Saturday, August 20, 2016

Learning Chinese

There's really no hope of my learning Chinese, but as I research particular contemporary authors from that part of the world, I've become familiar with several (simplified) ideographs that are really lovely and illustrative:

Image result for chinese symbol for rain
This is "rain" (I wish the right edge of the character hadn't been sliced off, but I don't know this computer like I did my old one, so I can't figure out how to fix it!). It makes sense--there are little droplets coming down.

I think I've encountered the "Great Firewall" for the first time, however. This past week I was researching the author Yu Hua, who has won several international awards and is widely considered a prominent writer in his homeland, despite his having been associated with a certain student protest in a certain main square in the capital city some 25 years ago. I learned that he even has a center at the university in his home province named in his honor. With the help of Google Translate – which is not available in China, nor are any other Google products – I was able to review the site, and find out more details about Yu and his work. However, there were certain parts of it that hadn't been updated recently (others were current), and there was as well as no explanation of how the center itself came to be established, and by whom. So I puzzled out their address, and wrote them an email, explaining who I was and asking them for more information.

Within a week, the website had disappeared. There was no sign it had ever existed except for a few snapshots preserved in the Internet archive. So much for my efforts.

I wonder if the author himself is about to be suppressed? To this point, he had managed to escape official censure, but his China in Ten Words, published abroad, was clearly critical of the greed, mismanagement, and profound inequalities that he has observed among his countrymen over the last several decades, and he accepted a position as an commentator on China for the International New York Times three years ago, which might not have sat well with the powers that be.

I'm supposed to edit an entry on another living Chinese author next week. I wonder if material about him will disappear, too?

Two and 1/2 weeks until I leave for Korea! Bella is going to catsit for Trixie. my cat was lying glassy-eyed on my dining room rug this evening, total stoned on feline Maryjane. Then she went racing around the house like a lunatic, her tail in the air, sliding into walls when she slipped on the hardwood floor and then running off manically in another direction. I don't think catnip causes the munchies, but who would know?

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