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愛 LOVE

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張愛玲

這是真的。

有個村莊的小康之家的女孩子,生得美,有許多人來做媒,但都沒有說成。那年她不過十五六歲吧,是春天的晚上,她立在後門口,手扶著桃樹。她記得她穿的是一件月白的衫子。對門住的年輕人同她見過面,可是從來沒有打過招呼的,他走了過來,離得不遠,站定了,輕輕的說了一聲:“噢,你也在這裡嗎?”她沒有說什麼,他也沒有再說什麼,站了一會,各自走開了。

就這樣就完了。

後來這女子被親眷拐子賣到他鄉外縣去作妾,又幾次三番地被轉賣,經過無數的驚險的風波,老了的時候她還記得從前那一回事,常常說起,在那春天的晚上,在後門口的桃樹下,那年輕人。

於千萬人之中遇見你所遇見的人,於千萬年之中,時間的無涯的荒野裡,沒有早一步,也沒有晚一步,剛巧趕上了,那也沒有別的話可說,惟有輕輕的問一聲:“噢,你也在這裡嗎?”

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Zhang Ailing
translated by Tang Qiaomei

LOVE

It is true.

There was a village. There was a girl from a well-to-do family. She was a beauty. Matchmakers came, but none succeeded. She was no more than fifteen or sixteen, when on a spring evening she stood at the back door, resting her arm on a peach tree. She remembers the moon-white dress she wore. The young man living opposite her house had seen her before, but had never greeted her. He approached, stood still before her, and said softly: “Oh, you are here, also?” She said nothing, and he said nothing more. They stood for a while, then each walked away.

Like that, it was over.

Time passed. The girl was abducted by a relative, and would be a concubine in a strange land. Again and again, she was resold. Having endured life’s winds and waves, in her old age she still remembers the scene from long ago. She speaks often of that young man, under that peach tree, at that back door, on that spring evening.

You meet the one you meet amongst thousands and tens of thousands of people, amidst thousands and tens of thousands of years, in the boundless wilderness of time, not a step sooner, not a step later. You chance upon each other, not saying much, only asking softly, “Oh, you are here, also?”

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https://i0.wp.com/www.buenosairesreview.org/wp-content/uploads/zhang-ailing-photo-150x150.jpgZhang Ailing. A novelist, essayist, and screenwriter, Zhang Ailing, also known as Eileen Chang (1920 –1995), one of the most influential modern Chinese writers. Some of her works include the collection Love in a Fallen City; Lust, Caution; The rice-sprout song and The Rouge of the North.

https://i2.wp.com/www.buenosairesreview.org/wp-content/uploads/qiaomei.tang_-64x64.jpgTang Qiaomei, a native of Zhejiang, China, is a Ph.D. student at Harvard University where she studies early medieval Chinese poetry and literature, and teaches Chinese language courses. Her dissertation examines the representation of divorced women in early medieval Chinese writings. She most recently translated Chapter 3 of Cambridge History of Chinese Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

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Acknowledgements

  • Lucy Tan, in America, for reminding about this gem from our Motherland. (Also read her brilliant interpretation of Zhang’s story, its Chinese context and our language use.)
  • Buenos Aires Review for safeguarding it.

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十年 Ten years

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What I’ve learned after twenty-some years of speaking both languages is that it’s very American to say things aloud. And it’s very Chinese to feel them quietly.Lucy Tan, June 2018

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朋友別哭 Don’t cry, my friend

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The article below, by Lucy Tan (above), originally appeared in LitHub. The title is mine.

Why We Chinese Never Say, ‘I Love You’

Because it is never enough

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The first fiction I ever read in Chinese was a short story by Eileen Chang, titled simply, “Love.” I was in college at the time, and my Chinese language teacher had handed it to out to the class. After I finished reading it, I quietly began to cry.

I can’t tell this story without telling you what the language meant to me then. My parents are Chinese-American immigrants, and the first language I learned was Chinese. I spoke it almost exclusively until the very first day of pre-school, when I learned the sentence, “Can I have some juice?” From then on, I spoke in full English sentences. Chinese became the language I only spoke when compelled—with my family, who always spoke Chinese in the house, or when I was forced to practice it at Chinese school on the weekends. I struggled against it, partly because I didn’t possess the full range of vocabulary through which to express myself, and partly because it was a language in which I couldn’t address my emotions.

