‘Such a dynasty’s days are numbered’
|November 17, 2012|
From Words Without Borders:
A dynasty that is so degenerate that it massacres children and tortures the truth—such a dynasty’s days are numbered. Yet the shrewd tyrant Deng Xiaoping resorted to a trick: in the spring of 1992, he made a historical trip to Shenzhen in the South, where he announced the opening of China to foreign investment and the global market in order to save his party from a political crisis. The suffering grew ever worse and the people ever more desensitized, while the Chinese economy increasingly flourished.
Throughout the world, people are convinced that China’s economic boom will necessarily bring with it political reforms, turning a dictatorship into a democracy. As a result, the countries that once imposed sanctions on China because of the Tiananmen massacre now want to be the first to shake hands and make deals with the executioners. Even though these very executioners are still detaining and killing people, new bloodstains are still being added to the old ones, and new atrocities are still being committed that make the old ones pale in comparison. In the process, simple people, who must live their lives between blood and atrocity, lose what little is left of decency.
Under the guise of free trade, Western consortia make common cause with the executioners, piling up more and more dirt. The influence of this value system of dirt, which places profit ahead of everything else, is getting out of hand around the world. Those in China with money and connections simply leave behind their battered and poisoned country and go abroad to savor the sun, liberty, equality, and fraternity in a clean environment. Perhaps they even join a church, to ask Jesus—nailed to the cross by other dictators in history—to forgive them for their sins.
More and more Chinese people will discover that there is neither justice nor equality even in the democratic West; and that there, too, greedy functionaries and other profiteers act shamelessly, in keeping with the motto “to the victor go the spoils.” And it won’t be long before they will all be following this example and, in a not too distant future, every corner of the world will be full of Chinese swindlers eager to leave their homeland at any cost.
This empire’s value system has long since collapsed in on itself, and the only thing still holding it together is the profit incentive. At the same time, these vile chains of profit are so far-reaching and intertwined that the free world of economic globalization is bound to become hopelessly entangled in them.
Inherent Vice’s Two Directions
The jokes certainly strike one as sophomoric and the latter one as clichéd, further below Pynchon’s intelligence than one would like to think he would stoop, at least in print. Discounting them and moving on, or throwing the book across the room as Parker half implies we should do, however, would be to lose sight of “that high magic to low puns”.
Auden, Larkin and Love
I was prompted to revisit these ancient questions anew by a long footnote about a single line in the new Complete Poems edition of Philip Larkin’s poetry. The footnote refers to “An Arundel Tomb” contains a provocative remark about that the poem’s celebrated, controversial, closing line, the one about the true nature of immortality: “What will survive of us is love.”
Plato, Our Comrade?
Not surprisingly, there have already been critics of Badiou’s translation. The first is that his translation breaks the formal rules of translation to such a degree that the original meaning of the text has lost its significance. But this critique is inadequate at face value because Badiou’s hyper-translation is forthright in its intention of taking Plato’s concepts and modifying them into his own lexicon.
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