Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

[Continued from Part 1, Part 2]

The Case for Civilizations

A Response to the New Yorker

https://media.newyorker.com/photos/59b197320a52a80d35bc87dd/master/w_3000,c_limit/170918_r30523.jpg

New Yorker’s illustration of John Lanchester’s claim that, between a contest of two ways of life, even though they may be world’s apart, the hunter-gatherer tribe is to the modern (western), agricultural society superior — in some (moralistic) ways. Hence, the New Yorker’s rhetorical question: ‘Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better?’ That question wasn’t just bad. Lanchester’s answer turned out to be utterly worse.

*

Imagine life in southern Africa’s Kalahari, your village hemmed in by stunted thickets, without leaves, beyond which the lions, hyenas, deer and baboons roam and maybe the gem of a pool of muddy water. The floor is dry dirt, and almost nothing grows. To avoid laundry and conserve water, wear as little as possible. Lunch, brought in yesterday by a group of hunters, will be served soon buffet style but, unlike those laid out at the Mandarin Hong Kong, there is just one primary course: fresh kudu meat. It’s within expiry date. Dinner is stashed away somewhere. This may be hand-to-mouth existence but there is enough food to go round, without conspicuous consumption and it satisfies the UN-designated calorific value, 1700-2400 kcal per day dependent on gender and age. The calories work out to less than 200 gm of meat (one slice, size of a playing card, split for brunch and dinner) and 250 gm of starch, which equals two medium-size bowl of rice porridge.

In the New Yorker, one of the world’s finest written magazines, John Lanchester makes the case for such a Kalahari life that, in a sort of way, had it better than how we live today. This is so, even though — Lanchester will never admit to it — not all civilizations are equal.

By civilization, Lanchester has to mean western civilization because that’s the only one he lives in. His civilization and ours may have the same style of beginnings, that is, emerging from a settled, agrarian life with mass grain cultivation (concentrating on one or two crops and, alongside it, animal domestication). The centerpiece in his idea of civilization is this: the creation of a modern state with its apparatus of taxation, bureaucracy and writing (for law and record keeping).

Lanchester makes no comparison between his present and the pre-modern, western civilization forms. Instead he uses, for contrasting effect, ancient Mesopotamia, the region in present Iraq, as well as the Kalahari Bushman tribes living at present along the borders of Namibia and Botswana. Why take some place so far away and so different in culture?

This question isn’t rhetorical. It is asked because places matter; civilizations emerge distinct to the geography of the land and its people’s habitat. The Bushman hunts because that is all there is to do, water is too scarce for mass cultivation of crops and because game is plentiful. In the Pacific island of Kiribati, for example, you won’t expect to find deer to hunt nor enough arable land to grow maize or rice. Fishing is all there is. Naturally, therefore, the civilization and hence its culture, including system of government, if any, are going to be markedly different from, say, a Sahara or a European country.

Lanchester makes no distinction between a civilization and a state with its system of government, taxation and militarization governing a clearly defined population within fixed boundaries. Indeed, citing James C. Scott, he conflates the state and government, rather than as separate, distinct phenomena, like civilization and states are separate things. In so doing, he doesn’t seem to consider a hunter-gatherer society as a form of civilization. On the contrary a hunter-gatherer band is regarded as the opposite of a civilization, a sort of a free-wheeling society without clearly defined hierarchies and organised rules with nobody in charge. In another (colonial) word, ‘uncivilized’ which is, of course, politically incorrect.

But, couldn’t there be a state overseeing without actually ruling a hunter-gatherer society — that is, a nomadic band within a settled civilization and given state protection? Of course that’s possible. The jungle borders of Laos, Thailand and China’s Yunnan (where today’s first generation descendants of hunters have ID cards) teemed with self-governing tribal bands as late as the 1930s and were left alone until the White Man brought in their Jesus Christ, their fucking ideologies (democracy, capitalism, communism, socialism) and then war and war and more war. Life, as they say, has never been the same since.

Until the arrival of the White Man en masse, the Pacific island societies (Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, New Guinea, Cook Islands, Vanuatu) comprised pseudo states, some with a ruling Queen (Tonga & Samoa and yes, queen) overseeing bands of people who lived on harvesting the sago palm or digging up taro roots, the food staple. In between they hunted wild pigs when not fishing. Malaysia’s jungles in the Peninsula and Sarawak still have remnants of that existence.

All that still represent diverse multi-cultural forms of civilizations, and they are types of civilizations nonetheless. It may be unsettled or unsecured life but settlement anywhere is caveat on habitat. In the Kalahari, a nomad, dependent on a pair of legs, can roam till the sun dies. In the Pacific, on the other hand, an island the size of Singapore is all that there is to go around so that the New Yorker question about which way of life is better — or which place produces a better civilization — is as misplaced as it is absurd.

For the Neolithic or Agricultural Revolution to spent a thousand years or more to first overtake hunter-gatherer society then to be itself replace by industries, it says more about the enduring power of civilization to shape a way of life than it is the other way around; Lanchester suggests it’s agriculture than birthed civilizations. He does not make clear though, is this Neolithic Revolution accompanied invariably by state power? His implication though is that state rule — that is, political life — is inevitable with a sedentary life. “There is,” he says, “a crucial, direct link between the cultivation of cereal crops and the birth of the first states.

From there Lanchester flies off into leaps of logic. After agriculture, he adds, came a litany of civilization’s failures, such as the Stalin’s farm collectivization that killed millions. Citing Jared Diamond, he says the Neolithic Revolution became “the worse mistake in human history.”

O! Really?

All along we thought the worse was the invention of Jesus Christ.

A proto-state is a pristine state, one without the watermarks of any earlier social, regulated form of organization. Mesopotamia was such a proto-state born from the womb of wheat farms, Lanchester says, citing evidence from the anthropologist James C. Scott who wrote the book on Malaysian farms, Weapons of the Weak.  But, argues Lanchester, look what has Mesopotamia gotten for its once glorious agriculture civilization? Gone today, wrecked by its own doing, including slavery and war.

Lanchester’s put-down of civilization as an accumulation of human disasters — from hunter gatherer to farmer to civilization and state — resembles the storyline at Friedrich Hegel who insists that the histories of the world evolve in dialectical form (mind vs nature, self vs Other, freedom vs authority, knowledge vs faith), one invariably giving way to another by a warbling linear progression towards a penultimate sort of state.

State? What state? A political state? Yes, part of it. A mind state? Yes, that too.

Hegel calls this state of political being or sense of state ‘geist‘, loosely meaning mind/spirit, a sort of freedom. Upon this idea, Martin Heidegger came to make the German Nazi party as emblematic of geist. (To fathom that, think in terms of Umno and Malaiyoo ketuanan, that chicken feed fascist version of geist.)

To us, the Chinese and the Far East, Hegelian geist is, really, just passe stuff, 3,000 years late to be precise.

