who “i” have become in an iPhone / WeChat world

My cellphone has changed me or rather it has changed how I experience myself, and this other me (the one that steps back and reflects on this experience) is coming to terms with someone I never imagined I would meet, let alone become.  Continue reading

this also happened…

A strange week that hasn’t coalesced into a statement so much as it has become fragments in search of glue; thinking as pastiche, and underneath it all a throbbing fear. Continue reading

The US and PRC are actually the same country. Except when they’re not.


At (more or less) the same time that Hu Jintao announced that Wang Lijun was a traitor and Bo Xilai continued to advocate the Chongqing Model for the rest of China to follow, NASA was debunking claims that aliens had invaded earth, arriving inside trojan horses meteors.

I’ve often joked that the US and China are actually the same country, just with different protagonists, costumes, and stages. But today, I’m sure it’s true. How else to understand the convergence of recent events? Alien life has clearly taken over the two conferences (两会: the National People’s Congress and the Chinese Political Consultative Conference) and the US is covering for the Party through a sustained disinformation campaign.

old haunts

In the mid-1990s, when Nanshan District launched “Cultural Nanshan” most events were held in or around the Nanshan Cultural-Sports Center (南山文体中心), which included a sculpture museum and the Red Earth Cafe and Bar, where Zero Sun Moon, an early incarnation of Fat Bird first performed. The design and scale of the Cultural-Sports Center reflected early Shenzhen values; it was three stories high, had an outdoor stage for Everybody Happy (大家乐video) events, and small, cultural entrepreneurs rented rooms. I remember walking two-lane boulevards to use the computers at one of those shops, as well as playing go at the weiqi and western chess club.

Located diagonally across the street from the Cultural-Sports Center, the Nanshan Library was finished in time for the Handover and signaled the area’s future designs. Beijing sculptor, Bao Pao collected discarded metal and sutured it together to make the Library’s fence, which still stands. However, the Cultural Center crumbled where it stood until 2009, when Nanshan District approved an 800 million (8亿) budget to build a landmark building on the site. By this time, of course, the Coastal City mall was already open and the abutting Tianli and Poly Center Malls were nearing completion in anticipation of the Universiade. The point is that this area of upscale consumption is now called “the Nanshan Cultural Center” and the Nanshan Cultural Sports Center has been demoted to a bus station even though that’s where all the cultural infrastructure was / is being built.

Below, pictures from a walk around the Nanshan Cultural Sports Center block. Of note, Nanshan District’s neo-Confucian propaganda, the remnants of Old Nanshan, and the neoliberalization of the cityscape, including a high-concept Marriage Registration Bureau Hall and shopping plaza. Also, there will be a diamond market just around the corner.

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the gift of ruins

doubly noted

Originally uploaded by maryannodonnell

Friend Frank Meinshausen has stopped by on his ’round the world journey. We first met Frank four years ago, when he translated Hope (Chinese > German) for a staged reading at the Schaubuhne, Berlin.

Yesterday, we walked through Zhongshan Park, one of my favorite Shenzhen greenspaces.  At the center of the park are the ruins of the former Ming Dynasty city wall that once enclosed the County Seat of Xin’an County, the adminstrative predessor to Baoan County, which in turn predated Shenzhen Municipality.

So obscure and uncared for is the ruined wall that vines have overgrown the first stone marker and a second has been placed at the base of a tiled staircase, which rises sharply and ends as suddenly as it began. Sundry trails emerge from the park and disappear into the undergrowth, connecting the Ming Dynasty to the rising city of Shenzhen. We walked the narrow path, which traced the boundary of a world that has become as elusive as crumbling fistful of dry earth. We climbed the molding, vaguely imperial concrete viewing platform that abruptly interrupted our steps. We listened to birdsong and inhaled the fragrence of magnolia.

Further flights of romatic fancy, here.