Posts Tagged ‘Sichuan’

廖亦武維也納朗誦會 – Liao Yiwu at Vienna Literaturhaus

十月 9, 2015

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Liao Yiwu: Reading at Literaturhaus Vienna
Thursday, 8th of October 2015
PRISON. TEMPLE. (Long Poem) 廖亦武:監獄-寺廟
Liao Yiwu (China) Mein Gefängnis. Mein Tempel.
Übersetzt von Martin Winter. Veröffentlicht in Akzente, Sept. 2015。 Hg. von Herta Müller und Jo Lendle.
Moderator: Wolfgang Popp
Music: Liao Yiwu
Interpreter: Yeemei Guo

Akzente3_24960_MR1.indd

廖亦武:監獄-寺廟

今日冬至,一年中最長的夜
我想起司馬和尚,教我吹簫的師父
在監獄內縮著脖子
猶如一隻已經活夠一千年的烏龜

司馬和尚,或者烏龜的罪名
是顛覆共產黨國家。在遙遠的窮鄉僻壤
數不清的溪流從天上淌下來
帶著雲的倒影,牛羊在雲裡霧裡吃草的倒影
還有星星的倒影。晚秋時分
風兒如密集的響箭射過來,唸佛的和尚
偶爾在廟堂,袖手對若干香客
談論群山盡頭的北京
帝王之都,相當於《西遊記》裡
群魔亂舞的天朝。如果在古代
書生騎馬趕考,至少三個季節才能抵達
西天取經的唐三藏九死一生

不料朝廷鷹犬聞訊而至
這是發明了飛彈的當代,神往唐三藏一般
遠行朝佛的和尚,來不及告別晨鐘暮鼓
就遠行入獄。袈裟換囚服
這是另一個廟,見面禮
是獄吏的三記耳光。唯一的牙齒脫口而出
他拜倒在地,剎那頓悟

修行人啊,獄吏是另一尊佛
當時代如瘋狗,原地打轉
那就咬住自己的尾巴,原地打轉好了
於是日復一日,司馬和尚在傍晚
埋頭吹簫。中國人的歷史順著這竹管
如天上的溪流淌下來。莊子說
聽得見、寫得出的聲音和文字叫人籟
世間的生老病死、愛恨情仇都在其中
而高於人籟的是地籟
大地母親的聲音。石頭、泥巴、木頭和故鄉
太陽的陰莖翻來覆去抽送
種子發芽,村莊燒毀,戰亂突發,勇士回鄉
送葬的長隊爬攏坡地,殤歌裊裊之際
產婦的陣痛開始。有人問,這嬰兒誕生於
陰道還是地縫

無法回答
最高的哲學命題往往無法回答
比如我們從哪兒來、到哪兒去、我們是誰
在偉大的老子眼裡
一切的一切,都出自天籟
看不見、摸不著、聽不見的天籟
超越於我們,卻每時每刻
環繞在我們身邊。哦,西方人叫上帝
許多西方人懷疑上帝的在
許多中國人也懷疑天籟的在

為什麼叫上帝,為什麼叫天籟
為什麼叫天空,為什麼叫牛、羊、豬
還有狗,還有雞,還有雙關語
麵包象征丰富,枯葉暗示重病
獨裁暴君將老百姓比作牲畜,隨意宰割
世間種種命名從何而來?莊子説
如果一開始,我們把天空叫駿馬
那籠罩在人類頭頂的就叫駿馬
而不叫天空。雲
就叫不斷變幻的馬尾。風就叫馬屁
從原野徐徐吹過

司馬和尚繼續冥想
猶如此刻,我在柏林的冬至夜
寫一首叫“冥想和平”的詩,用舌尖品味
從四川老家捎過來的酒
有點辣,有點麻,有點回甜
監獄离故鄉太遠
監獄是司馬和尚這輩子抵達的
最遠的廟。相當於古印度的蘭毗尼
釋迦牟尼誕生地。也相當於今印度的達蘭薩拉
轉世中的達賴喇嘛和噶瑪巴
從西藏翻越喜馬拉雅山脈
流亡於此

老和尚不明白流亡的意義。坐牢的某日
他吹一段簫,讀一段《人民日報》
竟然問出產達賴喇嘛的“西藏”可是“西天”
對此我能說什麼,反正西藏是世界屋脊
緊貼著西天的肚皮。他接著問
無字天書可寫在西藏?對此
我更不能說什麼。反正那兒石頭滿山跑
如地老天荒的骷髏。腦門飄著經幡
風化的眼窩填滿六字真言。
《佛經》無祖國。正如
《聖經》《可蘭經》和《道德經》

