Personal! I’m confused why this dude dislikes me so much. ???
I’ve been having some friction with one of my classmates in the Chinese department. It all started with the Taiwanese sunflower protest. He said that he thought the facebook profile I had was very silly and that I was trivializing the whole protest because I was smiling and waving a sunflower. (He thinks I shouldn’t smile and I should be serious). He is from China and an intellectual marxist. However, I don’t believe he is a typical brain washed kind of communist. His research, I believe, is deeply marxist. At the same time, he sees that the Chinese bourgeois or upper class or ruling class are not necessarily representing the true ideals of marxism that he values. He is self-reflective. Anyway, we always always clash. I don’t know why, he has a problem with me. He is the last person I thought I would clash with because I never thought my whole being would offend him in anyway (because there are way more people who are more opinionated than me and less accepting of him).
As we are studying post-cold war literature in Taiwan, our first goal is to go beyond ideologies that have plagued literary criticism ever since the cold war and look at the works through a more objective view (using Bourdieu). Basically, through Bourdieu, we see that ideologies and class do affect writers, making them gravitate towards certain aesthetics and inclined to a specific kind of career. The words gravitate and incline are important here. Because it is giving them agency but still inscribing them to institutions and political and national interest. What we are going against is reading a Taiwanese writer’s work as representative of anti-communist sentiment of his generation or of his era, painting an overly simplistic view of literature. Therefore, as you can see, we are moving away from close reading text and moving towards contextualization, trying to find the duality of the objective-subjectivity. In our class, we love the writers’ biographies and how it contradicts simple black and white ideologies and how it contradicts their supposedly political right or left writing.
Anyway, it’s still very hard to understand this whole bourdieu way of thinking. Even now writing about it, I still think its hard. I brought this up because I just don’t understand why this friend has such a problem with me when we chat after class. First of all, he finds me to be empty minded and not radical in my beliefs. (yes, I admit, i’m not really political regarding American politics or Chinese or Taiwanese politics). (he believes when I went to the sun flower protest, it was just a shallow show). I know he does not dislike me for supporting the protest because he supports another male classmate who is the organizer of the Texas sun flower rally and is more involved. He deeply admires this Taiwanese guy who is very pro-independence and part of the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan. Ironically, he doesn’t like me because he thinks I’m not radical enough, that I lack conviction or political awareness. Secondly, today, he said something that really bothered me. He once told me how he hates PC, being politically correct, and how americans love it and how he deeply hates it. He thinks it is just synonymous to not saying the truth and not offending people. And today he told me I am the most PC person ever! What an insult in his world, but not necessarily in mine. (Funny thing is all my american friends laugh at how sometimes I can be so very not PC and that I should be more careful, I’m confused now, so many conflicting views, am I PC or not?). In other words, all his commentary on my whole being just show that he thinks that I am synonymous to a kind of shallow politics, I post about my protest on facebook and smile in my protest pictures and I’m always trying to be politically correct.
I guess my conclusion is this… despite trying to find complexity in post-cold war politics (China vs. Taiwan) in our literature class, somehow I still naturally offend him and his backhanded insults annoy me.
In his mind, I think he thinks I’m deeply Western and He is deeply not.
I’m deeply Taiwanese (which is synonymous to Liberal, American, Complacent, and Middle Class)
while he is not. (He is a critic of the Sun flower protest because of how apolitical and middle class the movement is)
And he seems to think that being all that is the worst thing ever. I’m not offended at being classified as such if it was any other person but it is the fact that he seems to think that all that (American, Taiwanese, ABC, being liberal) means I’m a sell out, an empty, white washed, or liberal brain washed person. That bugs me…
While I never saw him as a brain washed Chinese marxist ever because I believe him to be intellectually engaging and insightful and I still do. I thought he would at least give me some credit for self-reflectivity because despite my liberalism or neutrality or playfulness towards politics, I’m not as simple as that. Maybe it is my indecisiveness that bugs him? or my aversion towards politics, or my desire to not offend anyone, my desire to not be classified as either right or left, liberal or conservative, western or eastern, Taiwanese or Chinese. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a generational gap, I’m the strawberry generation and he despite being only slightly older than me is following more a sixties kind of mindset.
Maybe also, because I’m a flip flop. Yes. I am deeply suspicious of any ideologies, and I hate having an allegiance to any politics and sticking to one. Sometimes, I side with pro-independence Taiwanese politics but then I can be against them the next day, (because, they can be very extreme and irrational sometimes and they are not perfect). Some days, I’m all for the pro-unification politics in Taiwan because they are rational and more politically-savy. Sometimes, I can be deeply Christian and conservative about certain things but then extremely liberal about others. Sometimes, I can be critical of the popular gay pride movement, but I am also against any discrimination or persecution of the gay community. Just as I can be deeply liberal but see that liberalism can be just as racist and shallow as conservatism in the U.S. I feel like no political party or ideology fits my views perfectly or represent me perfectly. Does that make me shallow and PC? I don’t know. Does that make me a Gen Me kind of person… perhaps. Does that make me a person that is all thought over action. Yes. I seem to fail to organize a rally like my friend and we do need people like that in our world and I deeply admire them just like he does.
But let me tell you a story instead of where my political allegiance lies. (yes, this is my way of avoiding a simple answer again.)
Politics are for men. I know a friend who is an activist and always seems to represent the weak and the marginalized. I agree with every movement he has organized and been a part of. He is a true hero and he is smart and politically aware. He takes action, everything I am not. He actually contributed towards the workers union, feminism, anti- corruption, and anti-nuclear power plant demonstrations in Taiwan. However, he treats his girl friend horribly who is my friend. If he ever runs for president in Taiwan, I’m still not going to vote for him. Does that make me petty… perhaps. But I hate being compelled to do something just because it makes you political smart and aware. A person who crusades for women rights but is not actually good to my friend is not someone I would ever support even if I supported his political views. People might say that my neutrality or shallowness is why this world is rotting and the oppressed are still oppressed. Perhaps, it is my Christian faith that makes me see politics as so false. All politics preach a kind of utopia that I do not believe exists. Men are deeply and inherently wrong no matter how hard they try. I can see all the political activist rolling there eyes now saying I am so complacent and trivializing their efforts.
I’ve imagined a conversation in my head with a politically aware person:
politically aware person: everything is related to politics, the well being of your family, your life is directly affected by politics.
me: yes. I agree. I’m not an air head who can’t see that.
politically aware person: all men are political, even when they choose not to be they are making a political choice.
me: yes. Politics are for men, but I am not a man. (smile).
political person gets so infuriated and frustrated and dies of anger