Erenlai - Harmony and Conflict 和諧與衝突
Harmony and Conflict 和諧與衝突

Harmony and Conflict 和諧與衝突

Is Asia a continent of harmony or discord? How much harmony do we really want?  These materials explore the tensions and creative forces in families, schools, politics and society.

亞洲真的是一個和諧之境嗎?在亞洲,引發衝突與創造和平的文化條件與西方國家有什麼不同呢?亞洲要如何靠智慧找到兩者的平衡呢?

Tuesday, 05 March 2013

When did we all turn into a bunch of numbers?


Good afternoon everyone,

It's the time for the Wednesday experience sharing session once again. When this time comes around, everyone surreptitiously breathes a sigh of relief that the week is already half-over do they not? Thanks to everyone for staying this late to hear a younger colleague share with you how to calculate accurately the C/T value of your life. I see a lot of people have come, a lot of whom are older colleagues with substantial experience under their belt, you're not only higher up in the company than me, but you've also been here a lot longer, you've worn out a lot more swiveling chairs than me too, so you're probably curious about two things, the first is as to why it's me standing here today, the second is as to what C/T value is.

The two questions actually have the same answer.
The answer is my wife.

My wife is Jian Mei-en who has just been promoted to head of her section. We joined the company at the same time, and now I'm still at the same level as a rookie, but she's already set the best sales record 13 weeks in a row, raised her unit's performance by 0.5 percentage points, and after just a year and a half in the job the completion rate of every project she's worked on has increased by an average of 45%.

How was she so successful, you might ask? It's because found a way to raise her C/T value. At this point, you're probably even more curious as to what C/T value is? How can it change our lives?

OK, thanks for the applause. If we want to understand what C/T value is, we have to start from C/P value. I assume you all know what C/P value is: capability/price. The higher the performance of a product, and the less funds you need to invest, the higher its C/P value. As for C/T, this ratio was invented by my wife. One explanation of C/T value is that T = time and C = capability, then if we invest less time but are highly capable, then the figure we get will be larger. You're probably thinking that this is stating the obvious. The less time you spend, and the more you get done, the more effective you'll be. The pursuit of a high C/T value is what every company looks for in their prospective employees. The problem with this is, however, how to reduce the time value.

Please take a look at the screen. This is my daily schedule from when I'd just joined the company:

7:00 Get up
8:00 Walk out the door
8:30 Clock in
12:00 Lunch break
14:00 Work meeting
18:00 Off work
19:00-22:00 Leisure time
22:00-00:00 Prepare the following day's reports
01:00 Bedtime

If we consider that today is Wednesday, then the leisure time we might change to 'sharing session', this is the highlight of my otherwise dull week, everyone loosens their ties, changes into casual shoes and exchanges their feelings about work, be they important or not. However, as everyone looks at this schedule, I suspect you'll all be thinking that this is a model for a low C/T value. It's perhaps typical of how a new employee would organize their time. There's so much time wasted at each stage. 

But what I want to tell everyone is that so called 'waste' is necessary. Although this is my schedule, my wife's was the same. Man and wife are often in sync in this respect. From getting out of bed to getting to work, they stick together, if one of them forgets something the other one will wait for them, one to two hour delays aren't out of the ordinary. If you go to eat lunch together then you're going to take two hours from 12 to 2, but I'd like to ask, if your boss offers to treat you to a nice meal would you be able to refuse? Sitting at your average restaurant on the street you'll spend around an hour and a half. Considering that everyone else will go, if you stay behind at the office, do you know what they'll say about you? Not even just that, aren't you curious what the office gossip is? I'll can tell you now, in just two hours over lunch you can get a fix on the gossip in each department, isn't that well-worth the investment? Another thing is in regard to leisure time in evening. To be realistic about things, we live with my mother and she loves watching local TV dramas in the living room, would you feel OK asking your wife to tell your aged mother to turn the volume down or turn the TV off altogether? It's hard not to watch along with her, and everything else naturally gets put off until later. Not to mention, if I'd known on this particular Wednesday that I would be making a presentation to you today, would I have needed to stay up for the last few days preparing this flashy powerpoint? This is not just a problem of numbers. With a calculator, you can switch between different currencies and units of measurement, with excel, you can accurately predict the output value of different projects, after all the struggle of getting into this company, you know that you'll get your end of year bonus that will be four times your monthly salary and a performance related bonus on the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival and the Spring Festival, and that your life is worth almost a hundred days holiday per year, and as your position in the company rises, all this will be adjusted accordingly; but lots of things cannot be so accurately calculated. Tell me, how can one put a value on the relationship between husband and wife? Is it as simple as just dividing everything by 2? Now tell me, how would you would plot the emotional exchange and cost of care of watching a local drama on TV with your mother for two hours on a profit loss statement?

However, how can we change things?
The answer is C/T Value.

I don't know how she came to the realization. One morning I woke up and the other half of the bed was empty. There was still the depression of her body left on the mattress. I shouted her name, but there was no answer. On the dining table, however, there was some warm milk. My suit pants had been ironed and were hanging on a chair, and my briefcase was ready by the door.

It was just her that was missing.

I thought I should give her a call on her mobile phone, but when I picked up the phone I realized I remembered my own number, I remembered her employee number and account, I remembered our company's Business Registration Number; but somehow I couldn't remember her mobile number.

When was it that we became just bunch of numbers?

When I eventually got to the office, as soon my head was through the door, behind the partition, wasn't she sitting there typing out a report in front of her computer like it was the most natural thing in the world?

Her eyes were gleaming as she turned her head. She said that she'd found a way to increase C/T value.

'The secret is to get up out of bed two hours earlier and to eat lunch an hour later.'

What? I stuttered. That's the secret of increasing C/T value? Get up two hours earlier? Can that be the secret to success?

It was only some days later that I understood. It was all as simple as that. However, at the same time, it wasn't as simple. I had misunderstood what she meant.

There is another way to interpret C/T value, C = Customary and T = Time. The slash in the middle indicates separation. So it means essentially to stagger your time from that of everyone else.

She got up two hours earlier than I did, so she did everything before me. Heating the breakfast, getting everything prepared, sorting out everything to be done during the working day. In comparison, I got up later, so I couldn't delay her, I couldn't try to sweet talk her. I could only follow in her footsteps, without my interference, she got things done a lot quicker.

She also misses the rush hour, and gets to work a little earlier, as well as this, as I'm not with her, or anyone to bump into her, she doesn't have to engage in the customary small talk and greetings on getting to the office, so she gets her work done a lot quicker. At lunch, she avoids the normal lunch hour, and doesn't have to undergo the hobnobbing of socializing with colleagues, which increases her productivity even more.

And what about the evening? To get up two hours earlier the next morning, she would have to go to sleep earlier, so there's no way she can even think about watching a local drama that starts at eight in the evening. Mum understands that she has to get up early the next morning, so turns the TV down so as not to disturb her, then without even washing her dishes, she goes to bathe and heads to bed. So just as I'm off work for the evening, her day is already over.

