Showing posts from May, 2014

Radio Person-Central 002: be. free.

Tracklist on Mixcloud
Welcome to radio person-central - this one in honour of Ales Bialiatski. Show Solidarity by writing to Ales:

for Bialiatski A.V.
1 Sikorsky Street,
Mahiliou Region,
Penal Colony No. 2

And Kat points us to a petition - please take a few seconds to sign and let the authorities know you are watching:
Comments and requests below, love and peace always...

May 27th #chinadiary

So, still in the hotel in Hong Kong, waiting for Ken's recovery in the hospital - sounds like Carl not having a good time at all, as he finds Hong Kong to be "one of the most uninteresting towns we have struck". He manages to miss the irony in blaming HK for being provincial because it only prints HK news: "I don't suppose there has been a total of one column of U.S. news in the five days we have been here." I suppose he may well have been feeling a little homesick by this point.

A fascinating account of the river life in South China follows, "one of the most interesting things I have ever seen". Thousands of people don't know what it means to spend 24 hours on land. They form a kind of separate caste from the land dwellers, and they live on their boats all of the time." (these are the Tanka or boat people and the picture here from the 1970s shows that their lives likely haven't changed much from 1920s when Carl was writing). He goes …

Radio Person-Central 001: fly. hope.

Tracklist on Mixcloud
Welcome to radio person-central - comments and requests below, love and peace always...

May 24th #chinadiary

As Carl says "It has been some time since I have written up my journal" - and he sketches in his thoughts of Hong Kong (two days was long enough) and Canton (now Guangzhou), which Carl liked a lot more. He reports on a visit to the 'Hospital for the Insane': "The customary Chinese way of caring for a violently insane person is to chain him up, and simply feed and clothe him. They have one patient who was kept tied by a chain around his neck, for sixteen years. No wonder he was crazy, eh wot?"
Carl is very engaged with understanding local political affairs, which are "a terrible muddle at the present time". 
He is extremely impressed by the efforts of the YM work (YMCA) of half a dozen students, who provide free (religious, it seems) education for the local people. 
It seems that his colleague, Ken, is ill, and that the illness will turn out to be dysentery, thus holding up the travellers' progress for a while. 

Education is not a handbag

Various governments now regularly produce statistics purportedly showing the economic value of education as a trade-able sector, worth billions and competing alongside coal and iron ore exports. However, the nature of the ‘product’ of education is much more like a Louis Vuitton handbag, according to Paul Campos: “In economic terms, higher education is a positional good: It is valuable to have a college degree because other people don't have one. It is also to a significant extent a Veblen good: Sending one's children to college, and most especially a prestigious (meaning expensive) college, is a way of signalling social status via the conspicuous consumption of a luxury good.” Here in UK, for example, tuition fees were raised to £9,000, making it an extremely expensive proposition – however, rather than people deciding not to go to university, demand keeps on rising.  And the mechanism for higher education’s ‘positionality’ is the university rankings, which now seem to be the…

May 17th #chinadiary

Still in the Philippines and Carl is distressed as the "amount of starvation and malnutrition is frightful ... I have seen lots of sights, but this was honestly the worse I have ever seen."

There is much visiting of the previous colonial masters' churches and monasteries, and Carl isn't much inclined towards what he sees as "the decadence of Catholicism."

A visit to Fort McKinley, where 4500 troops are stationed (the new masters), and Carl has interesting discussions with colonels and generals about war and strategy, as well as with a Filipino judge. In fact, it was while reading this entry that I was taken with just how phenomenally varied has been Carl's experiences on this trip - it is clear that he has seen and engaged with a fantastic variety of countries and cultures and histories and persons, which he himself recognises, too, in a beautiful passage which ends today's entry and reminds me very strongly of his own conception of the fully functi…

May 14th #chinadiary

"All day we had been steaming down the coast of the island of Luzon, very fine tree-covered hills forming the backbone of the island, and about two in the afternoon came into the famous Manila Harbor, where twenty four years and two weeks ago Commodore Dewey sank the whole Spanish fleet and brought the Philippines out of the hand of Spain." And it is hot.

May 11th #chinadiary

Another long period with no write-up - Carl's been living it in Shangai and can only give time to his diary because he's leaving China, en route to Manila. He wangled attendance at the National Christian Conference of China, which Carl is very much in favour of. He also visited many of the schools in Shanghai, including girls' schools and, although he finds the Chinese girls "a finelooking lot", the Japanese women "are much prettier, much cuter" - and yet"you never see a Japanese woman that looks as capable as many of these Chinese women"...

He also reports non-serious pursuits, concerts, meals, sightseeing and parties - and reports jokingly of his relief at an English-speaking crew on the ship to Manila: "I'm still quite national-minded, you see".

May 3rd #chinadiary

"It has been some time since I made an entry" - it surely has! Carl has little to say about that time, and makes today's entry about Wuchang and Nanking, firecrackers, boating, walls, temples, the University of Nanking ("one of the best equipped, and best arranged schools I have seen in the Orient") and the Southeastern University, the biggest government university in Nanking.

Carl also goes for a walk on the wall: "my, but that wall just grows on one. It is a grand old ivy and grass covered monument to the stability and immobility of China."

All in all, he sounds very busy and rather than reflective and writerly, he is engaging with his colleagues and his surroundings, just absorbing it all.