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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A History of Sino-Barbarian Relations


Chatham Square lies at the main intersection of East Broadway, the Bowery and Worth Street and faces the Manhattan Detention Complex, also known as 'the Tombs' and One Police Place. The statue of Lin Xezu was erected at the cost of $USD200,000  in 1997 by the local Fujianese community, and is exactly 18 feet and 5 inches high.


Lin Xezu was a prominent Qing dynasty official who was sent to Guangdong by the Daoguang Emperor to implement hard line policies attacking the smuggling of opium into China by British private traders and their Chinese accomplices. Two acts by Xesu are of historical importance here, the first was his private letter to Queen Victoria which appealed to her better instincts and latent Confucian morality to prohibit the illicit trade of drugs into China by British nationals.

We find that your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. Yet there are barbarian ships that strive to come here for trade for the purpose of making a great profit. The wealth of China is used to profit the barbarians. That is to say, the great profit made by barbarians is all taken from the rightful share of China. By what right do they then in return use the poisonous drug to injure the Chinese people? Even though the barbarians may not necessarily intend to do us harm, yet in coveting profit to an extreme, they have no regard for injuring others. Let us ask, where is your conscience?

The second was his decision to have 20,000 cases of British owned opium, belonging to one William Jardine  destroyed in 1839. Jardine would successfully petition Lord Palmerston to wage war against China in retaliation which would lead to the First Opium War, the signing of the unequal treaties, opening of foreign 'Treaty Ports' across China and the succession of Hong Kong Island as a British crown colony. The origins of Jardine's power and wealth today as the worlds largest holdings company is far from obscured in their official history as evidenced in their logo.

The first waves of Cantonese from Taishan in Guangdong province first arrived in the 1850's, not long after the conclusion of the First Opium War. This accelerated with the turmoil which engulfed Guangdong province as a result of natural disasters, foreign occupation and the the disorder of the late-Qing empire until the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943. Second large waves of immigrants would arrive from Hong Kong after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and would turn the districts around the Canal Street and the Bowery into a Little Hong Kong.


In 1972, with funds provided by the Chinese Nationalist government in Taiwan, the Cantonese community erect a statue of Confucius made from Taiwanese green marble. At 16 feet high, it is two feet and two inches smaller than the Lin Zexu statue, carved from Fujianese red granite.

Confucius faces Wall Street and the site of the former World Trade Center. The statue of Xezu is located in Little Fujian mostly populated by newly arrived Mandarin speaking migrants from mainland China and is symbolically placed with its back turned away from the tombs.  The statue is inscribed with the words 'Say No To Drugs'.


'We have to continue to fight the evils of communism and to fight you must have an army, and an army must have guns, and to buys guns you must have money. In these mountains, the only money is opium.'





Friday, April 24, 2015

The Lost Army of Prince Prosperous

In 1950, as the Chinese Communist Party consolidated it's grip over Northern China and Chiang Kai Shek's Kuomintang forces conceded defeat by retreating to the former Japanese colony of Taiwan, loaded with a millennias worth of Chinese history, the last 93rd Division of the Nationalist army in the far Western province of Yunnan crossed the border into Northern Burma.

Under the command of General Li Mi, they would continue to launch attacks against communist forces for the next decade, with arms and supplies from the U.S and Taiwan while they moved between the porous borders between the Shan State of Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Northern Thailand.



One of the soldiers trained by General Li was a half-Chinese, half-Shan who went by the name of Khun Sa meaning 'Prince Prosperous'. After a decade fighting a lost war against the growing authority and legitimacy of the Peoples Republic of China and gradually being abandoned, first by the U.S who had bigger problems in Vietnam and finally by the Generalissimo himself, Khun Sa would slowly shift the ideology of his 6000 man private army from an anti-Communist force to a rebel movement fighting for the independence of the Shan State and its minority peoples which would battle against Thai, Burmese and even Kuomintang forces.



The animating spirit of Khun Sa's 'lost army' would mutate and dissolve as it flowed through the jungles, gathering tribesmen from the various peoples of the mountains and defectors from the mainland, they married with locals and absorbed the landscapes and traditions of the people. When they finally arrived at Mae Salong in the alps of North Thailand, a little Switzerland with a cool alpine climate and verdant crops of tea and cherry blossoms, it was the scarlet poppy plantations which gave a new vitality to the economy and power of the soldiers.



About three months after the poppy seeds are planted, brightly-colored flowers bloom at the tips of greenish, tubular stems. As the petals fall away, they expose an egg-shaped seed pod. Inside the pod is an opaque, milky sap. This is opium in its crudest form.

