I won't try and ask you how China was, or what it was like, or anything much of that kind because I simply don't know what to ask. But I hope you'll tell me, in whatever way suits. - Rob(to be understood)
1: "He who generalises is lost"
When you go places, your people will ask you about them on your return. It's just not to be avoided, unless you also start avoiding your people.
I went to China, and because I'm difficult and authorial and so on, I wanted to have an argument to reply to mine. I was going to get a handle on things; I was gonna critique the lie of the land; I would draw out unificatory insights, and then lay them at your feet.
But it's the wankest arrogance to assume that you can Get A Culture in two months (or ever), or that you can encapsulate it even if you somehow did. And the product of arrogance and incapacity is...frustration.
Point is: experience is partial. (Partial as in incomplete, partial as in biased, partial as in simply not in general, and hazardous to stretch as if it was.)
And another: representation can be destructive.
And there's the postmodern knuckle-rapping that all commentators ought endure, these days. (lest critical thought turn to imperialism).
And, most of all: I have 300 A5 pages of notes.
You might care about what it's like, but not this much you don't.
There are ways to get around these, and not just with that stupid insiders-are-permitted thing (like when Chomsky and Baron-Cohen automatically fend off accusations of anti-semitism).
One is to be beautiful:
America is a willingness of the heart. - F Scott Fitzgerald
another is to be impenetrable (that is, Theoretical):
What we are dealing with here is another version of the Lacanian 'il n'y a pas de rapport ...': if, for Lacan, there is no sexual relationship, then, for Marxism proper, there is no relationship between economy and politics, no 'meta-language' enabling us to grasp the two levels from the same neutral standpoint, although — or, rather, because — these two levels are inextricably intertwined.
Let us recall an innocently-transparent moment, the endlessly reproduced video-shot from Beijing's Avenue of Eternal Piece at the height of the "troubles" in 1989, of a tiny young man with a can who, alone, stands in front of an advancing gigantic tank, and courageously tries to prevent its advance, so that, when the tank tries to bypass him by turning right or left, the man also moves aside, again standing in its way: The representation is so powerful that it demolishes all other understandings. This streetscene, this time and this event, have come to constitute the compass point for virtually all Western journeys into the interior of the contemporary political and cultural life of China.
- Slavoj Zizek
'"Evil men have no songs." How is it, then, that Russians have songs?'
- Nietzsche, 1:22
- Nietzsche, 1:22
So far, those of my peops unfortunate enough to catch me in this overanalytical mood have caught a snide or banal reply:
[friendly, engaged] "So, how is China?"
"Much the same." /
I want to sort my summer out, though. All the ghostly chaos and lever-arch difficulty of it. This does, though, entail sorting my head out, an industrial-scale and long-postponed task of its own.
Enough of this, get on with it; you're embarrassing yourself, man: SILENCE IS ALSO DISINGENUOUS:
"We have art in order not to die of the truth"