Archive for 2011年2月

Chinese Studies blogs

二月 28, 2011

In 2004/2005 or so in Beijing, my wife and I became friends with some parents of other kids at the local kindergarten. One mother had studied art in Japan and introduced me to blogging. Since early 2008 I have a website at Yahoo Japan. (I had spent a few weeks in Japan in early 1993, on a boat trip from Shanghai.) There is a blog I maintain at Langmates (translation and localization), another one for poems only (almost) and a harmonized teaser, among others. My translations of poems and various signs and banners in China can also be found on websites set up by Sam Brier (2004) and by Charles Laughlin (Ma Lan’s poetry). MCLC (Modern Chinese Literature and Culture), edited by Kirk Denton, has not only spawned an extensive treasure trove of Modern Chinese Literature and Culture sources, but also an Email-list server which has maintained professional and other exchange services for the international Chinese Studies community and beyond, including some very lively discussions. Recently, list members have introduced their blogs, such as Anne Henochowicz, Andrew Field, Jeanne Boden and Charles Laughlin. The initiative was started by Paul Manfredi.

Zhan Bing 詹冰(綠血球 Taipei: 笠, 1965), from


Libya & Other Countries

二月 22, 2011

As rich European countries go, maybe Austria is just as bad as Italy or France. Only smaller, more provincial. Newest anti-foreigner laws package passed on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd, 2011. The protesters in Egypt didn’t really look to America or Western Europe, but to protest experiences in Serbia and such. At least that’s what I remember from reports in the NY Times, among others. A Chinese friend told me he was watching the Arab protests very much,while he was in Europe, because the pictures from Egypt reminded him of Beijing in 1989.

China has had too many so-called revolutions under Mao and a big failure with protests for civil rights and democracy in 1989. But there are many protests in China all the time. Labor unrest, land seizures, health hazards etc.. There may also be a big craving for stability, hence the hesitation to participate in larger protests. The op-ed in the NYT (IHT) by Daniel Bell, designated Western politics professor in Tianjin, was very academic. Or very wishy-washy. Civil rights are universal. No, China’s not so special. Reporters know, especially when they go to see the blind Women’s rights activist lawyer in Shandong and get waylay-ed and beaten. No, nobody cares about supposed academic discussions on why democracy might not work. Yes, people try to lead a good life, individually, for their family, and sometimes they notice the limits, and try to work around them, and many do talk about it. Sorry for the rambling. As I said, rich countries are no beacons. Maybe I am more politics-sensitive than before, since we moved back to Austria from China, after 10 years in Beijing and a few more in other cities. Roger Cohen is right, the EU doesn’t look very good at all these days.

Don't bother

Don't bother

Valentine’s Day

二月 15, 2011

it’s not quite spring
a bird is singing in a tree
above the snow
the children eat
or clear away for joy and play
all close to home
i didn’t get you anything
when i was small there was this store
and there we would get violets
or tulips something colourful
to bring your mom or grandmother
and that was all.

MW Febr. 2011


二月 14, 2011

Date Time From To Message (For poems see here or click below and scroll all the way down on the page)
2/27/2009 7:29:27 PM Nitram Lomy – 还想再看 是我。晚上才回來了,對不起。
2/27/2009 7:37:19 PM Nitram Lomy – 还想再看 明天再試一下好吧?
3/6/2009 3:09:19 PM Nitram Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal Hallo, wie geht’s?
3/6/2009 3:09:36 PM Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal Nitram Hi, gute abend.
3/6/2009 3:09:55 PM Nitram Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal 這里下午三點
3/6/2009 3:11:49 PM Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal Nitram Aber es ist die schlaffen Zeit fuer Martin.
3/6/2009 3:11:59 PM Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal Nitram hahah
3/6/2009 3:12:32 PM Nitram Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal 剛翻譯了詩,有時間請看看我的博客
3/6/2009 3:13:16 PM Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal Nitram 老实说,生活比在北京轻松了么?
3/6/2009 3:13:34 PM Nitram Lomy – Einmal ist keinmal 不

Snow in Beijing

February 13th, 2011

Egypt and China

二月 3, 2011

A sign in Cairo

Chinese sign in Cairo

Any discussion on forbidden topics is worthwhile. And this topic seems to be at least semi-forbidden on websites easily accessible in China. Social unrest is widespread and continues to grow. China is built on denial. Not on the Nile. There is no river in Beijing. I wonder if there has been any precipitation by now since fall. It was pretty bad in 2000, I remember. They dug huge canals all the way from around Nanjing and Wuhan to bring water for Beijing and Tianjin. Imagine a new canal dug through a city center, 100 meter down. That’s what I saw somewhere in Henan in 2007 or so. Maybe most people don’t take part in uprisings yet. As anywhere, people are concerned with their family and their livelihood. Not with the government. Unless something bad enough happens, you don’t need to take action. Maybe you’ll discuss something, like Premier Wen visiting the Beijing Petition Bureau. They do seem to feel the need to address some problems publicly, and not only through suppression. They continue to suppress many words, such as eleven or civil society. Actually I’m not sure if eleven is still sensitive, but it wouldn’t surprise me, since a certain dissident who was sentenced to eleven years on Dec. 25, 2009, got a lot of publicity lately. Any comparison of China with countries in volatile situations is worthwhile. It’s important not to end up in the Nile, or in denial. That’s a nice little joke I heard from our friend Liam, very nice if you’re far away, I guess. To a very large extent, China is built on denial. The same could be said about other societies, like Austria. But maybe at least there is less denial now than 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. In Austria, maybe. It’s a dialectical process, maybe. There is still a lot of denial. But in China denial is at the base of the system. In private talk, if you’re a friend, people will tell you what they went through in the 1950s, -60s, -70s and so on, or what they are doing now, even if it’s against official policy. But is there enough public discussion of past and present grievances and problems? This is already very close to the question Adam (see below) has put in his post. Adam is right, saying that China is very special and very stable and so on often gets very obnoxious. I am very wary of any big-time supportive international collaboration with institutions in China. Just look at what happened at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2009. The organizers cooperated with China’s GAPP, the general administration of pressure and prodding to toe the government line in publishing. The Ministry of Truth. Maybe they had to, to stage a China-themed fair. And the ensuing scandal was good, except for a few officials. Any kind of discussion is good, any kind of publicity, if there is a lot of denial. I wonder if the Robert Bosch trust fund and other Western sources of funding for cooperation with China learned anything. In December there was a discussion in Germany and Austria, after an article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung suggested that Chinese Studies institutions staid away from the topic of the Nobel Peace Prize award for a Chinese dissident. Maybe some of them do, if the people in charge are too closely affiliated with the Confucius Institutes situated right inside the Chinese Studies department, as it is usually the case now. In Vienna, this wasn’t a problem. There was a big discussion on January 11 at the Sinology department of the East Asian Institute, one of the most engaged and open events at Vienna University in a while, probably. Bei Ling, author of the Liu Xiaobo biography was there, reading and talking to an enthusiastic crowd, in a very interesting discussion about the roles of intellectuals and public institutions. Professor Weigelin was fully in her element. Prof. Findeisen and Dr. Wemheuer contributed important points on literature and society. Who would have thought that in January, people around the world would spontaneously think of 1989? At least for me it feels like back then, very sudden change sweeping through several countries. So of course there are many comparisons. It is nice to live in exciting times, and important not to end up in the Nile. May they have peace and better times in Egypt soon!

Shanghai Scrap (2/1/11):

Comparing Egypt and China ­ wrong questions, meaningless answers

Sign in Arabic and Chinese

From Language Log

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