The Chinese call that sense of eternal being Dao: if you can name it, you’d lose it. It’s Nothingness. It’s what it is and, hence, what it does: the apple tree will always apple, nature always nurtures, and if you know what it is you have arrived at, you’d see it is actually Nothing. Buddhism (and even its predecessor Hinduism) call it ‘nirvana‘, absolute knowledge arriving at nothing. Bliss.

This is the trouble with White people: they made ado much about nothing and thinks it so profound. Typical of this worldview, Lanchester wants to be empirically right and logically true at the same time.

This isn’t always necessary nor possible because evidences of fact don’t always turn out to be stone markers of truth. Once Lanchester deploys western methods of analysis — that is, interpreting the rest of the world on his own terms — just as Hegel did and Heidegger and Satre after that, the world they attempt to portray collapses into meaninglessness.

It doesn’t make sense to see how the life of a Bushman is comparable to someone working in a New York office. Nor to compare the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia to the American prairies, much less to attach to their respective farmers any moral (Christian) significance about greed and covetousness.

Like many western anthropologists before him, Lanchester was simply looking for historical evidences to fit given conclusions. Or worse, liberal biases.

One result of this disastrous academic approach: Lancester, as did Scott and Diamond, failed to see that a hunter-gatherer band is a state in itself, on its own terms.

Take the Bushman tribe where, according to the anthropologist James Suzman, the man who brings home the meat faces a ‘ritual of insulting the meat’. This happens in which recipients of the meat get rude to the young provider when slicing up the carcass for distribution, in near equal proportions. Such a ritual must mean that instead of glory, the chief provider gets slapped. Done often enough — imagine a man has to hunt every few days since meat is not refrigerated — who wants to do it only to be insulted?

Something is also not right with the Suzman story line about a lonely hunter sharing his bounty with everyone because, unless he can operate alone like a lion or a run like a cheetah, the prospect of bringing in game single handed is quite small. Human dominance over other animal species is its ability to think and work in collaboration with others. This being the case, where work is a collaborative effort, then sharing is obligatory when not mandatory. Bushman civilization could simply contain the constituent of a state different from what is found in the West, certainly, with multiple political actors, the main ones being all young, all hunters, all fit and healthy good runners, all equal or near equal in status. Call it, if you like, kinship authoritarianism.

An identical social, kinship sharing-ritual goes on in New Guinea (until the Americans and the French arrived) but flipped around. There, because game is so scare, the man with the most domesticated animals must throw a huge, island wide party regularly so as to redistribute his stock of meat. Instead of being insulted, the man is retained on the pedestal; he continues to remain Chief. (For more on economic redistribution in kinship politics see for example ‘Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches‘, 1975, by Marvin Harris, 1927-2001.)

A similar idea underpins how and why Li Ka Shing is never revered in Hong Kong as the richest man. No, not revered; never. Instead, he is held out as the exemplar of what a man with deep pockets must do. That is, his obligations, responsibilities and duties that come with owning so much: You got rich out of us, now give it back! Hence, you read about him building schools and orphanages here and there in China mainland; and during lunar new year, dispatching truck loads of goodies into the mountains and villages. This redistribution idea has gone on for thousands of years in Chinese society and was central to the establishment of countless clan and trade associations, village societies, secret societies as conduits for redistribution. The rationale is this: Given fortuity, anybody can be rich and Li Ka Shing is no different. But, it takes a good, wise man to know what to do with the wealth accumulated.

In spite of the evidences to be found in every land outside of America and Europe, Lanchester still insists that the Bushman ritual of sharing is unique and peculiar only in a hunter-gatherer society. But why? Why go looking for the thing only in a preferred place when it is everywhere? The only plausible explanation is this: Seeing it his way could only have come from his liberal, political prejudices (egalitarianism) and Christian morality bias (God created all man equal, which is fucking false on all three counts, God, the creation, and equality). Predictably, Lanchester pronounces the Bushman society as superior to the modern (western) form: “affluent but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition.

Well, well, well if that were true — the existence of this glorious, stateless, abundant, equal opportunity Eden — Lanchester might consider emigrating to Bushman country.

You see, the facts may be correct, but is the truth true?

Going by western definition of a state, the tribal society is a political unit to itself; it’s only that Lanchester refuses to acknowledge this. It has its rules — only that a shaming culture is not the kind of thing westerners are used to. A shaming ritual is a form of rule.

Bushman culture fits Confucian political philosophy, which says that every individual is a political unit and, flowing from the person, the family a microcosm of the state upon which the nation-state rests and is an extension thereof. Hence, the government, public property and public institutions are frequently addressed in street parlance as “yeye 爷爷” or grandfather.

Once interpreted on those terms, you can see why the willingness of the Bushman hunter to bring home meat then sharing it must mean this: what’s good for him and his family is also good for the tribe. And for that, for the good of the family and everyone else, the hunter is willing endure the insults. Lanchester, as it is with Suzman (who studied the Bushman) and Scott and Diamond, were only willing to see events top-down, from a societal, worldview point rather than viewing life from the individual and family up. The Bushman’s material, physical priorities in life can’t be far different from the Chinese. It is only how life is sorted out to make those priorities happened is shaped differently. That’s a matter of culture.

***

Postscript

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DJ9hR8yXkAINql2.jpg:small

In Lanchester’s world — civilization — only the numbers are race free. The rest, especially the language and his anthropology, are White. In ‘The Case Against Civilization‘, it has to be white-bias (liberal) so that reading it is much like a black girl reading ‘Jane Eyre:

[Charlotte] Brontë sees Jane as an ideal version of womanhood. That version, comely and small, has to be absent of moral imperfections. It has to be white.

Imagine then when, for as many as 20 years, Hannah Yeoh or Yeo Bee Yin passing through the same, white civilization classes (above). They’d come out complete white crackpots, Anglophiles. White, Lanchesterian racism has been perfected into a scholarly art form, like Charlotte Brontë and her book are racist perfections. Her readers think nothing of it but only moral modernism and goodness. Tyrese Coleman:

To call this book feminist is to forget about me, that I am a reader too, that I am a woman too. That according to Brontë, I am a savage.

And Hannah Yeoh has said Brontë is one of her favorite authors.

***

Lanchester’s interpretation of the Bushman life reflects the extent to which egalitarianism has become, on western terms, an ideological and a (Christian) moral fighting tool rather than existing simply as the necessary basis for organizing society; whether the society is agrarian or hunter-gatherer, it doesn’t matter. Egalitarianism is not moral injunction. It is the consequence to a kind of economic redistribution because to force people to share is to work against the human impulse that we have priorities. That is, we simply will love some people more than others, and for good reason.

The tribe is a state in its rawest form where everyone is his own government with the life of one stitched to the next and next in a chain of inter-dependency because this is the best possible way to survive in the barbaric wild. Like a family is self-governing so is the tribe. It governs by governing the least, with the minimum of rules, some disguised as rituals befitting their environment. It governs without any sophisticated apparatus or a bureaucracy, but some form of security organization must exist, even if not to ward off other tribes, at least to fight the lions and prevent those fucking hyenas from making off with the baby. It’s an arrangement that works well in small Kalahari groups or in secluded island societies but not in, say, China.