Oh, that's right! That's how my wife came to invent the time machine.

If one just reduces one's contact with other people, and don't let trivialities influence your mood or your state of mind, then everyone can increase their productivity. Her life is 2 hours earlier than everyone else's, and she wastes an hour less for lunch. Adding it all up, she lives in a time zone with a 27 hour day.

'You can do it with me,' she offered. 'Let's go to bed together,' she said. If it had been before, I would have probably assumed she was hinting at something a little more sleazy; but to tell you the truth, this is the first time on this planet that those words have been uttered in such a matter of fact, business-like tone.

'But,' I scratched my head, I could give up watching TV with my mum; but it would be more difficult when I got off work, what was I supposed to do for fun? It didn't really seem possible. And what would happen if my mates invited me to lunch the next day. If I stayed in the office on my own, I'd probably have no friends after a few days.

I'm tired after a long day's work, it's important to have a bit of time to wind down, no?

But the light in the room was already off. She'd gone off in her time machine again.

What I'm trying to say is, figures are funny things. My wife has the best sales in the company for a record 13 weeks running, she has raised her section's performance by 0.5 percentage points, and her personal productiveness has risen by 45%, she has a high C/T value and has successfully changed her life; but you don't know what she had to give up in exchange for this.

For example, my wife and I in a typical day only get a chance to talk about our household duties around the water cooler at work. What about after work, you might ask? Please! I'm lucky if I get off at 8, and by that time she's already asleep. We talk more at the office than at home. She missed this meeting, look at us here, we're having a little drink and chatting, as well as the entire day... the entire week's work, we found the time to relax and have some fun, maybe we can even head somewhere else later, then tomorrow we'll cradle our hangovers in the rush to clock in for the day, and spend our morning staring at the computer screen doing nothing but wishing the hangover would dissipate more rapidly. And my dear wife will already be making headway into Thursday or Friday. Wednesday has already gone altogether for her and I'm still here. I know, I'm losing my wife bit by bit. If I'm lucky, we'll continue to live under the same roof, but the date line will run through the middle, she is the letter C, and I'm the letter T. There's something between us, a forward slash, keeping us forever apart. I don't know where to find a time machine that will be able to balance our C/T values.

Ok, buddy, I'm not trying to laden you all with my sorrows. Wasn't that a song, 'Don't cry for me, Argentina.'? This is just what I wanted to share with everyone today, if my wife can be this successful, then why can't everyone? If my wife gets more time by avoiding the morning rush hour and having to interact with everyone by getting up on average two hours earlier, then why can't all of you?

No, I'm not joking, I'm saying, what if we all got up two hours earlier, and ate lunch later? That way, everyone could be successful. Or rather, we would successfully bring my wife back. Think about it, if some of us can come earlier to the office, and eat lunch later, it doesn't even have to be everyone, one or two will suffice, then they can go and chat to my wife at that time, it's best if you get her talking about C/T value. When she realizeds she can't avoid people and that she's surrounded by socializing once again, she'll start to get nervous, and the only way to raise her C/T value will be to bring everything forward another hour.

If my wife continues to bring her time forward, then I can remain still? Or if I push things backward, the effect will be even better, she's already getting up two hours earlier, if she gets up even two hours earlier than that? And I go to sleep four hours later, then, she'll be pretty tired, I'll be tired too, but it should be OK, her day would be about to start, and my evening will be just about to start, maybe we could meet in the middle, on a Wednesday that's also not a Wednesday, in that fold in time, then we could meet again, I could invite her to spend a little time in the time I'm in.

That's what I've got to say, and it's also a request, thank you to everyone who was willing to give up their Wednesday evening to spend it with me. If it's possible, I hope next Wednesday, we can meet again and that we can bring our partners with us.

chenboqing-1Born in the Summer of 1983, Sodom Chen obtained his Masters from the Graduate of Taiwan Literature. His work has been awarded the World Chinese Science Fiction Prize for a science fiction novel, the World Chinese Young Writer Prize for Taiwanese Literature, the China Times Literature Prize and the United Daily News Literature Prize. He also published the novel Little City (xiao chengshi) under the penname Ye Fulu (葉覆鹿).

Text translated from the Chinese original by Conor Stuart (to view the Chinese, you might have to change the language option)

Photo © Pony Pei, Licensed by Pumpkin Creative Co., Ltd - Caption: Using action to treasure your female coworkers will mean it will be easier to possess her Holy Mary-like expression.

 

 

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The San Ying Tribe Still Resists

The San-Ying aboriginal community (so named because of its proximity to a bridge connecting the San-xia and Ying-ge districts of New Taipei City) - consists mainly of Amis tribe aboriginal migrants from Hualian and Taidong who have set up a community of illegal houses next to the Dahan river. After the community was demolished by the then Taipei County government (Taipei County was renamed as New Taipei City in December, 2010) they set up a campaign in an attempt to save their community, which was then backed by sympathetic cultural and social campaigners. On the 17th January 2009, to thank their supporters, and in celebration of the Taipei County Government's decision to postpone further demolition, they held their first end of year (the end of the Chinese New Year) dinner for those who had helped in the struggle against the demolitions.

 

The fourth such celebratory dinner held in 25th February 2012 was opened with a dance led by members of the aboriginal community, then two teams were formed, the red team, consisting of San-Ying aboriginal residents along with San-xia Junior High School students, and the white team, made up of famous bands, in a contest modelled after the annual NHK Japanese New Year's Eve music show Kōhaku Uta Gassen (lit. Red and White Song Battle). The atmosphere was surprisingly light-hearted and amiable, and there was little of the anger and rage that had been expected. There were excellent performances by the white team, made up of singer Deserts Chang (張懸), Wu Zhining, son of the poet Wu Sheng (吳晟), the rock band Sorry Youth (拍謝少年) and singer A Bei (阿焙).

The young men of the San-Ying community formed a K-pop style boy band especially for the occasion, calling themselves the 'Sailai Boys' (from the Amis word for acting proudly), coming on stage from time to time, sometimes with mock 'erotic dances' and sometimes dancing dressed as construction workers. The middle ages men dressed up as the 'Sanba Dance Troupe' (from 三八 the Mandarin slang word for 'bimbo' or 'catty'), and with no concern about looking like idiots, they performed sexy dances to the crowd's great amusement, attracting the screams and catcalls from the audience.

 

DSC02343

The protest party provoked writers including Chu Tien-hsin (朱天心), Chen Xue (陳雪) and the founder of the 248 Farmers' Market, Yang Rumen, to donate books and rice to the celebration. Prior to the event the San-Ying community had collected lots of second hand goods, as prizes for a raffle, awarded to some of those who voted for one of the two teams.

The film below shows the San-Ying Aboriginal Community celebrating with their supporters, the band at the start are the Sorry Youth, then the leader of a similar protest movement, from the Shisi Zhang area of Xindian who are also faced with demolition, led the audience in song.

(Click on "CC" button for the subtitles)

Video for readers in China

Text and Video by Zijie Yang / Translation by Conor Stuart

 

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Harmony, Nissology and lessons from the Pacific Islands

-- Some speculations using Darwin, Marx and questioning stasis[1]

China has been called “the Middle Kingdom” and European commentators have accused it of “insularity”: being cut off from the rest of Asia and, for a time, the rest of the world (see e.g. Needham 2008)

However, China’s ancient culture has had a considerable affect not only on its immediate continental and insular neighbours but also for millennia as the source for the ancient spread of humankind around the rim of the vast Pacific Ocean which itself as a body of water covers one-third of the Earth’s surface.

Most immediately, 25,000 BP, people moved from what is today southern China and began a migration that eventually led them to occupy the entire Pacific Ocean as Islanders, where there are notable vestiges of sinoculture that have persisted for nearly 3,000 years as far north as Hawaii, east as Rapanui (Easter Island) and south as Aotearoa (New Zealand) (Howe 2008; Kirch 2000).

Oceania in ancient times consisted of island kingdoms who maintained constant contact through trade and intermarriage.

I have proposed the concept of “Nissology” for the study of islands on their own terms and I wish to apply that understanding to the concept of harmony in China and its survival as a core value Pacific Island cultures.

China’s core value of Harmony came from its vast land and people mass; Pacific Islander core value of Harmony comes from their small populations occupying small places, but set, as Epeli Hau’ofa (1993) wrote, in a “sea of islands”.

I wish to use some history from Rapanui to show that many conceptions of Harmony are based on a notion of stasis (both natural and social), which I shall argue is wrong minded and will lead to inefficient actions in the pursuit of Harmony.

Both China and Rapanui, so very different in length of settlement and scale, shared a number of social actions to secure Harmony. Both used wide spread cultural development to bring about unity. Both developed a writing system to unify and facilitate Harmony over their respective lands.

For Rapanui, the questioning of stasis will be developed through two events that disrupted the Harmony of Rapanui that could not have been foreseen:

1) The 14th century “Little Ice Age” and its consequences;
and
2) The arrival of outsiders – Europeans – and their special requirements, power and disease.

I will analyse these events and their impact on Harmony using Darwin’s “Signal Theory” and his concept of “Acquirement Gradation” (Darwin 1859/2008).

In both cases, the Rapanui responded, acquired by gradation their capacities for Harmony and restored their social order.

Marx observed:

Man makes his own history, but he does not make it out of the whole cloth; he does not make it out of conditions chosen by himself, but out of such as he finds close at hand. (Marx 1852/2005: 1)

And so it is with Harmony: humans make their own Harmony, but not in circumstances of their choosing because the social is not static, but dynamic, and the natural world is not static, but in constant evolution, as both Marx and Darwin argued from their respective points of view.

I argue in my paper in conclusion that both China and Rapanui, from their vastly different history and circumstances, nevertheless share a pursuit of Harmony, which probably is the case for most if not all human societies. This is not done in a static context, but one that is in constant movement that requires the “acquirement of capacity through gradation”. And importantly, that “capacity” is to maintain harmony.

Perhaps a better understanding of Harmony may be gained by considering its dialectical development of opposition and renewal which has a lesson for all of humankind on the Earth of Harmony.

Rapanui sought to keep harmony over their history and they maintained this “piringa” [coming together or harmony] through constant exchange of food, goods and marriage partners as well as the cooperative construction of community monuments. This impressive megaliths required “piringa” in order for the materials and peoples to be carved and transported over the surface of the entire island. This piringa lasted until the coming of the Little Ice Age when environmental factors produced drought, unsettled weather and famine.

Rapanui arrived in a sub-tropical island and tried to maintain harmony. Built moai; when moai complex failed, moved on to a seasonally based worship of a birdman and eventually have become Catholics in the 19th century and followers of many different Christian sects in the 20th and 21st.

Constant adaptation and transformation in the pursuit of harmony, but on a small space: their island (See McCall 1994a).

Even when I was doing fieldwork on Rapanui, the Islanders preserved still the concept of “Mana‘uhakapiri” whereby people could sense when someone else in the population was thinking about them, most commonly when they were about to arrive at some place. People did not remark on this and found it quite normal. It was not telepathy, since the message was indistinct: simple sensing. But it meant that the people had a sense of one another and where they were on the island. “piri”, together and “piringa” togetherness is roughly equivalent to the Chinese concept of “harmony” to which I now turn.

Speculations on Harmony in China

At first glance, considering China as an island seems odd since it is a large continental population, with considerable ethnic diversity and a long history of complex interactions with neighbouring countries and those further afield.

To take a different view of China and the concept of harmony, I suggest that in the long history of China, the country has seen itself as separate and apart from the rest of the world in its culture and nature.

Through China over the last tens of thousands of years have passed those humans who became American Indians and Austronesians, both peoples producing great civilisations in their respective parts of the world (Thorne & Raymond 1989)

One of the main ways that the unity of China and its concept of “Harmony” has been achieved is through a universal standard of literacy. This is not exactly the same kind of literacy discussed by Benedict Anderson (2001) in his famous “Imagined Community” book. The use in China of universal characters to render complex thoughts, no matter the particular language of the person using them, means that any educated person in China could communicate with any other educated person. They may not speak the same language, but they shared the same written one.

The impact of this on the development of China cannot be overestimated. It allowed people from around the country to exchange ideas on their own terms, but with a common writing system. They could continue hold their own beliefs and culture, but through the writing share their ideas with others.

I believe that the Chinese characters allowed everyone in China to share in being Chinese but, at the same time, preserve their own group identity. People in China could be Buddhist, Moslem or follow other local faiths (and later Christianity) but to remain at the level of literate communication, Chinese.

This gave a great deal of unity to an otherwise fractious mix of local, distinctive populations.

Built into this universal system, too, was that through the examination system, anyone no matter their humble origins could achieve learning and thus become literate Chinese. This kind of achievement of status rather than ascription by birth took place in China more than a millennia before the European Enlightenment espoused similar values.

Now, I am not painting a romantic picture of China and Chinese-ness, saying that equality characterised that ancient civilisation. Certainly not. Chinese society always has been hierarchical, just as all human societies are. There are gender hierarchies, hierarchies of power and hierarchies of learning. Every society clings to hierarchy by age, so that the older experienced always guides the youthful beginner.

What I am saying is that through the examination system, invented in China, a meritocracy of learning evolved and that core to this meritocracy was the use of Chinese characters. Both the examination system and the script preserved harmony.

The universal Chinese quality of this system of characters and their adulation of form meant that people felt a sense of balance and a sense of order through the administration of government. I believe that the Chinese system of writing is responsible for the concept of Harmony (Hexie 和諧). People saw that there was balance and relationships between concepts. They saw in their script both an intellectual and an artistic expression. Whilst there were different level of competence, people believed that if they worked hard they could achieve perfection or, at least, adequacy to a level at which they would be satisfied.

