First of all, 端午节安康！In English, it’s called the Dragon Boat Festival I believe. The holiday originates from the folk hero, statesman, and poet 屈原 (Qu Yuan) from 战国 (before the Qin Dynasty) drowning himself into a river out of patriotic passion. The people in order to prevent the fishes from eating his flesh threw 粽子 into the river. I don’t know all that much about the history and culture behind the holiday. It’s my first time in China during it since age 6. I am reminded of how when in 河南郑州 where I visited 轩辕故里 I actually managed to impress a few people by reciting the first few lines of Qu Yuan’s 《离骚》
I saw and heard in the background some study pertaining to 端午节 on TV. I also saw on 新闻联播 (and video recorded part of it on my Huawei phone, if you’re interested in seeing that, contact me) Xi Jinping’s visiting St. Petersburg with Putin. There was Xi in Russia on 新闻联播 yesterday as well.
It occurred to me to write more on this blog after I become too tired to watch 红楼梦 (I’m on the third episode now, https://v.qq.com/x/cover/c2xpl7t4eppkq7n/t00148f3yrh.html), which actually takes some mental exertion, more so than writing what I’m writing right now. I am actually reading parts of the original version as well, the ones I find more interesting, and it’s easier since I have the TV series to match with. For translating the 文言文 that I can’t understand on my own, I’m using some English translation e-book of it I had downloaded while I was still in America. This is kind of weird yes. Reminds me of how since my English isn’t all that great with literary stuff (despite being in America since age 6), when I finally read Pride and Prejudice (back in 2015 I believe), it actually occurred to me to find online a Chinese translation of it, which according to my vague memory actually helped me clear up confusion on a few parts. This using English translations to help me understand literary Chinese, it’s not the first time for me. I had done the same for 鲁迅’s 阿Q正传, with an English translation of it on marxists.org.
Something that’s pleased me much lately is that I for the first time am taking serious action to systematically correct my atrocious posture and consequent “bodily deformations,” and there are visible results already after not long. I was quite physically awkward as a kid. I was certainly not looks conscious. That certainly wasn’t good for my self-esteem growing up. I thought I was just naturally bad. Growing up Asian in (white) America made it even worse. But now that I am older and more understanding, I recognize well that this stuff can be corrected without much difficulty so long as I train systematically with some professional guidance/physical input. I had a rather lame and pathetic experience growing up in America, with some bad memories associated for sure. They haunt me still from time to time, but overall, I am quite “forward-looking.”
In English, the word propaganda is obviously rather pejorative. That need not any explanation. Some people might even disparage my blog as “Chinese communist propaganda.” If they do, so be it.
A native Chinese female who I talk with a fair bit now, sometimes about film, asked me if I’ve seen Anna and the King. My answer to that was that I had never even heard of it. I skimmed through the plot on Baidu Baike to get a gist of it.
She seems to know a fair bit about popular culture, and the gossip that goes along with it. Relatedly, she seems to have seen a fair bit of film, including the TV series Gossip Girl. I had watched maybe like the first 10 episodes of that. I was probably more motivated to do so for the attractive girls in it than for the plot, though surely the plot was certainly not bad. I sure got a good taste of “upper class white privilege” from that. I even joked to a math PhD student I was talking with a fair bit at that time, who said he had watched the whole thing, that I need to become filthy rich eventually so that my daughter can become like Blair Waldorf.
I had told her that I watched the historic Nazi anti-Semitic film Jud Süß largely out of curiosity. I think almost certainly, had I revealed that to my typical America raised peer or friend then, I would have been ostracized to some degree. Even many Chinese in America who did up through high school or undergrad in China would have at the very least viewed me funny or with some backlash.
The best I could find of it on YouTube is
with French subtitles. (To someone who really wants to watch it with English subs, then you better find some way to obtain it yourself.)
Out of curiosity, I had also watched, in my last year of college I believe, the North Korean film, The Flower Girl.
It was about some girl from a poor family in Korea in the 30s oppressed by some wicked landowning family that acted as a puppet for the Japanese who colonized Korea at that time. She sold flowers for help support her family. The end result was that her brother, who spent some time jail, became “woke” and led an uprising against those oppressors.
I actually told my mom about that, and the result was her raging at me, saying that if I mentioned this to the outside world, people would think I’m mentally insane, which I’m obviously not. At that time, maybe I actually took that a bit more seriously, but now, it’s like, “it’s just a movie, and the propaganda aspect of it is too obvious to miss, so what,” not to mention that hundreds of millions of people in China also watched it in the 70s, so I’m far from alone. I don’t remember how I found out about it.
Similarly, I watched around the same time 英雄儿女(Heroic Sons and Daughters).
Another plot spoiler
It was about some Chinese revolutionary turned commissar during the Korean War who rediscovered and reunited on the war front with his daughter serving in the army, who he had left to another family to raise when she was a baby.
It was produced in 1964 and became a classic film in China. I certainly found the whole plot quite moving when I watched it. A song in it 英雄赞歌 (A Paean of a Hero)
became widely known and sung too and still is up to this day I believe.
I did not actually tell my mom about my watching that, but I told that native Chinese female about my watching that along with The Flower Girl and my mom’s reaction to my having watched the latter.
Her response was, having slightly misunderstood
what’s wrong with your mom, 英雄儿女, it was on cctv6 yesterday.
I also told her that I had watched Saving Private Ryan, which could also be regarded as propaganda of a different nature, and sigh, its director was the anti- China Jew Steven Spielberg.
Also I am reminded that I have an ABC friend without a Chinese name. I had asked him what his Chinese name was and he said he didn’t have one. But when he told me that his birthday was October 1st, I joked to him, “[姓]国庆”, which means “[his surname] national day.” He has some interesting views that I liked to laugh at.
Once when he visited me, I made some jokes using the Chinese name I had given him, and we watched this 1952 film 南征北战 the plot of which was on some battle in the civil war 4 years earlier.
We didn’t finish it since he had to leave.
I began listening to Soviet music my final year of college. A female Chinese international student from Harbin in casual chat with me told me about the song Katyusha (and also that How the Steel Was Tempered book that I had already heard about) and I found it so beautiful that I wanted to understand its lyrics in the original, authentic Russian. That was what got me learning Russian on my own, much by accident. I had a Russian friend who helped a bit and was quite supportive of it.
I was a bit anxious though since I was still very much trapped by the norms of America, especially its school system. I was afraid that people would find out and think that I was crazy or brainwashed. (Some Indian-American had said to me a summer earlier, “you seem brainwashed by the Chinese government!” notwithstanding that at that time, I was still in school and consuming and creating verbal content mostly if not almost exclusively in English and still thinking in more of an “American” mindset.) But it was more of a real start at spiritual liberation. Now, I could care so much less about what all those idiots in America think. I’m not the one who’s mentally crazy. It’s America and American culture that’s mentally sick, and becoming ever more so.
As I’ve indicated, the political reaction of many if not most in China would be quite the opposite. For instance, when I wrote about my experience growing up in America, some female jokingly commented in Chinese,
Comrade, you are a modern version of 18 Years in the Enemy Camp!
I was somewhat confused when I saw it. But after looking up online, I learned that it was referring to some TV series on some CPC agent who spent 18 years within the KMT, between 1927 and 1945.
I eventually decided to actually watch it, not just listen to the theme song, and it was entertaining enough for me to have finished almost all the 40 episodes. Contrary to the negative Hollywood portrayals of Asian men, the protagonist was a charismatic, competent, and heroic alpha male who easily attracted and seduced women, even a woman high up within the KMT who he managed to manipulate again and again to help achieve his objectives without her knowing who he really was. When she finally found out, she had to keep it a secret too not only out of love but also to avoid being implicated.
Though I read stuff on the Chinese internet starting from high school, it was really only a year ago that I began to comment, write, and meet people through that. Pertaining to this, some America raised guy at elite school asked me how I managed to meet all these people from China or in China. I don’t remember how I answered, but on this, I will remark that surely, what I’ve done is something that most ethnic Chinese who grew up in America would not even dare think of doing, due to immersion in American culture and social pressures and what not, let alone actually doing. But I guess that’s just my personality. Not being terribly conformist and doing certain things that most people would be afraid to. Can’t really help with that. Somewhat tangentially, I’ve written to a math PhD student from China too that my interest in pure math surely had something to do with my difficulty fitting in culturally in the American school system.
Finally, my sympathies to those stuck in America who feel similarly but feel at dis-ease about it. When I say this I have in mind not just ethnic Chinese who grew up in America but also the unusually woke white American who can more or less actually understand where I’m coming from, who thinks that the people running the country are basically delusional, witnessing directly there a big theatre of political idiocy. If that’s you, you are not alone.
Yesterday I talked more with that Chinese Chinese girl about the topic that I would have a hard time talking about in America, the one on looks, sex culture, sexuality, film, that kind of thing. I had written on here that I find Anglo women rather low on the attractiveness scale here. German/Nordic women are higher and so are Slavic women, and I’ve told her and someone else about that as well. She thinks that the experience growing up in America for East Asians is quite sexually repressive, though she grew up in China, and also on the relative absence of Asian-Americans in media.
I did grow up in America as an EA male, and I’ll give a few remarks on that. It is generally rather awkward to talk about women and sex related topics as an EA male in the white dominated American environment. If you do, chances are people will look at you funny. The media and overall environment, after all, characterizes EA males as sexually null nerds. I was certainly quite nerdy (more in the negative way, like incredibly socially awkward) up through college. I did study math and CS after all, and I didn’t have much of a “social life,” not that I really cared too much about that. I really could care less about all the white people dating culture in America, it’s generally pretty trashy and not much point in getting directly involved in that, at least for me.
