Tuesday, February 3, 2009

开始

So, over the few weeks since I've started my other blog, I decided I also needed a secular blog. I foresee a lot of reviews going down in this one.

I'll kick it off by talking about China.

Before I went to Toronto, I had these preconceived notions about Chinese people and Chinese culture that were mostly all wrong. I saw China as a country obssessed with antiquity. I thought I would learn a lot from them as a people, and it would mostly be in coded Confucian tid-bits that had to be digested over time to reveal their true brilliance. I thought I would learn hidden, counter-intuitive truths from Sun Tzu that all Chinese people had memorized and applied in their daily activities like grocery shopping and dining. I imagined I would meet a solemn, humorless, yet polite people.

I was so wrong. If the Chinese are about one thing, it's having fun, mostly through dining. I was totally not expecting that. Chinese people are fun! Way fun! They love to crack jokes, they love to poke fun at each other, they love to visit, and all of this over 18 different kinds of Tofu, pork, chicken, vegetables, fish, noodles and dumplings. Honestly, it seems what every Chinese person is working towards in life is not so much tapping into the wisdom of the Daoist sages, but eating and laughing. It makes for a pretty happy life.

I think I got all my misconceptions from movies like Hero and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. (which, I'm sure if my Chinese friends are reading this right now, they're gagging. I still maintain that those are great movies even if you hate them!) Most Chinese movies and literature we're exposed to are tragedies. It's always about the rape of Nanking or some tyrannical emperor or stuff where every main character kills themselves.

And the notion that the Chinese are obssessed with antiquity comes from an American-like arrogance and national pride. Both nations have achieved much, and remarkably so, and they don't hesitate to remind us. China really does have a huge history full of invention, art and thought. Plus, Chinese are thoroughly Chinese. They are not quick to try and lose their national/ethnic identity like the Japanese. Chinese immigrants typically try to acclimate to their new culture so they can be successful professionally, but they are not interested in leaving behind the Chinese traditions, language, and (of course) food.

总之, I love them, and if my experience with them has had any effect on me, it's just that I want to get to know them and their history/culture/language even more. (Oh yeah, I haven't even gotten in to how fascinating their language is. That would be the subject of another post. It's fascinating. However, English is still the best!)

--魏子 signing out!

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