所有美好經卷都無祖國
創造經卷的人呢
祖國在哪裡?高牆上下
鷹隼、囚徒或爬蟲的祖國在哪裡

司馬和尚是一條船
在虛無的波濤中
越漂越遠。他不認得西藏
可前世發源於雪域。正如長江的上游
是通天河。雅魯藏布江的下游
是雲南怒江。奔騰向南
是緬甸、老撾、泰國共有的湄公河
祖國和名稱變來變去,可水還是水
被《道德經》和《山海經》一吟三嘆的
峰迴路轉的水

各種語言裡發音不同的水
喝一口就知道
各種語言裡叫法不同的簫
吹一下就知道
各種語言裡形狀不同的船
坐上去就知道。
幾隻祖籍中國的烏鴉,不需要海關
就降落在德國,降落在
一個中國流亡者的庭院內
它們的呱呱鄉音,驚醒
在夢中學德語的我,以及
在松樹枝頭詩意棲居著的荷爾德林
司馬和尚還在吹簫。不不
夜很靜,多年前的老和尚
在我的幻覺裡吹簫。正如幻覺裡同時浮現
中國烏鴉和荷爾德林

這是一個和平的起點,荷爾德林因此
寫下《追憶》和《返鄉》
我在追憶,老和尚也在追憶
時間的此岸和彼岸,在追憶的剎那相聚
我在柏林,靈魂在追憶的剎那返鄉
老和尚在監獄,靈魂在追憶的剎那刑滿釋放

我牽住他虛無的手,漫步於
中國的上空。不不
獨裁中國早已分裂
這十幾億人口的地盤,重新拼湊成
幾十個聯邦。五花八門的意識形態
總統、議會和原始部落並存
歷經劫難的百姓終於安居樂業。葉落歸根
分裂思想卻繼續傳播。有人在選舉前夕
出演《哈姆雷特》:“生存還是毀滅”
有人卻在幕后鸚鵡學舌:“投票還是不投”
於是觀眾紛紛模仿驢叫:“不生存也不毀滅”
而一墻之隔
比梵蒂岡更小的鄰邦
“空談誤國”成為時尚,無所事事的
老子和李白,沒日沒夜飲酒、聊天、對弈
舉棋不定之際,孔子
從黃河出海口的魯國跑來圍觀,指點江山
道可道,非常道,老子笑道
仁弟好為人師,就罰你到青海柴達木做大使

沒料到孔子答應移民
他身長九尺,門徒三千
旅居了十幾個國家,以全球教育為己任
天蒼蒼,地茫茫
故鄉是回不去的遠古,況且
柴達木是鹽湖,可供人類吃幾十萬年
知識也是鹽,孔子即興演講
劫難記憶更是世世代代
不可缺少的鹽。史書記載著
毛澤東、鄧小平、大饑荒、改造
天安門屠殺、法輪功、西藏自焚
猶如德國史書記載著希特勒、猶太人、滅絕
六月十七日起義、昂納克、柏林牆
俄羅斯史書記載著列寧、集體農莊、斯大林
古拉格群島、冷戰和車城戰爭
所有罪惡檔案都深藏地下
不會屍體一般腐朽,也不會
種子一般發芽破土。“永遠不要再發生”
鐫刻在達豪集中營

“永遠不要再發生”鐫刻在
新疆、西藏、廣東、上海的海關、鬧市、墓地
鐫刻在北京故宮、四川人的菜譜、貴州人的
茅臺酒窖、浙江人的西湖
共產帝國、全球監控
喬治.奧威爾的《一九八四》
——“永遠不要再發生”

我吹簫,司馬和尚在我的氣息裡
吹簫。二十多年前
我們相逢獄中,誰曾想過
滄海桑田,老天
會不由自主變得更老
異國他鄉的囚籠是否
有吹簫的和尚?吹單簧管的神父
或吹巴烏的阿訇?一位擅長倉央嘉措情歌的活佛
在拉薩土牢關押多年。當獄吏
禁止吟唱,他心生恨意
卻隨之追悔。達賴尊者啊,這多麼危險
當歌喉被掐斷,我詛咒,我失去了
出家人應該的慈悲

比牆更高的是山

比山更高的還是山

你在夢中越獄
翻過牆、翻過山、翻過雲

俗話說“心比天高”
這個“心比天高”的監獄
誰能翻得過去

已在彼岸的司馬和尚
借我的軀殼如是說
冥想和平的孤鳥
在夜幕盡頭,如閃爍其辭的孤星
簫聲或風聲停了
起伏的樹影與瓦脊
轉瞬凝固,如舊電影裡
褪色的波濤
飲下最後的酒睡吧
最後的四川老家,睡吧
還有藏在樹影背後的荷爾德林
凍得發抖的白嘴烏鴉,早逝的
姐姐和父親,睡吧睡吧
誰的內心永無寧日

2013年歲末於柏林

KOLIK

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HUANG HUA 黄華 – 鄭小瓊 Zheng Xiaoqiong

五月 24, 2015

Screen-Shot-2014-04-12-at-12.50.36-PM-e1397321033362-300x269

Zheng Xiaoqiong 郑小琼: 《女工记》100 Arbeiterinnen
HUANG HUA 黄华

dein baumelnder ärmel reden und lachen
dein dunkles gesicht voller staub aus der betonziegelfabrik
du sitzt auf einem schemel deine kleider schmutzig
von sand und getrocknetem zement dein fettes haar
strohhut und schäbige plastikschuhe …
dein mann arbeitet in einer werkstatt nicht weit von hier
ich wollte deine trauer um deinen arm suchen in wirklichkeit
hast du gar keine du wählst mit einer hand zutaten schneidest gemüse
kochst essen du hast dich gewöhnt dass dir die maschine den halben arm
abgebissen hat du erzählst mir den ganzen vorgang deine gelassenheit
irritiert mich ein bisschen ich kenn das gesetz und die entschädigung
aber du redest von menschlichkeit und gewissen “der chef ist ein guter mensch
außer den ganzen arztkosten hat er noch vierzigtausend gezahlt”
“ich war unvorsichtig der chef ist nicht schuld” du schlitterst
immer weiter in selbstbeschuldigung hörst nicht auf zu plappern
wie jemand in einem film der weiß gott was getan hat ich hatte vor
dich zu trösten dich erzählen zu lassen von deinem unglück
in deiner erzählung war es für dich nicht so schlimm wie für deinen chef
du redest davon was dir vierzigtausend gebracht haben
zum beispiel dein haus auf dem land in sichuan deine tochter an der uni
bist dankbar für die vierzigtausend für die situation in deiner familie
ich war sehr ungeduldig über die ganze gesellschaft
ich war müde und feindselig muss ab jetzt von dir lernen
freundlichkeit und liebe
dein baumelnder ärmel ich habe noch etwas verstanden
ich wollte dir erzählen vom kampf um dein recht von der art zu leben
die ich verstehe aber dann hab ich nichts zu sagen
ich sitz nur und hör dir zu du malst dir die zukunft
ein schöner ausblick eine vierzigjährige arbeiterin
froh dass es der linke arm war froh dass es sie war
– ein frauenarm – wär es ein männerarm –
von deinem mann wär es schwieriger ….

2012
Übersetzt von MW, 2015

Huang Hua

Space Poems

九月 6, 2013

Lydia and Julia. My tastes are simple, mostly. No Fehlschmelzen. Although that word makes me think of Ai Weiwei. Rare words. Rare earths. Che, fourth tone. Like the chai of demolition, but with earth instead of hand. In a famous poem by Du Fu, On Top Of Yueyang Pagoda. Che, separation. Of Wu and Chu. Still great realms, 1300 years later. Wu is Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou and so on. Wu-dialect of Chinese, as different from Mandarin as French is different from German or Dutch, at least. Wu and Chu. Chu is Sichuan and so on. Dongting lake separates Wu and Chu. Dongting lake seen from the pagoda. Heaven and earth, blablabla, the light on the lake. No letters from home. North still at war. Writing this, leaning at the railings, crying. 昔聞洞庭水, 今上岳陽樓. 吳楚東南坼, 乾坤日夜浮. 親朋無一字, 老病有孤舟. 戎馬關山北, 憑軒涕泗流. Xi wen Dongting shui, jin shang Yueyang lou. Don’t know what kind of dialect Du Fu used. Not Mandarin, that’s for sure. More something like Wu, probably. Which I don’t speak and can’t write. Heard of Dongting lake, now I climb the stairs. Wu Chu dong nan che, qian kun ri ye fu. Here comes the “che”. Rare word, in present Mandarin. Dong nan, east and south. Wu is southeast from Chu. Heard of Dongting lake, now I climb the stairs. Wu and Chu divorced; Sky reflected, night. Not a word from home. Sick and old, a boat. War steeds roam the north. I lean here and cry. Five syllables per verse. Yes, much like Haikus. Yi Sha has space poems. 2 from 2003. One about first signs of spring, lunar new year, mahjong, the space shuttle Columbia, fear of flying, freedom. The other one about space, father and son, skies at night, North Korea. This 2nd 1 was in the FAZ on June 26, 2013, when the Shenzhou 10 capsule returned to earth.

