Bei Dao -An August Sleepwalker Answers

August 2nd, 2013
  • Bei Dao (Poetry Foundation)

    Bei Dao is the nom de plume of Zhao Zhenkai, widely considered one of China’s most important contemporary authors. His poems have been translated into more than 30 languages. In English he is represented by numerous collections of poetry, fiction, and essays, including The August Sleepwalker, Old Snow, Unlock, Landscape over Zero, Midnight’s Gate, and Waves, which have been internationally acclaimed for their subtlety, innovation, and eloquence.

    Each Language Keeps the Secret Code of a Culture – Stanford edu

    In an early poem, Bei Dao wrote, “freedom is nothing but the distance/between the hunter and the hunted.”
    All too true, as he soon found out.
    Protesters once shouted his poems in Tiananmen Square, and after his exile (he had been in Berlin during the 1989 uprising),

    Photo of Bei Dao via
    Happy birthday Bei Dao.

    The poetry of Bei Dao, great page for Chinese language student

  • The Answer
    By Bei Dao

    Translated By Bonnie S. McDougall

    Debasement is the password of the base,
    Nobility the epitaph of the noble.
    See how the gilded sky is covered
    With the drifting twisted shadows of the dead.

    The Ice Age is over now,
    Why is there ice everywhere?
    The Cape of Good Hope has been discovered,
    Why do a thousand sails contest the Dead Sea?

    I came into this world
    Bringing only paper, rope, a shadow,
    To proclaim before the judgment
    The voice that has been judged:

    Let me tell you, world,
    If a thousand challengers lie beneath your feet,
    Count me as number thousand and one.

    I don’t believe the sky is blue;
    I don’t believe in thunder’s echoes;
    I don’t believe that dreams are false;
    I don’t believe that death has no revenge.

    If the sea is destined to breach the dikes
    Let all the brackish water pour into my heart;
    If the land is destined to rise
    Let humanity choose a peak for existence again.

    A new conjunction and glimmering stars
    Adorn the unobstructed sky now;
    They are the pictographs from five thousand years.
    They are the watchful eyes of future generations.

  • Bei Dao returns to China (published Jan 8, 2013 – Chinese only)

    Island Etude – A Deaf Biker Cycling around Taiwan

    April 22nd, 2013
  • Biking

    Click to see large

    Island Etude

    Travelling is always the best way to encounter true stories. Ming-Hsang, a deaf, decided to cycle around Taiwan before graduating from the college. This film, lasting for 100 minutes, documents his trip which lasted 7 days and 6 nights. He camped at the beach of Tai-Ma-Li on the first evening, playing guitar. Although he has hearing problems, he is still very much interested in sounds. The next morning, he followed Tai-11 highway. He met a group of people filming MV at the east coastline. They also film him. The third day, he was on the Su-Hua highway, a highway notoriously difficult to conquer for cyclists. He met a Lithuanian girl at Han-Ben railway station. She missed the train to Hua-Lien. He helped her to get on her train by communication with her by pens and papers. Written by Yuwei Lin

    Once Upon a Time in China – Agnes Varda

    February 14th, 2013

    Agnes Varda photography – China

    In 1957, the People’s Republic of China was not yet recognized by the United Nations, and was closed to most foreigners.

    As beautiful as little cats.

    I felt very honored to be part of the French group invited to bring their experiences from different backgrounds to the young People’s Republic. I was determined to do the best job possible as a photographer. There was so much to discover—everything.

  • Photo by Agnes Varda

  • Cantonese Opera in pictures (guardian)
    (See 14 photos)

  • Peking Opera Blues directed by Tsui Hark – Full film.. (you can watch on youtube..)

    Peking Opera Blues

    The movie combines comedy, Hong Kong action, and serious drama with scenes involving Peking Opera. Director Tsui Hark described the film as a satire on the “Chinese ignorance of democracy.” [1] The film was nominated for six awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards including Best Actress.

  • Tsui Hark Hong Kong filmmaker/producer. was born on Feb 15.
    Born in Vietnam, moved to Hong Kong at the age of fourteen. Studied film at the University of Texas at Austin.

  • Young Bruce lee & IP Man

    December 2nd, 2012

    Bruce Lee
    Yip Man (1 October 1893 – 2 December 1972), also spelled as Ip Man,[1] and also known as Yip Kai-Man, was a Chinese martial artist.

    Tony Leung was Wong Kar-wai’s only choice to play Ip Man. Wong Kar-wai said, “I want to remove everything that Tony Leung had and shape him anew into another person.” He invited Ip Man’s final disciple Leung Siu-hung to teach Tony Leung the ways of Wing Chun. Master Leung had high praise for Leung. “To someone who has never studied martial art, Mr. Leung has a lot of potential. When you teach him a set, he understands what follows and kills three birds with one stone. He has this kind of potential and the material to learn kung fu.”
    Tony Leung’s three years of training was also unveiled for the first time in the documentary. He said, “The director and I hope through the training process to experience the personality of a true martial artist, from which to shape a master image that has both flesh and blood.” With the upcoming film release, Tony Leung said that he was not nervous. He only hoped that viewers would not watch this film with just the idea of watching an Ip Man movie, because anyone who knew Wong Kar-wai knew that he definitely had his own way to innovate and open everyone’s eyes.
    (Wong Kar Wai – net)


  • Young Bruce Lee film trailer

    24 City – Jia Zhang Ke

    August 30th, 2012
  • 24 city

    See full film here

    The film follows three generations of characters in Chengdu (in the 1950s, the 1970s and the present day) as a state-owned factory gives way to a modern apartment complex.
    The apartment complex featured in the film is an actual development (also called “24 City”) built on the former site of an airplane engine manufacturing facility. Jia will also produce a documentary about the location.
    The film’s narrative style is described by critics as a blend of fictional and documentary storytelling, and it consist of five authentic interviews and four fictional scenes delivered by actors (but presented in a documentary format.

    Joan Chen (Photo via 24 City – Mixing and manipulating Chinese History )

    Peter Bradshaw (Guardian)

    His most sensational “fictional” interview is with a beautiful, lonely factory worker, who is nicknamed Little Flower on the shopfloor, because of her resemblance to the eponymous heroine of a popular 1980 film. The heroine of that genuine film was played by Joan Chen and this character is played by … Joan Chen. Using such an obviously famous star in my view exonerates Jia from the charge of dishonesty. It’s an extraordinarily audacious, even outrageous casting gesture, a day-glo post-modern joke amidst the dour factory dust: an alienation effect which is also its opposite, an identification effect, a way of dramatising how downtrodden factory workers dreamed of glamorous escape, of lives other than the ones they had.

    Early film – 1997

    Jia Zhang Ke photo via

    “Part of the reason I started making films was to respond to cinema’s blind spots, its silences, on the kind of life I knew. I wanted to express all the memorable things that I had experienced, and I think this is still my primary responsibility as a filmmaker.” – Jia Zhangke (MUBI)

    The quest for memory – documentary – (Senses of Cinema)

    Message from China

    October 10th, 2011

    Wang Ningde

    Oct 10 1945 – The Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang signed a principle agreement in Chongqing about the future of post-war China

    National Day in China (see more Wang Ningde here, don’t click on dead links.)

    Message from Chinese activists and academics in support of Occupy Wall Street

    This letter of solidarity, signed over by 50 intellectuals and activists in China, was posted to Utopia yesterday. Thanks to everyone for the translation and editing work!

    Zizek Speaks to Occupy Wall Street

    He steered the discussion away from the Cold War debate between communism and capitalism, noting that former communists, particularly in China, “are today the most efficient, brutal capitalists.”
    The communist revolution “failed absolutely,” he said, suggesting that “the only way we are communist is that we care about the commons,” citing the environment as an example.

    Apart from that Oct 10 birthday links

    Harold Pinter

    Julius Schulman

    Theloneous Monk

    Oscar Brown Jr.

