By : Gong Tao Siao
May you live in interesting times
"May you live in interesting times." Thus goes the first part of the famous Chinese curse, or at least the curse commonly attributed to the Chinese. Like all good curses at first sight it could be mistaken as a blessing. This curse has, in fact, long been granted to and put upon Chinese writers and artists: they have certainly been living in interesting times.
Back in 1972, shortly after Nixon's visit to China, Susan Sontag wrote her short story "Project for a Trip to China." While calling China "the most exotic place of all" and her planned trip to the country a "mythical voyage," she also admitted that "mythical voyages were to places outside of history" yet "now such voyages are entirely circumscribed by history." In other words, Sontag felt she was merely a tourist fantasizing about a "real" China that she could not enter.
The "real" China, however, can be a real curse. About the same time, an anonymous, lone Chinese youth, who would later go under the poetic pseudonym Duo Duo, was writing secretly about the birth of a new subjectivity that had been alienated and isolated in the night of history. This night provided such uncanny visions:
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