As all took the examinations, they all had a common interest in the common purpose of writing and order. Harmony is a natural outcome of Chinese writing.

But there are other factors.

Chinese writing gives great unity within Chinese-ness, but it acts as a barrier to those who use different forms of writing. The characters can be translated, of course: that is what Chinese writers are doing all the time. But the monolithic quality of Chinese characters means that most outsiders are excluded.

In that way, the unique writing system creates China as an island surrounded by a sea of cultures who do not know Chinese writing.

We can see this more clearly when we compare those two great, abiding civilisations, China and India.

India is a land of many languages, but no unifying one, excepts perhaps the use of the colonialist English. Moreover, India has no unifying script as does China. For an Urdu speaker to adopt the Hindi script is lose their identity, their self. For a Tamil to write in a Hindi script, also is to lose identity and so it is around the sub-continent. Script is language and script is identity: they do not seem to mix (Pei 1966).

Ethnicity in India often, but not always, has been tied to religious beliefs. There is the pan-Hindu belief that all religions are Hindu, but just don’t know it. However, this does not obscure the strength that a belief system gives to ethnicity. People in India would find it a difficult concept to hold more than one belief system in equal respect. For Indians, for the most part, you either are in or you are out of the group. This is more the caste with the caste hierarchy for which India is so well-known.

This is not so in China where Confucious thought can co-exist with that of Mao or Christ or the Buddha. I suspect that even the fervent new converts to Christianity have their Chinese residues built up over millennia.

India, unlike China, has been invaded many times and by significant outsiders who layered their beliefs and ideas, but also displaced existing systems, causing inequality and dissent, which erupts from time to time in both ancient and modern times.

China on the other hand takes in the invader and converts them to being Chinese in the end, as many have remarked (eg Needham 2008)

Again, the unifier of all this is the script which is at once no one’s, but also is everyone’s. There is no alternative writing system that can command the same respect or, indeed, usefulness.

Calligraphy by B. Vermander


Does this mean that China is without conflict?

No, conflict seems to be the way that humans as a species develop their ideas, keeping some and transforming others. Conflict produces discussion, but also permits new ideas to evolve. We know from Charles Darwin (1859/2008), whose 200th birthday it is this year, that everything on the planet, living and non-living is in a constant state of transformation and evolution. And that this process is cumulative through the acquirement of capacity. This capacity develops best when harmony is achieved and the full potential of a culture is permitted to develop.

This change can be accomplished in harmony with the Chinese writing system being its carrier and it has done so through the many changes that have taken place in China over the years. These changes have not led to a new writing system, but continue to symbolise the distinctiveness of Chinese-ness as a trait with many internal variation, but one abiding identity: the writing system.

It was the continuing of the writing system that deceived foreign scholars, particularly Europeans from the 18th century onwards (e.g. Weber 1921-22/1978), to image that China was un-changing, constant and somehow frozen in time. The great inventions of China, such as writing, printing, modern paper, even gunpowder, became the civilisers of the rest of the world. But, people thought that since the distinctive external feature of Chinese-ness, the script, seemingly had not changed, so too did the society remain static. They did not realise that a universal script can convey very particular and distinctive ideas. So, whilst the script had to be memorised, its use was not. Complexity and change did not perturb the Chinese script.

The memorisation of the script miss-led outsiders to think that China was static and that seemed confirmed colonial conquest devoured the country’s wealth and labour in the 19th century, shortly after a similar process was commenced in neighbouring India. Outsiders trumpeted their conquest of what they saw as moribund cultures without realising that they too would be absorbed eventually by their supposed subalterns.

It has escaped the notice of many observers of China that powerful European ideas, such as those of Karl Marx, have found their home not in that important thinker’s home (Germany) or adopted land (England), but in China where the ideas have served to produced an increasingly successful world economic power. And there is cultural or “soft power” as well in the adoption of many Chinese gifts to the world.

From a very particular place, Australia, we can see how a man who intended a career in public life, Kevin Rudd, early in his education decided to learn a Chinese language but, most probably, not the Chinese script in any depth. For that, a lifetime of study is required.

The identity of China with its script means that those places where Chinese-ness once held sway symbolise their departure from their origins and influences by altering or elaborating their script. Japan preserves Chinese characters along with its own local innovation, whilst Korea, developed over time its own semi-phonetic “Hangeul”. The Korean script, like others so closely tied to its own language, could never aspire to universality (Pei 1966).

Just to take only one more example, in Vietnam, the same kind of descriptive name is used as for Korean, something like “the script of the national language”, so it too is tied to one tongue and not capable of being universalised. Significantly and related to Vietnamese acceptance of foreign influence is that the present alphabet was the invention largely of a French Jesuit, Alexandre de Rhodes.

In Conclusion

The search for a universal language has been one that has obsessed scholars ancient and modern. In ancient times, an Egyptian pharaoh hoped to find universal language by isolating one or more children to see which language they spoke spontaneously. Other scholars were convinced that some antique scriptural languages could be the foundation for all human speech. In European medieval times, the scholar ruler, Frederick the Great, tried the same experiments of isolating children to see if they would speak in Hebrew, the language he believed was the one used by God. The Englishman Judge Sir William “Oriental” Jones, the “discoverer” of Sanskrit in the 18th Century believed in the Indo-European concept (Pei 1966; especially Allen 2002).

In more modern times, artificial languages have been proposed that could unify humankind and bring harmony out of chaos; to bring understanding out of prejudice and to realise the foundational promise that just as all humans descend from common ancestors, so too can their future be one of unity and peace. One contemporary source, a website by Richard Kennaway[2] lists 312 “constructed languages”, referencing an extensive bibliography compiled by Richard K. Harrison between 1992 and 2002[3].

The difficulty with such proposals made by earnest and well-meaning scholars is that always one or more sectoral languages prevail in the invention. And, without exception, the spoken language is mirrored with exactness in the written language.

This means that to join in the promised universality, one must give up one’s own uniqueness and special qualities. That is a prospect many people find unacceptable.

What the world needs is a way of communicating whilst preserving still local variation and identity. We need a way that complex ideas can be conveyed efficiently, but without having to lose one’s own identity.

I argue that the world community should consider something like the Chinese script as such a universal communication system or, at least, the model for such an innovation. It has served China well for centuries and could serve humankind for centuries into the future. This is not a call for people to learn Chinese, but for people to learn from the Chinese (as so many have done before) the value of a universal communicative system, unfettered by local language and sound.

If I am correct in my argument about the Chinese script being a factor in the preservation of Harmony (hexie) in China, then the adoption of a Chinese inspired universal medium of communication could bring with it the grace, serenity and productive tranquility which humans always have sought but only in some times and places have achieved.

In proposing my concept of “Nissology” more than a decade ago, I quoted the phrase: “Islands are a metaphor for the world” (McCall 1994b, 1996)

If my argument about China being conceptually an island, perhaps its concept of harmony is linked to a universal mode of communication, a character based script, could be a model for the world: the harmony of this island China can show the way for the harmony of this island Earth.

Epilogue

The opportunity to pursue a cooperative project in Austronesian studies should be launched at the 16th IUAES and on the occasion of this panel.

I propose that an Austronesian Research Circle (ARC) be launched to investigate:

1) Origins and relations of the Austronesian peoples, who originated in south China

2) People and place of the Austronesian peoples, their relations with the environment

3) People and organisation of the Austronesian peoples, their concepts of governance and, especially, harmony

4) The explorations of the Austronesian peoples and how they came to live where they do today from Madagascar to Taiwan Island to Hawaii and Rapanui (Easter Island).

To achieve the aims of ARC, I propose that scholars from a variety of disciplines be invited to participate with their existing projects, with an idea that in four years time a symposium and book may be produced to document these investigations both as individual achievements and the lessons learned through collegial exchange.

Some name that might be suggested include:

Professor Lisa Mattisoo-Smith, Anthropology, University of Otago NZ
Dr Darren Curnoe, Science, UNSW
Prof Andrew Pawley, Linguistics, Australian National University
Professor Emeritus James Fox, Research School of Asia and Pacific Studies, Australian National University
Professor William Foley, Linguistics, University of Sydney
Professor Jose Miguel Ramirez, University of Valparaiso
Professor K. R. Howe, University of Auckland
Professor Patrick V. Kirch, University of California, Berkeley
Professor Terry Hunt, University of Hawaii
Professor Patrick Nunn, Geography, University of the South Pacific
National Museum of Prehistory, Taitung, Taiwan island
Professor Christophe Sand, New Caledonia Museum

From these widely distributed persons, a larger list of participants may be invited.

Given its location in southern China, near the continental origins of the Austronesian peoples in southeastern China (Oppenheimer & Richards 2001; Tianlong Jiao 2005), I suggest that the coordination of this network should be located in Kunming at an institution prepared to support such an initiative in this heartland of one of the most widely dispersed populations, the Austronesian peoples.

 

Bibliography

Allen, Charles. 2002. The Buddha and the sahibs. London, John Murray.
Anderson, Benedict. 2001. The imagined community. Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London, Verso.
Darwin, Charles. 1859/2008. On the origin of the species by means of natural selection. London, Sterling.
Hau‘ofa, Epeli. 1993. A new Oceania: Rediscovery of our Sea of Islands. Suva, University of the South Pacific.
Howe, K. R. 2008. Vaka moana. Voyages of the ancestors. The discovery and settlement of the Pacific. Auckland, David Bateman & the Auckland Museum.
Kirch, Patrick Vinton. 2000. On the road of the winds. An archaeological history  of the Pacific Islands before European contact. Berkeley, University of California Press.
Marx, Karl. 1852/2005. The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Translated by D. D. L. New York, Mondial.
McCall, Grant. 1994a. Rapanui. Honolulu, University of Hawai‘i Press.
McCall, Grant 1994b. “Nissology: The study of islands”. Journal of the Pacific Society 17(2-3): 63-64.
McCall. Grant. 1996. “Clear confusion in a disembedded world: The case of nissology”. Geographische Zeitschrift 84 (2): 74-85.
Needham, Joseph. 2008. Science and civilisation in China. 6 Vols. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Oppenheimer, Stephen J. & Martin Richards. 2001. “Slow boat to Melanesia?” Nature 410(8 March): 166-167.
Pei, Mario. 1966. The story of language. New York, New American Library.
Thorne, Alan & Robert Raymond. 1989. Man on the rim. The peopling of the Pacific. Sydney, Angus & Robertson & the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Tianlong Jiao. 2005. “Environment and culture change in Neolithic southeast China”. Antiquity 80: 615-621.
Weber, Max. 1921-22/1978. Economy and society. 2 vols. G. Roth & C. Wittich (eds). Berkeley, University of California Press.

 

[1] This paper was invited for presentation at the 16th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological & Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) that took place in Kunming, China, between 25 July and 3 August 2009.

[2] Richard Kennaway. Compiler. “Some Internet resources relating to constructed languages”. Last accessed on 01 June 2009 http://www2.cmp.uea.ac.uk/~jrk/conlang.html

[3] Harrison, Richard K. 2002. Compiler. “Bibliography of planned languages (excluding Esperanto)”. Tenth Anniversary Edition. Last accessed on 01 June 2009. http://www.rickharrison.com/language/bibliography.html

Friday, 28 January 2011

eRenlai and life's unexpected troubles

Translated by Jason Chen

People hate running into unexpected trouble. It catches us off guard and makes us feel helpless. Hackers are the greatest threat to websites and, being an administrator of the eRenlai website, my most feared type of unexpected trouble.

We are now 10 years in to the 21st century. The internet has been in rapid development since the end of the 20th century, evolving from a simple channel of communication to something that has become inseparable to everyday life. On the internet people learn new information, express their opinions and voices, create interpersonal networks and activity centres, share their everyday life experiences and so on. Through web-based texts, sounds and videos, we have developed a new kind of life and alternative social circles: the different experiences available in this new sphere have become important elements for many of us.

eRenlai is a new life for Renlai. This website allows us to share more of our stories, videos, sounds and relevant information with our readers. We can also get feedback from our readers and use this as the basis for improving our magazine. This is why we really treasure eRenlai; we are always thinking about how to make it better and to encourage more feedback from our readers.

Despite our best intentions, unexpected trouble has hit eRenlai. One day we were suddenly unable to upload pictures to our website because the folder path was gone and some functions of the website were lost. We were shocked and had no idea about what was happening. Not only were we in panic mode, we were also worried that the website - which we put so much time and effort into building - was going to go bust. Luckily the situation didn’t get worse and at least all the already-uploaded articles were still there.

We urgently called the system maintenance engineer and he undertook some chaotic investigations. The definite cause of the website’s problems was apparent - eRenlai was hacked. Our first reaction were that “Why? How could this ever happen to us?”. Like all unexpected trouble, everyone wants to know “the reason”. However, finding out “the reason” after something has already happened does not necessarily help the situation and can even delay the time available to solve the problem. Trying not to panic or fly into a rage, we asked the system maintenance engineer to urgently fix some functions of the website for us so we could at least keep it running. However, we knew that even if eRenlai is restored the nightmare wouldn’t just stop there. Not only do the website functions have to be fixed, we have to so improve security and change everyone’s username and password to prevent something similar from happening again in the future. A week after eRenali was hacked, all the staff in eRenlai were still reeling from this turmoil.

Although this unexpected trouble only happened on the internet and it didn’t cause any physical harm to me, the lesson it taught me was tougher than if it had. When expected troubles come, one can only face them, accept them, try and solve them and then let them go. Just as someone should carry on with his or her life regardless of whatever may have happened, a website should not stop running because it comes across moments of anger or sadness. For eRenlai to get back running and become a bigger and more secure website is a responsibility we owe to our dedicated readers. When such unexpected trouble arises we should learn to look forward as this is the only way we can turn such an adversity into an opportunity!

Photo: C. Chuang

 

Monday, 03 January 2011

光州行腳:韓國轉型正義的歷史現場

1980年5月18日爆發的光州事件,為韓國近代史寫下血腥殘忍的一頁。當我們在三十年後的今天重回歷史現場,赫然發現當地的遭遇與台灣的在地經驗間,竟有這麼多的相似之處。

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Keinstein and Dreistein’s Non-Unified Theories

There is no need to recall here the unceasing scientific rivalry that opposed Keinstein and Dreistein during their whole career till the time of their almost simultaneous death. It is also of public knowledge that this professional rivalry, joined to a deep and mutual personal dislike, stimulated the stamina and creativity displayed by both of them for so any years. And all observers agree that the rivalry was left unresolved, with none of them winning the match, or, more aptly, both of them winning it – though, till the end, Keinstein and Dreistein could not console themselves of not having taken a decisive advantage on their rival. When Keinstein announced a major discovery, another one followed that Dreistein could claim as his own. When Dreistein won the Nobel Prize for Physics, Keinstein reciprocated by claiming the same distinction in Chemistry the next year. Earlier in their career, they were jointly awarded the Fields Medal (for utterly different achievements), which annihilated the pleasure they could have felt at receiving such an honor. When one became MIT’s most revered scientist, the other was becoming Stanford’s acclaimed luminary. And so it went on, for fifty years…[/dropcap]

After they left this world, most of their colleagues used to avoid speaking of their latter years: the steep decline of an exceptional intellect is always a painful spectacle, and this is even truer when it comes to one of two towering figures of science seemingly lost in a battle, the stakes of which are understood only by them. But stakes there were, stakes that were giving a meaning – a frightening one – to the rivalry that had opposed them since their common youth in Mittel Europa. As he was slowly drowning into the innocuous insignificance usually attached to old age’s unchallenged glory, Keinstein claimed to have found the decisive proof that there was and could not be any unified theory of the universe. Around the same time, Dreistein was repeating that he was able to demonstrate that there were no less that three unified theories of the universe, that the three of them were true, and that they were mutually incompatible. Both claims could have been reconciled if Keinstein’s Ultimate Non-Unified Theory (UNUT) could have been counted as one of Dreistein’s Three Incompatible Unified Theories (TIUT), but both were adamant that UNUT was not and could not be a subdivision of TIUT. None of them never revealed the full extent of his reasoning, each one promising that the proof would be found among the papers he would leave to his disciples. The two competing schools did thoroughly examine what their respective masters had left behind them, without making much sense of the writings they could gather – while observing that these writings contained no obvious mistake or any other sign of senility. On the whole, the latter theories of Keinstein and Dreistein were seen more as a psychological drama than as a scientific duel.

However, the latest theoretical developments have given a new and unexpected meaning to the last episodes of Keinstein’s and Dreistein’s rivalry. Nobody could have predicted the intellectual earthquake triggered by Professor Uberstein’s “Theory that Goes Beyond Everything” (TGBE), which does seem to lead us towards a truth even more disturbing than were already the competing claims of Keinstein and Dreistein – namely, that both of them might have been right. According to Uberstein, the laws of the universe cannot be expressed in a unified theory and they can be gathered into three antagonistic sets of principles. This very fact (which of course remains utterly incomprehensible for our normal intellects) might also explain why Keinstein and Dreistein never revealed the full extent of their proofs: both might have inferred from their evidences that the other was detaining the other half of the truth they had so painstakingly searched for. Ultimately, there could be no winner between the two, and such painful revelation was better to be left to the care of future generations. What would have they made of the fact that Keinstein’s and Dreistein’s combined intellects would be so swiftly outsmarted by the miraculous surge of an Uberstein?

 

 

 

Wednesday, 05 August 2009

Competition or Solidarity?

Are school and education only a matter of results and rankings? A description of an ideal model of education by Reverend Lo Chun-Gi.

Attached media :
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Thursday, 02 July 2009

Lumah!

An Ami tribe struggles for their right to home

In Taoyuan County, along the Dahan river (大漢溪 dahanxi), where the gentle flow is only somewhat interrupted by the distant rumble of the city, sits one of Taiwan’s smallest tribes: the Sa’owac (撒烏瓦知部落), of Taiwan’s Pangcah or Amis aboriginal people. This is the very border of urbanisation, where the so-desired modern life of mundane apartment flats, KTV and convenience stores meets the vast, beautiful mountain ranges which spread all the way to the eastern coast of Taiwan. The Sa’owac tribe came down from Hualien thirty years ago, when in maternal Pangcah tradition the ’Seven Ancestors’ or Pangcah women chose a scenic spot which they felt looked similar to their old home and the husbands dutifully followed on down. Since then, as the city encroaches further into nature, the Sa’owac tribe, as the river, has gradually become trapped between two evolving worlds. Yet here, I witnessed a mini-revolution of biblical proportions, a david versus goliath, a battle of underdogs against giants...

The completed rebuilding of their homes, on 20th June 2009, four months after their destruction, in defiance of the government and conventional wisdom on development, culminated in one huge party for the Sa’owac and one small step forward for the urban aborigine movement in Taiwan. The Sa’owac tribe were joined by a small amount of teachers, students, social activist groups, independent media journalists, botanists, and socially conscious civilians who had all been enthusiastically supporting the Sa’owac in different ways. Also present were fellow Pangcah tribes living along Dahan river: the Kanjin (坎津), who were facing the possibility of a similar occurrence and Sanying (三鶯), who had already suffered a similar plight and are in the process of rebuilding. The Sa’owac were given eviction notices in December, without consultation and then, on the morning of February 20th, before the distraught eyes of the villagers, the vehicles of destruction were sent in convoyed by police, laying waste to the Sa’owacs’ home. These actions would clearly break the UN charter on minority rights…if Taiwan were a member of the UN. In this particular case, the official reason given for the Taoyuan County Magistrate Zhu Lilun approving the destruction, was the Water Law (水利法). Other reasons suggested for the demolition were the renovation and extension of a riverside cycle route which would eventually pass through the village, dangerous terrain, tatty appearance and other political motives.

When the behemoth of economic development clashed with the indomitable spirit of the Sa’owac and their unwavering resolve for home, they exploded into a ceremony of traditional song, dance and comedy. The head priest stood rod-in-hand with shamanesque clothes, incanting, whilst below him, encircled by tribe veterans, a tribe elder chanted his pain and fury, as a dragon spews his fire. The wailing permeated into the audience leaving many in tears, or on the brink. - City, the friend who brought me and others who had been involved in the cause from the outset of the problems held back tears too. City, who’s normally calm and loathe to express emotion, said it had been a turbulent few months, an emotional seesaw; a melange of anger, laughter, melancholy and defiance. They had protested at local and central government offices, some had shaved their heads in protest and despite an average age of over sixty the villagers had lived in tents for four months! Now the tribe had begun to see City and the other helpers as children of the tribe. As their own! For my part, I felt an uncomfortable tingling sensation underneath my skin. It wasn’t inebriation, heat, or sleep deprivation...this was real emotion! Living in the student utopia for too long, I had long since lost sympathy for the narcissistic, self-pitying lamentations of those in the student bubble. The rhetoric was disillusioning; heralding causes I had no direct contact with left me feeling detached. Now, as nostalgia for the cause was awakening inside me, I realised the social value and the inspiration one can gain from direct involvement in other peoples’ struggles, visiting other peoples’ life stories.

The Sa’owac may not have Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai to protect their tribe from the heavy-handed invaders, however they do have the ‘seven ancestors’, a hearty determination, and impassioned supporters of the tribe. As one section on the program of events read, “Our rebuilt homes are all that we have, but we also have a history of defending and cherishing the tribe. Our ancestors left us with the special quality of self-healing and your power makes our will as strong as boulders”. As I finished reading the passage and looked up the speaker called out:

“Kanjin, are you afraid?”
“No!”
“Sanying, are you afraid?”
“No!!”
”Sa'owac, are you afraid?”
“No!!!”


After some further rallying in defiance, comedy and traditional songs, they convened with a final dance of unity in which everyone gathered on stage, hand-in-hand, rotating and converging inwards, whilst my unlearned self clumbsily tried to get the correct steps. Although in my own tradition I ended minus a sandal, I also had a great feeling of belonging...I remember, this is called community. We were united!

One of the most moving tribesmen was a 64-year-old named Kulas. Clearly emotionally fatigued, he has been working overtime to help support the tribe and fund the rebuilding effort. He was everpresent throughout the ceremony, singing and dancing with the vigour of a bull released into a field of cows during mating season. When I complimented him on his energy he replied: “We are full of energy because God is here helping me, giving me strength in everything I do”.

At the end of this emotion-filled day, as the white rice liquor flowed on, the singing grew louder and the tribesmen began to divulge their thoughts. Although I struggled to understand Kulas’s linguistics, the essence was not lost in his broken Chinese. The freedom of the Sa’owac to choose their home was being attacked; the wider implications would be an erosion of their culture. This feeling of loss; this longing for a home; the pain, the sweat and the tears are universal. I thought about my own home – to me it was cliff-jumping, exploring the meadows and camping in the woods, making tree houses, our secret entrance to the zoo, looking across the sea from the end of the pier wondering what was out there to explore. It wasn’t paradise, but it was home. Everyone has a slightly different understanding of home. In the Amis language, there is no distinction between home, house and family ("Lumah"). They are a part of the land they live on and the tribe they are with. One Taiwanese botanist who was also involved in the struggle told me they like to eat bitter vegetables and bitter pork because their strength comes from the bitter struggles of their ancestors which are implanted in the ground.

Since Chiang Ching-kuo’s economic reforms, up through to the incumbents under President Ma, the neo-liberal development dream has been imposed on the urban aboriginal tribes. As things stand, the Sa’owac tribe’s new houses are still illegal. However, from the ruins comes real hope for change and there is now a real chance they will be able to keep their new houses, after all an incredibly high percentage of houses in Taiwan remain illegal. Furthermore, this struggle had been full of imagination, inspiration, compromise and action.

Civilising missions should be contextualised - an ‘Amis-isation’ of development, a reclaiming of the commons allowing for cultural differance and spiritual needs. Will the economic behemoth continue to roll on unhindered leaving a path of destruction in its wake? Will unneccessary extra houses continue to be built, whilst prices are kept artificially high, leaving more destitute and increasing the rich-poor gap? Will the Sa’owac be allowed to continue living in the new homes they’ve been through so much to build? Will the government continue to talk about protecting aborigine rights at the same time as demolishing their houses on flimsy grounds of safety? Or will there be real consultation? Were we witnessing the maturing of the movement for urban aboriginal rights?

This is the Sa’owac! Some people choose tall European-style apartment flats, cement, constructivism, reservoirs, 7-11s, Nintendo Wee, widescreen TVs, huge financial buildings, railways through forests and riverside cycle tracks with tidy grassy banks (heaven forbid the illusions of the well-to-do city folk be brutally shattered by the eye-pollution of the slums).

They chose not to choose this; they chose something else… Home!’
’Lumah!’
 
(Drawing by Li Jinyuan)
 

Tuesday, 09 June 2009

On Sport in Taiwan

"Sport is a subject that people do during their lifetime"

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Wednesday, 03 June 2009

The 'Duch' Trials

 
Ponchaud comments on the ongoing Kaing Kek Iev ‘Duch’ trials and has a rather critical point of view: He affirms the abomination of the Khmer Rouge crimes, but has described the trial as ‘hypocrite’ and ‘unfair’. According to Ponchaud, all the countries that are now judging the Khmer Rouge have supported them until 1989 for geostrategic reasons, and it is only now that the Khmer Rouge leaders are old and powerless that the international community decides to take a stance against the Khmer Rouge crimes. Furthermore, Ponchaud questions the relevance of merely trying leaders such as Kaing Kek Iev when the U.S have had an equally guilty part in the civil war. “From the 6 February 1973 to the midnight of 15 August 1973, the U.S army have dropped 239 000 tonnes of bombs on the little Cambodia who had not done anything”, says Ponchaud.
 

Francois Ponchaud is French priest from the MEP (Paris Foreign Missions Society) who has spent the last forty years in Cambodia and the refugee camps on its border with Thailand. As author of Cambodia: Year Zero, he was amongst the only foreigners to have witnessed the Khmer Rough regime, and was the first to have exposed the genocide to the world.

 

Friday, 22 May 2009

Account of the 17 April, 1975

 

 

My tuk-tuk driver and I were lucky to have spent an hour looking for the residence of Fr. Francois Ponchaud on a dry day- dense with dust and exhaust fumes- yet nevertheless, dry. There was nothing more ennerving than being stuck in traffic in a flooded street under pouring rain in Phnom Penh.
 

We arrived at Ponchaud’s workplace, where his staff greeted me warmly in Khmer, apparently the only working language in his office.The young man lead me to their bureau on the first floor where I was greeted by the legendary Francois Ponchaud himself, barefooted and smiling broadly.

 

Being ever so obliging, he agreed to re-tell the tale of the 17th April, 1975, the night when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge and a tale he has had to repeat many times for the press and in his publication Cambodia: Year Zero.

 

 

Our hour-long interview was conducted entirely in French; each account was more enthralling than the other, in the course of thirty minutes I was given a literal brief history of Cambodia and its people.

"In the morning, thousands of militants, farmers flooded into Phnom Penh, because they knew the Khmer were going to arrive at any moment" begins Ponchaud. On that morning, the French priest of MEP hosted around 2000 people in the cathedral, including the militants who demanded entry at gunpoint. At 7am there was a complete calm in the city of Phnom Penh, as a series of white four-by-fours pulled up in front of the French embassy and 7 or 8 men in black stepped out of the vehicles. "We thought to ourselves, everything should be going quite well if the Khmer Rouge wishes to talk to the French, perhaps we might just keep our lives" recalls Ponchaud. When they finally left, they were shot at by the tanks by the cathedral on Boulevard Monivong; a lone man in black stepped out, walked slowly toward the tank in front of the cathedral and convinced the tank to lower its arms. From then onward, around 8-10am, it was sheer joy for the civilians for they had seen how these men in black had pacifically disarmed the militants. "The refugees believed the war to be over and were overjoyed, and despite what journalists say, the people applauded when Lon Nol’s army surrendered" Ponchaud remembers a discordance between the people’s jubilation that the war was over and the sullen attitude of the victorious soldiers in green, sporting hats of Mao Ze Dong. Shortly after that, these men in green started to manage the traffic, shifting weapons onto the middle of the roads, disposing their clothing along with with their weapons. "Later that day we heard on the radio several announcements, notably by the chief of the Army declaring that the war was lost and that everybody was to surrender. Another announcement was made by the Supreme Patriarch calling for reconciliation but at the end of the speech, the microphone was taken by someone declaring: "We are not here to negotiate. We won with our weapons."

Ponchaud felt that there was a new group in power- the Khmer Rouge.

 
From 11am onwards he witnessed an ’unbelievable spectacle’. Thousands of sick and wounded people were abandoning the city, some carried by friends, others lying on beds pushed by their families with intravenous drips still attached. At three in the afternoon many of his own friends came by to bid him farewell as they head towards the North, West, East and South. By night, the city was practically emptied of all residents. "I cannot say that I had ever seen any forms of physical violence. I have neither seen any dead bodies nor a Khmer rouge soldier firing into the crowds. It was a ’cold violence’...they made us scared simply by looking at us in the eye."Despite having down national service at the age of 20 for two years in Algeria, followed by living through the Cambodian Civil war between 1970-1975, the presence of the Khmer Rouge had Father Ponchaud turning cold.
 

When it came to the Westerners, the Khmer Rouge were not so adamant on making them leave like the rest of the population. Some asked Ponchaud for his Bic (pens), others for his motocycle; objects had lost their value at this point in time and Father Ponchaud was more than willing to give them away.

 

At 6pm the city had been emptied of its people and noise, some Khmer Rouge came to the diocese, and looked at the foreigners with much suspicion. Later when they heard Ponchaud and others speaking Khmer, they instantly warmed up to them and spent the night joking and chatting. They were people from the region of Angkor and were in fact, ’very nice people’. "One should not think that all the Khmer Rouge were vicious beings" continues Ponchaud. To his surprise, he saw many different groups of people amongst the Khmer Rouge: some were stern, others looked disoriented, some demanded the foreigners to leave, and others asked them to stay. It was completely disorganised, says Ponchaud. It was only later that they learned that Phnom Penh had been taken by six Khmer Rouge Armies.

The morning of the 18 April, the Khmer Rouge asked to be taken to the train station which was only 100metres from the diocese. Ponchaud and a friend took two cars but instead of driving them directly, they took them for a tour of the city, where they did some sightseeing and got fired at around the Independence Monument by soldiers of Lon Nol.

 

Finally they arrived very late at the station and the soldiers were scolded badly by their superiors. Ponchaud went to the French Embassy from where he was the last foreigner to leave Cambodian soil on 7 May, 1975.

 


Thursday, 30 April 2009

謎樣採金村,喋血東福島

本文節錄自《西班牙人的台灣體驗》,更多內容見於2009年5月號《人籟》月刊


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西班牙人及荷蘭人曾相信東福島有一座黃金礦山,位於一個名為Turoboan的地方。這裡可能就是漢文史料中的「哆囉滿」,學界通認此地就是現在的立霧溪口。西班牙人幾乎不曾履足東福島傳聞中的採金地區,荷蘭人則在戰勝驅離西班牙人後,在東福島尋金活動上投資了相當的時間與人力,卻還是一無所獲。
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迷人的黃金村
1632年艾基水(Esquivel)的報告是第一筆關於Turoboan的敘述,他列出了一些採金的村落,以一種神話般的方式,宣稱那些地方有著「許多豐富的金礦;Taparri人到那裡去大量地採金,並在雞籠將之賣給付石頭錢和cuentas的生理人。那裡有一座山,日出時分之燦爛,無人能夠逼視。據猜測,那裡可能有一座石英礦或銀礦。」

自由居民阿葵拉(Domingo Aquilar)是我們所知唯一去過那裡的西班牙人,是在Caquiuanuan馬賽人的陪同下前往。不過根據數年後荷蘭人訊問他所留下的記錄,「他停留在海灘上,並未進入村子裡,因為他去Turoboan只是要追蹤一些逃走的〔西班牙〕王奴,而不是要去尋金。」


荷蘭人的尋金行動
征服雞籠之後,荷蘭人終於可以展開尋金活動;他們組織了數次前往Turoboan地區的探險,還為此有系統地向以前曾造訪過Turoboan的人收集所有可得的資訊。

第一次探金活動(1643年春)是由波恩上尉(Pieter Boon)領隊,出發之前並且訊問了阿葵拉。1646年,荷蘭人考慮要再派駐一人在Turoboan時,還召來日本人喜左衛門(Jacinto)和曾經去過那裡「十五次」之多的Quimaurri人丟哆囉(Teodoro)等充任翻譯,向他們收集情報。


殘酷的屠戮
Turoboan南部有一長條形的地區,有許多產金銀的村落。1632年艾基水的報告列出了一些採金(甚至採銀)的村落。第一個是不見於荷蘭文獻的Rarangus,我們只知道1628年曾有來自馬尼拉的補給船在此停靠。艾基水說這些人下場極慘,全被土著給屠戮了:

「Rarangus的人在鄰近村落的協助下,從我們這裡奪走了一艘舢舨船,船上載有馬尼拉來的補給。他們把東西全都偷走,殺了十個西班牙〔男〕人,原諒〔饒過〕了一個至今還活著的〔男人〕,以及四個現在還活著的女人。…

那西班牙人和四名女人送了一個土著女孩到我們的堡壘來跟我們說,那是〔加法哈,Cristóbal de Carvajal〕的舢舨船,土著從船上拿走了兩門大型的青銅火砲、十枝滑膛槍(musket),和兩個布織封面的小匣子,裡面可能裝著錢和我不知道的其他物品。那女孩說,他們把受害者的血裝滿桶子,然後將血喝了,之後又吃了他們的軀體和頭顱。」



您想知道更多關於過去外國人在臺灣的記錄嗎?請看
美麗的台灣-異國人眼中的福爾摩沙

附加的多媒體:
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