29 March 2016

Letter From the (Text) Editor 1: On The Title

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Big Character Poster

Continuing in the epistolary nature of the last several posts, I have decided to give a brief explanation and introduction to appraising Country Chink Broadsides. Even though this note comes a full month after the creation of the blog, it seems appropriate to further explain this text as it has gone through various transformations in its one-month existence. The purpose of these serialized posts will then be:
·      to explain its creation
·      to outline its transformations and potential paths forward
·      to defend the way the distinct voices have been created
·      to anonymize and disembody both “Poorhomiewei” and “dwy”
for the purpose of expanding the audience of Country Chink Broadsides and to enrich the reading experience of the already extant audience.

In the next several posts, I will be expanding on each of the above listed points in blogposts to help readers better understand the purpose and logic of Country Chink Broadsides. The simple language of this post aims to expand the audience of the blog. Treat this as a sort of retroactive foreword and general reading aid. For further explanation, reference the current version of the annotated bibliography, a series I will continue in later posts. For the foreseeable future, namely the next one to two weeks, I will mainly be posting in these two series before expanding the developing storyline of Poorhomiewei and DWY.

On the Title

The title means immediately to jar the reader with the word “Chink.” As is easily seen and oft pointed out by readers, yes, I am reappropriating and reclaiming the word Chink as blacks have done with Nigga. I am a firm believer that there is no stronger linguistic mode to reshape Chinese identity than by creating a distinctive term that will offend white people, offend weak Chinks who can’t take being slapped around, and empower those chinks who aren’t afraid of turning English on its head and taking out the foundational malice of this word.

Further, in my language, Shaanbei Mandarin, there are no words that sound remotely like “chink.” We don’t have hard consonantal endings in Madarin. We aren’t Cantonese. That a whiteman thinks that chink is a good way to represent us, I find funny. So the use of the word Chink means to mock the whiteman who has, for the most part, very little understanding of the linguistic elements of Chinese.

(On an aside, a point that will be furthered in later installments of this series, the terms “whites,” “whiteman,” “whiteboi,” among others, are emblems of dominant culture that is distinctively white. “Man,” as previously explained, is a stand in for people, but is used for expedience. In a similar way the word “Asian” anonymizes chinks, the use of “white-” means to anonymize the whiteman and amalgamate them into a single indeterminate stand-in for all whites, again, man, woman, other. It’s to show that you aren’t special in this text. You are the inciting action, yes, but you are the vague, abstracted force acting on the chink mind. As such, you need no such specific, special, or privileged reminder of who you are. You are, in this text, singularly the shadow of the force you hold. Your exceptionalism created this blog, but you as cultures are not so special as to warrant direct address. As with all discussion pertaining abstractions, there are exceptions, as a perceptive reader may well notice in the various allusions to whites throughout the blog.)

The adjective “country” means to highlight my personal country peasant heritage. I am from a part in China located on the Loess Plateau, where a large part of the people still live in caves carved upside the mountains, and for the most part will never and have never seen natural grass. This country is not the pastoral country home that white people retreat to on vacations and ride horses. This country is a country that is a direct rendering of the wind that blows full of sand,
lonely from the beginning of time until now. Except this sand is a perpetual sand and no grass grows yellow during autumn as it does not and cannot exist in this country.

This isn’t to give credence to the rise of a country chink to this position, as many country chinks do so, but rather to simply state where the text editor comes from. Even in this reference, the actual 榆林to which I refer is rendered in its idealized form for my dislocated sense of identity. The actual 榆林 is far different from the榆林that shaped me. The term country then means to elicit a privileged nostalgia held only by other chinks for the country home our ancestors came from. The term of note being 老家. The linguistic dislocation meaning a Chink exceptionalism not available for white readers.

The third word, “Broadsides,” is admittedly a cheap pun. During the inception of the blog, I was reading extensively on the Opium War and one notable anecdote I noticed was the constant use of “broadsides” by the British on their way to up the Yangtze to blockade the Qing emperor’s access to tax revenue and grain. Qing, not China (this we will get to later), had a considerably weaker naval force and thus let the British dominate on waters, punctuated notably by their bombardments from “broadsides”—a historical embarrassment as Ming had the largest and most powerful world navy and early Qing was ostensibly the most developed area of the world until the late eighteenth century, surpassing, and at the very least the equivalent, of the supposedly enlightened and liberal west.

My use of this term is then an attempt to recreate the broadsides used against us to begin our hundred years of humiliation (百年国耻). The term also means to remind chinks of our lacking presence among prominent voices. That I use “Broadsides” then aims to shoot, as you will, our voice out into the larger expanse of racial voices. It means to bombard dominant culture with their own language, their own prized marker of power.

A Broadside is also the typical format of a print newspaper, a key marker for the formation of nationalism in the Orient at the turn of the 20th century. The blog then stands as a sort of contemporary construction of a newspaper, at the very least, a conceptual parallel to the purpose of those early newspapers in the Orient that meant to reinstill nationalist pride and help cement a collective identity. That this particular broadside is written by a single text editor then makes it necessary to have multiple personas. The broadside and the media dimension of the blog means to amplify the Chink voice and to empower as is possible the expression chinks. Synthesized together, the Broadside of Country Chink Broadsides is a loudspeaker of sorts in print form.

(Again on an aside, my use of “orient” does not mean to proposition myself and chinks as another subservient satrap on the western fetishization of Eastern culture. No, my use of “orient” means simply to create perhaps a mellifluous alternate to chink. Whereas chink is the grating scrannel of Lycidian shepherds, the threat of polluted minds from conformity, orient is the repurposed daylight that the speaker sees at the end of the lyric. As Said neglected to mention China in his work, an act that has led many to believe China was impervious to this act, I play with this interpretation and I offer my reimagining of the term as a way forward. Whereas for the nile-to-oxus people, orient is a term to be deconstructed and shed. For me, orient is a decidedly euphonic word that I will rebuild into my personal lexicon. Of Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” a work whose Chinese influence is mostly overlooked by scholarship, the orientalist perspective is present. Kubla Khan, a Chinese Mongol ruler of the culturally rich Yuan dynasty, is portrayed as a megalomanic leader who attempts to break nature in the search for power—not so different from the stock image of the evil chink plotting to overthrow the world, or even Said’s argument that orientalists have positioned eastern culture as an evil foil to whiteman exceptionalism. In turn, perhaps the most interesting character of the poem, the dame with the dulcimer seen in a vision, suborns the chink Khan and his Xanadu, or rather in non-imperialist renderings of Chinese, 上都, into the world of Abrahamic religion with the image of Mount Abora. This said, orientalist construction of China does exist, like every other eastern culture, in the context of fitting China into western thought. On a another level, this fits the Chinese voice inside the whiteman mentality and its expectations of China—the model minority myth. So, the orient I refer to is a form of orientalism where I situate the west to my re-centralized locale of China, the middle Kingdom. Orient is then a conceptual gerund where I use the definition of the verb “to orient” as a noun. The reference to chinks as orientals orients whitemen to my conception of location and geography. This follows then in the reappropriation of the word Chink. The blog could very well have been called “Country Orient Broadsides,” but it does not have the same bite or ring because of the distinct euphony of “Orient.” We are not yet in the state of being pretty.)

The title is then a tripartite lexeme that means to jar, to celebrate my country heritage, and to amplify the Chink voice in a violent, insofar as text goes, assault on white readers in much the same way as Chink identity has been assaulted and shaped by chinks’ veneration of the west and subservience to whites. This title shoots the initial shot in my personal conflict with dominant culture.

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