However, I have seen all those model advertisements (mostly of whites since it’s America) and I have had my thoughts on that, which I mostly kept to myself. I know about the film and fashion industry being widely seen as “racist” and “classist” and all about white privilege, and I don’t feel much need to comment on that more. If you want to know more about what I think there, you can go read https://gmachine1729.com/2019/05/07/why-native-chinese-girls-are-1000x-better/.
But it did occur to me to start a compilation of model/actress videos, categorized by ethnicity. If you want to see it, click the link below.
There was also another native Chinese girl telling me about her disgust with the plot of some Disney movie which she described as centered on some white man’s love affair with a Native-American princess (after all the men were killed). She said she never actually watched it, and it might have been well-made, but the plot itself was sufficiently disgusting.
I now chat with at least two (native Chinese girls), one of whom is a mother of two, a fair bit. Unlike with females I encounter in America, I can talk with them pretty honestly and openly about race, sex, culture, etc. I was just talking with one of them, and I thought it’s worthwhile to record some of what we said. There’s quite a lot, so expect what you see here to be far from inclusive.
I told her about ChinaSuperpower, in particular his thesis that the Anglo elite/mainstream is out for genocide against East Asians. They do it quite aggressively through the media and Hollywood, and trust me, I’ve seen enough racist Hollywood movies, with the one coming to mind during our discussion The Interview, which was on assassinating Kim Jong-Un and involved subverting some sex object like North Korean girl towards that.
I said that if the Anglo elites could, they totally would commit genocide against East Asians, and Russians/Slavics too. Obviously, blacks, Muslims, and Indians are not liked in the Anglo world, but the Anglo elites don’t really seriously care about them as much because they are no real threat to Anglo hegemony, more of an annoyance. On the other hand, you have a lot of big, tall, macho, highly competent Russian men with a base in a country still extremely powerful despite the calamity following the disintegration of the USSR, in which they lost like 10% of their population. I’ve heard that in the UK, those guys, who take many of the STEM jobs, trigger a lot of insecurity in the Brits. As for the Chinese, this need not really be explained, just look at the recent Huawei incident for example.
I have a smattering of thoughts I want to express here, and cannot think of a more suitable title. I guess the general theme is the cultural divide from the Cold War. I use Gangnam Style as the title since it is a representative, and also it’s occurred to me that it’s better for attracting attention/marketing. It is or at least was the most viewed video on YouTube after all.
Why am I suddenly reminded of Gangnam Style? Well, yesterday somebody spoke of that Crazy Rich Asians movie that just came out, that’s in a couple weeks time gotten $86.6 million box office already, almost thrice the $30 million budget. After searching online, I learned it’s based off a novel of the same name by a Singaporean-American of Chinese descent from, predictably, quite a prominent family in Singapore. I had already learned of it, as it has been everywhere online for a few weeks, though I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was quickly reminded of an anecdote involving Gangnam Style, which is also Asian. As for the name, Gangnam is this important, wealthy district in Seoul, or something like that. It is Korean for 江南 (jiangnan), which means south of the river, I believe.
What is the anecdote? My smart as fuck Russian friend in math raised in America who identifies strongly with the Soviet era has a younger brother nowhere near as smart as him who plays video games all day. On the car, he would keep singing Gangnam Style. My friend got so annoyed with that he said,
I have listened to Gangnam Style by the way, and my reaction was like, “how the fuck did this trashy culture-less music video in Korean become number one on YouTube? What the fuck is going on with the taste of the current generation?” I guess it’s also impressive, that South Korea can produce a video music this viral, in their own language. Korean drama is also a big thing. Samsung and Hyundai too. Koreans (in the South) are both technically and culturally innovative.
Reminds me of my unusual ABC (actually born in America) friend who’s sympathetic to the North. He said some things about them which surprised me. Now, most Chinese in my parents’ generation I’ve encountered were from relatively humble backgrounds, often first in their family to attend college. He’s an exception though. He told me that his father’s family used to own a four story building in Tianjin that he’s visited. During the war, it became Japanese barracks. After the Japanese left, they got it back, but four years later, they ended up sharing it with a bunch of poor people. He told me his grandpa was about to go study in Britain, but the Japanese invasion disrupted that plan. His mother’s dad were also highly educated in STEM, and occupied a relatively high up position there. Ironically though, he really surprised me by saying a bunch of stuff in Chinese in the likes of what you hear from people during the Mao era or nostalgic for it, like how back then people didn’t need to buy a home, because the state provided one. I concluded that he, who has spent his entire life in America, must have learned all that from his parents.
As for North Korea, I told him about how some Korean was telling me about how there’s this map of lighting of world, in which South Korea is super bright while the North is almost completely dark, which exception of a glimmer from Pyongyang, which just goes to show the sheer economic disparity in level of development. His response was,
Or maybe because while the South Koreans are being worked to death, the North Koreans are sleeping.
Inside Facebook office, there’s an analogous display.
In this one, China is also entirely in totalitarian darkness. 😉
On DPRK, that guy was also like,
In a situation of war, the South Korean soldiers are not going to fight to the death to preserve the interests of their capitalist masters.
I spoke of how American and South Korean media talks about how the North’s army is extremely weak and ill-equipped now. Like their pilots don’t even have enough fuel to do sufficient training. On that he was like,
That’s not how the American and South Korean armies staging military exercises think.
I was like “lol okay.”
A few days ago, I finally learned of Erich Honecker and his wife Margot Honecker, who were the General Secretary and Minister of Education of East Germany respectively. They both pretty much got screwed after reunification. Erich escaped a criminal trial out of poor health to reunite with his wife in South America, who had sought asylum in Chile through the Chilean Embassy in Moscow. Margot died in 2016 and defended the GDR till her death. I had known before of the predecessor of Honecker, Walter Ulbricht, but not that he also had training Moscow from the 20s on as part of the German Communist Party. Not a surprise though, after the war, the Soviets pretty much planted those types in positions of power in East Germany. The system they established certainly had some political influence, they trained communists from all over the world, setting up schools just for that. The Comintern was certainly quite an effective political organization. Many of the old Chinese revolutionaries had that background too. I also learned of Egon Krenz, a top East German politician who actually travelled to China in 89 to thank Deng Xiaoping on behalf of the regime for using force to suppress the student protests, who subsequently published some books sympathetic to the GDR.
I’ve read before that there is quite a bit of East German nostalgia, with the so-called Ossis still being culturally different, of course, I’m not qualified to judge. In any case, it’s probably safe to assume that the stuff we hear in English about East German and the Stasi should be taken with a grain of salt. Victor’s justice after all, those part of the Stasi (an equivalent of Department of Homeland Security really), along with just about everyone high up in the East German regime, were politically disgraced after reunification.
More generally, I can sense how the political outlooks and ways of doing things still vary widely, and the legacy much persists today. The political rhetoric employed is markedly different, needless to say. Also, how those former socialist countries do those military parades, which would be naturally viewed in American mindset as distasteful and totalitarian, the style of dictatorship. Many from former those states also think that, especially ones who emigrated to the “free world,” also eventually grow to think that. They’ll say stuff like “waste of money.” An uncool way to “show how good we are.” I once said С днем победы to a Russian friend raised in America and he was like,
It’s stupid to celebrate the deaths of so many people.
My response was
So you’re saying that it’s basically, “we beat the Nazis, we saved Europe, we saved the world, we’re the best!”
And he was like, “pretty much.”
In the American political narrative, that stuff is almost always portrayed as people taking part in that not because they want to but because they have no choice under a totalitarian regime. An easy way to be dismissive of course. Expectedly, I find this perspective rather problematic. I’ve heard enough times the likes of “I like China, just not the Chinese government,” and “Remember that the Chinese people and the Chinese government are not the same thing.” The reality is that a government of a country is made up of a subset of its people, with the percentage depending on degree of government affiliation, not to mention that a government is necessarily influenced by its people, so it’s entirely unrealistic to speak of a government and its people as entirely separate.
I’ve also seen some liberal Russians here poke fun at Iosif Kobzon. They’ll say,
Oh, everybody hates Kobzon.
He’s ridiculous. Super pro-government. And he’s not even Russian you know, he’s actually Jewish. He’s ridiculous.
When the government routinely organizes those concerts where they sing those songs about the Red Army and crowds clap along, those guys find it either ridiculous or revolting. The thing is that the system gradually normalized that kind of activity to the point where people in that environment don’t find it strange and even enjoy it.
I do wonder how much of one’s preference on this spectrum is heritable versus shaped through experience. Necessarily, experiences shape one’s tastes and views but it is genes which largely determine how people respond to experiences more or less imposed on them as well as which ones they actively see out.
A couple years ago, my friend who won high honors at the Intel Science Talent Search told me that he was talking this guy who created some app that allows you to schedule a Uber ride for later, who was also at/near the top of the same science competition, who is extraordinarily versatile and prolific. I watched a little of a video of a TED talk he gave, wherein he explained what one can learn from ancient Hebraic texts. Overall, I wasn’t terribly terribly impressed by it, though it was quite eloquently delivered. Mostly because with those types of things, one is too free to interpret and thus, the lessons/messages given were overly generic so as to make them almost meaningless, one of which was how the Bible teaches the importance of questioning authority, with reference to the refusal to bow to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as an exemplary.