Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
Stephen Hawking and Interpretation
Stephen Hawking came to
I will not talk about the interpretation of Stephen Hawking’s work, cause I never really read his work (I guess the most famous one being A brief history of time) and tons of other people can do a better job. But I got to say something about how Hawking himself is interpreted in this amazing city
As most people know, Stephen Hawking is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a motor neuron disorder with severe retardation of body movements that is eventually fatal. I feel sorry for the man himself, not just because of the disease, but because sometimes he is better known for his disease than for his work. I ain’t saying his work is not famous, because it takes a lot of knowledge (and guts) to come up with something like “the Big Bang” and claim that you have explained to the world what Einstein could not explain in his work. But in
The truth is, if Stephen Hawking were not an ALS patient, he could have come to
In fact, after studying biology and had a glimpse of what cell bio research is like, I realize that biotech and biopolitics make the perfect new couple – Foucault talked about medicalization, with implications that are still true, but Biotech is pushing these limits of biopolitics everyday at a pace we can’t even keep up with (or to view it a little differently, closing the gap between life and sovereign to a point that has never been so intimate before).
Coming back to Hawking: in
This is what I mean by interpretation: sometimes we look at someone, or something, without addressing the real value that it has or deserves, but to go the opposite – we devalue that something, strip it to the last reducible form where we add new values and meanings to it as we please. I can’t say interpretation is wrong, for everyone single one of us interpret various things everyday; in fact, in a truly democratic society, everyone should co-exist peacefully regardless of how different their interpretations might be. But when a group of people in the same environment tends to interpret homogeneously without criticizing the basis for that interpretation, something is wrong. As we see now in Hong Kong, everything is about giving an interpretation that would give you the highest degree of entertainment – entertainment in the sense it would give a common, hot topic of interest as a social happening, the hype: from the Bus Uncle clip that “captures” every bit of our curious slim shady, to both the disease and work of Stephen Hawking, they have all served the same purpose in this tiny Asia City – a city so full of herself that she has forgotten she doesn’t form a dot on the world atlas.
This type of interpretation, is seen as the new form of news in Hong Kong that I call Entertainmentization, a phenomenon that I have hated (and bashed, in my high school composition class) every since I was 16, and it has been going downhill from there.
Wha’mo’can I say?
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Remember, Remember the Forth of June
Today is the 17th commemoration of June Forth. The white candle assembly, as the tradition in goes, is still going on in Victoria Park in Hong Kong – does that ever occur to anyone that is kinda weird that a ceremony that symbolizes the strive for democracy, and possibly the largest among all Chinese communities around the world, happens in to take place every year in a central park named after the queen in a city that was once colonized?
Every year, a group of activists and ex-activists in 1989, some of which by now are even ex-politicians, come back together and hold this reunion, making sure that Chinese people will not forget about June Forth, the Tiananmen Massacre that happened in 1989. And every year these people will still urge the Chinese government to officially acknowledge the wrong decisions that were made in 1989, to ask for a formal readdress of the injustice committed by the government, to ask for the responsible officers, and even apologies or compensations for families of the victims. But these are tough goals, not just because the Chinese Government, as an authoritarian communist party, just would not tell you they had done something wrong (like a Chinese father), but also because the responsibilities for the decisions made back then might go back to one of the greatest leader in the People’s Republic, Dang Xao Peng. And we all know, no one can target and bash our leaders like that, not Deng, not Mao, no one – for if you did that publicly, the next thing would be a charge of treason.
Exactly because of this, this struggle for June Forth has also become a symbol for the democratic struggle in
I have never been to any ceremony of such in
I was only 6 years old when massacre happened. It was only in Junior high and high school that I got to read more about June Forth and learnt about what happened from my Chinese History teacher (note: not that June Forth has ever been part of the curriculum, but my teacher told us about it). Of course, as a Chinese, I think the government owes us all a formal apology on this matter, but are we at the stage to ask for this? Some politicians in Hong Kong, aka the so-called democrats, had brought it up before when they got the chance to meet up with Beijing’s officials, but it never went further than some pissed off faces.
On the contrary, the
Funny though, the same time
Of course, the issue seems to be different: atrocities during WWII was between countries, while things like June Forth could be accounted as a country’s own-issue, as if walls are built along borders of China and the accurate information will never be released. But political issues put aside, deep down, I think a sincere apology depends on just a few things: courage, retrospection, humility; the refusal to make such an apology then, shows you what one lacks. And if this applies to a man-to-man basis, then why can’t one apply this to a nation-to-nation level as well – after all both Confucius and Socrates thought running a government well is similar to a human being living well, mentally and physically.
I think most people has seen one of the most classic pictures of June Forth: a man with plastic bags on his hands stand right in front of the tank, back straight and arms spread. That picture has been taken to be a symbol of civil disobedience like the portrait of Che Guevara. But to me, just bearing the symbol, even putting it up on your t-shirt, is not enough. We need to think about what happened, why and where to carry on from here. For from what I have read about June Forth, it wasn’t like the students have done everything right either. I ain’t saying we don’t need to remember and educate the next generation about what happened, and ceremonies can certainly serve this purpose, but I think as time goes by, one should add new meanings to June Forth, and see how it’s applied to us in