Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Joe the Plumber

I came across an interview with Joe Wurzelbacher in the Guardian posted just after Ohio was called for Obama.

Wurzelbacher said: "You know, fame is fleeting, leaves you hungry, leaves you cold, leaves you tired. Fortune never comes with it."

The privileges and special attention that come with being a Laowai are starting to make me deal with strangers in ways I never thought I was capable of.

After being a door-to-door salesman, I know something about the early adulthood realization that one isn't special, and the world is only interested in us in terms of what it can use us for.

Especially now that I have a girlfriend, in recent weeks I've had to be firm with several young adults, from friends all the way to complete strangers, that their situation - keenness to improve their English and familiarise themselves with Western Culture - doesn't make 'em special, and doesn't entitle them to special attention.

I've been writing a lot about this on my Chinese blog, and had a few angry responses, especially considering as I've written a lot about the virtues of foreign language acquisition too. But when one has a blog that has a large and varied readership, one must pause to remind people that this is just another means of communication, and probably not the best way to get familiar with a person's real character.

I've been bringing my guitar into class in recent weeks, mostly to practise the use of abstract nouns like "nostalgia" and "ecstasy." And I've also tried to use music to demonstrate how humans are innately irrational. I could just as easily have used a Presidential Election campaign, or the latest (excellent) episode of South Park to demonstrate the same thing: available here

Last night, as I was about to fall asleep, I remembered this passage from Call of the Wild that I first read when I was 18. I subsequently realised that it would be perfect to paraphrase for the beginning of my new novella.

there is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive - Jack London

There's the best translation I came across.

As well as illustrating that despite being happy and moved with the election result, and the footage that has come back from America. I am still highly mistrustful of any kind of mob mentality, not just the reactions I get here in China, the kinds of things I've always had apprehensions about: Socialism, Christianity, Obamamania...

Orwell said (something like): "The purpose of Political language is to make lies sound truthful, and murder respectable, and give the impression of solidity to pure wind." "Change" and "Yes we can" have no more solidity than "4 more years!" did.

No comments: