Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tingmo At Last

Arrived in Majnu yesterday after midnight , and got out after a few hours sleep. Eerie , vacant feeling , nothing open : Olympic shutdown. New posters with detained/vanished in the March uprising.

I end up finishing Jiang Rongs Wolf Totem , a book that starts with his arrival as a Chinese cadre in Mongolia, presumably with a role to "enlighten" the people in the Chinese extreme periphery, and ends with the arrival of a huge sandstorm in Beijing , the inevitable consequence of the destruction/modernisation of the grasslands. Between that a long fascinating story of his tutors , the Mongolians who in turn are taught by the rulers of that realm : the wolves , who Jiang sees as the personification of what is missing in the Chinese society. This is a seeming parallell to Xin Rans Sky Burial : both books are descriptions of a Chinese traveling to the periphery in the sixties and being transformed by it. But Wolf Totem stands out in sharp contrast : this is a tale where you can feel the smell of wet wool and and hear the ice breaking under your raft. Sky Burial on the other hand is consitently lacking in that kind of detail and also in any real willingness to be changed : it is symptomatic that the the twin author/main character finds the names of the family she's living with too complicated , and renames them .

Train to Shimla tommorrow.

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