My parents did not like emotional conversations. They did not say I love you. On parents’ visiting day at school, other kids’ parents left them notes that said “We’re proud of you!” My note said, “We hope you will continue to improve this year. Please read books other than the series, The Baby-Sitters Club.” The closest they had come to addressing the issue of emotion were the times they asked me, “Why are you crying?” By which they meant, Stop crying. And so I tried never to cry in front of them. I held my tears through dinner. I cried only alone, in my room, or on the phone with friends. It seemed to me that the heart was a dangerous territory for Chinese and so I kept the two apart. It was in English that said I love you to a boy for the first time, English in which I cursed aloud. In books written in English, the intricacies of feeling and mysteries of human existence were explored. It was in the love of this language that, early on, I found the determination to become a writer.

But sitting there in the classroom as a college freshman, staring at those three-hundred-some words that made up the Eileen Chang short story, everything I knew was torn apart. No story written in English had ever made me feel what this story made me felt. It was the most profound reading experience I’d had with short fiction, and the story had been written in Chinese. It was as though the two worlds I was used to traveling between had suddenly collided.

The story “Love” is seemingly simple. It’s about a young woman who falls in love with a neighborhood young man after they meet briefly, beneath a peach tree. Years later, after she’s lived a life of misfortune, she remembers this meeting with him and remarks upon the gifts of time, coincidence, and life.

You meet the one you meet amongst thousands and tens of thousands of people, amidst thousands and tens of thousands of years, in the boundless wilderness of time, not a step sooner, not a step later. You chance upon each other, not saying much, only asking softly, “Oh, you are here, also?” “Love,” by Eileen Chang, translated by Qiaomei Tang

What was striking to me about this story was the things that aren’t said. The years in which the young woman is sold as a concubine hovers around the edges of the story, out of focus, but dark enough to illuminate the shining moment in her life that’s described. So much is implied by the words, “Time passed.” Nothing more is needed. For all I loved about the power of language to name what can’t be put into words, this—not naming it—had equal power.

Subtle, too, are the narrative shifts in this piece. We think we are being told a story by a narrator, until we arrive at the phrase “She remembers…” Suddenly, we jump forward in time, where the narrative has been taken over by the young woman, who is now an old woman, looking back on her life, knowing what she has already lost. And what of the phrase, “She often speaks of that young man”? To whom is she speaking, we wonder? What solace, what comfort has she found in her old age? Chang is a master of suggestion. Reading this story taught me that in fiction it’s possible for some of the most poignant moments to linger out of sight. Because, the story seems to say, the hard parts are beside the point. Like a dart, piercing through the thinness of all the years of this woman’s life, is this single encounter: a meeting with a man beneath a peach tree. As readers, we come away reminded that it is rare moments of love and light that we should let define our lives and give our existence focus. How compassionately Chang renders this story. And yet, what a cruel story it is.

For a week, I walked around with “Love” tucked into my class notebooks, switching it from one to the other as I switched classes. The text took up barely half a page. I remember being surprised by that fact each time I looked at it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the young woman in the story and the life she’d left. I couldn’t stop hearing that refrain, “thousands and ten thousands of people, amidst thousands and ten thousands of years.” I had an urge to call my mother, who lived in China at the time. I wanted to tell her that I felt closer to her somehow, not because the story itself had anything to do with her, but because for the first time, I felt moved by Chinese. I felt understood by this story.

Of course, I didn’t do it. My parents and I don’t use language in that way. To this day, I still have never said the words I love you to them in Chinese.

Years later, in writing my first novel, I found myself telling my own love story. What We Were Promised is about many different kinds of love—family love, lost love, stale love, and new love. My characters are Chinese and Chinese-American, and they mostly speak Chinese. One of my early readers made an observation that stuck with me: “They so rarely tell each other what they’re feeling!” It occurred to me that I was writing the kind of dialogue I grew up hearing, where love is tacitly understood. Love settles into the cracks of daily existence, paved over by mundanity. “Wear a coat,” my mother would tell me. “Eat more meat.” “Read different books.” I love you. I love you. I love you. What I’ve learned after twenty-some years of speaking both languages is that it’s very American to say things aloud. And it’s very Chinese to feel them quietly.