    Claude Simon

    Forbidden City

    February 7th, 2011

    China’s most extravagant monarchs—the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736–95) presided over China’s last dynasty

    弘曆圓形古裝行樂圖像 軸
    Portrait of the Qianlong Emperor in Ancient Costume
    Lent by the Palace Museum, Beijing


    The Qianlong Emperor was a master in using Western-style illusionistic images of himself in different guises to create alternate personae. Here, the youthful emperor had himself portrayed as a cultured Chinese scholar. Sitting in his study appointed with classical Chinese-style furniture, he is poised, brush in hand, to transcribe a poem onto a banana leaf. The only detail that distinguishes him from a traditional scholar is his ornate robe covered with auspicious motifs of flowers and cranes in bright, contrasting colors.


    Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799; r. 1736–95)
    Calligraphic Inscription, dated 1776
    From the Belvedere of Viewing Achievements (Fuwangge)
    Lent by the Palace Museum, Beijing

    An avid calligrapher, the Qianlong Emperor developed a distinctive style characterized by regularity and restraint. Inscribed on gold-painted paper made specifically for the court, this text describes his anticipation of retirement.

    The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City
    February 1, 2011–May 1, 2011

    More photos from Time Magazine

    Rustic rootwood chair

    Chinese paintings from as early as the eleventh century depict Buddhist and Daoist figures seated on rustic rootwood chairs as a way of suggesting their indifference to worldly goods and their synchrony with the natural forms of the cosmos.

    Pu Yi February 7, 1906

    Dr. An Wang February 7, 1920

    Offering Table with Lords of the Cremation Grounds fromTibet

    Dowager Empress

    Chinese Antiqities

    Dr Sun Yat Sen

    The World of Kublai Khan

    October 3rd, 2010

    Kublai Khan khubilai

    Under Khubilai, the Mongols welcomed a diversity of religions. The paintings and artifacts displayed here reflect not just Buddhism, but Hinduism, Taoism and Islam — a miracle of tolerance.
    “They were barbarians, but they were never rude,” says Watt. “They killed a lot of people, but they weren’t rude.”

    Read more:Barbarians at the Mets.

    Noble Horse horse
    Gong Kai (Chinese, 1222–after 1304)

    One of the classics says that a horse’s ribs should be slender and numerous. An ordinary horse has only ten ribs. One with more than this is a noble steed

    Wang Zhenweng (Chinese, active 14th century)
    Portrait of the Japanese Monk Kokan Shiren, dated 1343
    Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

    The inscription at the top of this portrait indicates that it is one of three such portraits produced in China by the little-known artist Wang Zhenweng. It also identifies the subject as the important Japanese monk Kokan Shinren, who trained in the Linji (Rinzai) tradition of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. Known for promoting the use of physical punishment as a goad to advancement, monks in this lineage are often portrayed holding the large sticks they used to prod students.

    Tapestry on the right

    Tapestry with Lions with Palmettes, 13th century
    Central Asia
    The Iranian influence on the pattern and the similarity of its layout to that of drawloom silks suggest that this type of silk tapestry may have originated in the early thirteenth century, at a time of massive migrations of artisans from the eastern Iranian world to eastern Central Asia.

    Shanghai Diva

    September 19th, 2010

    Wong Kar Wai (direct link)

    Hua Yang De Nian Hua, or “To those who we remember fondly”, is a 2000 short film by Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai that was shown at the 2001 Berlin International Film Festival. It consists of a 2m 28s montage of scenes from vintage Chinese films, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s, set to a song from the soundtrack of Wong’s In The Mood For Love, a golden oldie by Zhou Xuan.”

    Zhou Xuan 1Zhou_Xuan See Zhou Xuan on youtube

    was a popular Chinese singer and film actress. By the 1940s, she had become one of China’s seven great singing stars.[1] She is probably the most well-known of the seven, as she had a concurrent movie career until 1953.

    In 1957 she died in Shanghai in a mental asylum at the age of 39 during the Anti-Rightist Movement

    Old Orient Museum by Vincent Lexington Harper


  • Happy birthday Maggie Cheung – 20 September 1964 (Here she was at Venice)
    (In the Mood for Love youtube)

  • Three Years by Li Xiang Liang (Yoshiko Yamaguch – ex-wife of Isamu Noguchi)

    The Good Emperor

    January 4th, 2010

    Zhezong Zhezong A good emperor 哲宗
    dying young doing good. He was only 24 yrs old.

