都能赢你一头。

  还是挺感谢你的。我的名字里,除了那些大满贯、冠军外,还有个温情的联系“林李”。我们也能像C罗与梅西,伯德和魔术师,费德勒和纳达尔一样,因为彼此的存在而永恒。

  因为有你,才有了更好的我。我拿到了几乎都能拿到的冠军,却依然不敢放下心来去偷懒。本来我可以高唱着无敌最是寂 寞,可是因为有你,每次都把我逼出冷汗,每次都能在决赛和我隔网相对的你。你在后面拼了命的追我,我也不能就这样让你轻易杀过来啊。你练,我也练。你不服 输,我不敢懈怠。

  就这样,我们都成了老家伙了。后来者越来越多了。我偶尔和你短信聊聊天,说说这些年轻人。他们不行啊,诸强争霸,哪像我们那个时候,只有我们两个。说实话,挺寂寞的,但是每次和你对战,都能将我全身的力量迸发出来。我练了这么久的剑,只有你,配得上我剑刃出鞘。

  于是,就到了里约,我的第四届奥运会。四分之一决赛的时候,我打印度那小子挺费劲的,但我挺了过来。当我差点没坚持住的时候,我就想起自己和你的约定,和你在半决赛相会的约定。

  第三十七次和你隔网相对,离第一次已经过了一个轮回。说真的,当我滑了那一下输给你的时候,我没有遗憾。你是我最伟大的对手,我愿意输给你,不后悔。抱你的时候,我真是觉得,这十几年,和你,仿佛是一场梦。

  我会拿着你的球衣,和我未来的孩子说。有个叫李宗伟的叔叔,是爸爸最伟大的对手,也是最好的朋友。

  最好的年华遇见你,是我的运气。决赛加油。——林丹

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Lin Dan’s Letter to Chong Wei the day after their Olympic semi-final match.

The English translation below, found in says. com, is not perfect but sufficient to reflect not just Lin Dan’s thoughts and feelings but especially his deep association with Chong Wei, a relationship rooted in their common Chinese ancestry, a cultural idea that transcends nationality and geography.

Such a feeling is possible only between two Chinese (not Anglophiles). Lin Dan spoke of it as the Lee-Lin relationship. That and the fact that Chong Wei and he had already met in the semi-finals explain why Lin Dan felt no longer compelled nor motivated to fight and win the bronze.

In beating Lin Dan, then crying over the victory, the Danish kid Viktor Axelsen thought he had beaten, with better skills, the World No. 1 badminton player. Axelsen probably thinks that skills is the final and most important arbiter in a contest. He could not have been more mistaken, but he doesn’t know it.

The letter is most moving when read in hanzi. From says.com:

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你是我最好的朋友 也是我的真爱

mug

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The Road Not Taken — by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

A Robert Frost Lesson in Melayu Politics

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For a man who had produced an autobiography and likes recording his thoughts on paper, Mahathir Mohamad is, paradoxically, adverse to books, literature in particular. He once chided Anwar Ibrahim as ‘bookish’, meaning the latter read too much. But, what’s too much?

On point of fact, Malays don’t read enough and Umno saw to it. The thoughts of the men when it isn’t Umno and Allah, it is money and, in consequence, lack a deep enough, solid tradition in literature.

In Robert Frost is a lesson for Mahathir in politics: Specifically, how shall the Malay choose between two Malay parties. It would have been the same dilemma confronting Mahathir when pondering over whether to create Bersatu.

Frost’s poem titled The Road Not Taken is problematic because of the interlocking lines in the beginning and ending:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The most frequent interpretation from those lines is the common idea of risk-taking, hence taking the road less traveled. Yet the title has exactly the opposite connotation:  it “isn’t about what [the speaker] did; it’s about what he didn’t do”, says David Orr.

This problem is further confounded by the lines that say of a decision — choosing which road — based purely on appearances. But Orr argues, “We typically worry more about where roads go than what they look like.”

Argued in this way, then Mahathir’s presentation of a choice between two roads — Bersatu or Umno — produces a startling new angle to view the dilemma he had inflicted upon himself and, as he would in days to come, inflict on the Malays as well. Two roads are about the same and, indeed in Frost, Umno has the better claim and is already trodden black.

If the Malays don’t take the Bersatu road they will, perhaps even regrettably, never know what’s at the end of the road because there is no going back with the decision they had otherwise taken, the one well traveled by. Yet, we know where that will take the Malays since the results of that decision — the road first taken 60 years ago — are everywhere seen today.

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Excerpted from David Orr.

“The Road Not Taken” has confused audiences literally from the beginning. In the spring of 1915, Frost sent an envelope to Edward Thomas that contained only one item: a draft of “The Road Not Taken,” under the title “Two Roads.” According to Lawrance Thompson, Frost had been inspired to write the poem by Thomas’s habit of regretting whatever path the pair took during their long walks in the countryside—an impulse that Frost equated with the romantic predisposi­tion for “crying over what might have been.”

The difficulty with “The Road Not Taken” starts, ap­propriately enough, with its title. Recall the poem’s conclu­sion: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” These are not only the poem’s best­-known lines, but the ones that capture what most readers take to be its central image: a lonely path that we take at great risk, possibly for great reward. So vivid is that image that many readers simply assume that the poem is called “The Road Less Traveled.” Search­ engine data indicates that searches for “Frost” and “Road Less Traveled” (or “Travelled”) are extremely common, and even ac­complished critics routinely refer to the poem by its most famous line. For example, in an otherwise penetrating essay on Frost’s ability to say two things at once, Kathryn Schulz, the book reviewer for New York magazine, mistakenly calls the poem “The Road Less Traveled” and then, in an irony Frost might have savored, describes it as “not-very-Frosty.”

Because the poem isn’t “The Road Less Traveled.” It’s “The Road Not Taken.” And the road not taken, of course, is the road one didn’t take—which means that the title passes over the “less traveled” road the speaker claims to have fol­lowed in order to foreground the road he never tried. The title isn’t about what he did; it’s about what he didn’t do. Or is it? The more one thinks about it, the more difficult it be­ comes to be sure who is doing what and why. As the scholar Mark Richardson puts it:

Which road, after all, is the road “not taken”? Is it the one the speaker takes, which, according to his last description of it, is “less travelled”—that is to say, not taken by others? Or does the title refer to the suppos­edly better-­travelled road that the speaker himself fails to take? Precisely who is not doing the taking?

We know that Frost originally titled the poem “Two Roads,” so renaming it “The Road Not Taken” was a matter of deliberation, not whim. Frost wanted readers to ask the questions Richardson asks.

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