lyrikline blog

Last week, in the run up to our website relaunch and the live event, Spacewe started an open call and asked for your short ‘Space Poems’. The call is closed now and we would like to thank everyone who took part!! We received 15 poems, sent to us in English and German via twitter, facebook and as blog comments and enjoyed reading the poems a lot. We hope you all do!

 

… and here are the Space Poems …

 

daybreak

 

when we credulously

reached for the clouds

a clamour

from the mouth of

a careless fish

by Achim Wagner (via twitter)

 

 

words are vinds which blow roofs

Daiga Mežaka (via blog comment)

 

 

There’s no sound in a space poem, only the charged particles of solar wind.

by Dave Bonta (via twitter)

 

 

Folda Saumtar

Dark

Weil polygam in der

Weltraumzukunft

Vergessen

Dode jedan…

View original post 536 more words

Sichuan earthquake (Not again!)

四月 23, 2013

earthquake-rilkeR. M. Rilke

ERNSTE STUNDE

Wer jetzt weint irgendwo in der Welt,
ohne Grund weint in der Welt,
weint über mich.

Wer jetzt lacht irgendwo in der Nacht,
ohne Grund lacht in der Nacht,
lacht mich aus.

Wer jetzt geht irgendwo in der Welt,
ohne Grund geht in der Welt,
geht zu mir.

Wer jetzt stirbt irgendwo in der Welt,
ohne Grund stirbt in der Welt:
sieht mich an.

Aus: Das Buch der Bilder

INTERVIEW WITH A MADMAN: XING MIE 星灭三首

四月 23, 2013

Xing Mie (born 1975)
LYRIC POETRY

dog-fucking corn
dog-fucking football
dog-fucking weather
dog-fucking earthquake
dog-fuck society
dog-fuck bosses
dog-fuck reporters
dog-fucking kids
…………
we Sichuan people
open our traps
cursing at dogs
I have a little dog at home
too small to climb stairs
he’s not amused
one fine spring morning
barks up the day
lyric poetry
“barking in heat, dog-fucking creep!”
hardworking father wanting to sleep
I’m almost ready to add a few words
but what makes us bark?
not our dogs

2013-4-20
Tr. MW, April 2013

INTERVIEW WITH A MADMAN

That time at our paper,
Went to an interview.
Went on like this:
“Who are you?”
“Who are you?”
“Why did you kill him?”
“Why did you kill him?”
“Why are you here?”
“Why are you here?”
Went on forever.
Didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly his idiot laugh
Made me embarrassed.
“Number 13!”
“Present!”
“Take your medicine!”
“Yes!”
Doctor and patient
Curt, loud and clear
Immaculate white
All over the room
When I was leaving
He asked very friendly:
“What is your number?”
This is the question
I have kept asking
Myself for years.

2012-12-14
Tr. MW, April 2013

COCKS

if you don’t sing
you are a cock

skulls in the night gnashing their teeth
make your hair stand up on end

in your pupils, from the shadows
feathers hatching, wings unfurling

birdcalls drift above the city
rage against the gloomy forest

birdheads! crazed and cocky kids
twilight subjects, heaven’s rebels

2012-7-15
Tr. MW, April 2013

More from Xing Mie

Xing Mie (geb. 1975)

VOGELMENSCHEN

wer nicht singt
hat einen vogel

knirscht ein schädel in der nacht mit den zähnen
stehen dir heimlich die haare zu berge