Why is it that Lanchester and the West still refuse to see the Bushman tribe as a form of civilization with a rudimentary government and sprouting elements of statehood?

To do so, his entire case that the modern world is somehow not right would collapse; it would end the western insistence that lives across the planet are comparable and being comparable must possess determinable yardsticks. Other than common physical needs, these yardsticks tended to be moral (Christian) in quality and logical in interpretation. The White man has the command of technology, language and global reach to determine what those yardsticks might be. But why should the rest of the world live on the moral dictates of Jesus Christ and be fitted to the terms western civilization has established for itself — this square peg in round holes thing?

The White man has done good, yes and true, but he has also become the enemy to other civilizations when, like Hegel, insist there is only one history to follow. Other civilizations, or their intrinsic worth therefrom, are snuffed out. The millions of death from Stalin collectivization arose directly from a single (western) ideological, political act that had nothing to do with the purpose of sedentary agriculture. With these western exports of murderous ideas, the world wouldn’t need civilization nor the state to do the killing. Lanchester goes down the same folly path. Using Scott’s “study” on the disastrous effects of agriculture (slavery, oppression, war) has had on Mesopotamia, Lanchester then argues for being wary of the settled life that produces civilization and statehood. This is plainly absurd; it’s logical solipsism at its worse. On point of fact, there is no evidence to show if one event birthed the other or even created the conditions for slavery and war as if without the state or without farming people don’t kill each other in mass numbers.

China, both its past and the present, stands as a counterpoint — a complete refutation in fact — to western claims that the civilization has become a danger to itself.

Civilization in China, the state by extension, permitted sedentary agriculture to flourish. It was never the other way around. Until the Shang dynasty (商朝 Shangchao, c.1600 BC–c.1046 BC) and even onward to the Qin dynasty (c.220 BC), farming was a dangerous enterprise because the neighbor or the nomads on horseback along the present regions of the Great Wall came in galloping to raid the granary, often making off with Han girls for bonus. These were the xiongnu 匈奴, roaming bands of animal herders no different in numbers and in way of life from those found in Africa, with a chief and a coterie of hangers-on that became the bureaucracy. The xiongnu were the gatherers of other people’s grains, China’s, and were hunters of Han women — not kudu deer and wild pigs.

Nothing romantic about hunter-gatherers, Mr Lanchester.

Against these barbarians, militarization of the peasants became necessary and with it the growth of Chinese state power, improvements in writing, record keeping, development of ferrous making, gunpowder, paper and so on. And with these, elements of industries sprouted. Unlike those cited by Lanchester wherein states taxed by cereals, the first rule of Chinese taxation was compulsory conscription (think Fa Mulan): young, healthy boys for the defense of not just the country but a way of life. This is collaboration and defense sharing, no? Only later were salt and currency added as taxes.

Civilization and state power made possible mass cultivation — and a settled way of life.

By the Han dynasty era, so successful was this development of civilization that a distinct Chinese culture emerged that exists in recognizable form today. Another evidence of the success: population growth from, say, 60 million to 80 then 110 and on and on (see graph below). The Chinese came to be known in street parlance as huaren 华人, an ‘Accomplished People’. Records in the 書經 shujing as well as Sima Qian’s ‘History of Han‘ (again, the work of strict record keeping) spoke repeatedly of the xiongnu as well as of entreaties to the emperor to keep the peace at all cost; it was his primary purpose, his station in life. If heaven breaks loose 天下大乱, he goes. Now that the hunters and gatherers were pacified, enter Confucius: how to keep the peace in time of peace. For that, culture…. Chinese culture.

*

The xiongnu 匈奴

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4d/XiongnuMap.png/220px-XiongnuMap.png

Roughly, the area covered by the xiongnu 匈奴, collective name for varied hunter-gatherer tribes in central Asia. For more than 3,000 years they refused to leave alone the southern settled agrarian life, that is, the Chinese. Other than to kill these motherfuckers, consecutive emperors had to build, rebuild, and extend the Great Wall just to keep them out of China. That work did not stop for a thousand years. By the time the Mings sailed into the South China Sea, they were — no joke — still at it.

*

Graph: China’s demographics the last 2000 years.

https://i2.wp.com/www.china-profile.com/data/figures/fig_population_0-2050_s.gif

Chinese sedentary agriculture was so successful that it brought vast improvements in health, reflected in lifespan and to how tall.

***

不裝飾你的夢 Never embellish your dreams…

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

https://shuzheng.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/a2df8-munkc3a1csyeccehomok1896.jpg?w=626&h=405

“Behold, the man!” by Mihály Munkácsy, 1896

*

Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus was presented to a hostile crowd. Present was Pontius Pilate, serving emperor Tiberius and was the then governor of the province named Judaea and had in the trial of Jesus asked to spare the man’s life. Said Pilate in Latin: “Ecce homo.” — “Behold the man!”

That was one of the first western acts of populism. It suggests two things: (a) beware the populist, the man appeasing the crowd; and, (b) beware of god. Live by sword, die by the sword; live in god’s name, die in his name.

God’s murder of humanity has since taken many forms. Imported into Malaysia via Arabs and Indian Muslims this murderous God/Allah has filtered into the like of Hadi Awang, Mathathir Mohamd, Umno ustaz and Hannah Yeoh and Yeo Bee Yin.

The filtered down version still requires first, identification of enemy. Because, without one, who do you murder? Almost routinely, therefore, one finds in Muslims  — and Christians — this penchant for seeking enemies, and so filled them with the same god-murderous capacity that got Jesus himself killed — and that’s for no fucking good reason.

“Behold, the enemy of the Malay.”

Mahathir named the Chinese as the enemy of the Malays; Umno today named Mahathir; Syed Saddiq, Mahathir’s latest fanboy, says it is Najib Razak. All of them were wrong.

No; no Muslim (nor Christian) should lead Malaysia. They are dangerous when not useless. Confucius 400-500 years before Jesus was right: Beware the god! Beware even those who claim to represent God.

The Chinese stuck by this entreaty and it has stood them well for 3,000 years. Whereas Mahathir, Hadi, Hannah et al went on to embrace this Allah voodoo and ever since the NEP and racism flourished: more people die today on wars fought over principles than wars fought over food, territory and women.

The worse in all of that? God has never been made to account for killing Man. And especially for killing the humanity in Man. Friedrich Nietzsche tried unpacking this god-murderous capacity in the last of his books Ecce Homo after which he turned mad.

Beware the God. Beware Allah.

***

 

Read Full Post »

1MDB Ketuanan

*

https://shuzheng.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/missing-money1.jpg?w=804&h=622

USD18 bn at his feet, why wouldn’t Najib take it?

Pakatan Harapan’s seven-point political platform is broad-based, focused on institutions and ethics. Strange, therefore, that Mahathir Mohamad was willing, by removing Najib Razak, to cast aside his primary objective of restoring the bangsa, agama dan negara in the top place of Malay polity and Malaysian society.

