Monday, March 31, 2008

And Tibet

Where does the Jewish media tell me I should be directing my attention? Tibet, says they. Well, they would wouldn't they? Anywhere but Israel, AIPAC and central banking.

And in Tibet, the Chinese are villains. They invaded a country, occupied it for fifty years odd, encouraged the mass immigration of ethnic outsiders, and beat or shot any indigenes who complained. I'm not even going to bother commenting on the parallels. Regardless, the media has done a terrific job of making clear who's done what to whom in Tibet. They can do this if they choose to. But it's what they don't choose that counts.

And who knew what was not being chosen until the internet arrived? We can now compare what's chosen with what's not. The results are perfectly tangible. Is anyone confused about where the blame lies in Tibet? Are there any people out there thinking the Tibetans are terrorists? Are the Chinese given all the airtime they need to explain Tibetan villainy and Chinese victimhood? The media could do this if they wanted to do. They've done precisely that in Palestine for decades.

-For the record, the Chinese I talked to have variations of justifications. Before the Chinese arrived, Tibet was a very wicked place much given to serfdom. The Chinese dismiss ethnic questions - We're all ethnic minorities, they say. Beijing is full of people (like my friends) from Shandong, Xian, Hunan, etc, and they all speak a language that is not Mandarin and they all have their own distinctive cuisine and culture - just like the Tibetans. 'We're under this government, why shouldn't they be?'. This is self-serving, sure. The central government is Han and all of my friends are also Han. Tibet is not Han.

However, the media, if they chose to, could easily portray the Chinese as hard-done-by victims with the Tibetans as primitive, feudalistic, trouble-making untermenschen. It's easy enough. They need merely emulate their portrayal of the Palestinians under their spectacularly vicious ethnically alien occupier. The parallels with the Chinese in Tibet are spooky. But these comparisons will never be made. Not least because the Israelis blow the Chinese out of the water for racist brutality.

I'm way past pretending the media is the Pulitzer-hunting keep-the-bastards-honest truth machine they say they are. I also couldn't be shagged differentiating between print, television, and Hollywood. They all sing from the same song-sheet, they all follow the same narrative. The ability to imagine a narrative in a Hollywood flick is the same ability required to imagine the narrative we receive in the news. Cinema is to News what oils are to acrylics - a minor variation that the painter takes in his stride.

It's really simple. The central banks are the biggest game going. Bigger than the MIC, big oil, big pharma, agribusiness and every other industry - put together. The biggest most powerful single entity in the world receives zero coverage in the media. Think about that. And it was always this way. Wonder at Karl Marx completely breaking down capitalism and creating its opposition and never mentioning central banking - an impossibility. It's precisely as impossible as the utter absence of central banking in the media. The media (along with Marx) would have it that we view monetarism and central banking as an immutable law of nature, an Act Of God.

Best we look away. The media will direct us. Okay, so who would they have us believe the villains are? A five year old could spot it - movie after movie, drama after drama, news after news - those we must hate are: Arabs/Muslims, Russia, and China, in that order. Would I be right in thinking that the aforementioned three peoples are not subject to a central bank owned by the Rothschilds and their very good friends? It's a fair question.

Anyone who knows - feel free to fill me in. God knows we'll never find out in the media. Otherwise, as this same media screams that I direct my attention towards the Chinese, I grit my teeth and turn in the direction they bid me. And sure, I condemn those black-hearted Chinese villains. But then I turn back again. I'd rather keep my eye on the beast that bids me.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Chinese aspirations of immodesty, ha ha

There we were sitting around a table having eaten one of those stupendous Chinese meals. Amongst the debris of bowls and chopsticks, with everyone who smokes doing so, it's time to be clever and entertain the table. Apropos something or other, I say, 'I'm only so-so at most things. The only thing I really shine at, to which I can claim that I am the greatest in the world, is being modest. I am the Most Modest Man In The World!' It's a standard, recycled nobody gag. Anyway, I get a laugh out of the Laowai but the Chinese don't get it. As an ex-English teacher I should have known that 'modest' is outside most second-language speakers' vocab.

A dictionary, by way of a mobile phone (they can do that now), is consulted and brows are furrowed and a long discussion ensues wherein it's explained to me that this is not such a good meaning in Chinese. One finds this a lot, particularly in Asia. Words such as 'modest', which we all understand as being simple, ain't. They're actually quite complex. 'Love, honour and obey' for instance will have an entirely different complexion in another language and vice versa. And sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't.

Anyway, back at the table, Maya the mad artist, launches into a diatribe about what's wrong with Chinese people and how people who are good at things aren't capable of celebrating like Westerners. Like sports stars who score a goal or somesuch. "We see Western people being natural and celebrating and saying they are good but we can't do that. We have to behave in this 'modest' way." Her vibe is that 'modest' is a thing expected or forced upon you.

I'm off now because she’s touched on a pet subject. "You think that those sportsmen's celebrations are spontaneous, that it just pops into their head then and there?" I explain how I've seen soccer players who form a little tableau and one pretends he's polishing the other's shoes. God spare us. It's a contrived and calculated show-pony wank-fest. Like the Australian cricketers who all have their trademarked celebration. One has his weird ground-punching thing that most closely resembles a man trying to start a lawn-mower. I'm perfectly sure he practises it in a mirror. I'm guessing the lawn-mower thing never occurred to him (nor that he looks like a dickhead). Soccer players are the worst though. Putting your shirt over your head and running around like you're an aeroplane is... is... what the hell is that? Who does this in real life? Apart from drunken arseholes?

"And what, Maya, you want Chinese people to behave like that? Don't believe the hype. What you see on DVD is not a reflection of us. Fuck Jerry Maguire. It's bullshit. It's the product of a machine designed to turn us, and you, into bedazzled LA Galaxy shirt-buying idiots. If you think that whatever 'modesty' means here is oppressive, it could be worse. You could find yourself in a culture where there isn't any and everybody is impressed with themselves for no reason at all - A legion of Bart Simpsons expecting to get high-fived for cracking out a fart. If Chinese sportsmen and women can win and behave like normal people in a modest fashion, like laowai used to a few decades ago, I salute them. I just wish we could rediscover it."

Anyway I headed the conversation into absurdity territory by suggesting that we found a new sports competition and all the best teams of celebrators get together and compete in who has the best celebration. Players would form football-boot-wearing theatrical tableaus and recreate Armstrong on the moon, or Marie Curie discovering radium, or the signing of the treaty of Versailles. I'd win of course because my team would (idea-disappearing-up-its- own-arse style) recreate the meal at which the idea for the competition was first thought up. Brilliant. The crowd would go nuts and then to celebrate? We'd play an actual game of actual football. Ha!

Maya thinks this is great and I should do it for real as an art installation. Um, okay, sure, this and a thousand other idiot ideas. I crack out a fart. High five!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chinese Teenagers

No need to fear. I am alive and well in the Northern capital of the Middle Kingdom, which is to say Beijing, China. The sky is blue, the food is good and the DVD's are a buck a throw. Around the Worker's Stadium Azure Magpies are building nests. And I have a lot of friends here, so it's good to be back. We go to Hohai and drink Yanjing beer for forty cents a bottle.

The internet has changed greatly since I first came here ten years ago. Currently it seems blogspot, wordpress and wikipedia are blocked (and Rense, curiously). However via an unblocked route I may post to, but not read, this blog. I can read the comments as they come in but not comment myself, ha ha.

And this is censorship, sure. But censorship is a funny thing. When done well censorship should more precisely be described as 'absence'. As ever, the absence of things is less noticeable than the presence of things. We all know what's absent in the Western media. Politically, there's no discussion beyond the agreed upon shadow play. Culturally there's almost nothing past a mad obsession with whatever is new and most worthless. Philosophically (not that the media likes that word) there's little other than an all-pervading, centrifugal individualism.

In attempting to discern the absences here, let's just say - China is intensely 'foreign'. It can overwhelm. Spotting the absences is both difficult and easy, ha ha. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just focus on culture.

There is no Survivor or Big Brother here. There are no shows which pit individuals against each other in contrived trivial orgies of lying and cheating. There are no people voting each week for whom they hate the most. There are no dramas featuring serial killers who pretend to be normal. I have never seen sex or titillation on the TV here. Subsequently there is no Desperate Housewives or Dirt or anything even close. There are none of those tedious high-school snot-fests. Nor is there anything like Seinfeld here. Perhaps such depictions of worthless people spending their lives striving for, and arguing over nothing, strike the Chinese as idiotic. Who knows? Perhaps most crucially, the adulation of teenagers is completely absent.

But the results are easy to see, provided one can get past the shock of culture. On warmer evenings, people relax outdoors in an agreeable social fashion. Teenagers with unpretentious haircuts and clothes sit with the adults enjoying conversation. Once you twig to the fact that teenagers here do not have an attitude it's actually shocking. They do not argue with their parents. They do not go off to the mall and sulkily 'hang out'. They're far more likely to be whapping a shuttlecock around with their mother. No really! Flyovers and other places free of trees and powerlines are popular for kite-flying. In front of the Worker's Stadium every day I see people ballroom dancing, doing tai chi and other similar variations of the gentler martial arts. Tai chi is a martial art, you know. The main thing is that all of this can be summed up as ‘simple pleasures’. Chinese people broadly are not jaded. It's astounding how refreshing it is.

It's changing, of course. Kids here play computer games too. And every single thing produced by Hollywood (either for the big screen or small) is available here on pirate DVD. But they are viewed as foreign. The effect they have on the culture and the people are minimal. Chinese culture remains dominant. There is no chameleon-like sub-group here re-interpreting their culture for them. I’m entirely certain the government here exerts control to prevent shows such as this. Is this censorship? I expect so. But gee it's nice to see a culture that isn't driven by a perverse combination of angst and trivial self-obsession, that instead prizes family and harmony, and lacks snotty teenagers.