The sap is extracted by slitting the pod vertically in parallel strokes with a special curved knife. As the sap oozes out, it turns darker and thicker, forming a brownish-black gum. A farmer collects the gum with a scraping knife, bundles it into bricks, cakes or balls and wraps them in a simple material such as plastic or leaves.

The opium is mixed with lime in boiling water. A precipitate of organic waste sinks to the bottom. On the surface a white band of morphine forms. This is drawn off, reheated with ammonia, filtered and boiled again until it is reduced to a brown paste.

This solution is gently heated to evaporate the alcohol and leave heroin, which may be purified further

The final product is a fluffy, white powder known in the trade as number four heroin.








Khun Sa and his army would fund their military excursions by moving the opium and heroin through illicit trade corridors from Northern Chiangmai to Bangkok. His power would increase as he began to work with Vietnam veterans who devised methods for smuggling this pure grade heroin to the streets of Harlem in the coffins of U.S. soldiers returning to their families, slaughtered by the Viet Cong.



In what would become a secret, third Opium War, Khun Sa fought the Thai-Burmese forces who were attempting to reassert control over the rebel Shan State as well as the United States D.E.A which was desperately trying to stem the flow of heroin into the country in what might perhaps be called the fourth Opium War, or as it was known amongst the rulers of that nation, 'the War on Drugs'.






Every year, in an apparent act of both insolence and magnanimity, Khun Sa would offer to sell his entire crop to the U.S. government, though it was never accepted. In these situations, it is difficult to judge whether it was a problem of supply or demand, or just, rebellious or lost causes which propelled the situation.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Ape's Lament

Purple reflected on the days lesson, and reflected on her peoples victory, the culmination of a decades, if not centuries long war fought against an immeasurably stronger force, a hegemon whose unilateral power had been unquestioned and always taken for granted. Though feelings of elation passed through her, they were unfamiliar sensations, of independence, of pride, of being at rest after a lifetime of bloodshed. It was, strangely, more familiar and comforting to imagine herself and her people as a victim and now that they were counted amongst the victors she preferred to place herself in the mind of the defeated.
She imagined herself as a white ape, with thick, tree trunk arms and solid calves who stalked the jungle tearing at the throats of the herbivores and eviscerating them without a second thought. As the white ape, she would kill, steal and rape without a thought for the smaller creatures of the forest. However, these creatures were not submissive or cowed by the white ape, rather they knew its only advantage lay its it belief in brute force and since they understood that there were many more ways to survive in the jungle, they let it think and act as it pleased with a sort of piteous obliviousness. How would this white ape react when it could no longer claim the jungle as its own, that despite its strength, it could only flail its thick arms wildly in the darkness as it was assailed from every side by the smaller creatures of the forest. Suddenly, she realized that it was a legionnaire withdrawing from the outer reaches of the Roman empire.  In the late afternoon, the apes head weighed on it a little.

TWIN PEAKS

Today, two big mountains lie like a dead weight on the Chinese people. One is imperialism, the other is feudalism. The Chinese Communist Party has long made up its mind to dig them up. We must persevere and work unceasingly, and we, too, will touch God's heart. Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can't these two mountains be cleared away?




No 3: The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains According to the myth, a Foolish Old Man of 90 years who lived near a pair of mountains (given in some tellings as the Taihang and the Wangwu Mountains, in Yu province). He was annoyed by the obstruction caused by the mountains and sought to dig through them with hoes and baskets. When questioned as to the seemingly impossible nature of his task, the Foolish Old Man replied that while he may not finish this task in his lifetime, through the hard work of himself, his children, and their children, and so on through the many generations, some day the mountains would be removed if he persevered. The gods in Heaven, impressed with his hard work and perseverance, ordered the mountains separated.
The Red Flag Canal, 1972




Who knows the reasons why you have grown up? Who knows the plans or why they were drawn up?

omotepe2

omotepe

"There was one thing I want to mention. But it has nothing to do with the attack on me. It is all so clear before my eyes...I saw the ocean, and I saw a mountain...and there were many people climbing up the mountain. It was like a procession. There was a lot of fog. I couldn't see it very clearly, but...at the very top was Death."

omotepe2








Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Abject Lesson



After the previous night spent doing all the things which might not be considered homework, an incredibly difficult task to engage in as one sat in an empty room devoid of furnishings or distraction save a thin exercise book and the stub of a leaden pencil. Purple eventually spent the night with her face and belly set to the floor singing Transoxianian nationalist operas while combing her hair with the pencil and eating small balls of chewed up paper-surely this could not be thought of a homework-though she wasn't entirely certain.

It was with some trepidation that she arrived in class the next morning, hoping that again the teacher would not show or would not ask about last nights non-homework related activities.
Everyone sat in silence, only punctuated by the discreet clearing of the throat and the scrape or squeak of a wooden chair, waiting for something to happen.