aus den schatten in den pupillen
schlüpfen federn, werden flügel

vogelrufe treiben am himmel
gegen die trübe ragenden häuser

vogelmenschen! bunte schwänze
dunkle kinder, rebellen am himmel

2012-07-15

Übersetzt von MW, März 2013

Chinese originals

More from Xing Mie

Liao Yiwu in Taiwan, America, Europe …

三月 6, 2012
廖亦武,撥算盤吟詩,圖片來源新新聞

廖亦武,撥算盤吟詩,圖片來源新新聞

廖亦武不是基督徒。也不是台灣的客家人、本省人、原住民、民進黨、工會、長老教會等等。不用支持美國右派,不用支持伊拉克戰爭等等。不用一直當知識分子。甚至不用當海外異議分子。因為不是基督徒,所以《上帝是紅色的》更自然地當報告文學。廖亦武不知是是流亡作家,是流浪漢、囚犯等等,可以引用《三國》的開頭說無論生活在哪裡都是四川人,不用關心一個中國等等政治詞彙。廖亦武無論在哪裡都可以當作家、詩人、音樂手、行為藝術家等等。詩歌朗誦繼承金斯堡、狄蘭·托馬斯等等,甚至讓我想起維也納已故的詩人Ernst Jandl和其他擅長上場並同樣擅長把自己的經歷和記憶配合反對專政、尊敬和承認社會底層的寫作。讀廖亦武不意味不可以讀任何其他作家或詩人。台灣作家可以讀小說家甘耀明、詩人夏宇、戲劇家和詩人鴻鴻等等。有很多作家,非常多元的文化,非常複雜的問題。而有了廖亦武就不用擔心中國會怎麼樣。社會底層的人關心的不是政治。是關心很多生活最基本的事。心、記憶、家、天氣、吃飯、來往。無論在哪裡,無論什麼時候都有作家等等人士讓你欣賞和注意比政治、歷史、國家等等更基本的生活瑣事。包括魯迅,也包括張愛玲。他們的文學裡、生活裡顯然都有社會、經濟、國家、戰爭等等大問題。不過文學、藝術不是為了先解決大問題。是為了不忘記每個人都有一些基本的、大家需要關心的東西。

讀廖亦武,同樣可以讀中國大陸小說家余華或莫言、詩人于堅、鄭小瓊、龐培等等。香港、海外作家顯然亦可以讀很多,包括用英語、法語等等寫作的華人。讀廖亦武也許就不會覺得如果讀北島就不應該讀劉曉波、不會覺得聽顏峻的詩和聲音就不用聽任何地方的民謠、跟踪艾未未就不用跟踪在台灣、奧地利等等地方藝術跟社會、政治、經濟等方面的關係。所以我2012年二月份在台灣的文學經驗跟廖亦武在台北、台南等地方的朗誦會在我的記憶裡是分不開的。很多作家很難跨越寫作和關心公民權利。你博客的讀者也許很多, 而真正喜歡你的詩或你的小說的人比起來可能就少了,或者說有很多人只關心你的博客,根本沒工夫多注意你的詩或小說,無論你是北京的西藏詩人唯色或上海的賽車作家韓寒。廖亦武跟很多作家、評論家等等不同,他不用說他喜歡誰,除非說他喜歡的四川民間歌手。

我各人喜歡的書有很多種。詩歌、偵探小說。。。最近讀了西蒙·無邦(Simon Urban)的《Plan D》。主要的主人公為一名東柏林警察。在這篇小說裡,德意志民主共和國2011年底還存在。很喜歡。黑色幽默。一月份,還未去台灣的時候讀了村上春樹去年的大作《1Q84》. 人物、地點、日常生活都寫得很棒。以前也讀了他的小說,都很喜歡,短片和長篇都很欣賞。很喜歡的長篇包括《舞!舞!舞!》、《世界盡頭與冷酷仙境》、《挪威森林》等等。《1Q84》的故事開一部分始在1968年的東京大學示威,就像《挪威森林》。我很喜歡《挪威森林》。但是讀完《1Q84》就覺得把社會的一些基本的問題只顧在一些局外者的生活裡會產生很大的矛盾。因為《1Q84》裡沒有《一九八四》這篇小說。沒有監獄、沒有博愛部,根本沒有烏托邦。只有兩個月亮。1980年代的東京的一些小街頭等等地方描寫得非常好,生生有味。有恐懼,有人懷疑她是否生活在1984年。可以說有大哥。但他不是人人都知道的人物。只有相當小的教派裡的人在某段時間裡認識那位原來在1968年當大學教授的領導。總共來說我還是非常喜歡喬治·歐威爾的《一九八四》,也很喜歡瑪格麗特·愛特伍(Margaret Atwood)寫的《使女的故事》。跟那兩本書比起來,《1Q84》就比較無害。廖亦武在監獄裡讀了《一九八四》。最近在台北演出的時候,廖亦武也提到《一九八四》跟他自己的經驗的關係。總共來說, 廖亦武可以讓你喚醒,讓你感覺到一些各人的問題和一些各國社會的問題。總會比只讓你感覺到1980年代的日本一些生活細節強。但廖亦武自己大概不會想到這樣的比較,因為根本不需要。

