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A Transitionary Time

June 17, 2011

东. dōng. east

For the past 10 months I have been living in New York City–about 11,763 miles from Beijing.  The inspiration for this blog was borne out of the realities that surrounded me there, not a conscious dissection and interpretation of news and other forms of media about China.  To remain true to these original inspirations when one is so distant, in a physical sense, is seemingly impossible.

“ if you want to know the taste of a pear, you must eat the pear…if you want to understand something you must practice it .” Mao Tsetung

Nonetheless, almost 12,000 miles away, I can honestly say that China has entered my daily life here every single day since I have departed in August 2010.  It has penetrated my time, space, thought, work and studies with an unprecedented relentless force.  I’ve felt both inspired and helpless from this daily occurrence.  Inspired by such a constant current and connection to a ‘far away place’, and helpless for not being able to escape its perpetuating self as a Nation.  I reflect and wonder–had I gone anywhere else but China in 2009, would it be the same way now?  Had I gone to teach English in Bengaluru, India would I find myself learning Hindi? Would I have equivalent aspirations to study the Hindu legal system and write a blog about the लोग. lōga. people.   Would I be constantly surrounded by streams and bits of information flowing unto my days like now?

Perhaps a good part of it is a matter of fascination.  Something so unknown, foreign and unexpected–elements of a seekers soul.

For centuries The People’s Republic of China has been a subject of intrigue for Western world.  In a fascinating autobiography, Mortal Flower (1966), author Han Suyin illuminates national and international happenings of her time in the most eloquent prose.  Suyin writes: “With almost hysterical passion, with an ecstasy of hatred akin to love, the American experts on China seek to document China for themselves.  China is an abiding passion with them, they scarcely talk or think of anything else.” [1] This “abiding passion’, Suyin feels, is interwoven with a nation driven to the ‘depths of an abject misery, and rising again so swiftly, against all the rules and maxims of their expertise.”

I dare not declare myself an ‘expert’– but to think that this mysterious allure has been in the air for centuries certainly makes me feel less alone in the matter.

“…If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience.”

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[1] A Mortal Flower, Han Suyin. First American Edition, 1966.

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