“Oh, you are here also,” the young man says to the young woman. In other words: I love you. And yet I love you would have cheapened things. By acknowledging the limitations of language, by letting everything else do the telling, we are treated to the depths of one human life. Maybe it was never that my parents were unwilling to say I love you. Maybe they sensed that the phrase itself was never enough.

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About Lucy Tan: She grew up in New Jersey and has spent much of her adult life in New York and Shanghai. She received her B.A. from New York University and her M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was awarded the 2016 August Derleth Prize. Her fiction has been published in journals such as Asia Literary Review and Ploughshares, where she was winner of the 2015 Emerging Writer’s Contest. What We Were Promised is her first novel.

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From a land with few words and, therefore, less noise.

(Unlike Malaiyoo tanah of Anglophiles, subsisting on copycat culture and barbarian desert values, with so much yada, yada amounting to nothing.)

Few of China’s classical pieces are as Chinese as the one above 《二泉映月》, ‘Moon Reflections on Two Streams‘: naturalist theme; melancholic tonal quality, played on an old Chinese instrument; rich and varied notes from an impoverished busker, seeking a better life. Small wonder, in ancient text, we were often metaphorically referred to as huaren 华人 — an accomplished people. We Chinese could readily produce a western-style composition but no westerner could write such music. Here is an American Chinese comment:

You probably will not be able to find a performance better than this one by Song Fei. Listen carefully. Almost every note has her own unique interpretation. The sound of erhu is very close to (the) human voice. While you listen, imagine the blind A Bing telling you his own life story of struggle and his yearning for a better future. Also notice where the orchestra is from and who is conducting the performance. I have watched this video countless times. Never get tired of it. I feel the melody, just like Butterfly Love, resonates deep in my blood and bones as a Chinese American. I doubt any westerner can have the same feeling listening to this immortal piece.

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Oh, my Dear, you are here also…

亲爱的 你也在这里

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towards a better, diversified… beeyin?

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In the beginning…

Yeo Bee Yin Blasted

(A) small incidence in the (Petronas) education unit made me utterly disappointed with how things work in Malaysia. While waiting at the lounge, I met two returning scholars from Nottingham University, UK. I started to talk to them. To my very surprise, they couldn’t even speak proper English! After a while, an education unit guy came and met them, I accidentally saw their results – one of them get second class lower and the another one a third class. That blasted my mind. Here I was, with a CGPA of 3.95/4.00 begging only for 1 year of deferment, not even a scholarship, but was denied. Here they were, spent 4 years in the UK fully sponsored and yet graduated with at most, mediocre results.

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Yeo Bee Yin ‘Diversified’

In the end…

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They give her a shitty, know-nothing portfolio and she is so blasted away, talking not about science but about diversity politics….

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Raya is here? Time flies.

Our best wishes and greetings go with you and family on this Raya…

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BTW, who ordered Altantuya dead?

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The Brilliant Years 光辉岁月

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…and they can’t even hide it.

Can you hear? In new Malaysia is a cacophony that fills you with despair.

Philosopher Byung-Chul Han, in Barcelona yesterday.

I. Political Correctness

The Korean philosopher Han Byung-Chul (above) was right: Orwell’s 1984 society knew it was being dominated. Today — and take Malaysia — they are not even aware of the domination so that supporting Mahathir seems the natural thing. Political correctness, says Mario Vargas Llosa, is the enemy of freedom. “It rejects honesty and authenticity…, (an attempt at) the distortion of the truth.”

To kill this enemy, cancel your Malaysiakini subscription. Demand for your money back, especially since they won’t and won’t listen.

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https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/polopoly_fs/1.1082134.1527140642!/fileimage/httpImage/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/people-are-reflected-on-a-glass-door-as-monitors-display-stock-prices-inside-the-trading-gallery-of-the-rhb-investment-bank-bhd-headquarters-in-kuala-lumpur-malaysia-on-monday-may-14-2018-malaysia-s-markets-showed-few-signs-of-investor-panic-as-trading-reopened-after-mahathir-mohamad-swept-to-power-in-a-surprise-election-outcome-photographer-sanjit-das-bloomberg.png

II. Sell, sell, sell. Sell every fucking thing

For the first time, the DAP shall be defending — no, justifying — the actions of Mahathir Mohamad. In justifying, you can see why Mahathir, too, will destroy the DAP like he had sown the seeds of Malay destruction: After Umno, DAP next.