Liao Yiwu in Tainan

二月 23, 2012

“My father made me stand on a table when I was small, and recite ancient classical Chinese. I could only climb down after I was able to recite the whole thing by heart. I was only 3 or four years old, maybe. I hated my father.” This is how 廖亦武 Liao Yiwu began to talk to the students and teachers of 國立成功大學 National Ch’engkung University in 台南 Tainan, after he played a wooden flute, a very basic instrument he had learned in prison. Very basic sounds, mute and suppressed at times. Loss and regret. No uplifting fable. “I am not going to tell you very much about the time when I went into prison. You would have no way to understand everything. I was like any young person. I didn’t want to listen to anybody from older generations. And I had gone through 文革 the Cultural Revolution, when my parents couldn’t take care of me. For me, classical Chinese belonged into the rubbish bin, along with many other things. My father was 84 years old when he died”, Liao Yiwu said. Or was it 88 years? Only a few hours of dialogue and open exchange between father and son, in all those years.
Dialogue and open exchange. Between 四川 Sichuan and 台南 Tainan. Between Taiwan and China. Between languages and experiences. Feeling lost, between clashing dialects, conflicting histories. Feeling rooted, at the bottom of society.

On the podium, scholars of 台灣閩南語文學 Taiwanese literature sat along with Liao Yiwu. They spoke in Taiwanese. One professor recited a poem by a high school student. Before Dawn, or something like that. About the massacre from 1947, February 28th. I didn’t understand the words. But you could understand the feeling. The answer is very simple, he said, when a 客家 Hakka student asked what she should do, because the words and songs of her grandmother would die with her. There were too few people who could still speak with her in 客家話 Hakka, she was afraid her mother tongue, her grandmother’s words would become extinct. The answer is very simple, the professor said very gently. He spoke mostly in Taiwanese, so I didn’t understand it all. But he said you just have to study, you can even major in Hakka now. It’s not easy, but there is a common effort.

It was very simple, Liao Yiwu said, when people asked him how he fled from China. I went to 雲南 Yunnan province, bordering Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Tibet. I had made lots of interviews there many years before, with people at the bottom of society. You turn off your mobile. You could also bring extra mobile phones. You get lost in small towns. And then one day I was across the border in 越南 Vietnam, very wobbly on my legs. There was a small train, like in China at the beginning of the 1980s. I knew such trains from drifting around China when I was young. In Vietnam, I was afraid of a lot of things, getting on the train, of simple things to eat. But I could communicate by writing numbers on a piece of paper. 500, wrote the innkeeper. 100, I wrote below. And so on. Finally I was in 河內 Hanoi, in a simple inn. And then I went on-line and contacted my friends and family in China. When I got on the plane to Poland, I was still afraid. The year before, military police in full military gear had come and taken me out of the plane in 成都 Chengdu. But then I realized, although this was a Socialist country, I was in the capital of another country, not in China. And the plane took off.

The lecture hall was full. I sat on the floor in the aisles, like many others. It was a very welcoming atmosphere. “We have a few books to give away for students asking questions in the second part of the lecture.” What is 流浪 liulang? What is 流亡 liuwang? What is 旅行 lüxing? These three words sound rather similar in Chinese. This was another professor speaking. He had studied in Russia. He was from a Taiwanese faculty in 台中 Taichung, but at this occasion, to clarify this question, he spoke in Mandarin. What is drifting about? What is exile? What is traveling? When you are drifting around, you don’t know where you are coming from, and you don’t know where you’re going. When you are going into exile, you know where you are coming from, but you don’t know where you are going, where they will let you stay. When you are traveling, you know where you come from, and you know where you’re going. Very simple differences. But what about us here in Taiwan? 我們是否知道自己從哪裡來,到哪裡去? Do we know where we are coming from, and where we are going? In the 1960s and 1970s, many writers and intellectuals in Taiwan were in prison. It was very hard, but you knew what you were fighting for. Just like the writers and lawyers in China, they know they are fighting for freedom. Now in Taiwan we are very free, in comparison. But we can still be marginalized.

One of the professors was my landlord from 1988 to 1990 in Taipei. He is the chairman of the Taiwanese PEN. In 1988 he was a doctoral candidate in history, and a stage decorator. We hadn’t seen each other or heard from each other for 22 years.


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