Umno, through Najib in particular, is saying the Malay is already at the top, Felda being an example, so that his task ahead was ‘protecting’ that position. Indeed, Mahathir’s son Mukhriz agrees with Najib. Malay is top dog in Malaysia’s social, political and economic order. But so what? Says Mukhriz: “If we look at Felda, Mara, Tabung Haji, and all agencies linked to the Malays and Islam, all these are facing problems because of Umno leaders.”

Because of Umno leaders? That would count he himself, count Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin and so on.

Mukhriz and Mahathir just don’t seem to get it: nobody, the Chinese least of all, is in competition with the Malays as if Malaysia were a pie and unless Malays get to it first, there would be little or nothing left for them.

Since the beginning of time, Umno and Mahathir have sung the same song and then to the economic threat also added an existential (identity) threat. And, because of such threats, Malay needed protection. The like of Felda and Mara were launched on that underlying insecurity. On that, too, Mahathir molded his entire political career. The gains made by Islamic and Arab culture on Malay society is seen today in their entrenched position in government (Jakim, JAIS, etc), in schools and religious education, in Najib’s pro-Arab foreign policies. Those elements have today completely overtaken the Malay existential being.

In all that, 1MDB is hardly an aberration: Umno becomes chief purser. For funding, everybody in BN became dependent on Najib, Umno by extension. Its businesses had all the Arab, economic, and world conquest design elements and the Chinese (Jho Low, Yeo Jiawei), doing the dog-shit work, will even take the rap for Malays.

Indeed 1MDB is sine qua non, the finest expression in the development of the Malay ego: all of Malaysia’s banks and the rest of the world will throw USD18 bn at it and nobody blinks an eye. Why wouldn’t Najib take the money therefore?

So, adding Tabung Haji (religion) and the Saudis (foreign relations) to Felda (economics) and Mara (education), Umno’s march to top dog position, and in protecting, in molding and remolding Malay society is actually near complete.

Mahathir once despaired that he didn’t change Malay minds after a generation in power. He was wrong, of course. Instead he should sit easy because why else would he pine to return to the old days when the Malays were less materialistic and weren’t so preoccupied with watching FGV/Felda share prices? In the old days, Malays don’t ride submarines; in the old days few Malays gave a shit for the tudung or for Arabs.

So, you see, Malays have changed, Malays are top dog; and so what the fuck is Mukhriz bellyaching about? That’s what your father wanted after all. On the contrary, he should celebrate! All of Bersatu should sing the praises of Mahathir’s handiwork.

Here, however, is the straight answer to the question above: It is because Mahathir doesn’t like what he sees. And if that isn’t what he wants, then what the fuck does he want to see? That there’s no misappropriation in Felda, no thieving in 1MDB, no abuse of power by the police and so on?

But those are the demands for qualities of being, of the human character, the Malay mind and heart. Those have nothing to do with being top dog, with ketuanan, with economics and political power and with Malay special position. Those are qualities underlying the social, political and economic issues in the Pakatan seven-point plan.

The plan says, in effect, Mahathir got it wrong from the start. And, the biggest tragedy in Malaysia isn’t that Umno deviated (it accomplished what it set out) or that power was monopolized by Malays (under the mask of protection) but because Umno permitted no space for the Malay mind and heart to expand naturally, in different directions and to see life from the prism of light. It completely dismissed, in particular, how Chinese thought and ideas can contribute to different ways of seeing things, of governance. It gave in, far too much, to the Mahathir mentality that Malays were under siege from all directions instead.

It’s that mentality which hasn’t changed. Fittingly, therefore, while Malays have changed, Mahathir hasn’t.

*

Postscript

These postscript lines take the above arguments a little further. That is, once Umno has served its purpose, what else is there for it? This is Najib’s predicament, a fact that points to why Malays should never govern Malays under an Umno or an Umno-like umbrella such as Berjaya. This Mahathirism is a contradictory and self-annihilating political model.

For the moment though, Najib’s only available answer to remain relevant — and also to stay the looming threat of Umno’s expiry and its self-destruction — is simply to bribe as many Malay votes as he can afford, the party rank and file, Felda, Tabung Haji, Jakim, and others. Political bribery is such a norm that Perkasa and Ibrahim Ali have no qualms demanding MYR1.4 trillion for Malays: ‘You owe us,’ is what the Alis are saying. It’s the inevitable consequence of Umno’s Mahathirism.

More pertinent to the future though is, What should be Pakatan’s answer?

It won’t be a bad idea to simply let Umno gorge itself to death. To let the Malays bring down each other would certainly rid the country, once and for all time, this Mahathir legacy.

*

Samuel Huntington (Clash of Civilizations), from 50 years ago, remains instructive. On countries such as Malaysia, his ideas are being revisited:

Across the developing world, Huntington saw “the dominance of unstable personalistic leaders,” their governments rife with “blatant corruption . . . arbitrary infringement of the rights and liberties of citizens, declining standards of bureaucratic efficiency and performance, the pervasive alienation of urban political groups, the loss of authority by legislatures and courts, and the fragmentation and at times complete disintegration of broadly based political parties.”

These self-styled revolutionaries thrive on divisiveness. “The aim of the revolutionary is to polarize politics,” Huntington explains, “and hence he attempts to simplify, to dramatize, and to amalgamate political issues into a single, clear-cut dichotomy.” Such leaders attract new rural voters via “ethnic and religious appeals” as well as economic arguments, only to quickly betray their aspirations.

Every line above holds true in Malaysia, and equally applicable in Egypt, Turkey and Syria to Acheh, Sumatra. On Islam, that “failed civilization”:

The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism,” he writes. “It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power. The problem for Islam is not the CIA or the U.S. Department of Defense. It is the West, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the universality of their culture and believe that their superior, if declining, power imposes on them the obligation to extend that culture throughout the world. …

While economic dynamism drives Asia’s rise, population growth in Muslim nations “provides recruits for fundamentalism, terrorism, insurgency, and migration.” Much as Trump mocks politicians who refuse to decry “radical Islamic terrorism,” Huntington criticizes American leaders such as Bill Clinton who argued that the West had no quarrel with Islam, only with violent extremists. “Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise,” he remarks.

He does not regard Western values as universal. They are ours alone. …

***

Ketuanan Karma

Waiting for the Ketuanan self-destruction, we sing the blues…

***

Read Full Post »

https://shuzheng.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/b8132-16123709_225766437832099_5839947150691139584_n.jpg?w=426&h=426

Shafiqah Othman

*

The term Malay Muslim is an oxymoron because if there is a Malay who is Muslim then, by extension of argument, there is a Malay who is Christian. This, though, isn’t pivotal in deflating the notion of the Malay Muslim.

More to the point, the term conflates the idea of Muslim and Malay so that anyone who is Muslim and Malaysian, resident in Malaysia, holds an identity card, subject to its laws, invariably become Malay (Zakir Naik, Ridhuan Tee), that is, speaking Malay and practices the Malay custom. But the Malay custom, like the terms Malay Muslim and Malay race, is yet another invention, that is, a fiction because if there is one, where is it? Where or what is the idea in the custom?

