2009年12月16日 星期三


二章:Blame Sweden

And Canada of course.

A while back I wrote complaining about the internationalization of english in music as a means of allowing artists to be servants of power. I talked about Hitler Youth tryout (unsuccessful, I guess) and Canadian alumni (when you graduate from Canada do they give you a US passport?) Avril Lavigne and tried to compare the kind of thing she was doing with your average run of the mill mildly successful pop act, Panic at the Disco. What I forgot to do was take the blame off of L.A. Reid and Lou Perlman and put some of it on Sweden.

Yes, people like Reid and Perlman are the true enemies of talent and quality. They are interested in creating acts without talent so they can be replaced again when this shows through and the newness wears off, permanently allowing an industry like theirs to survive. Celebrity and notoriety used to spring from talent, not marketing. People would want to work with you because they thought you were good, not because they thought they could make you good. Finding a 16 year old who you think is hot (sicko) and can kind of sing, and assembling a script for her to read for the next two years is just sad. Although I can't claim to have ever watched an American Idol (or any other version) in entirety, I have to believe the popularity was/is in some sense a repudiation. (Or just another shallow step in our permanent drive for everyone to be on tv and be famous. Either way, you cynical prick.)

Anyway, these dicks like Perlman are the enemy, but they get these Swedish people to 'produce' as well. Well, if some american wants to shit on the language and make everyone sound about as complicated as the beatles on drugs in their early years (my michelle...boop boop boop. Was it a children's record?) I can deal with that, but cross-border warfare touches on the blog's premise, heretofore unstated, (or at least the title, kinda.)

We don't even need to go into the britney back catalog (or most pop songs from the past 15-20 years, before that you have the doughnut hole before you get back to abba days), we can take the high road and go for something like The Knife, Heartbeats.


One night to be confused
One night to speed up truth
We had a promise made
Four hands and then away
Both under influence
We had divine sense
To know what to say
Mind is a razorblade

To call for hands of above to lean on
Would not be good enough for me, no

One night of magic rush
The start - a simple touch
One night to push and scream
And then relief
Ten days of perfect tunes
The colors red and blue
We had a promise made
We were in love

To call for hands of above to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough for me, no
To call for hands of above to lean on
Wouldn't be good enough for me, oh
So, maybe you look at these lyrics and see poetic stylings. No, you have fob english here. And by fob I mean foreigner english (no contracting "would not", odd violations of grammar that are characteristically english learner mistakes ("choices") "mind is a razorblade", odd collocations "speed up truth", short simple sentences, germanic cadences, etc)

So, you probably look at "mind is a razorblade" and think the best of them, but I know better. I know Swedish when I see it. So the next time you hear some pop song and think about the gap you have with mainstream culture, or reminisce about when you were younger it was the same, you can probably partially start to think about blaming the swedish, because they really didn't get your culture. Their words didn't match up with yours, they were silly, and ungrammatical, and non-local, and maybe even non-linear (but probably just more germanic.)

Contrast: Motion City Soundtrack, My favorite accident


I got the message long before you said you knew
There was no chance of us at all
With no velocity and empty-headed hard and far-too-long
I spent two years alone with you
Just when I thought I had forgotten
You came back soft without a sound

Long winded promises of future company
Up close the sound remains the same
Without the reign of terror over every momentary change
We are exactly as before

You hit the road and left me an ocean
I can't swim in the silence of your skin-skin please let me in
Bedsides the time I had to forget you
Inside no chance of us at all

"reign of terror", god forbid we actually make reference to anything. Long sentences with meaning rolled over lines to create texture and amiguity. Actual english poetic stylings (mind is a razorblade vs. long winded promises of future company, up close the sound remains the same), yknow things that show a sign of being part of a cultural community (a language community), not just a language user.

It's very difficult to get local. There's a million places where you can mess up. That is if you're writing slow pussy shit like Motion City Sountrack (or Craig David). Sweden can't really keep up with Tupac.


Born in the ghetto as a hustler older
straight soldier bucking at them busters
No matter how you try niggas never die
We just retaliate with hate then we multiply
see me striking down the block hittin' corners
Mobbin' like a motherfucker livin' like I wanna
Ain't no stoppin' at the red lights I'm sideways
Thug Life motherfucker crime pays

astray? "I got raw when I came to Cali", you just don't hear that in Sweden. gang-related? Do they have gangs in Sweden?

The point? If you're writing music that can be outsourced to Sweden you're probably doing something wrong. It's our fault as much as theirs, and by ours I mean, the organs of power. Didn't seem to have much effect on the people actually using their brains and not writing tunes for Barney or the teletubbies. Sweden can't really compete with Panic or Tupac. But they can write Shakira's english lyrics for her (blind leading the blind, as if shakira wouldn't already be god awful awkward enough without being forced to wear flesh-colored full-body suits and literally howl about she-wolves in cages, really, really?) And she was such a nice girl.


What happened? Where have all the cowboys gone? I guess it's inevitable.


I was a daisy fresh girl and look what you've done to me.


conmigo nada es fácil

2009年12月5日 星期六



You know what people used to do if they had a secret and they didn't want anyone to know?
You know what they would do?


How the hell do you know?


They'd go up a mountain and find a tree.
They'd carve out a hole, whisper their secret into it, and then fill it in with mud.
That way it would always be be stuck in that tree, and nobody else would ever know it.


C'mon, life doesn't have to be so hard. Why don't you find a girl and relax a little bit.


Everyone thinks just like you.


You're right. Simple people like me,
we don't worry like you do.
You take everything to heart.
Tell me what's going on.


I don't know what you're talking about.

你別瞞, 一場朋友

we're friends.
I'm not going to go tell anyone.



I didn't think you would come back.


We'll never be like them.

我還以為我們能 不同於別人

2009年12月2日 星期三

Classic 經典

I wanted to post a follow up to the whoreification of the the pop industry featuring the new 50 cent single "Baby by me" complete with translations and comments (And the fact that it's little less than a lift of T.I.'s "Whatever you like" from less than two years ago). Maybe I'll do that eventually, or maybe I'll just comment that once a rapper goes solidly from content, or hard content, to how girls are his thing, that's when rap turns to hip-hop. Remember Method Man? Remember the 90s? From Gangsta, to I'llsexya. (Ok, back in the 90s it was still I'lltakeyaouttodinner. I know, lame.)

But then Tiger came out and he is just great. Nothing like that Swedish supermodel wife and mother of your two young kids just not doing it for you. You know when really attractive girls insist they aren't good looking and go to gay guys for style advice, and hair cuts, and manicures, and cuddling, and crying, and lots of other shit? How they insist no one likes them or that they are too fat or never good enough? How they have no self-esteem and let guys cheat on them, treat them like crap, or even abuse them? Well, ok.

Tiger was known for his clean image (and by known, I mean people who didn't know anything. People who were close to him, or the media or others probably knew that guy was scoring serious off-set tail. I'd love to go off on celebrities here, but I won't. They're probably just regular people who get a chance to act out the dick dreams that most regular people have.) He was also known for his privacy. People known for their privacy are sometimes nice, quit people who just want things private, want things simple. And sometimes people like privacy because they got lots of shit to hide. Tiger apparently had at least three.

Just listen to this guy.


Hey it's uh, it's Tiger, I need you to do me a huge favor. Um, can you please, uh, take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and um, may be calling you. So if you can, please take your name off that. And um, what do you call it, just have it as a number on the voicemail. Just have it as your telephone number, that's it. Ok? You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye."


嗨,我是,我是老虎。我真的需要你幫忙。嗯,你可以把你的名字從你的電話中刪除掉嗎?我的太太檢查了我的電話,嗯,她或許會給你電話。如果你可以的話,請把你的名字 刪掉,嗯,叫什麼來著,只用在語音留言中留下一個電話號碼就可以了,電話號碼就好了,就這樣,OK?你需要為我這樣做。非常重要。快點。好了。拜拜。


2009年11月21日 星期六

November 19th, 2003.

Dinner at Kang's again.

Are we like those bored couples,
you feel sorry for in restaurants?
Are we the dining dead?

"I can't stand the idea of us being a couple people think that about."







2009年11月17日 星期二

and now for some more Mary Karr

From the essay Against Decoration


That the poetry of the first half of this century often was too difficult... is a truism that it would be absurd to deny. How our poetry got this way--how romanticism was purified and exaggerated and "corrected" into modernism... how poet and public stared at each other with righteous indignation, till the poet said, "Since you won't read me, I'll make sure you can't--is one of the most complicated and interesting of stories.


My opinion of ornament became cemented a few years back when I sat through a partial reading of Merill's epic Changing Light at Sandover. At the crowded reception after, I stood elbow to elbow with some friends--poets and critics whose opinions I respect and who were jubilant about the performance. I asked each in turn what he or she liked in the reading, which parts were moving, because I assumed that I had missed something. But their faces remained empty. No one seemed to remember much. Maybe my question seemed too bone-headed to warrant an answer, but no one seized upon an instant or quoted a line to support the consensus that the reading was a smash. These friends in the wee hours quote Hopkins by the yard, or rehash the details of Sir Philip Sidney's Defence of Poetry. Yet ten minutes after an allegedly brilliant reading, the poems had merely washed after audience, leaving no traces except for some vague murmurings.

I drove home feeling awful, thinking that something terrible had happened to poetry, that a trick had been played on readers, and small wonder that the number of readers continued to decline. Somehow, the poetry that made our pulses race, that could flood us with conviction and alter our lives, had been replaced by fancy decoration, which can only leave us nodding smugly to one another, as if privy to some inside joke.