Here is, thus, a man who, being a lot of noise, could only understand and therefore do things the way he had always done it — a generation ago. But they would lie to say he is a changed man, trying to ‘make amends’.

Najib Razak is a liberal to a fault, tolerating the like of PAS, Islamic crackpots and ISIS sympathizers. Being such a liberal, he could change. Not Mahathir.

His most serious adversary had never been Najib the man but his kind of liberalism that also sits comfortably with the Chinese, including Singapore and China. This is a liberalism against all things Mahathir — chummy capitalism (privatization and cronies), skin color racism, uncontested Umno power (ISA, Sabah immigration), political Islam, Malay hegemony (breed, breed, breed, he tells Malays). All this meant that, if he can’t kill the man, he kills the party that sustains Najib.

To Mahathirism is now added Malaysian First bigotry. Mario Llosa:

[Nationalism] is incompatible with freedom. You just need to scratch the surface to see that nationalism involves a kind of racism. If you believe that belonging to a certain country or nation or race or religion is a privilege, a value in itself, you believe you are superior to others.

You can, hence, see why Mahathir sits so well with Lim Kit Siang and son: compatible yet contradictory and self-defeating. The serpent gobbles its tail. True, three weeks of Pakatan was not inconsistent: it was Mahathirism reborn. He simply called Lim Kit Siang’s bluff:

I was a changed man, yes, before May 9. Now I have changed — again. Haven’t you heard, Kitty Lim? Change is the only constant. Ubah once, ubah twice, ubah always. Got a problem with that, Kitty?

Give the mamak another (maybe) two years, he could do as much damage as in his previous 22.

To repeat: If you are outside, stay out. Watch as Mahathir goes from Singapore to the East China Sea, he kills, kills, kills. We sell, sell, sell — to help him along with the destruction. (Pssst, we are not yet done.)

Your move next, Mamak. Or, are you still confused by the markets?

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III. The Racism of the Anti-Racist

Take your pick of the lineup (above), starting from the center. After which, tell me who is “less” racist, counting especially from the time when they were not “at the top” yet?

Mahathir Mohamad began his political career then rose to the top as the top racist. Ditto Muhyiddin Yassin and Lim Guan Eng. After which consider the motherfucker at the extreme right. He has a funny Arab name, Maszlee something.

For Mahathir to be wrong — again — is standard intellectual fare in Malaysian politics. But for him to say that racism is most intense, most malignant at ground level? Saying that means the lower down you go on the social status — the street beggars, the homeless, street sweepers, garbage collectors, coolies, casual laborers and the like — the more racist is the person. Imagine, therefore, the Malay pauper, holding out his begging bowl, shouting “ketuanan“, “Malaiyoo bangkit!

No, the higher up they go, the more schooling they get, the more English and the more Anglophile they pick up, the more racist they become. Want evidences? No need to go far. Look up this man, who likes to think he works for kings and presidents as a Scribe. Just click. We Chinese have a name for such spineless characters: running dog. Or, look up this piece of Anglophile cunt, who imagines herself as a sort of English ‘creative writer’.

So, if Mahathir is wrong, why is he blaming others for his racism and deflecting it? For the answer, try perhaps 1981. Or to Lim Kit Siang in 1969.

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IV. Malay Unity? What Holy Shit…

Sixty years ago, they talk of Malay unity. Sixty years later, they are still talking of unity… Aiyaah, as Anglophiles say.

When only Malays voted for Barisan in GE 12, Umno called for Malay unity. When a third of the Malays didn’t vote for Umno in GE 13, they call for Malay unity. When most Malays voted for Umno and PAS in GE14, they still call for Malay unity. These stupid Malaiyoos….

Helen ‘Aku Cina‘ Ang once imagined that PAS and Umno unity could simply rule with a simple majority — if only they were united. Well, what did Malays get for that unity?

Poor Malaiyoos. See the mess in the Malay unity states, Perlis, Kedah, Trengganu? Even Perak.

The Malaiyoo of the Valley who names herself (in the English) ‘Annie’ is pining after the same Malay unity. And this is at a time when, among Malaiyoos like herself, they can’t decide who and what is the Malay (see clips below). Malay unity? As Mahathir would said, ‘podah’.

Don’t leave new Malaysia yet, Pakatoon. Your Malaysia Baru is going to be fun. These Anglophiles….