Malay custom by appearances has been long gone, of course. It has to happen because the more Muslim and the more Islamic is, say, Hadi Awang, the farther he is to being ‘Malay’ or to practice the Malay custom. In his entire life he conducts it like an Arab does. That, after all, is the whole idea of ‘Submission’ under Islam: it neither tolerates nor does it permit anybody to be anything else other than being Arab.

Islamic culture is the dominant Arabic culture. In the name of a God and under the power of one man’s predilection, even the Persians and the Africans have found themselves subject to not just speaking Arabic or eating dates during Ramadan or wearing towels on the head, but to the Hadith (written testaments based supposedly on utterances or acts by Mohammad) and the Quran. How could the Mohammad have possibly conducted his life in anything other than the desert culture of his time, that is, Arabic? Thinking of paddy fields and monsoon rain? Of course not.

How did descendants of Java, Sumatra and the Indonesian archipelago become subject to this Arab tyranny, but not the Indonesian? How does one become a conquered ‘race’?

It is easy to blame this state of affairs on the British but the Dutch did not hold sway on Indonesian thought. European, that is, western ideas were, of course, far more pervasive in Malaya than say Borneo. Ideas in themselves can’t do much though. If the British had taught Malays the world came into being by the zap of a magic wand from Allah, then that is just good for a laugh not serious study. Nobody is going to give a fuck.

What really change things fundamentally — and this is a hypothesis — is ways of thinking. By that, think of the creation story, that is, this God and the magic wand theory.

What underlay the mythology is the division of the world into two: the external and the internal, a creator and the created, the outside and the inside, heaven and hell, true and false, the good and the evil, and so on. Once the entire universe, indeed, once all reality is framed in this manner, anything to be discussed or talked through has to go down this pathway.

When Syed Akbar Ali at outsyedthebox doesn’t want to think along those terms, he calls it ‘thinking outside the box‘. But, that’s to presume there is even a box or a framework, so that, really, his way of thinking is still Anglophile (western).

*

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRfPAanlPwt3gg-wy3oSxFGKSZVse_FyUhwLB5t2-FLo1rpbSM8Kw

Shafiqah: she has an uphill task not only to debunk the mythology that there is only one kind of Muslim, the Arab kind, but after that there is even a thing or a person called Malay Muslim, such as the photo below. Because, if Allah is only for Muslims, who are Muslims for if not Allah that is Arabian? Where then is the Malay in the Allah?

Shafiqah falls into her own trap once her arguments are framed along the lines of liberal versus illiberal Malay because there never has been a Malay that is liberal. Islam, by its internal mechanics and its definition, is illiberal, however liberalism is defined. The fight she needs to address is, Malay life versus an Arab life. Doing that, you cut off the Malay from orthodoxy at its Arab roots. (Weeding, you see, is most effective from the roots up.)

The Crown Prince of Johore TMJ alluded to the gem of this idea and got that part right: ‘A country that abandons our local traditions such as our traditional clothes and chooses to adopt foreign customs, wanting to be like the Arabs.’

Therein, you know, is your ally. But, Malay versus Arab life? Yes, and think about it, Shafiqah, why? In another place, in the Arabia that Najib Razak (and Hadi Awang) wants to emulate, can you even sit behind that wheel?

https://i1.wp.com/1d0nkd3kux081kfl423njel7.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Why-I-Am-Against-Institutionalised-Religion.jpg

We, the Chinese, will let the Christians fight the Allah-cause. It is none of our business anyway: You guys can kill each other for all we care. But no Hudud, for the simply reason it is a bad name; it has too much Hadith in it and conquered minds are never worthy of our trust — or anyone’s else.

*

Now come to Shafiqah Othman. (Shafiqah who? If anyone has to ask, that’s only because you think too much of Anwar Ibrahim. Forget him, that guy is just an ideas-parrot: gawk, gawk.) Though nothing new, there is no doubt that her charge, Malays are hypocritical, is persuasive. Indeed, it has been said that no Malay during Mahathir’s days, or even earlier, say in 1969, would dare make such an indictment.

But each time this argument is presented, the counter argument (careful there; click goes to an IS-styled Malaiyoo fascist rag sheet called ‘My Nation’) emerges and everyone is back to where they had begun: who the fuck is right?

It is as if there is no truth in anything so that Anglophiles simply return to the most convenient starting point. It is called a point of view (POV). All Anglophile journalists, without exception, are famous at invoking it, so you see this caveat all the time — This is the personal opinion of the columnist — as if there are opinions that are never personal, that is, at one with the rest of the world or the fucking editor.

Philosophers call this POV subjectivism, sometimes relativism. But there’s this problem: if a POV is subject to the person holding it, then only that person has a hold on the viewpoint. That being the case, no viewpoint ever stands independent of, or outside, a person but lasts or persists so long as it is held by the holder. That is, no POV is ever universally true or has any lasting value; and, ‘I think therefore I am’ (from Descartes) collapses into its own self-contradictory defeat.

The consequence? All political fights in Malaysia are therefore reducible to either, for one side or for the other. Ideas are only fought out from and stemming from whoever you stand with. Ideas are never fought out, for or against, because such ideas are simply bad or good, workable or unworkable, useful or not useful, just or unjust, fair or not fair. Ideas are right only when they are dependent from which side they are issued.

In such a circumstance there is no neutrality, neutrality in the sense that you hold two conflicting arguments in abeyance until you figure out the side that is right. Yet, you can never figure out which side is right because there is no thing as a right idea; only whose idea.

This sort of conflicting dichotomy as a way of thinking is at the root of much western thought, ranging from the creation of the world stories, theology and ideologies (communism, socialism) to the structuring of analytical philosophy (logic), its language and its sciences.

Dichotomy is Greek in origin. In its modern Marxist form it is called dialectics wherein history advances in an endless progression of thesis and anti-thesis. In America, it becomes pro-Life or pro-Choice; in Christianity, good or evil. Among Malays, it has become either liberal Muslim or orthodox (i.e. Arab) Muslim. There is simply no way out because everything depended not on the argument in and of themselves, but where you first stand. Are you with Najib or with Mahathir? Are you with PAS or DAP? Are you Malay or Chinese?

The result? Dedak bloggers like Ahirudin Attan or Kadir Jasin, these motherfucker editors who one day will be this and another day will be that. Another result? Lots of frogs, sometimes they are dedak politicians, sometimes they are self-righteous ones. Contrary to popular assumptions, there are no principles at stake because if the fights were over principles then problems arise: what principles, when derived, how, and especially belonging to who?

In this way, arguments never produce consensus or agreements; arguments become the basis for war. More people are today killed from war waged on the basis of principles than from the want of material need (women, grain, territory).

A third result is from Zaid Ibrahim although he is not entirely convincing as to how Malaiyoos came to be so lazy and stupid. Maybe it is the other way around.

In any case, on and on and on, this state of affairs spiral downwards.

Chinese philosophical ideas and thoughts have answers and methods to get off this merry-go-round. (Which explains why, against a robust Chinese culture and civilization, Islam and Christianity stopped at the Turkish-speaking borders, the Himalayas and the South China Sea.) How? That is for another time… maybe.

For now, face it, the Malay is no civilization: he/she is already a conquered mind. And Anglophiles (think Lim Kit Siang or Hannah Yeoh)? They are a complete write-off. The only solution to DAP politics is, wait — for them to die!

***

时间都去哪儿了 A woman’s life in 33 frames.

彭丽媛 Peng Liyuan (in the days she sang professionally)

***

Read Full Post »

 … and the Way to Writing his Own Destruction

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT-d8d_Q9S3mHGeU5KM6Vy5kdlkTq9f5myceHHwVsSoFKa_7w_O

In Dao physics Najib Razak not only triggered the catastrophic chain of events but he has now gotten in the way of the falling chips, the biggest of which is just behind him. And he doesn’t know it. What to do…?

Below, the word li 理 is not a noun or a thing. It means, curiously, the grain of the wood or the texture pattern of a thing, such as cloth. Water flow follows a pattern and so too the clouds assembled in the sky. Here is the other widely used meaning, logic or reason. In its Daoist context, it is a principle that says, ‘Never go against the grain of a thing‘. That is, nature’s pattern. (Religions, Islam and Christianity in particular, are anti-nature, hence anti-human.)

For Najib to go against the grain of society or popular opinion or to go against a given set of circumstances is simply to invite…? Trouble. To best saw off a piece of timber is, therefore, to discover where to start along the grain in the wood. That, analogously, is the same principle applied to politics. It produces the exact same result.

 

https://i0.wp.com/www.mrwallpaper.com/wallpapers/fishing-asian-art.jpg

Najib stares at the precipice below, and begins fishing….

*

Way Out of the Conundrums

*

[Drawing from excerpts of the Daodejing 道德經, below, is the method by which Najib could extract himself from his own destruction. Translations are by D.C. Lau, Stephen Mitchell, et al]

From Chapter 2. Some fundamental principles: Things don’t exist alone to itself; everything in the world is interdependent of each other. Without One there is no Other. Beauty is seen only because ugliness is there. There is no big without small, no long without short and so on. Hence, things arise mutually, not separately.

 

天下皆知美之爲美,
斯惡已;
皆知善之爲善,
斯不善已。

有無相生,
難易相成,
長短相形,
高下相傾,
音聲相和,
前後相隨。

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things (must exist) as ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things (must exist) as bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

***

Below is the applicable passage for Najib (the Daodejing was part political because every part of the world is a part of another.)

From Chapter 57. Fundamental principle: wuwei 無爲. Once translated into English, the translated idea of wuwei becomes a distortion because there is no parallel framework within the limits of the English language. Wuwei’s principle rests on two notions:

  • (a) accomplish the most on the least effort, (recall li 理) and
  • (b) recognize the inevitability of polarities (mentioned in Ch. 2).

The first notion replaces the Newtonian mechanics of action and of equal opposite reaction. This is done by not setting up an action to produce that sort of equal-opposite. The second notion violates the popular western concepts of cause and effect. The interplay of polarities reflects a cyclical process.

Wuwei is a verb definition: Don’t force it. Not forcing something is to apply the lightest touch to a political problem to achieve the maximum result. (Of course, herein is the other part of the problem: finding out what it is.) This ‘lightest touch’ is drawn from yet another part of the Daodejing (Ch. 11) where sometimes a solution is not recognized for what it is. That is, for example, the most useful part of a vessel is not the concreteness of the material (clay) going into making it, but the hollowness inside.

Hence:

以正治國,
以奇用兵,
無事取天下。
吾何以知其然乎?
以此:
天下多忌諱,
而民彌貧;
民多利器,
國家滋昏;
民多技巧,
奇物滋起;
法令滋彰,
盜賊多有。
故聖人云:
我無為而民自化,
我好靜而民自正,
我無事而民自富,
我無欲而民自朴。

 

Govern the state by being straightforward;
Wage war by being crafty;
But win the empire by not being meddlesome.

How do I know that it is like that?
By means of this:

The more taboos there are in the empire
The poorer the people;
The more sharpened tools the people have
The more benighted the state;
The more skills the people have
The further novelties multiply;
The better known the laws and edicts
The more thieves and robbers there are.

Hence the sage says,
I take no action and the people are transformed of themselves;
I prefer stillness and the people are rectified of themselves;
I am not meddlesome and the people prosper of themselves;
I am free from desire and the people of themselves become simple like the uncarved block.

*

(Below is an alternative translation though this is considered, by us, as a travesty of the original Chinese. But it is useful for this purpose.)

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow the (Dao).
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.

The more prohibitions you have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons you have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies you have,
the less self-reliant people will be.

Therefore the Master says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.

***


Najib and the Chinese

http://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2017/05/15/13/55/najibbrf.ashx/?w=620&h=413&crop=1&hash=E2E8626B24E97A7CC3D44181EF194BC3D2398E37

Najib’s problem isn’t fundamentally in the advise he has gotten or his advisers (above) but it is in himself: he is way too Anglophile, like are the Malaysiakini subscribers and editors and Mahathir Mohamad.

If he wanted advice, whether it is about China or about himself and his policies, he is better off using a Daoist temple-man. But Najib doesn’t understand the Chinese language that is the vehicle for the deep psyche in Chinese thinking and culture. Add this problem to his cursory comprehension of English which he uses as a Malay supplement, he becomes as stupid as the Malaiyoo motherfucker named Ibrahim Ali.

*

The Way of Self-Destruction

*

Rais Husin makes the point that ‘the people surrounding Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, including Ong Ka Ting, don’t know China’. Then he gives the example of the botched Bandar Malaysia project, initially won by the Chinese company China Railway Engineering Company (CREC).

Rais is right to say that numerous people in positions of influence don’t know China but why should that be the reason for Najib to go back on his words on CREC, especially since his words are contracted and exist in black on white? The argument of Rais doesn’t make sense:

  • (a) both companies involved are Chinese, and Najib is simply giving up one Chinese company for another;
  • (b) Najib betrayed CREC before he even courted Wanda; and so
  • (c) where is the need for understanding China by his betrayal?

What has happened is simply this: Najib is an untrustworthy person, so that Rais was attempting to intellectualize a fundamental human problem. After all, the betrayal of CREC isn’t the first thing Malaysia sees of Najib; countless things and events have attested to the man’s duplicitous, conniving and thieving character.

All this isn’t to say he is evil, as Anglophiles have typically characterized him. Rather his duplicity and connivance show his deep distrust of others: that is, he finds the world in constant opposition to him and so he must always get ahead of the game. In the words of the 1MDB bastard Seet Li Lin, he must act at ‘gaming’ the system, to outwit it. Thus he is much like Seet and Jho Low. 1MDB was inevitable because the company operated as an international franchise for Najib’s duplicity.