    Emperor Zhezong (January 4, 1076 – February 23, 1100) was the seventh emperor of the Song Dynasty of China. His personal name was Zhao4 Xu1. He reigned from 1085 to 1100….

    Zhezong lowered taxes, stopped all negotiations with the Tangut Empire and resumed armed conflict which eventually forced the Xixia to enter a more peaceful stance with the Song. Overall, Zhezong’s reign gave the Song dynasty a breathe of fresh air but Zhezong was not able stop fighting between conservative members in his government and the more liberal members catering to Wang Anshi’s reforms. This eventually lead to the northern Song’s demise in the 12th century. (wiki)

    Huizong Emperor Huizong digital image by Fung Lin Hall the emperor as an artist
    (See previous post – Emperor and the Brushstrokes or how this emperor resurrected Brice Marden’s career)


    Song Emperors and Song Dynasty

  • Happy birthday to Gao Xinjian winner of 2000 Nobel Prize for literature and his paintings are here.

  • Google celebratesnewton10-tree
    Isaac Newton’s birthday. (Why apples are falling on Google today)
    But apples do not fall from this copy.

    Dr Sun Yat Sen

    November 12th, 2009

    Dr Sun Yat Sen

    Sun Yat-sen (pinyin Sūn Yìxiān) (12 November 1866 – 12 March 1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and political leader. As the foremost pioneer of Republican China, Sun is frequently referred to as the Father of the Nation. Sun played an instrumental role in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in October 1911, the last imperial dynasty of China. He was the first provisional president when the Republic of China (ROC) was founded in 1912 and later co-founded the Kuomintang (KMT) where he served as its first leader. Sun was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China, and remains unique among 20th-century Chinese politicians for being widely revered in both mainland China and Taiwan.(Via)

    Dr Sun Yat Sen(1866-1925) & Penang

    Dr Sun Yat Sen’s original name was Sun Deming, he is also known as Sun Zhongsan(孫中山), Sun Wen(孫文), Sun Yixian (孫逸仙) & Sun Itchisen or Sun Itchiyama (Japanese names).
    He was born on 12-11-1866 in the village of Cuiheng, Xianshang county, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China; which is 26 km north of Macau. But a certificate of birth issued by Hawaii that he was born in Kingdom of Hawaii on 24-11-1870, but the claim of Hawaii birth was based on typewritten testimony, and without any documentation from witnesses. He died on 12-3-1925 after illness in Beijing, China.

    Obama went to Punahoe, Sun Yat Sen went to Iolani

    Dr Sun was in Malaya, Penang and Singapore during his preparation for the revolution.

    Sun Yat Sen in Japan in Jan 1901

    Unfortunately, his three principles did not survive his death and corrupt General Chiang Kai-Shek soon emerged as leader of the Kuomintang Party. The Japanese invasion and the escape of the Communist leaders through their long march set up conditions for the civil war after the defeat of Japan. After losing China to the Communists, Chiang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan with much of China’s treasure and art works where a virtual dictatorship was created that survived until his death in 1975. Mao Tse_Tung also set up a ruthless dictatorship in China which exists until today. China as a Democratic Republic was lost to history.

    <> <> <> <> 2sunyatsen
    Sun Yat-sen Married Soong Ching Ling
    Soong Axis the Forgotten Dynasty Soong Ching Ling broke off from her brother in law (Chiang Kai-Shek) and remained in Communist China where she was respected by the party.

    Ching Ling (Madame Sun) differentiated herself from her siblings, believing that the Communists were better stewards of her late husband’s three principals than were the Kuomintang. She continued living in Shanghai after the Communist takeover until her death in 1981. Although she never joined the Communist party, she was honored with a period of national mourning and given a full state funeral in Beijing, lying in state for three days in the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square.

    Zhang Xiao – Three Gorges

    August 10th, 2009




    Photograph by Zhang Xiao

    Zhang Xiao at Eyecurious

    Zhang Xiao was born in 1981 in China’s Shandong province. There is some great work on his website, in particular his series on the demolition linked to the infamous Three Gorges Dam.

    Related link Up the Yantze