One lesson in my China trip was about Chinese poem appreciation. Teacher’s teaching was very good, arousing all the fun about Chinese poems and their back stories. My classmates were all amazed and amused, banging on their desks the whole class. Overhearing their chatting, they all had consensus that they liked that Chinese poetry class the most and they got something from the class what they hadn’t expected. Making that professor like rock star like Bob Dylan or Jim Morrison.
Except me. True I appreciate his exceptional effectiveness and succinctness of conveying the uniqueness of each good poem. They are all apotheosis of the poets’ life. They are unique because they mean the life of the poets, honestly reflecting the poets’ life. And he said it in funny way.
But for some reason I don’t enjoy it. Especially the time in the class when he talked about Chinese poetry, even literature of different genres, make us Chinese proud of being Chinese. His argument is: when you ask a British who do you have as rock star hall of fame authors, or auteur, they can only have Shakespeare. When you ask a french what do you have, they can only have Hugo. When you ask a German what do you have, they have Gothe only. Russians? Tolstoy. When it’s Chinese’s turns being asked, you have a list unlimited (He quoted the names for nearly 5 minutes non stop, making the banging hurrah of the whole class, again).
It’s a little repugnant to me. A little repulsive. Maybe it’s only me who think so. I just thought, it’s like if you are proud of being a football fan, you can quote your heroes non stop. It’s just because you are so into it. Likewise I can also quote a lot of cricketers you have never heard of. “You’ve heard of viv Richard? Geoffrey boycott? Shane Warne? Swanny? Jimmy Anderson? Sachin tandulka? Imran Khan?" It’s simply logical fallacy of confusing effect with cause. You are proud of something so you think a lot of em are good. Not the other way around.
And, when he bragged about those superiority in the class, like Chinese as premier, playing at the next level over other cultures, I mused in my seat, “at least Brits have Chaucer, Ted Hughes, Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Jane Austin, Robert Burns, J R R Tolkien, Philip Larkin, Virgie Woolf. At least Russians have Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov, Zhorzinishin, Ghugin."
And it’s something stupid to live only in the past. What do you still have, maybe a more relevant question. Now, Brits have Simon Armitage. They have Akala. They have Lemn Sussay. They have Andrew McMillan.
2019, they have Kate tempest