So serious and so frequent are Najib’s frauds he has left in his wake a trail of conundrums all in opposition to him — society’s way of demanding to return to its equilibrium. Or, put another way, he has simply created the conditions opposing his survival. The whole world is today against him: China, Singapore, the US and the Swiss, and all are simply waiting….

Najib demonstrates the Daoist dictum: the top is the most dangerous, the most uncertain point. Not true? Try climbing a ladder; the farther up is the top, the farther you are from the center of gravity.

The more power he accumulates to himself and the higher up he goes, the more precarious is his situation. A slight kick at the foot of the ladder, he comes down. It’s that easy, so that the question that’s raised is: What is the kick?

The Opposition instead goes around the jungle beating drums with sticks to go after the fugitive thief. Small wonder, Najib is still around with all the talk he is going to be around some more. (For Mahathir Mohamad, his opposition to Najib began for other reasons, actually very racist ones that the Opposition refuses to see. His was a political objective that’s neither ethical nor legal.)

Saying that Najib’s China advisers don’t know China, Rais shows he also doesn’t know the Chinese. Closer to the truth, those advisers don’t know themselves, that is, what is it to be Chinese. They don’t even know the basic Chinese (not Anglo) virtues of reason, justice, fairness, humanness, reticience, patience, diligence, all of which are drawn directly from Daoist/Confucian ideas one hears repeatedly in speeches delivered by the like of Xi Jinping. Like Malaysiakini subscribers, and like Mahathir and Rais himself, they are too conditioned as Anglophiles (or Bangsa Malaysia) to see things otherwise.

His advisers need to wake up their parents from the graves to teach them all over again. That, or go back to Chinese school.

As for Najib, he has been busy writing cheques… and these are coming back to be cashed. This is the trouble with Anglophile types, so completely stupid, because if, as they say, Cash is King who the fuck needs you, Najib?

***

长相思

***

In pictures, pictures, pictures: China the Great

Shanxi

In Shanxi, the Yanhu, 132 sq km in size, 30 km long, is an inland lake that produces industrial and consumer salts, primarily sodium sulfate and magnesium sulfate. In summer, when the temperature rises, 37 C at present, the algae and brine shrimps grow rapidly. Different algae species at different densities reflect different lights, producing the beautiful multi-color image, above and below.

***

Chongqing

The Dicui Gorge, one of the ‘Three Small Gorges’ in Chongqing’s Wushan County.

***

Summer floods have arrived, as if everywhere, all at once: Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Guangxi, Chongqing, Sichuan, and Guizhou. We have put up our emergency and rescue squads in operation. This includes the local bulldozer.

964,600 residents relocated in C China's Hunan due to flood

Rescuers transfer trapped students in flood-hit Guilin

Rescuers transfer trapped students in flood-hit Guilin

Rescuers transfer trapped students in flood-hit Guilin

Sleep tight, my hero guardians

Busy everywhere, but some people still have time to do yoga, swimming, and shopping. This is the Dao, our Way .

In pics: Summer days across China

***

 

 

***

 

Read Full Post »

 

https://mediatmi.r.worldssl.net/resources/stories_images/6298/angel3__full.jpg

That Malaysian First bitch, all over again….

Angel Ng (the woman in tattoo) should have a good look at the photograph taken at her place in so-called KL’s Chinatown which, really, is equal to the contradiction of saying, Chinatown in Shanghai or Taipei or Hong Kong. Kuala Lumpur started as a Chinese city, built by the Chinese, and remained so well into the eighties until Zainudin Maidin, Mahathir Mohamad and other Umno racist bigots decided it has too many Chinese, pendatangs, for a Malaysian capital. And the irony is this, it is still the pendatang capital; Indonesians, Burmese, Banglas, Nepali, Pakistanis, Arabs, even Africans. To these people, Zam, Mahathir and Sanusi Junid don’t seem to mind.

Decades and generations of Umno’s political work and national policies (especially since the days of Mahathir) had come to this, in Angel’s words:

I see myself as Malaysian, not Chinese.

This is absurd because it presumes that the Chinese is a Malaysian as a Malay is Malaysian, which in reality and in truth is patently false. All political rights of the Chinese have been stripped to the bare minimum. Even there, at that level, at the bare minimum — that is, the vote — it has been further eroded: the worth of a single Chinese vote has been so whittled down it now equals one tenth of the Malay, and still it’s going down. All this is happening in spite of their illegality and their unconstitutionality. Malaysia and the Malaysian, both as a polity and as a national political expression, is a fucking piece of fraud.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang completely dismisses this core of the Malaysian apartheid system so that, in the political language of Anglophile DAP, Angel’s words become, Malaysian First, Chinese Second.

But Malaysia doesn’t deserve us, the Chinese, nor our money, our loyalty much less. If Kadir Jasin or Mahathir insists that Chinese loyalty has always been suspect then our reply is, ‘Yes we’re disloyal. So what? You want loyalty, Kadir, suck my dick‘.

What’s tragic is the failure of Chinese Anglophiles to see in Malaysia the world’s greatest political scam because there is nothing like it elsewhere. Instead, the like of Angel pays tribute to being Malaysian, begging as if to be treated like a dog. Then, as she dismisses her ethnicity, you see her returning to and unashamedly exploiting what is clearly and identifiable Chinese. Go back to the earlier photo and check this one below, ‘What do you see all around?’

https://mediatmi.r.worldssl.net/resources/stories_images/6298/angel4.jpg

Everywhere is representation of the Chinese. Those entrances and windows and signs and other signifiers are not Malay and not Indian. What cultural product or cultural life does Angel thinks she is selling to tourists? Malay? Islamic, ‘bottoms up’? Or Chinese? Or simultaneously Chinese and Malaysian? But the Chinese identity is so completely mangled in national life and before that suppressed through its politics that the result is a person such as Angel, confused, contradictory and lost.

Angel’s contradiction, as well as Kit Siang’s and the DAP is that being Chinese and Malaysian are mutually exclusive.

They couldn’t see the flip side, that there is no Malaysian without the Chinese. Or, put in another way, Being Chinese is the only way for the Chinese to be Malaysian. It’s only that Umno’s politics have never permitted it. And now the DAP and Kit Siang are repeating the same fucking Umno idea.

Stupidly, Nurul Izzah talks of never repeating the BN model of politics…, under which the Chinese were never allowed to be truly Chinese. Corrupted versions of it, yes. Being Anglophile, yes but never being bukit Cina, whatever the fuck that is.

It is time the Chinese reclaim their identity and their political rights. Angel returning to KL is, at a fundamental level, an expression of this reclamation. That is, being Chinese is not wrong nor sinful nor politically incorrect. It is the only thing left to rejuvenate the nation, like Angel’s contribution to relive and repopulate KL. It is the right thing to do because being Chinese cannot be antithetical to being Malay; Malay power could never negate us (neither as Malaysians nor, to begin with, as Chinese), tried as they did, first through Mahathir then PAS and now Islam.