In my view, emotion in a reader derives from reception of a clear rendering of primal human experiences: fear of death, desire, loss of love, celebration of being. To spark emotion, a poet must strive to attain what Aristotle called simple clarity. The world that the reader apprehends through his or her senses must be clearly painted, even if that world is wholly imaginary, as, say, in much of the work of Wallace Stevens.

2009年11月16日 星期一

Mary Karr

From wikipedia:

Karr thinks of herself first and foremost as a poet. She was a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry in 2005 and has won Pushcart prizes for both her poetry and her essays. Karr has published four volumes of poetry: Abacus (Wesleyan University Press, CT, 1987, in its New Poets series), The Devil's Tour (New Directions NY, 1993, an original TPB), Viper Rum (New Directions NY, 1998, an original TPB), and her new volume Sinners Welcome (HarperCollins, NY 2006). Her poems have appeared in major literary magazines such as Poetry, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly.

She is a controversial figure in the American poetry "establishment," thanks to her Pushcart-award winning essay, "Against Decoration," which was originally published in the quarterly review Parnassus (1991) and later reprinted in Viper Rum. In this essay Karr took a stand in favor of content over poetic style. She argued emotions need to be directly expressed, and clarity should be a watch-word: characters are too obscure, the presented physical world is often "foggy" (that is imprecise), references are "showy" (both non-germane and overused), metaphors over-shadow expected meaning, and techniques of language (polysyllables, archaic words, intricate syntax, "yards of adjectives") only "slow a reader"'s understanding. Karr directly criticized well-known, well-connected, and award-winning poets such as James Merrill, Amy Clampitt, Vijay Seshadri, and Rosanna Warren (daughter of Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Penn Warren). Karr favors controlled elegance to create transcendent poetic meaning out of not-quite-ordinary moments, presenting James Merrill's "Charles on Fire" as a successful example.

While some ornamentations Karr rails against are due to shifting taste, she believes much is due to the revolt against formalism which substituted sheer ornamentation for the discipline of meter. Karr notes Randall Jarrell said much the same thing, albeit more decorously, nearly fifty years ago. Her essay is meant to provide the technical detail to Jarrell's argument. As a result of this essay Karr earned a reputation for being both courageous and combative, a matured version of the BB-gun toting little hellion limned in The Liars' Club.

2009年10月9日 星期五


That European award committee "that matters" announced Big O is getting the big P about 5 minutes ago. It's safe to say this took people by surprise. It's also hard to see this as anything other than a giant big fuck you to W. I mean Al Gore was clearly well-qualified and he had to share his award. It could also be a prayer or an appeal to keep the drive for multilateralism alive. It's probably both. But still, guys, you couldn't wait a year or two, or 4 or 8 or 12? It's one thing to care and change your posture on all these things when you start, but what about after a while. Will he still want to a chair a committee when he's 64? Did they really just give him an award for being the first sitting president to say we weren't going to go it alone as a policy? Are they just giving the american's an award for not disappointing them again (and because they won't give any Americas else the Obel for Lit anytime soon)?

I tend to think the silliness and randomness of their award-giving (no offense Herta, I love your work) is symptomatic of and furthering the slide toward strangeness and irrelevance. One day someone with balls is going to stand up and just kick those people out or set up a group to replace them. People get old and stodgy, so I'll be the nobel committee will be like this for another 50 years. Then again, we did all of a sudden get a black president, so anything's possible.

2009年10月7日 星期三

美國不是我們的家 - 野火集 龍應台

This more appropriately belongs in Hard Drafts, but whatever yo. Parts 2 and 3 shortly, I'm lazy.

America isn't our home
Long Yingtai

Part 1

I received lots of letters in the mail. An older reader wrote, “Every time I read one of your essays my heart starts racing and it won’t stop. My tears start falling and they won’t let up.” A college student wrote, “Before we all end up apathetic, please tell us what we can do for Taiwan, our so-called ‘motherland’?” An high school student had this to say, “Anything we do won’t make a difference anyway. After I graduate I’m just going to leave for America.”

That young people are angry and pissed and older people are sad and in tears certainly isn’t due to the quality of my essays. For people who care to notice, this outpouring of emotion reveals two things. One, the seriousness of the situation facing us today. The pathetic nature of the environment we live in isn’t something only the servants of the upper class are complaining about, they’ve become a problem for everyone. Two, is the feeling of powerlessness individuals have. If this society had any useful ways of allowing people to express their opinions and see their demands met, things wouldn’t have reached the explosive level they are at now. They wouldn’t be looking to a trivial bunch of essays to express their anger.

The second issue is much more serious than the first. No matter how much the environment deteriorates or how complex are problems become, if people take the appropriate actions and believe they can make a difference, they will continue to forge ahead successfully. If on the other hand, our problems aren’t that serious but people believe they have no ability to change things, their frustration will just build up inside them waiting to explode.

Six months ago a young girl who loved reading went over and killed her neighbor because she was always reading loudly and disturbing her. There’s obviously no excuse for violence, but let’s look at the causes here. If all this girl had to do was call the police and they would come and tell the girl to stop, couldn’t we have prevented this murder? Even if she called over and over begging the police to stop her and they didn’t do anything, and she went and pleaded with the other women to stop reading over and over to no avail, couldn’t she just have moved? But seriously, where in Taipei can you find any guarantee of peace and quiet? With the annoyance day after day and night after night and no reasonable chance to change things, what was she supposed to do?

After Socrates was condemned to death he decided against breaking out of prison. He said, “When I’m faced with a system I’m not happy with I have two choices: I can either leave the country or I can try to improve it by taking the appropriate legal actions. I have no right to destroy the entire system just to fight against it.”

2009年9月29日 星期二


I sometimes imagine that people will ask me why Avril Lavigne is marketable worldwide (China) and a group like Panic at the Disco is not. Of course no one ever asks me this type of question, but I digress. I mean, what's the real difference here? They're both pale enough to be part of the Twilight cast. They're both young and interested in making lots of cash by being tools of corporate machines. Is it really just because Avril is a girl and is (sometimes) blonde?

Let's take an Avril song. Girlfriend:

Hey, hey,
You, you,
I don't like your girlfriend,
No way, no way,
Think you need a new one,
Hey, hey,
You, you,
I could be your girlfriend,
Hey, hey,
You, you,
I know that you like me,
No way, no way,
No its not a secret,
Hey, hey,
You, you,
I want to be your girlfriend.

Ok, maybe that's not fair. Let's look at a verse.

I can see the way,
I see the way you look at me,
And even when you look away,
I know you think of me,
I know you talk about me all the time,
Again and again,
So come over here,
And tell me what I wanna hear,
Better yet, make your girlfriend dissappear,
I don't wanna hear you say her name ever again (again and again and again).

I tried.

Now, let's take something like London beckoned songs about money written by machines by Panic at the Disco


Well we're just a wet dream for the webzine
Make us it
Make us hip
Make us scene
Or shrug us off your shoulders
Don't approve a single word that we wrote

and a verse:

I'm burning and I'm blacking my lungs
Boy, you know it feels good with fire back on your tongue
If you talk, you better walk
You better back your shit up
With more than good hooks
While you're all under the gun
Start talking "a sensationalist"
Oh, he's slightly clever to just a certain extent.
Oh, keep quiet! Let us sing like the doves
Then decide if it's done with purpose or lack thereof

I like to think of this as Hemmingway syndrome: pieces of culture A that are the easiest to assimilate and comprehend form an disproportionate share of country B's cultural consumption and understanding of A. To combat this kind of situation there are two strategies. One, decent language education. If your goals in teaching language are mere small your results will be small (Hemmingway readers, at best). Communication and reading at the level of air-traffic controllers will be possible. A boring world. If you want to pique interest you have to engage a culture and that's done by giving students the opportunity to deal with a culture and language as they are. Don't hold your breath. Two, translation. Translation can translate meaning and it can translate style. In the chinese translation world it seems that the translation of meaning placed in a chinese framework was and is dominant. This does not have to be the case. You're not going to get hip-hop into chinese by making it read like Mandopop. You have to bring it into chinese as chinese hip-hop and this will inevtiably involve dirty words like 'slang' and 'dialect.' The gap that needs to be bridged is one of register, appropriateness and form. It's the reason Shakespeare suffers a fate far worse than Homer in my opinion. Fortunately Homer was lucky enough to be written in Greek, meaning we feel free to update him. We can bring it into proper modern registers both high and low. Shakespeare on the other hand is condemned to remain a museum piece, our new latin. Shakespeare doesn't have to be updated to be Save the Last Dance 2 (I'm looking at you Julia Stiles), and it doesn't have to be silly and deep for sake's sake (I'm looking at you Ethan Hawke, and Baz Luhrman). It just needs to be touched up so it can be absorbed in a real way and not as an assignment.

Basically I'm blaming the internationalization of English for a lot, but the problems start at home. Silliness and old conventions have to be debated and challenged. If your enemies are old, you might just have to wait a few years and let them die (no offense to the recent passing of William Safire). The older generations who grew up mid 20th century don't share our convictions on a lot of things. They were schooled with the previous generations knowledge, not the things being discovered and debated from the 50s to 90s. America went pretty fast from a Reagan /Bush country to an Obama country with gay marriage and the people in power positions aren't necessarily your natural allies.

Dealing with reality is good. The closer you get to dealing with the heart of things the better.

Old does not equal high register. It just equals old. Fart jokes from Aristophanes better not come into English as a bunch of logos (unless you're British and your jokes still tend to resemble Victorian English from time to time, I guess that's what happens when you lack black culture or a real counterculture). And not all Western literature should read like Fu Lei. The only reason we even have that kind of translation is because of 方言 suppression, but that's a whole other post.

2009年9月28日 星期一



Guido, I haven't been this excited about German language policy since the orthographic reform of 1996. Danke.


2009年8月24日 星期一

陰影 新井一二三 心井 新井

心井 新井

Xinjing Yiersan (Arai Hifumi)
Xinjing Xinjing (My heart)


In the film "Pretty Woman", Richard Gere says to Julia Roberts, "I paid my therapist a million dollars to be able to tell my father 'I hate you." I didn't spend that much money, (maybe about half that), so maybe that's why to this day I still can't say that same line to my mother.

Obviously, movies are different from real life and America is different from Japan. If I really did tell my mother I hated her I don't think it would solve anything; it would probably just cause more problems. So, I just can't say it.

When I first went and saw my jewish therapist it was to deal with my problem dealing with people. But, it wasn't long before the problem became about my mother. From that point on, once or twice a week for a year, I would tell him my memories of my mother from my youth.

Whether all that energy, time and money spent really did anything is hard to say. Also, my parting with that therapist in the end turned out to be less than amicable. But, some of the things he said really did help me understand myself better.

For example, he once said, "People who like writing or drawing from a very young age often have a very difficult reality around them to deal with. So, they often escape to another world where no one can interefere with anything."

I've liked writing ever since I was little. Thinking about my own situation when I was younger, what he says is about right. After I grew up, I kept on writing. These past few years I've written mostly using foreign languages.

A few years ago in Hong Kong one of my books was published and I was invited onto a talk show. The host asked me, "Why don't you write in Japanese instead of writing in Chinese?"

I immediately thought of what that jewish therapist said and replied, "Because my mother can't read it." The host thought I didn't want to my mother to see the details of personal life, but in reality, I wasn't concerned with her reading any specific part. I just wanted a free space to be able breathe, to be able think.

To be honest, my trips around the world to different countries, all these years living abroad, was really just to escape my mother. It was about finding my own free space. It's just that my mother is much tougher than me. One time, when I was living in Canada, I got into some serious trouble. When my spirits were at their low point she called and told me, "Don't come home." After that, my self-imposed exile became banishment.

Around that time I was at a bar, and an older philosophy professor asked me, "How long are you planning on staying here?" I was little tipsy, and because he was a little old, I strangely decided to be honest, "Until my mother is dead." The professor smiled and said, "You're still young, so maybe you don't know, but, your kind of situation is quite common."

It was probably about that time that I started writing about my mother. First I used English, then I switched to using Chinese. I never used Japanese to write about her though. It's not just I'm scared she'll see it, it's also that I just can't do it.

Last year I gave up my wandering existence of ten-plus years and headed home. I used my husband as an excuse for finally coming back. If God hadn't let me meet him in Hong Kong I'd probably still be wandering around the world.

I've granted myself a pardon to return home, but my mother hasn't said anything. She has, however, done something. When she does something she takes her time and oftentimes she gets you when you're not looking. Luckily, I'm quite used to this. My husband, on the other hand, was quite shocked at first. Later he started to say, "Your mother really is something. You should write a book about her."

I have thought about that before, but to describe a person, a person that close to you, there's not enough words. If I write a book and make it fictional, I suppose I'd be able to make her a very fleshed-out character and finally explore a woman who's had a huge influence over my life. Now isn't the time though; better to wait until she's passed away.

Nowadays I have my own home. In addition to my husband and my son, I also have a door to keep my mother from interefering with my life, or banishing me from Japan. Among her five children, I'm the only one to lead an completely independent life. My four brother and sister all live in houses she helped with, they all use money she gives to them.

Sometimes I have to see my mother. A few days ago I started to worry about how she would hurt me when I saw her. It was a vague, but certain feeling of dread. I remembered the feeling when I was younger where I always felt that shadow cast over me.

One day, to get out from under that shadow, I'm going to write about that shadow herself.

2009年8月23日 星期日


Have the cows come home yet?

Till the cows come home.

Why we don't expressions into different languages. They don't feel right and hence lose their power. Important things are always lost. Trying to save them is often the source of the problem of dealing with letting them go.

2009年8月21日 星期五

孤獨與瘋狂 郝譽翔


Loneliness and Madness
Hǎo​ Yù​xiáng​


I really like Takeshi Kitano. A few days ago I went and saw "Achilles and the Tortoise. Only seven other people showed up to the matinee showing I attended. There in the darkness I cried my eyes out. I know this movie, and most of the other recent movies by Kitano, provoked a very mixed response, but I what can I say, I really like this film. I even loved its flaws. Even something's flaws can be part of it's appeal, like how his face won't stop twitching after he's been hurt.

Incredibly, there's a creator who can make me yearn for tolerance. This is probably the joy of being a reader. But, that's just my personal feeling. When I was in the theater, and the lights hadn't come up yet, I heard a guy get up and say to his friend in front of him, "I'm definitely going to fall asleep." They both nodded and yawned. Later, I heard couple of girls who were complaining as they walked out, "It's like a crazy person made this movie."

Sitting there with a face still wet with tears was more than a bit awkward. You would think that audeince at the Changchun theatre would be full of people who really liked movies, but their reaction was incredibly different than mine. Everybody piles into a little dark droom and for two hours develops a unique impression no one can guess at. The illusion that the projector brings about is like the director leading each person with a flashlight according to the darkness at the pit of their soul. Sometimes it really makes me think that watching a film is more solitary than reading, and maybe more sad.

I just remembered, I actually became acquainted with Kitano's work when I was a kid.

When I was in my first year of middle school my father took me to see Nagisa Oshima's "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence". That was the last time we went went to see a movie together. Even after I was older we still never went again. His take on "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" is something I'll never forget, with genuine shock he said, "This movie didn't even have a single woman in it!"

I still remember my father buying scalped tickets for the movie. Thinking back it's hard to imagine, but Oshima's film was full of violence. There wasn't a single open seat at two-story theater at Ximending. I had no idea it was an art film, and had no idea who the director was. Although I just stumbled into that film, when it was over it was like I was a new person. On the way home I just stared out window and didn't say a word. I was only thirteen then and I didn't know much about anything, but that movie set off something inside me. To this day I still don't know what it is about that movie that so moved me. I was so crazy for the movie that I went and saw it eleven times. I kept the story it was based on in the pocket of my school uniform for three years. I'd put my hand over it and get a strange feeling of relief. I memorized the details of that source material backwards and fowards: the culture clash of East and West, the symbolic meaning of rituals. Imagining I understood it all, I took it all in. It didn't hurt my impression of the film or lead actor Ryuichi Sakamoto's intensity.

That intensity makes me nostalgic. Kitano is also one of the leads in the film and his perfomance is no less impressive than Sakamoto's. Back then probably nobody knew, and I definitely didn't know, that that bald commander in film would one day become a famous director.

But, who cares if I didn't know? I'm nostalgic for that time when I didn't have any intellectual background or any reasons. I miss when I just had pure enjoyment. I didn't care about art or theory, I just wanted to sit in that dark room and watch people who lived in a world totally different from ours. If these days I still have some kind of romantic yearning for the past, it's probably just to sit in a packed theater. In that sealed off era, movies were the one light for our hearts.

2009年8月13日 星期四

Leiningen Versus the Ants

1. There will be pictures of the ants, eventually, or as I call them, miniature cockroaches.

2. From the 三更半夜 files. According to 我的台語老師 (goa ê tâi-gí lāu-su), the pronunciation of the 更 in fact changed from 'geng' to 'jing' after she was no longer a child and now she simply will not adjust her pronunciation. But, the interesting part of the discussion comes from the Taiwanese expression 暝時 (mê-sî) which is 晚上 / 夜間. My teacher informs me that first character in 夜市 (iā-chhī) should really be 暝, (which is read ming2 in mandarin), but that people today are a bunch of pussies. (Ok, she didn't say that last part.)

(If you can't read these characters go here: http://taigi.fhl.net/TaigiIME/。 It's all I could have ever hoped for, now I don't only use a government monitored IME, I use one made by the God-fearing people of FHL. Guess I'm a bit god-fearing with that caps on God, but not God fearing enough to go all G-d on you.)

3. And the real reason for a post (because yesterdays start at translating 從西而不化到西而化之 into English was promptly abandoned as a horrible idea, even in theory, which I knew well before I started. After translating quite a bit I finally did stop however. Maybe in the future I'll feel stupid again.


Anyway, so the reason for the post. Sometimes I hate wikipedia for a lot of reasons. Doesn't ever stop me using it as my primary everything for everything in everything. But then there are times when I truly appreciate it:

"Recently, the campaign took on a theme "hua yu Cool" (华语 Cool!), and use TV game shows and music performances by local pop stars, to increase the awareness, especially in younger people. However, this is sometimes viewed as a mockery of the campaign's intents, as Mandarin (华语) 's 'coolness' has to be expressed in English."


Ah, Mandarin promotion, an endless source of fun.

Also of note, 'cool' in the american sense of, well pretty much all the commonly used and expected american senses, seems to be poorly developed in Taiwan. I blame Japan for this (Kawaii culture), and misogyny. Cool still seems stuck in the 酷 formation meaning something closer to distant/standoffish/cool, (too cool for school, cool), which doesn't have a lot of traction in actual usage. Yes, there's a lot of expressions and phrases, but actualy usability is rather limited.

You can say, "Oh, you think you're so cool." but really this a mixture of arrogance and cool's other meaning (something like "better", but which is essentially irreducable and can only be defined at great length).

You can't really freely use "cool" to mark persons as "arrogant/standoffish/distant/cool" and if you do, you have to couch it with more elaboration.

I'd like to create an English used in spoken Chinese to English translator's guide, but I'm sure it's just another project I'll get to never. Dealing with things like "pose", "show", "care", "cool" and translating the english back into usable english.

So, how do you handle the desire to describe someone as "cool/distant/standoffish" in a succint manner? I think that's a simple thing that's lost on culture's which seem to shy away from slang vulguarity (I'm looking at and blaming you Japan, and misogyny in general.)

The guy at the party was real cool, yknow?

Oh, you mean he was a dick?
Oh, you mean that asshole in the corner who wouldn't talk to anyone?
Oh, that prick. Don't worry about him.

American english functions with a fair amount of cursing and slang. It's absense can render simple things awkward (see "cool").

4. Ok, Mandarin promotion. We'll save that for another day.

2009年8月4日 星期二

Hello Saferide, Long Lost Penpal

Hello, do you remember me?
I am your long lost penpal.
It must have been ten years ago we last wrote.
I don't really know what happened,
I guess life came in the way.
Let me know if you're still alive,
let me know if you ever used that knife or not.

Hello, yes I remember you.
I've got a husband and two children now.
I work as an accountant and make fairly good money.
I still have your letters, you used a pink pen to write them.
And you would comfort me
when my tears would stain the ink
and I would send you mix tapes with Kate Bush on them.

I have to admit I sometimes lied in those letters
tried to make life better than it was.
I still wasn't kissed at sixteen,
and I still need a friend.

There was this letter,
I never told you this back then,
but it would be fair to say it saved my life.
I sat in the window
the only one left out from a party again.
Pretty sure I didn't have a single friend,
then I checked the mailbox.

Dear long lost penpal,
I was lying the whole time.
I'm really a 46 years old man named Luke.
I have three children
and a wife, she doesn't care.
And I hope you don't resent me,
and I hope you do not hate me
for trying to find my way back to what it's like to be young.

I have to admit I sometimes lied in those letters,
tried to make life better than it was.
I still wasn't kissed at sixteen.
And I still need a friend.

Non-native-speakers. A 46 years old man? No.



你好, 我還記得你

而我會寄給你有Kate Bush的混合磁帶。









2009年5月9日 星期六

This is who we are.
No. This is who we be.

This is how we do it.
This is who we are.
This is how we are.
This is how we be.

Apparently the community can't seem to bring T.I and Rihanna into Chinese.
Hopefully someone will take this small sprinkling, trash it and rewrite a complete one.


Live your life 活出你自己

Got everybody watching what I do
Come walk in my shoes
and see the way I'm livin' if you really want to
Got my mind on my money
and I'm not going away


So keep on getting your paper,
and keep on climbing
look in the mirror,
and keep on shining
Till the game ends,
till the clock stops
We gonna post up on the top spot


Living the life, the life
In a brand new city got my whole team with me
The life, the life
I do how I wanna do
I'm living my life, my life
I will never lose,
I'm living my life, my life
And I'm not stopping


2009年4月26日 星期日

conversations with other women 与其他女人对话

You know for the longest time I used to think I saw you on the street? Up until last year, yknow? Now it turns out you're in London.You been there how long?
Nine years.
Nine years. Nine years of women about your height and your color of hair that weren't you. Nine years of a walk or a gesture that sent me tearing down the street, my heart racing. See, isn't that just like the city, those...having someone you once thought you knew very well can up and leave the country and you don't even know it.

你知道吗,很长时间我都以为我在街上见到了你。 直到去年。 原来你在伦敦。 你在那里多久?
九年。 九年里的都是和你一样高,跟你的发色一样,但都不是你。 九年里,一个姿势或比划能使我跑到街上,心跳也跑了。 这样就是这个城市。。。有一个你以为很熟悉的人突然离开这个国家,而你什么都不知道。



2009年3月31日 星期二

外面的世界 The oustside world

外面的世界 The outside world


A long, long time ago
You held me, and I held you
A long, long time ago
You left me, and went soaring away

The outside world is wonderful
The outside world is intolerable
When you feel that the outside world is wonderful
I'll be here faithfully wishing the best for you

Every time the sun sets,
I'm here missing you
Even in the pouring rain,
I'll still be here waiting for you to come back.

A long, long time ago
You held me, and I held you
A long, long time ago
You left me, and went soaring away

The outside world is wonderful
The outside world is intolerable
When you feel that the outside world is intolerable,
I'll be here patiently waiting for you

Every time the sun sets,
I'm here missing you
Even in the pouring rain,
I'll still be here waiting for you to come back.

The outside world is wonderful
The outside world is intolerable
When you feel that the outside world is intolerable,
I'll still be here patiently waiting for you

Every time the sun sets,
I'm here missing you
Even in the pouring rain,
I'll still be here waiting for you to come back.