From the distance, two voices could be heard approaching the class room, engaged in a heated argument though is wasn't until the teacher entered the room that Purple and the other students realized that it was one person, miming the voices of a child and an old man locked in violent debate.

'I have it!!! I now realize why you are so incredibly stupid, lazy, dirty, poor and ignorant, I can't believe I didn't understand this earlier!', said the teacher.

'Oh right, why is THAT?' the teacher replied sarcastically.

'I am so fucking great because I make so much money, and I make so much money because I don't give a shit about exploiting people who I consider inferior to myself. But then the losers come to me and say, you're creating inequality, the majority of the world suffers because of your selfishness and to prop up your prosperity we must live in abject poverty, blah, blah, blah, but now I realize the solution is-wait for it- the poor scum need to be more like me!!!'

'Oh really, do tell us more your excellency!'

'Right, because I am so fucking benevolent, generous and philanthropic, I am gonna teach you how to me like me, I'll throw you some pittances to give you basic amenities, some brutalist school rooms and some Dark Age water pump technology, then send in some 'capacity builders' and preppy, gap year, 'EM, BEE, AAYS' to teach you a thing or two about how to be a top shelf, grade 'ALPHA' entrepreneur, like myself, and ONE, TWO, THREE, PROBLEM SOLVED, YOU'RE WELCOME!'

'Wow, you really think it's that simple, you idiot?'

'Uh huh, please allow me to demonstrate...'

By now, the class of girls was severely embarrassed, not only by this bizarre internal dialogue and the offensiveness of one of the interlocutors, but also by the crude language and the fact that the teachers pants were on back to front for some reason.

Now the teacher began doing something even more bizarre, first he placed a ceramic basin in the middle of the room between the desks where the girls sat, balanced precariously between two desks, then inexplicably began flicking gold coins he pulled from his deep pockets into the basin. The poor girls began snatching the gold pieces, not believing their luck as each of their families could easily live for a month on one piece, but as soon as they collected a piece, the teacher would snatch it off them and swallow it whole. After doing this for about three hours, the teacher unzipped the fly on the back of his pants and squatted over the basin and preceded to shit the coins, one by one, which he would then pick up, lick clean and then swallow again. The entire revolting spectacle lasted an entire afternoon until the coins had gone through an entire cycle of being eaten, shat and re-injested then shat again after which he piled them in a small pyramid on his desk. When the final coin was placed on the heap, he zipped up his pants, gathered up the coins in his shirt and said,

'And that is why you should never trust anyone who claims to be a philathro-capitalist, class dismissed.'

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Class One

The classroom was a small, mud brick situation. A notional blackboard had been elaborated on the far wall.

Fourteen students sat across two long wooden benches, each made of a long plank arranged in a separate row. The first plank was recovered from the flotsam floating down the Zê river four years earlier, when a historical yacht, once belonging to Atatürk had capsized and sunk, following a dramatic shootout after the boat became embroiled in a prostitution scandal.

The second wooden plank had once been used as part of a door frame in a small hat shop in Antalya. By small hat shop I mean that the hats were themselves small in size, the shop in fact was magnificently large. It even had a balcony. The original owner Ibrahim has wanted to sell large hats funnily enough, but local fashion dictated that a large Kalpak would not make for a valid choice in the dry summer climate along the Turkish Riviera. "Aaaaah the tyranny of the market" he would often say. It would seem that one day he finally had enough and was last reported leaving a Californian millenerian commune three days after the aliens had failed to arrive on time.

The class grew restless after waiting for their teacher. It had been at least a half hour. "Teacher is not coming," they concluded unanimously and began to leave. The youngest child interjected, "I was told to inform you that tomorrow's lesson will take place. In preparation, we are each required to do only do things that can not be considered homework."


Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Single Fried Egg


'Boo hoooo hoooo!!!!!!', 'Wehhhwehhhwehhhhh!!!!!!' screamed Harriet, 'Oh Willy, how could you say something so absolutely horrid!'
'I say Harriet, I havent the slightest idea what you're talking about! If you would be so kind as to look outside the ruddy window, I think it must be Nessie herself or some other sub-aqueous behemoth of yore.'
What Wellesly didnt realize was that there was a piece of fried egg stuck to his monocle which had been there since he had felt the urge to play some ruggers with the local lads from the leather bar who had shown up on the estate during his breakfast one morning two months ago and he had gone to fetch a ball from the ballling shed but it had been locked, so he had to force it open while still in his dressing gown which had blown open while he was balancing his breakfast plate on one hand and while he was struggling with the door, a fried egg had slipped off the plate and landed on the grass, a speck of which had somehow glued itself to his lens.