March 26, 2010

awareness

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:33 pm by changisme

A tulip is blossoming outside my doorstep. No one in the house planted it. It is times like this that I feel the connection between me and the rest of the world is mostly out of my control and mostly benevolent. Should I be more aware of it? If I am more aware of things, I might want to interfere with them more. Usually, what growing means to most people is to be more aware, but then to loosen control. For some people, the first process is easier, while for others the second is more in their nature.

What I don’t understand is why would that be growth? Why would that be progress? Is it just because it’s the natural course of things?

March 21, 2010

First day in San Francisco

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:20 am by changisme

For the longest time, I had the impression that people in San Francisco tend to take more pride in being out of place. To elaborate on that, in many societies, each person would want to seek a niche and conform to that. I thought that people in San Francisco would go out of their way to strip themselves of such comfort.

Having walked the streets for the whole day yesterday, I found people do actually¬† have very established niches and don’t really attempt to get out of them. They are just strange and foreign to me, who is unfamiliar to the culture. Being "different" in this sense probably really isn’t something anybody seeks out, but rather forced to be . And it’s an unstable state where the sheer force of time would move the landscape. Since San Francisco has a long history and the people who are stereotypically "different" also have been there for at least a couple of generations, they have their own subculture and take comfort in it. Ironically, it’s places where new immigrants reside, where people assume the facade of being in a small social circle, that show a strong sense of displacement.

Yesterday, we covered a long distance on foot, from between Chinatown and little Italy, we walked through Union Square, to UN/Civic Center. There were mobs of protesters, against war mostly. We also saw people on the far left spreading the gospel of socialism or even communism. It was quite a scene. I feel a bit ashamed because my first reaction to it was that, "well.. even though this is not really doing much good, at least getting together with people of like beliefs is fun." I can’t believe at age 25, I’m already so pessimistic about social change. On the other hand, I’m a believer of walking the road by actually doing things rather than talking about them.

The Asian Arts Museum was quite empty, but the collection was very good. We saw some very old brass and pottery collections from the Jin and Shang Dynasty, but the Korean collection was very pathetic. Rui had quite some fun bashing the poor culture. I guess the museum needs some investments there! There was also a special exhibit on Shanghai. It’s about the progression of painting that is centered around Shanghai. I’m not sure if it’s the exhibition or just Chinese art in general, but ther eis a strong sense of identity crisis where people try so hard to grasp onto the past, even when they are trying to innovate. On the other hand, each piece in the collection, the "traditional" element of the work always feel much more artificial and dead than the rest. It could well be that this collection is catered to a western audiance, with its well tuned oriental romanticism.

My favourite so far is the area around Haights-Ashbury. It’s very lively and full of force. It has so many quirky little shops and bookstores, in one of which we bought a booklet on the Poverty of Student Life, and a book on the rural development of China zhangfei always wanted. It was only a dollar each! I really wanted to walk around a little more, but dusk was on our heels, so we headed back to the hostel. One thing worth mentioning is that, the neighbourhood around Haights-Ashbury looked sooo expensive, zhangfei said it must be multiple million apartments. It looked very new and colorful. One of the point the Poverty of Student Life essay made at the beginning is that, as students we are kind of at a weird position that our income is so low that we are poorer than the meanest workers in the society, on the other hand, our backgrounds are usually much wealthier. I feel this disjoint myself. On the other hand, I’ve been a student for so long, I do actually feel that I would feel very weird living in a neighbourhood such as this.

Overall, it’d been a very pleasant walk about. I think poor Rui didn’t wear the right shoes, and she felt that she was preventing us from doing things, even though in truth she didn’t really stop us from doing anything. If only I can convince her of that.

Today is probably a much easier day, to Fisherman’s Wharf. I hope I can convince people to walk through little Italy instead of taking the bus, that would be my victory of the day.

March 9, 2010

special child

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:48 am by changisme

I’ve just started listening to the audiobook of Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Hunter. I will hold off on the judgment of the piece for now, since I have yet to finish it. I’m at the point where Edgar Allen Poe enters the picture. I will only say that I don’t know if it is an intended satire or not, that the "extraordinary" childhood is so cliche, it just reminds me of every single biography who claims that certain famous person was an extraordinary child. It reminds me of the accounts of old Chinese emperors. Everyone of them had some incredible birth event foreshadowing their special destiny ahead.

Further thought: why does every child have to special in order to insure attention? I had plenty of attention paid to me growing up as a normal person through and through.