2009年3月25日 星期三

王小波是我们这个时代最虚伪、最丑陋的神话之一, Wang Xiaobo is our one of our generation’s most hypocritical and ugly myths

王小东 – Wang Xiaodong

十一、 王小波是我们这个时代最虚伪、最丑陋的神话之一

Chapter 11, Wang Xiaobo is our one of our generation’s most hypocritical and ugly myths


中国不高兴, China is not happy

第三部分 放下小菩萨 塑伟大之目标,

Part 3, Stop worshiping idols and create some real goals

Wang Xiaobo is one of our generations most hypocritical and ugly myths. Exposing this myth is a deed of supreme merit. Even if people aren’t persuaded at first, as long as a seed of doubt can be put out, a doubt with actual basis, then the myth isn’t far from being exposed. I’ve certainly thought about this before, but I was always a little busy, and I couldn’t stand reading his stupid articles. But, I was fortunate enough to meet a few of his fans. People who were closer to him or people who knew the truth about him would probably be more able to do this than me.

A post I put up that clearly alluded to Wang Xiaobo’s wife caused a bit of controversy. A person online named Alex had the insightful comment, “It seems as you have quite a bit of criticism for Wang Xiaobo…I don’t think Wang Xiaobo is stupid. His ideas are rather commonplace. I don’t know if you’ve read Wang Xiaobo’s novels or not, but that is where his true achievements are. Compared to Europe, his praise for America is rather limited, or even hidden. He ranks things like this: Europe, America, China. From what I understand, he’s only traveled through Europe so the things he was able to connect with were rather limited. This helped to form the construction of Europe in his head. Wang Xiaobo’s criticisms of China are not without merit. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what he was thinking, he insisted on placing these criticisms alongside his praise for Europe and America creating a certain bad effect. Many people have seized upon this point. For example, Mr. Zhu took Wang’s praise of Western culture and simplified it into ‘Western rationalism.’ Wang Xiaobo’s intentions are good and this is something lacking in many of the ‘freedom activists’ today. Although before he died he asserted that China needed freedom before it could really begin anything, I think if he knew about the events of the past ten years he might move a bit closer to China’s position.”

To be honest, I simply can’t read Wang Xiaobo’s novels or essays. From this perspective, my understanding of him isn’t that great so I can’t hold that strong of an opinion against him. But, one thing is clear, he certainly got taken really good in America. When he came home it was it was nothing but assaults on Chinese people and a perfect picture of the West. These are the actions of a cheat. This is what I’ve seen and this is why I have nothing but contempt for him.

The only things I’ve read of Wang Xiaobo’s are a few letters and a few articles attacking Chinese people. I’ve mainly got to know him through some fights he’s got into with some of my friends. But, it’s like Sir Athur Conan Doyle put it, “If you want to know if an egg is rotten you don’t have eat it.” No matter what his novels or essays are like, I still think he’s a rotten egg because I can smell his rotten odor. It’s that odor that prevents me from being to read his works and making a lot of comments him. I have to leave that work to others.

Alex, that person online, said, “You’re right about this point. It’s rather sad. Wang Xiaobo’s time living in America as a student was very representative. Later, he strategically avoided talking about this, preferring instead to talk about the faults of the Chinese people. This is his biggest fault. However, I’m more familiar with him than you are and I’m able to sympathize with him more. He didn’t buy into the myth of the West and he’s still much better than the freedom fighters nowadays. His top priority was giving these American-bred freedom fighters a dose of reality, showing regular Chinese people what Chinese people in America were really living like. If someone doesn’t know their own strength, they’ll spend an eternity working for someone else. There are a lot of Chinese people who are slaves to the West, but most of them would never admit it.”

Wang Xiaobo’s little brother was killed by an American and his body was left on the side of the road. According to the police, they estimated that before he died he had struggled for quite a long time. During that time, not a single American went to help him. Although his brother’s death came after he had already died, the tough life his brother was living was something Wang Xiaobo knew about very well. Originally, Wang Xiaobo had the most authentic personal experiences, and according to you guys, he could write very well. He came home to tell the regular people here what struggles the Chinese people in America were facing, but what happened? Tell me, how can you make not look down on him?

It’s been a decade or two, but these days, under the influence of Wang Xiaobo, Chinese people living in America are still displaying some sad signs. A friend of mine recently went to America. In San Francisco he went out to dinner with some friends who had been living there for a long time. Along the way the bumped into a white person who for no reason decided to hit one of his friends. My friend wanted to fight back but the four others absolutely forbid it. On the way back, no one said a word. Finally, my friend spoke up, “So, this is the life you’ve been living after all.” Their faces turned white. At last, they exploded. But, they didn’t have anything bad to say about the Americans, only assaults on the Chinese people and their lack of class. These people are all Wang Xiaobo and I will always look down on them.