Malaiyoos, bangsat Malaise

https://i0.wp.com/www.malaysianbar.org.my/images/stories/merdeka/sunmerdeka-22-mahathir-1.jpg

So how did this Malay unity thing get its start? Short answer, Umno and Mahathir…

The above photo, dated 1999, shows the mamak/Malay poking at the DAP as a bunch of racist Chinese. Archived by the Bar Council, it is suppose to prove to the lawyers that Mahathir is a changed man.

Now, consider the graphics below:

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https://mothership.sg/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/mahthir-lky.jpg

Of course, Lim Guan Eng et al will say they are merely using Mahathir. (So conceited in their stupidity, it never occurred to them it might be other way around.) This is the man who sits at the pinnacle of power, who, on top of his Cabinet, has an army of committees to give him justification to break with Singapore, which he considers as a Chinese proxy. China has since been added to his damnation list so you can see where he’s headed in his racism.

For further evidences into what that future will look like, look at Perak: it has already begun with a Mahathir hatchetman.

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Chinese School Art & Intelligence

Jian showed me the two images, above and below.

When I dream, I remember.

Above: The painting is unique in the sense that it inverses everything that is conventionally known in the visual arts: objects cast a shadow on light, not the other way around; the wall substitutes as the front glass door; facing that wall of glass and brick, the girl’s back is the front; she loses a flip-flop that causes you to wonder, was she coming in or going out?; and, lastly, notice the paintings. They have nothing.

Below: It is a piece of homework on the theme ‘China, My Dream‘. Completed by a Primary 2 child (who in Malaysia is still learning ABCs), it is astonishing for (a) its highly regimented syntax, (b) the paired rhythmic lines identical to a couplet; and, above all, (c) an essay construction deploying analogical reasoning, a kind of logic even Malaysian university students have never heard of.

Dating back to the Han era, the Chinese education system is the oldest in any civilization. It is so profound that it typically produces the world’s best performing students. But Anglophiles (in all skin colors, from Lisa Ng, Sheridan Mahavera, Khoo Kay Kim and Steven Gan to Guan Eng and Mahathir), people who have never spent a day in a Chinese classroom, spit at us. They call for our schools to be destroyed. Because, so they say, Chinese is not a Malaysian language, although used by local Chinese, whereas English, a colonial, foreign language, should be made compulsory.

With Mahathir’s return Anglophile bigotry and demands have grown incessant and louder. Did you hear…?

Jian said she had to read the essay twice. Me too.

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Lovers then friends

Ten years ago we were strangers on the same street.
Ten years later we are lovers that only friends know how.

十年之前
我不认识你
你不属于我
我们还是一样
陪在一个陌生人左右
走过渐渐熟悉的街头
十年之后
我们是朋友
还可以问候
只是那种温柔
再也找不到拥抱的理由
情人最后难免沦为朋友

 

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On her Facebook, Ting Yi-yeh posted the video above of her father reading his letter at her sister’s wedding in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. SCMP reproduced the video with its English translation.

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Which reminds of Altantuya’s father….

Dumped by Baginda Razak then murdered in a fucked-up Islamic, oh-so-righteous, so glorious, God-fearing country named Malaysia, she was not even dust for Setev Shaariibuu to take home. Today, in Mongolia, our brothers and compatriots observe the Great Duichin‘ — Wesak Week. It would be a time of remembrance and there is only the memory. Nothing else.

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Mongolia president and local monks in Kalimya.

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Summer is surely here when I see…Related image

…she promotes (oversize) sun glasses. Tian-ah!

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Had you Rachel Kushner shoplifted — ‘pocketed’ — a lipstick?

Now, tell the truth, and better, ‘more’ truthful it is without your crapped up, fucked up God:

Whether I’m reading about the necessary abolition of the police, or blasting Z-Ro like a typical woman of a certain age, I am never without this lipstick, in number 438 (“Suzanne”), both wearing it, and pocketing it, and that’s the honest-to-God truth.

https://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/daily/strategist/2018/05/16/rachel-kushner/7.w540.h356.jpg

Will remind Jian how to re-stock her high cost, moderate risk (genuine?) Chanel inventory.

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Get the fuck out of the street. Balik tongsan Berkeley!

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O! The flower of women…

女人花

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Najib and Serenity

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善行,無轍跡;
善言,無瑕謫;
善計,不用籌策;

In stormy days, keep Serenity with you. That way, thinking clears.

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