On the contrary, being Chinese is absolutely necessary because to be one requires being ‘liberal’, human-ness, wholeheartedness, the ideas of 仁, 義, 信 and so on, all necessary for governing relations, and all of which are built into the Chinese consciousness, culture and hence identity. On the other hand, when whole populations are suppressed, their identities distorted and yanked out, nobody is going to give a shit for what is going to happen next.

Angel’s early, teenage life was symptomatic in the results of Umno’s handiwork which, and this must be said, is never found in other Chinese populations or societies outside Malaysia. The problems of being Chinese seem only peculiar to this fucked up country.

Today, at age 32, Angel is as contradictory as she was at 23; her individual problems stemming from the suppression of her identity are still there. (It is strange, humans, we the Chinese in particular, can take so much shit.)

Why?

One plausible cause is this: the ethnic suppression hasn’t stop. It continues 60 years later with all these motherfuckers: Mahathir, Zam (Zainudin Maidin), Kit Siang, even Anwar from the jailhouse, and then lower down, and much lower down, the like of Kadir Jasin, Hannah Yeoh, Sumisha Naidu, Lisa Ng, Sheridan Mahavera, Josh Hong, Steven Gan, and the Anglophile Thor Kah Hoong who wrote the Angel story, his mind and thoughts as fucked up as Angel is confused.

Go get a life Ah Hoong, as your Anglophile class would say. Or is it too late for you?

*

 

Read Full Post »

https://i0.wp.com/www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/Images/YY50BG.gif

Human purpose and, with it, his character changed forever when the Daodejing 道德經 composition was completed around 200BCE. It also guarded Chinese society (and Korean and Japanese and Vietnamese) from the terror and destructive consequences of Christianity and Islam; the Chinese being fortunate to have an antidote before the birth of the poison of dogma from Jesus and Mohammad and the barbarians they subsequently spawned.

Of Daodejing’s conventional translation into English, The Book of Tao, the title says nothing. Chinese don’t obey the rules of western syntax nor semantics (why should we) so that, taking its actual contents as guide, 道德經 should read as ‘Classical Principles in Ethics‘ wherein dao = way as in a highway or route; de = inner character or strength, today called virtue; so that 道+德= 道德daode=ethical principles; and 經jing=book/classic/canon which as a standalone definition is redundant; of course, this is a book. (Englishmen and Scottish, the Xaviers and La Salle preachers, so overdose with doctrine and god theology, can be stupid. So stupid, they called Daoism a religion, like Jesus Christ is a religion.)

Correct naming, such as in translation, is important. The Daodejing (Ch 1, Mitchell translation):

Naming is the origin
of all particular things.

Recall Liu Tezuo 刘特佐 (Jho Low) telling the diamond sellers to keep everything secret, recall the PM’s office complaining about the DOJ’s ‘gratuitous naming‘, recall the secrecy wrapped around the investigations and the money laundering. All of which so clearly shows that, though the PM have few advisers (actually just macai) ethnically Chinese, a character like Jho knows nothing about what goes into Chinese thinking:

若要人不知除非己莫为 = if you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.

This, above, is a principle so down-to-earth that it beats all Christian abstract injunctions, for example, Do no evil. Because, the first problem, what’s evil? Whose evil? Daodejing:

The world recognizes beauty,
only because there’s ugly.
People see good,
only because there’s bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Evil was created by the good, and good by evil. That’s to also say, if evil ceases to exist altogether, nobody could do good because it won’t be recognizable. The West in the person of Saul Bellow had only just discovered this notion; so profound they thought he was awarded the Literature Nobel prize. Writing in the Dangling Man, 1994, Bellow argued through a character how a man locked up alone in a cell, with nothing except for the surrounding walls, could be neither good nor evil, and so unrecognizable as a human; like a day-old baby, useless and meaningless even to himself. He would need another human to be himself recognizable. (Which is why, with Albert Camus, suicide is the ultimate self-consciousness.)

Within this interdependent, inter-exchange motion of duality, God if he were any good at all would have to make Jho Low a thieving, fraudulent character, not the Chinese. (We can’t create nature.) The reason being, a thieving Low would make Jesus look like the ultimate good — and the inane Bible (or Quran) necessary to sell. A thieving Najib is already making Mahathir, a man equally base in character, beginning to look like a saint. Yet, just as Umno made Mahathir and Mahathir Najib, Najib made Umno. To save Malaysia, all have to be removed then start over.

Low again:

This — size matters — is so Anglophile, thrown around a million times that the English-educated like Low think nothing of repeating the trite which, as a principle, is badly flawed. Daodejing (Ch 11, Waley translation) in contrast:

  • We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.
  • We turn clay to make a vessel; But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.
  • We pierce doors and windows to make a house; And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.
  • Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

Daodejing principles once properly translated has a modern, even scientific sense in them and, therefore, immensely profound. There, in those lines, is the analogous marriage of the physical characteristics of space, void and matter with the human sense-feelings of being adrift, uselessness, emptiness and vacuousness. Size doesn’t matter; nothingness matters.

***


*

三寸天堂 Three Inches of Heaven

All, pure erhu

Someone, a German, called the erhu the most emotional musical instrument belonging to the Chinese. Perhaps he is right.

From 永安 Yung An: 三寸天堂 Three Inches of Heaven

The vocal version

步步驚心,刻骨銘心。 夢回大清,愛恨難清。 是是非非,隔世再敘。 兩世宿命,豈非天定?

***

From 宋飞 Song Fei with the 中国中央民族乐团, China Central Orchestra

Performance in Vienna: She is so natural…like she is one with the instrument. Watch and listen to the crescendo at 4:16 then in the closing bars 5:25

二泉映月

***

From 賈鵬芳 Jia Pengfang, a Sino-western combination.

情侣 To my Love, in China

*

Travel Worries 旅愁

***


Pure strings, pure energy!

战马奔腾 or simply 赛马. Either way, in English, this neo-classical piece is titled: Galloping Horses. In all versions, note the parts in which the strings are beaten (they didn’t break) to imitate the sound of horses at war, galloping and panting.

 Version #1: single erhu and string quartet combination. Performed in Canada by Gao Shaoqing 高韶青, one of China’s top erhu masters.

Version #2: With the Russia Symphony

Version #3: Pure erhu. This is the conventional version, performed by Hong Kong students, and is the best of three so far. They made music underscore the real, like a thousand horses charging!

Extra X-Version: Below is a solo experimental with an electronic erhu! Blasphemy!

Verdict: F for Flop! 放弃吧 好像马要死了

The guy on the street, below, does an even far better job.

This is dedicated to all erhu street performers. 祝你们顺利

Street music performance is as old as Chinese civilization.

The piece played below was composed by a blind street erhu performer 80, 90 years ago, someone who had the same, impoverished beginnings, a time of war and widespread hunger. He died, still poor, but his composition outlived him. Song Fei 宋飞 (near to top of section) played the same piece in Vienna: a single instrument, so ancient, contributed to give China hope and helped sustain our people and our spirits. 中国加油!

***

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »