A Few Notes on China
A Few Notes on China
Sleeping boy outside of a busy market.
By Morf Morford / filmsforaction.org
Aug 2, 2016

Visiting China is like taking trip a hundred years into the future and a thousand years into the past - at the same time.
China is a place where every encounter, every sight and even every conversation brings more questions than answers.
Is China a harbinger of the future?
Or is it forever locked into a manual labor, serf-based Feudalism?
Is China a model of state run Communism?
Or unbridled cowboy Capitalism?
Is China a culture obsessed with control as it seemingly monitors every citizen and visitor?
Or is it on the verge of upheaval, collapse, revolution and chaos?
How do cities with the populations of mid-sized nations even function?
The most amazing thing about China is that it does seem to work; and the impossible becomes possible, and impossible looking buildings are being built, and seemingly infinite populations are being fed and housed - and educated. And monitored. Or not.
Is China the future?
Is it teetering on collapse?

 

I’m attracted to places and situations that are impossible, ridiculous, contradictory, neglected and rejected.
If it doesn’t pay, and no one else wants to do it, it’s for me.
That might have a lot to do with why I like Tacoma.
And why I volunteered for a short-term teaching gig outside of Shanghai, China.
Shanghai is a city (with almost the population of California) with one foot in the ancient, traditional past and another in a futuristic, high-tech fantasy.
A common European-based saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. But in China, a picture raises a thousand questions.
Real Chinese food, as one might imagine, has almost no correlation to Chinese food as served in North America.
Most authentic Chinese food is unrecognizable, if not unidentifiable.
You won’t find Orange Chicken, or fortune cookies (they were invented in San Francisco) or forks.
But you will see animals - or animal parts - you would never expect to see on your dinner plate.
Ready for pickled vegetables and piping-hot soy milk for breakfast?
How about stewed beef tendons or duck tongues for lunch?
Even those few restaurants that appeal to Western English-speaking customers have descriptions that are less than helpful. Duck tongue, anyone? How about chicken feet soup – for breakfast?
But it is not only food that makes every American or European feel like Marco Polo.
The university where I was teaching (one of the largest and newest in China) did not have flush toilets - or toilet paper - or soap - or paper towels - in the bathrooms.
In fact, the Shanghai airport featured helpful signs showing how to use a flush toilet - for those not accustomed to such things.
If you go to China, don’t expect to lounge in a Paris-style roadside cafe, or drink a toast on a Mediterranean cruise. In China you’ll feel a spirit in the air that there are worlds to conquer and fortunes to be made; and no one wants to be left behind.
And good luck looking for the ‘real’ China. The real China is as elusive and mythological as the ‘real’ America.
What else captures the collision of the Medieval and the Space Age than freeways and high-speed railways being literally constructed by hand by armies of manual laborers with trowels, tools and techniques used for millennia.
And yes, virtually all social media sites are blocked (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and many more – young people have, almost as a second nature, mastered VPN and other bypasses to government censorship) monitors, guards and watchers are everywhere.
Every street scene seems to veer between unleashed chaos and obsessive control.
Cities with populations of mid-sized nations are the norm.
Yes, China is messy, corrupt, crowded and oppressive beyond description.
Every experience is surreal and expansive beyond human recognition.
Many people I know hate and distrust China in a way and to an intensity unlike any other nation.
China is frustrating, incomprehensible and packed with filth, disease and squalor. And opportunity.
Perhaps, in it’s own way, China is the new land of opportunity.
Whichever way China goes, it will take the rest of us with it.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 6,237 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 4,762 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 3,732 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Those That Did Not Seek Revenge
Dr. Ann Russo · 2,841 views today · Dr. Ann Russo on violence, healing, and transforming justice.
DAPL Opponents Vow to 'Rise' From Ashes of Oceti Sakowin and Keep Fighting
Lauren McCauley · 2,671 views today · 'They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started,' Dallas Goldtooth declared
The Foiled Bomb Plot in Kansas That Didn't Make Trump's Terror List
5 min · 1,212 views today · When a plot by a pro-white militia to bomb a Somali mosque in Kansas was foiled by the FBI last October, the aborted conspiracy received little national coverage - nor did it...
Stunning Small Homes Form Part of a Communal Compound for Best Friends
Lighter Side · 1,168 views today · If you’re lucky enough to have longtime friends even as an adult, then you know probably already know how much it means to be able to spend time together. Maybe you even have a...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 951 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 903 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 812 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 675 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Michael Moore Wants to Help You Find Your Next Anti-Trump Protest
Sarah Ruiz-Grossman · 674 views today · The Resistance Calendar lists upcoming rallies across the country.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 597 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Compassion, the Antidote
Martin Doblmeier · 591 views today · Thich Nhat Hanh has published nearly 100 books and is one of the best-known teachers of Zen Buddhism in the world today. In the early 1960s his practice of what he termed...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 586 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 568 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
Soraya Chemaly · 473 views today · "Stop interrupting me."  "I just said that." "No explanation needed." In fifth grade, I won the school courtesy prize. In other words, I won an award for being polite. My...
The Most Astounding Fact about the Universe
3 min · 429 views today · This is Neil Degrasse Tyson's response when asked to describe the most astounding fact about the universe. Background music is the cinematic orchestra - To build a home.
How Norway Avoided Becoming a Fascist State
George Lakey · 395 views today · Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over.
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 371 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
A Few Notes on China