Yesterday I attended a book launch for, Yang Lichuan’s second book, “The Transformation from Vertical Society to Horizontal Society: The Historical Philosophy of the Crash between Chinese and Western Civilizations (纵横之变：中西文明碰撞中的历史哲学)”. The two parts of the book title suggest the political thrust and method of intervention, respectively. The first part of the title expresses the author’s hope for social transformation to a more egalitarian society, while the second part captures the discourse–philosophy–through which this call for social transformation will be made. And yes, although the political call for social transformation was clear, the philosophical argument was as overwhelmingly comprehensive as the title suggests. Continue reading
Uncivil tourists and a call to post “act civilized” announcements in Chinese outside of China. The post has me thinking about 文明 both as a technology of regulating relationships between strangers and as Ann Anagnost’s early work on “civilization” as a means of regulating the bodies of peasants so that they might be mobilized more easily for post-Mao politics (see the prescient National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China, an anthology of essays published during the early and mid 1990s), begging the question: just who benefits from 文明?
These days, Chinese tourists have developed a bad reputation, not only abroad. Chinese people are also tired of Chinese tourists. “东方卫报” (dōngfāng wèibào – “The Eastern Guardian”), a Nanjing based daily newspaper, published the following article on their front page on Tuesday April 7, 2015:
The heading translates to “Take it Easy on Your Outings: Six Kinds of Uncivil Behavior to Take Note Of.” The six uncivil behaviors are listed below:
违规吸烟 (wéi guī xīyān) – smoking illegally
随地吐痰 (suídì tù tán) – spitting phlegm everywhere
争抢座位 (zhēngqiǎng zuòwèi) – to scramble for the seats
乱扔垃圾 (luànrēng lājī) – to litter garbage
大声喧哗 (dàshēng xuānhuá) – to be noisy and to make a racket
推挤插队 (tuī jǐ chāduì) – to push, shove and cut in line
Examples of the behavior:
The incidents including Chinese tourists within China and abroad are too numerous to count, but one thing is…
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This is an open question to all speakers of Chinese: what’s the difference between 礼貌 and 文明？ My sence is that 礼貌 are practices of appropriate intimacy, while 文明 refers to practices for navigating amongst strangers. In turn, 礼貌 would map onto the moral territory of 脸, while 文明 is about presentation and being seen, hence mapping onto 面子. Am I wildly off, or have I stumbled into a difference that makes a difference? Thoughts?