Friday, 13 March 2015

Atsuna: HKers Are Educated Illiterates, in Lu Xun's Words

Hongkongers Are Educated Illiterates, in Lu Xun's Words
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Vivian L., Written by Atsuna
Original: http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/03-02-2015/21495 



[Translator's note: Lu Xun was a famous leftist writer during the first half of the 20th century in China. His works are mostly written in Chinese, and you can find the English translation here.]

Lu Xun's stories are littered with rotten-to-the-core characters--they are either ignorant illiterates, or educated elites who are so fraught with envy one can almost see the green-eyed monster jumping out of the page.

Lu Xun gave up medicine to be a writer because he wanted to rescue the Chinese populace from the age-old depravity by offering stark social criticisms through literaray works. Set in early 20th century China, Lu Xun's stories -- where men wear cheongsams, and struggle over whether to cut or keep their queues (the long pigtails) years after the Qing domination had fallen -- were written to pointedly criticise and mock the society and its people for their crooked ways. It was a time, it seems, that bears little resemblance to our present day Hong Kong--Hongkongers never believe that eating a bread soaked in blood can treat tuberculosis, and we are much stronger than conceited the anti-hero Kung I-chi who is a student of the traditional teaching and a downright loser in all aspects of life--but are we so far from Lu Xun's world?

The aim of education is to enlighten. In Lu Xun's time, education was a privilege. Even if one had a chance to study, it's hard not to be influenced by the traditionalistic backward thinking that was severely outdated in the 20th century society.

Decades of modernised education has virtually eliminated illiterates in Hong Kong, yet a vast number of "educated illiterates" remains in our midst.

In Lu Xun's Medicine, when the jail warden hears the anti-Qing coup leader proudly exclaims, "The great Qing empire belongs to the People!", his only concern is whether he can squeeze some pennies out of the revolutionaries about to be executed. Blue ribbon thugs snarled at mentions of "Hong Kong nation-building" as they find the notion "rebellious", still many sought profit out of the Umbrella Revolution by signing up to the pro-Beijing camp's troop of "amateur thugs" to put on a show in the Mong Kok occupy camp.

Lu Xun taunted the cannabalistic teaching (吃人的禮教) of the old-school feudalistic ideologies in A Madman's Diary. Decades have passed, yet these ridiculous doctrines lived on in reincarnated form here in Hong Kong.

Generations of Hongkongers have been hopelessly bound by the curse of The Great Unity of the "Chinese people" and the pan-democrats' infallible dogma of "Peace, Rationality, Non-Violence and Non-swearing".

The self-deceiving loser protagonist in The True Story of Ah Q professes in "spiritual victories". Despite being synonymous with idiocy, the "Ah Q mentality" continues to be practiced by many in Hong Kong. Even the Umbrella Revolution ended in failure, Hongkongers rejoiced in their spiritual victories when the singer Common mentioned Hong Kong in his Oscar win. As if that was not enough to sate their need to feel good about themselves, they have whipped up an endless string of frivolities to "commemorate" their "hard-fought victory".

Kung I-chi knew how to write the four different forms of the character 回 (hui), for this he is happy as a clam because it makes him the only one who is "knowledgeable".

Leftards (note: faux-LEFTist reTARDs) hail themselves as "knowledgeable" people as well. They like to use jargons to confuse rather than to use valid arguments to win over opponents. When they are losing ground in a debate, they move thegoalposts just as Kung I-chi does, living out his famous saying, "Taking a book can't be considered stealing!". That's why Occupy Central's "volunteer lawyers" said they were not obliged to help protesters arrested during the occupy protest.

People of this generation have had much more education than the generations before us. We may not have read as much as it is good for us given our busy lives, yet we should be way more knowledgeable than people in Lu Xun's time! Why are people in this day and age still exactly the same as Lu Xun described?

When there are few choices in life, people become more ignorant. Local author Isaac Sit said,
"If people allow the rulers to decide what is most suitable for them, they become subjects who inevitably grow more and more stupid. If free choice is allowed from the start, people might make wrong choices, but they would learn from their mistakes, and gradually grow smarter."
North Koreans think of themselves as the most blessed nation in the world. Chinese are less delusional, but still think "China has risen because of the Party's right direction" without realising that if it was not for the Great Party, modern China would have advanced to the level of other developed countries decades ago, and not the newly rich with morals of barbarians that it is today.

We have allowed ourselves limited choices since childhood when our parents and teachers always say, "Do as you're told. Don't ask questions." It's only after you are all grown up that you realise you no longer have much choices in how you lead your life, whether it's choices for food and entertainment, or bigger issues like career and government. But you find yourself powerless over the status quo.

Hongkongers might want to read, but everyone has to work their arses off to pay for mortgage. When overtime is the norm, the diligent workers hardly find the time to read or be inspired by the works of Lu Xun, or at the very least suffer the awakening that Lu Xun had already berated characters exactly like themselves 100-odd years ago.
========================
Contemporary Chinese Literature Tidbits: Ah Q Spirit/Mentality


3 comments: