Zhou Lunyou 周伦佑 poetry translations

The Poetry of Zhou Lunyou 周伦佑

Selections: 1981-1993

Zhou Lunyou was born in 1952 in Xichang, Sichuan province. Zhou began to secretly write poetry in the early 1970s, and had his first Misty-style poems officially published in 1981. By 1984, however, he had lost interest in the official scene and was concentrating on the modernization of poetics and technique, which led him into Sichuan’s unofficial poetry scene. After taking an editorial role in the publication of Modernists Federation现代诗内部交流资料 in early 1985 and contributing to other journals that year, Zhou set about establishing his own poetry journal in the spring of 1986: Not-Not非非. Between 1986-1989, he edited four editions of the journal and two of the Not-Not Critiques非非评论 paper. Yet, in August 1989, Zhou was arrested for “inciting counter-revolution” and after spending a few months in prison in Xichang was shifted to a labor camp in the mountains of western Sichuan until his release in September 1991. While incarcerated, he continued to write poetry (in 6 below) and in 1992 oversaw the re-issue of Not-Not. A second combined #6-7 edition appeared in 1993, but further editions were delayed until 2000, and are now published in Hongkong, while Zhou splits his time between Xichang and Chengdu. In 1994, a publishing house in Dunhuang, Gansu province, hired Zhou to edit a series of books of post-modernist literature, which included a collection of Not-Not-ism poetry and theory. In 1999, Zhou was able to have a volume of his theoretical writings officially published in China and a collection of his poetry published in Taiwan. Below, is a lengthy example of Zhou’s post-prison theoretical writing.

1) The Solitary Pine [孤松]

2) Spring Festival [春节]

3) The Black Statue [黑色的雕像]

4) The White Wolf [白狼]

5) Free Squares [自由方块]

6) 20 Poems On The Knife’s Edge [刀锋二十首][1]

I. The Great Bird Of The Imagination [想象大鸟]

II. The Meaning Of A Fruit Pit [果核的含义]

III. Transformation Of Syntax Completed On The Knife’s Edge [在刀锋上完成的句法转换]

IV. The Everlasting Wound [永远的伤口]

V. The Subject’s Loss [主体的损失]

VI. The Image Of The Tolerant [忍者意象]

VII. A Situation Composed of Stones [石头构图的境况]

VIII. The High-stepping Crane And Midget Horse Of The Painter [画家的高蹈之鹤与矮种马]

IX. Chairman Mao Says [毛主席说]

X. From The Concrete To The Abstract Bird [从具体到抽象的鸟]

XI. Watching A Candle Ignite [看一支蜡烛点燃]

XII. In A Mood To Detest Iron [厌铁的心情]

XIII. A Sword’s Inscription [剑器铭]

XIV. Thinking Of Ourselves In The Fire Of A Neighboring House [宅之火中想起我自己]

XV. Simulating The Language Of The Mute [模拟哑语]

XVI. Night Of The Cat King [猫王之夜]

XVII. The Hungry Years [饥饿之年]

XVIII. The Way Of The Hand [手的方式]

XIX. Fire-bath Sensations [火浴的感]

XX. Third Generation Poets [第三代诗人]

7) The Rhetoric Of Violence [暴力的修辞]

I. Immortality [不朽]

II. Dye-Works Co. & The White Sunflower [染料公司与白向日葵]

III. The Stone In The Mirror [镜中的石头]

IV. Painting Fish Like The Eight Great Masters [仿八大山人画]

V. Thirteen Lines Of Symmetry [称十三行]

VI. The Scholar’s Hand [读书人的手]

VII. Forced Heroism [被迫的英雄]

VIII. Autobiography, Page 39 [39]

IX. Berlin Wall Postscript [柏林倒塌后]

X. The Dimension Of Silence [沉默之]

XI. Round Table [圆桌主题]

XII. Talking About Revolution [谈谈革命]

8) Red Writing [红色写作]: The 1992 Arts Charter or The Principles of Not-Leisurely


The Solitary Pine [孤松] 1981

A historian

Strolls alone on the high plateau

Time has played a joke on him

He has lost the way home

He stands on a precipice

staring off into the distance

The stars take the place of his stern gaze

All that remains is a clear head

He continues in his undertaking

Writing his life into chronicles

The rings of the wheel of time

Are a history that will never decay

Spring Festival [春节] 1982

I'm a honey bee

Flying out of a traditional oriental painting,

On each festival day along my way,

From mugwort leaf and calamus I gather honey

in bitter delicate fragrances

I collect a trace of poetic mood

From a mooncake as round as the moon

And a moon as round as a mooncake

I gather a fulfilling desire

From the scattered oblique shadows of chrysanthemums

And cornel, I harvest a homesick melody

Carrying so many stories and legends

I descend upon your pistil

And gather a little pollen

To make a spring of all colors

The Black Statue [黑色的雕像] 1983

- for a young road worker laying asphalt

The black solution

Gushes up out of your hands

Your work-clothes are spattered with pitch

Even the sunlight turns black

sculpts the expression on your face


Like this solution, boiling hot

Reality is grim

When automobile wheels spin in the mire

And history is compelled to slither in the mud

The age sent out a summons

You stepped up

And accepted the laborer's card with both hands

You took on a lofty mission

We have never joined in the designing of roads

Only names from our parent's generation are among the road construction crew's

When the footsteps of the young

march forward treading on the shoulders of their forbearers

Do they complain that the road is bumpy

Or set to work and pave it flat

You chose the latter

Under the heavy rhythm of the road roller

A layer of tar, a layer of crushed stone

presses slowly forward

This is today's addition to yesterday

Pave the rough road into the future flat

An all-weather highway

Stretches out of the hardship in your hands.….

Looking at the level surface

you let out the hint of a smile

The laugh lines unfold

The smoothness of a freeway

Vehicle after vehicle speeds by your side

the wheels remember your name

Horns sound blare out your salute

The White Wolf [白狼]

The white wolf is dancing the foxtrot Drawn-out howls

on the ridge of the roof I am never able to dodge

its long long tail Waving a riddle as if it’s

reminding me of something hinting at something

Not one stalk of grass is growing on the bald

pastureland for the flock of sheep I can’t keep my

hair Yet it still stares at me that way Stares

Have you passed this sort of night Shaking the

snowflakes the frostwork or a moonlight-like

white coming in from your earliest consciousness

Think about it Not yesterday Not last year Earlier

and still earlier imagine this sort of a night In a

place you love where you’re a child

It’s a house Really dark Distantly I see that white wolf

take a bite of me through the ceiling Kept at a

distance by a thick wall it wounds me Each written

character comes to bite me Every single sentence

comes to bite me and leaves teeth marks behind

Once more you try to remember what you saw that

night Snow-white walls float up into the air

Four chalk-white walls drift up Your cradle

is like a boat Imagine that you are an infant

suckling at your mother’s breast What did you

see at the moment you opened your eyes Now

you push open that door You walk in

Lamplight knocks me over The zebra-striped roof

sways An impression A beautiful shape The

white wolf has come up from the sea up onto the

shore The whole world starts to rock becoming

a pliable body Isn’t the cradle being pushed by

that pair of hands Mommy isn’t by my side

Now please use your own hands and gently peal off the

sea’s skin The animal beneath won’t bite That

two-headed beast will definitely not bite you

This evening mother has been gobbled up by it

Now please try to push the two heads apart with

your hands Don’t say whose face you see

The white wolf fox-trotting on the ridge of the roof is far

off The long tail has broken off in the wind inch

by inch becoming hummingbirds flying up and

down An ancient pagoda is planted at the center

of a lake inundated by blue light Who will garner

those ripe wind-chimes Those sweet tinklings

are about to sprout and leave that swamp are

going to bud and push up out of that bog

FREE SQUARES[2] [自由方块] Selections (December 15-22, 1986)

You use a suspicious language.

You set a trap for us.

You yourself first fall into it.

- from 1986 Diary

(You meditate on the step of the stair for three days.

Circle the dome once. You can't find a door in or out. You sit down again.)

Motive I Position Plan [动机一 姿势计划]

The pose should be paid attention to. As a traditional beauty pays attention to the look of her face. For example, don't bare her teeth when laughing. For instance, not being allowed to cast sidelong glances. Pierre Cardin chooses you as a model. You redesign yourself according to modern standards. Sit and wait like a clock. At the stroke of midnight go to the passenger boat. You're not on the boat. In the Temple of Precious Light count the countless arhats.[3] Sit on

the south side. Sit facing the wall. All these are ways in which the wise ones would sit. You're not a sage. You don't think the supreme lord is about to come down among us. You can sit more casually. Pick a rush hassock at random. or imagine an ancient hermit. or imitate a monkey. Since ancient times the wise and virtuous have been so alone. Sitting is the root of realizing the way. If you can't sit, you have neither skill nor learning. Confucius sat and had three thousand disciples. Zenon sits and discovers that arrows in flight are motionless. Achilles is never able to catch the tortoise. And you see Yang Zhu[4] seated like a flower. swaying when there is no wind. He attracts three or five butterflies. Men like girls whose tails wag. Sleep like a bow. A heavy snow replete with bows and knives. Choosing a style for sleeping is extremely necessary. It's best not to kill during the daytime. I've heard that it was the ugly and inappropriate sleeping form of a palace maiden which led Sakyamuni to spurn the world and become a monk. From that time on he was most particular about the technique of sleeping. You prefer to sleep on your side. You want to change the way you sleep. You try turning over. Then feeling in that foot like it's both there and not there. A kind of airplane. A jet. That dives in that gliding-on-water way. An off-screen Tai-Chi punch. You feel that kind of position is very elegant. Death is a matter for tomorrow. Continue to study it. But today persevere in your morning calisthenics. With regard to whether there is a life after this one. From Sun Yatsen to Jesus no one has spoken clearly on the subject. Furthermore a Swiss scientist has research showing that god was an extraterrestrial. You have even less of a desire to head for those heavens. Submission you can accept. There's no tail to be stood up in the air. But the back must be straight. A man's tears aren't easily shed. Maintaining a balance is of extreme importance. Stand like a pine tree. Under the pine tree ask a child. He will say the master has gone to gather herbs. The child under the pine answers once more. I do not know which pine the master is under. what's important is to stand modestly and courteously. It's best not to speak. Han Yu admired the posture of Jia Dao[5] as he stood to knock or push at a door. He took him in as a follower. You know there are more positions on the other side.

--The posture of Tao Yuanming's[6] throughout his untroubled gazing at mountains in the south

--The posture of Wang Wei's,[7] loosening his belt while the wind blew through the pines

--The posture of Su Dongpo's[8] as the great river flowed east

--Li Qingzhao's[9] posture for people slenderer than day-lilies

There are many other postures besides people's. The

cloud's. The moon's. Birds'. The rainbow's.

You call up the zebra and the swan. Add all that to them.

Design a new style. Many people will come to imitate you.

(You meditate on the stair-step for six days. Circle the dome twice.

You can't find a door in or out. You sit down again.)

Motive II Exercise In Person [动机二]


(You meditate on the stair-step for nine days. Circle the dome three times.

You can't find a door in or out. You sit down all over again.)

Motive III Rubic’s Cube [动机三]


(You meditate on the step of the stair for twelve days. Circle the dome four times.

You can't find a door in or out. You sit down once again.)

Motive IV A Bed For Two [动机四]


(You meditate on the stair-step for fifteen days. Circle the dome five times.

You can't find a door in or out. You sit down again.)

Motive V The Salt Of Refusal [动机五 拒绝之盐]

When necessary learn how to shake your head or wave your hand

If both your head and your hand are not free

You must learn silence

For this you practice fasting

Reject water for you will never again swim Never again cast nets in rivers, lakes and seas

Reject fire for you will never again refine stones Never again copy all forms of lamps

Reject rain for you will never again preach Never again beat on broken clay jars

Reject wind for you will never again raise a flag Never again command fleets on distant voyages

You make refusing a game

without an opponent

Your chessmen are still being whittled down in number

The salt of refusal is tasteless

From tastelessness you approach the way to cook

Reject the sages and the virtuous for you will never again study this or that step by hurried step

Reject standards for you can't distinguish between good and evil Forget your height and weight

Reject relatives and those of no blood relation to you for the crudeness or fineness of unknown


Reject hatred for you take down bow-and-arrow Hang a gorgeous lion skin in the room

Reject the path for you will never trek forth again Never again undertake useless quests

Reject ardor for you will never bathe again Never again be visibly moved by beauty and sex

You use refusal to ward off attacks by the great and the famous

Mao Zedong Thought is ever-victorious

You are unable to hold your own

You can only lower your head and admit your crimes

Refuse to open your mouth So as to avoid falling into the trap of attitude You will never debate


Refuse language for you have lost the conception of it can only be silent or howl

Refuse illusion for you will never again hope for such highs or lows

Reject questions about livelihood for you don't study ways to keep healthy Never again gather

herbs and make immortality pills

Refuse meditation continual struggle From beginning to end unable to hack out a bloodied path

Refuse to break out of your own entrapment for you're ashamed to face the people on the eastern

bank[10] Not as good as keeping the next assault in reserve and songs of defiance and death

Refusing is an art. The attacking army is at the walls

You're still enjoying your siesta

Shuffle the chessmen idly

At the Pavilion of Uninterrupted Leisure listen to the water and fish

Refuse long journeys

You will never again explore the wonders Visit sights or muse over antiquity or intentionally

sigh the regretful sigh of aimless drifting

Refuse to scale the heights

You will never again arrange jasmine and cornel Never again cry to the blue sky

while in your cups nor tug at Chen Zi’ang's[11] jacket front

not knowing whether to laugh or cry

Refuse to go into seclusion

Early in the morning you will sell the dusk of rockery hills Remove the banzai plants

Leave nothing as far as the eye can see Nary a bamboo shoot

for thirty miles around

Refuse to remember

For your personality mixes with thick and thin masks of form and illusion The contours are

gradually lost You don't remember details

You remember the teachings of Zhou Lunyou.

People can be against you. You can be hated by them. But you must not be scorned.

You especially must not be mocked by people.

Mockery makes fasting futile.

The salt of refusal makes you look haggard. You gradually enter a state of forgetting all insults

and praise

According to ancient texts if you persevere it will make you ignorant and desireless -- finally

reaching the point of no shame. Then you will be saved.

You agree to try again.

(You meditate on the stair-step for eighteen days. Circle the dome eight times.

You can't find a door in or out. You sit down once more.)

Motive VI West Of Tahiti [动机六 塔希提以西]

When you think of that island you can not sit still.

The enormous breasts of the women carrying plates of fruit

overwhelm you. What frightens also entices. It was because of

this grandfather crossed the sea. West of Tahiti. Naked

women's skin stirs you so that you can not open your eyes. Fresh juicy

fruit. Large pits, rich and resilient. Grandfather must have

eaten many of these pits. And from then on thought no more of home. The

sea then was not as blue as it is now. The sky very high. A thin layer

annealed on the window. Like a piece of transparent glass. Unchanged for


You want to cross the sea. For the sake of tropical pits and the fruit.

You're a sex maniac too. When small you enjoyed colored toys. As a grown up

you like women and books. Following grandfather. Somebody already gone

ahead of you. He was a rascal who called himself an artist. After

begging a pound of bread from grandfather. They became friends. He

painted island girls. Also seduced island girls. There's more. Later

there will be one called Picasso. Who becomes famous because of the

rape of an Avignon girl. That year. All the females on the island jumped

into the sea. Beneath the fierce sunlight. The men started to love

themselves. The men began to make homosexual love. The men started to

love sea turtles The men started to love vegetables. In the midst of

general love, honor and contempt. He finished the last painting. Set

his own straw hut on fire.....

For the sake that self-immolated artist. You want to cross the sea.


For your grandfather's collection of books. You want to cross the sea.

About his death. To this day, opinion is widely divided. Some say he died

from the poisoned arrow of a rival in love. Some say he died from

excessive dissipation. Anyway. He died most shamefully. I remember

grandfather saying. After that artist died. One painting stayed on

the wall. Even flames weren't able to make off with it. You must

go. Standing by the ruins of your fingers. You think of Paris. Think

of the fashionable lines of young French women. A match stick brings

down the golden plates of fruit and mangos. Only the pits are alive. You

close the art book. You want to go nowhere. You say.

-- You didn't come from anywhere. (Where did we come from?

-- You aren't anything. (Who are we?

-- You aren't going anywhere. (Where are we going?

I eat therefore I am.

And that's all there is to it.

(You meditate on a step of the stair. Make a circuit of the dome.

There's no door in or out. You sit down and don't ever want to get up again)

20 Poems On The Knife’s Edge [刀锋二十首]

The Great Bird Of The Imagination [想象大鸟]

(December 17, 1989; in prison in Xichang, Sichuan Prov.)

The bird is a thing able to fly

It's not an oriole or bluebird. It's the great bird

Feathers as heavy as mount Tai[12]

Clearly pressing in on the imagination

I made this up

Wings of another kind

Water and sky of another kind

The great bird was thought up like this

A very gentle action that causes one's heart to pound

The great bird is deep-rooted, it makes me think of the lotus

Think of an older kind of quicksilver

An sheerer existence beyond the mass of earthly phenomena

Three-hundred years have passed, still the great bird doesn't fly or call out

Sometimes the great bird is a bird, sometimes a fish

Sometimes it's like Zhuangzi's butterfly[13] and recluse

And sometimes it isn't anything

I only know that the great bird consumes flames

So it's very beautiful, very bright

Actually the alleged flames are also imagined

The great bird has no wings, there's not a shadow of a bird about it at all

A bird is a metaphor. The great bird is a big metaphor

Whether it flies or not it occupies the sky just the same

From a bird to the great bird there's a kind of transition

From one language to another there's only a sound

The great bird blots out the sky and covers the earth, but can't be grasped

The sudden appearance of brilliance empties consciousness

With a finger to strike the sky, a very blue tranquility

Let a musical key from out of nowhere to be covered by falling dragon flies

Deeply and directly enter or withdraw

The further one departs from the core the closer one gets to the great bird

To imagine the great bird is to breathe the great bird

What causes objects to grow huge and far away; sometimes only a smell

Life is brimming with and fortified by crystal

Impelling time and bronze to run in opposite directions

The great bird is massive like a pearl gestating between the sea and the sky

We are contained within

Become the bright nucleus

Faced with the flesh the eager heart is driven into action

Now the great bird is already beyond my imagination

I can't touch it and don't know the direction it travels in

But I've definitely been hit, the significance of that kind of mopping-up operation

Causes me unforgettable pain, and to ponder whether

The great bird is soaring or motionless in another sky

That is a sky closely linked with us

We only have to think of it occasionally

And a certain feeling makes us vast without limits

When the day arrives on which the great bird suddenly comes flying towards us

The eyes of us all will be blinded

The Meaning Of A Fruit Pit [果核的含义] (May 10, 1990; Mount E prison camp, Sichuan)

Language separates out the meat from the fruit

The fruit pits that remain become the firm, tensile portion

Several grindings of the flowers

Renders the fruit pits smaller. But even harder

A fruit pit in a fire keeps its original shape

A fruit pit implies nothing

Occasionally it's a facial exercise

A certain event just being experienced

Sometimes it doesn't even entail movement

A child is contained in a fruit pit

But never grows up. Freckles that flew over the face

Are covered in a wink by fall of autumn branches from the tree

(To speak of a fruit pit is to speak of a boy

Or a girl. Not related to this world

Open mouthed. But with no sound whatsoever)

Fruit pits sometimes burst open

Some leaves grow out

They generate more heads and fruit

Or a city

One person climbs to the position of king, many scatter

Or exactly the opposite

One fruit pit fills the season to bursting with confidence

Transformation Of Syntax Completed On The Knife’s Edge [在刀锋上完成的句法转换]

(January 6, 1991; Mount E Prison Camp)

In your imaginings your skin is cut by a sharp blade

Blood everywhere. Very thick blood

Causing your breath to smell strongly of fish

Coldly ponder the wounding process

A finger wiped and wiped again on the knife's edge

There isn't courage to let you go a little deeper

Now is still not the time to speak of death

Death is very simple, living requires more food

Air and water, a woman's sexual parts

Feelings of carnal desire aggravate you to greater foolishness

Living right is yet another matter

Mortgage your life, let violence loose its patience

Let the knife sink in a bit deeper. From watching others bleed

To bleeding yourself, experience the transformation process first hand

The hand that strikes violently is certainly not as relaxed as the hurt hand

Open your skin along a sharp thought

Watch the knife's edge carve in, from the flesh a spot of blood seeps out

And sets off a host of impressions

This is your first drop of blood

Abiding by the principles of syntactical transformation

No longer has an audience.

Use subjective flesh to resist steel, or be overthrown by it

A stretch of sky pressing in upon your head

The wound's extensive pain vanishes

After you the world remains completely cold

The edge of the knife bleeds. Across from the left to the right hand

You learned from experience that you attempted slaughter while sacrificing yourself

The death of imagination fills your two eyes with ideas of death

The Everlasting Wound [永远的伤口] (Sept. 8, 1990; Mount E Prison Camp)

This moment of disaster can't be forgotten

Prolonged pain makes me uneasy in my seat

I passed through the motionless wrecks of birds in the water

Beginning from the tip of the tongue right down to the finger nails I turn green

Below the darkest color is another kind of beauty

Another species of steely silence

Sharp beyond compare

The everlasting wound is a

Deep and vast drop of blood. Aimlessly

The names of the dead line up quietly around the wound

The wound's infection causes more people to burn with dread

The effect of a tiger is a riot of color

This is the root of your lack of appetite. Alone we weep

Into the wind. Or close our eyes and sit still

(Use iron. Use the most brutal way to reduce inflammation

It never heals, a fever on clear days

Even more unendurable pain on dark days)

Actually I have no idea where the wound is

What kind of knife stuck in which strip of the sky

I only feel pain

The sleepless hand reaches out from inside my body

Makes me live traumatically

Blissfully experience agony

Carve a work of art that will never fade into my bones

The everlasting wound is a degree of depth

Our bodies are sunk into it and we can't pull ourselves out

Passing through the wound, pain becomes a kind of substance

Pressing heavily on the four limbs

In a dream cruel cracks appear on a porcelain vase

There are no more vessels left intact As a still-life

Unfolding gracefully under the sunlight

A lotus flower stained red with the blood of an infant

In the wound, our whole body festers

Or gives off flashes of light, the results are all the same

The wound is forever a fresh color

The unavoidable steel causes me an irreducible grief

The world lines up around the wound written into the characters of different languages

Exalting us or throwing us down, this is of no importance

In the wound, in a drop of blood

We cherish a crippled mentality

Keep it up in daily crystal exercises

In the wound, in a drop of blood

We keep up our daily crystal[14] exercises

The Subject’s Loss [主体的损失] (Jan. 15, 1991; Mount E Prison Camp)

Use a mirror as a metaphor

The subject is a thing untouchable in a mirror

An unresolved thought

Embodying a lot of content, but difficult to grasp

From start to finish contained and not revealed in the mirror

It lets intimate desires keep their freshness

A mirror is a kind of authentic fabrication

The imaginary oriole is more profound in a metaphor

Expecting a sort of miracle opened by the shouts of wild fantasy

To manifest itself, and then you walk into a landscape

Surrounded by music you listen to another strain

Unable to clearly describe the lotus flower behind your lips

We can only be outside the mirror: illuminated by light

Or forever deceived, this isn't the mirror's fault

Facing the mirror is a form of confrontation

Is to lay aside life and confront death

On an abstruse plane the soul looks after itself

One side quiet the other guarded by shields

Or escapes. Let thought slowly crystallize

Watch the flesh rot, with an incomparably steadfast expression

The depth of a mirror is beyond conjecture

Enter a mirror and immediately become part of darkness

The entire life of a poet is spent struggling in a mirror

Mulling over the subtly changing colors of the sky

Seeking the profundity of diamonds

Dreaming of qualities in immortal bronze

(The mirror suddenly catches fire, unexpected flames

Have singed the hair of a generation

The world shatters, having looked into the mirror)

The initial image also disintegrates

one drop of blood castes the mirror itself into doubt

Turn the mirror around

There are no more objects on the reverse side

Separated from metaphors the mirror's merely a piece of glass

But also not less than glass

The glass falls to the ground and is shattered by sunlight

You sustain a serious lifelong loss

The Image Of The Tolerant [忍者意象] (January 26, 1991; Mount E Prison Camp)

Eat Eastern philosophy and attain the Tao of Laozi and the Yellow Emperor

The chrysanthemum of antiquity enters deep into your bone marrow

Subdue the hard with the soft endure all humiliations

But don't believe they humiliate accept his every blow

But don't feel their weight let him laugh

Exist outside your body as a butterfly

You feel the holiness of this wrong decisions are in the hands of others

You can only give in the words are in other people's mouths

Speechlessly you listen attentively allow the attacks to expand

They touch on the soul again a face hangs

Peacefully your thoughts turn to the unfathomable

The image of the tolerant is a tortoise

It draws its head back into its belly allows people to trample it underfoot

You find pleasure in this ponder the suffering of mankind

One hundred times yield a hundred times admit your guilt

One hundred times crawl under the crotch of others

Swallow your last tooth into your stomach

Water is hurt by the stone water surrounds the stone

The beauty of forbearance issues forth brilliance from the inner depths

At crucial moments think of Han Xin[15]

And your conscience is set at ease the word tolerate is a knife in the heart

The heart drips blood and still you talk and joke gleefully

O, the mighty Tolerant!

A Situation Composed of Stones [石头构图的境况] (October 3, 1990;

Mount E Prison Camp)

This is a situation I have never before entered deeply into

It takes violent hold of you. Atop a colossal stone

Rocks containing iron pile up coldly

And form into columns and walls

You have been put between stones

The north, or the south. You sit facing a wall

Dully dreading the blue which seeps out of the silence

This isn't some kind of game of the imagination

At the cost of your life you are on the scene

For all of three years, you must accept these stones

Become one component in this arrangement

Only through murder can you experience that intensity

Forcing itself in on all sides

Compelling you to become small, smaller

Until you skip into a stone and become a form of a thing

Break open a stone and there's still a stone

From wall to wall. From the soul out to the eyes

You have to love these stones, stone people

And stony things, love and be intimate with them

Nod a greeting, sometimes the bumps will leave your head bleeding

Heavier stones on top, occupy commanding positions

You can't look up at them but can sense them at all times

Always so indubitable and brutal

They can smash your body to pieces at any time

The circumstances of the arrangement of stones are like this

Like the dangers to a person entering deeply into a tiger

Pulling teeth in the tigers' mouth then suddenly a tooth aches

Maybe one day you'll obtain a whole tiger skin

Thereby proving your courage and riches

But right now the tiger is biting you, eating you

This non-substitutable plight has damaged you all over

To penetrate a tiger and not be eaten by it

To penetrate a stone and not become a stone

To pass through burning brambles and still be your old self

Requires perseverance. You must hold fast to yourself

Just as the crystal holds fast to the transparency of the sky

The iron stones continue to pile up around you

In the arrangement of stones you light a candle

Illuminating each of your wounds more brightly

The High-stepping Crane And Midget Horse Of The Painter [画家的高蹈之鹤与矮种马]

(November 12, 1990; Mount E Prison Camp)

This is my experimental work. An extraordinary composition

The appearance of an animate or inanimate object on the same piece of metal

A crane is harder to hold than a horse

The undersized and striped type

Within the confines of a fixed circle let it

Take pocket-sized walks. Now draw a patch of lawn

White palings indicate the line of demarcation

Within the confines it fully

Enjoys the sunshine. This is the appearance of things

In the seeable depths, in the very bright shadows

I saw a crane (in a spot a little higher

Than the horse's) circling the glass in a high-stepping dance

Surrounding it is the untitled sky

(A red cock's comb is redder than the first drop of blood from a virgin)

From a viewable object to unseeable radiance

The very variable wings are quickly arranged

Change at its most advanced stage tends toward pure indifference

The horse is eating grass just now

I make it lift its head and take a midget's look up at

The crane in the unseeable depths. The horse can not see it

But it has heard the crane's cry distinctly. The far distant crane

Was once deep inside the horse

This is what I want it to know and strive to remember

(Only the horse once had a high-stepping time

Its hooves stamped back and forth across the sky)

Now the horse seems to have sensed something, it pricks up its ears

And neighs shrilly the once (And so the horse looks a little larger)

But the crane is still in the unseeable depths (I intend

To not let it land) let the crane hang in midair

In accord with my intent

Waiting until the tiny horse walks out from behind its white palings

The crane in the depths will fly brightly by itself out from inside the copper

Chairman Mao Says [毛主席说]

--patterned after "The Country's in Chaos", a verbal drinking game popular in China

(September 20, 1990; Mount E Prison Camp)

Chairman Mao says alcohol's a medicinal potion

Down it and there'll be no loose talk Chairman Mao says again

Revolution is based on self-awareness strip off your own pants and clothes

Chairman Mao also says reform through labour is the same as a day's work

Being killed is the same as sleep Mao continues to say

Masturbation does no harm to society

Is a popular sport beneficial to the health of body and mind

Suited for all round development.....

Elderly honorable Chairman Mao is tired of speaking

He says finally: People of the entire nation --- Shut up!

From The Concrete To The Abstract Bird [从具体到抽象的鸟] (December 1, 1989; in

Xichang city Prison)

Seldom do birds fly by windows here

But the feeling of feathers comes across my face often

This is the concrete bird

Below the high wall, within range of fire

At all times prepared to drop at the sound of a shot

Actually our so-called bird

Is only a kind of posture

From the written word becoming a flying bird

From a bird changing to the written word

Moving to-and-fro between a book and the sky

Occasionally feathers flutter down

The bird becomes a concrete thing

Birds in a book and birds in the sky

Cry out together, fly in the azure sky

The birds grow larger increase in number

Gradually I am unable to hold them

Bird-catching eyes and nets suddenly open

Hairy hands stained with bird sound

From bow and arrow to canister shot is a sort of progress

From wing to wing is a graceful perseverance

Dead birds hide inside books and become written words

Even more birds fly in the sky

Glass that passes beyond time and space

Birds still flying

The bird is a word, but also not a word

Between books and the sky the bird is a sort of hinge

An imaginary shape. After breaking away from substance

We are birds ourselves

The final image emerging in a dream

When birds are injured, fresh blood flows from our eyes

When birds are silent, stones spread through our hearts

In prison I write this poem

With iron upon my body. My face feels

The softness of feathers. I know

Only a concrete bird can be caught and killed

But a pure bird can't be

Because that is merely a kind of abstract flight

Not a bird flying, the sky

The abstract bird is beyond all range of fire

The abstract bird can not be shot dead

After the crack of the gun

The bird still flies

Watching A Candle Ignite [看一支蜡烛点燃] (April 12, 1990; in Xichang Prison)

Nothing is crueler than this

To watch a candle ignite, and then die out

This small course of events shakes a person up

Several fingers part in the candlelight, lift them up

Make an elegant design, deeper grained than a woodcut

I didn't see how the candle was lit

Only remember one sentence, one gesture

The candle flame leaps from this eye to that

More hands are lifted up in the candlelight

At the light's core is the blood and fat of youth

Beams of light in all directions

The entire sky is filled with the face of a dove

Nothing is crueler than this

Watching helplessly the candle about to die, powerless

Shadows concentrated in the candlelight gather around

I can't see clearly their faces and teeth

A thin sound of thunder treading over yellow skin

I never saw how the candle flame died

Only felt the graceful breaking of those arms

The exquisite fracturing of more arms

Wax tears cover the stair

Death creates the coldest landscapes out of summer

After a brilliant twinkle the candle has become ash

Objects shot through by candlelight staunchly darken

To watch a candle ignite, and afterwards die out

Undergoing the greatest cruelty in the world of men

In darkness, I can only, silently, send up this smoke

In A Mood To Detest Iron [厌铁的心情] (October 19, 1990; Mount E prison camp)

Always afraid to return to that night

That moment of flames. In their midst

Let the rush of hot blood ignite your whole body once more

The power of words stirs the lives of the humble

In flames, the square became suddenly very small

By immense passion raised up

And then from a very high place dropped down

The radiant shards turn the eyewitnesses into the blind

There can only be silence

There can only be distant, quiet self-reproach and the flood of tears

The weight of tractor treads crossing over the top of your head

Is beyond experiencing. Who can say

Whether the sound of smashing bones pleases the ear

Crueler iron and steel

Also rolled across your mother's breasts

The abundance of mother's milk dyes the sky an agonizing white

(I'm unwilling to go through that feeling again

Out of death, let each person together with me

Gather up their own face. Agony's rebirth)

Henceforth, that night saturated with iron and steel

Becomes my dementia

In the mood to despise iron I can not speak of fire

Only think of gathering a few stems from tangerines and the like

In a time of no heroes and butterflies

I boil water and talk of cowards. I remember

Then in a certain school in the suburbs

Bells tolling all day, striking the monks all day

We live like this. Just like this

Persistently don't think

Persistently act as if nothing has happened

But irresistibly, in the depths the wound is becoming inflamed

Abruptly breaking off the sound of our laughter

Like this our grief turns us into despicable creatures

Like the water, be like this, without fish

That sky without birds

A structure without meaning. Striking and not striking

All are bells. Sounding and not sounding, all are monks

Vision sheared off by the glass the airplane is vomited gently upward

Just like an unsuccessful abortion

After you've been scooped out

Your whole body is dug down to dullness

Before that night I lived as lightly as a goose feather

After that night I awoke with a heart of dying embers

A Sword’s Inscription [剑器铭] (January 7,1990; in Xichang Prison)

The sword. A sharp implement

The ancients had no choice but to cast it

Sages had no choice but to use it

Occasional use is fine

But it can't be used often

Because the sword is not omnipotent

When a head decidedly drops to the ground

The hand holding the sword

Has already struck

Into a thing more relentless than iron

Thinking Of Ourselves In The Fire Of A Neighboring House [宅之火中想起我

](September 15, 1991; at home in Xichang)

A fire breaks out in the neighboring house, very peaceful flames

Stab painfully at my eyes. Old people and water alarmed in their sleep

Distance doesn't exist, on both sides of the wall

Bread is sliced equally, becoming an authentic fabrication

The reason for fire is beyond bread, beyond

Housing and inflation. A pure aesthetic issue

Unfolding universally, acquires a higher form

A distant fire in the senses burns close by


Burning mightily under the close attention of a multitude of eyes

No audience is indifferent. Each person

Is in the fire, each person in a different state of mind

No longer is this the kind of fire lit in the name of revolution

By a pyromaniac, scorching one from top to bottom

This is the fire of mankind. From arm to arm

From mouth to mouth, infection by skin contact

The forbidden vocabulary of the bloodsuckers appears repeatedly

The largest end-of-century landscape with the power of a thunderbolt


A structure of seventy years. With tangible and intangible

Stones, bayonets, lies and dogma

A painstakingly constructed fortress, crumbling in the fire

This is the last opportunity. Watch the blood of others flow

And yourself moved emotionally, then tears flow, after which feelings flow

Afterwards in sorrowful symphonies silently mourn for three minutes

This is still not enough. Toleration of atrocities is a people's disgrace

We have been shameless for too long, the hair of several generations

Is falling out while waiting, not only lacking iron

But needing a bath of flame. Edifices here and there

Are all the same structure, we can only wreck them from bottom to top

Such a large fire! Tongues and hands burn together

Run in a breath, whether near or far from water its of no use

The fire has reached the roof, the fire burns their eyebrows

In the distance the tallest bell tower topples down with a roar


The immortal founding enterprise in an instant no more

Their catastrophe is our holiday. Express ourselves

With alcohol and expressions of the eyes. Dipped in the blood of the dead paint a bird

Wings which blot out the sky fly toward the blaze

Our high tides or lows, our once extinguished enthusiasm

Hasn't yet cooled to ash. The fire's burning in the distance

The fire is idealized on our bodies. Old people and water

Firmly entrenched in the fortress. The toys of the leader are racing

A ringlike fortress coldly surrounds us

To know iron and steel is brutal, and

To handle one's own life cautiously, this is not cowardly

Follow Zhuangzi and be carefree, be the so-called spark

Burning internally, this is precisely our true situation

Stay low, until the critical moment, and then tell all

Simulating The Language Of The Mute [模拟哑语] (November 11, 1991; in Xichang)

Speak like this: mouth hung open

But unable to utter a sound. Even with the mouth not open

Make your mouth withdraw into your body, eternally sealed

Language becomes the reason for health

Thinking is obstinate in broad daylight

The elegant comportment of silence. To speak or not to speak

Is only a question of attitude

Standing poses its own gesture: stand in the corner facing both walls

Eliminate the sitting lotus. Its very cold in the mountains

Extend your two hands and you'll always touch something

Again a wall. Again it's electrified barbed wire

Each day the stone in the water is growing up

Dreams are moving toward the depths of the day. You are outside the glass

See the changes in your own facial expression are devoid of content

Speak like this: mouth hung open

But unable to utter a sound, better not to open it

An overflowing mouth answers for an eventful summer

A cold and sad beauty keeps the heat in your body

Face the wall and think. As a serial-numbered animal

Acting according to regulations lead your life, eat and drink

Gradually get used to the condition of a deaf-mute

The essential of exercising mute language is not speaking

But getting ready to speak, it must be you who speaks out

The iron-black nature of this century

The sensation of metal is retained and flows in your blood

It reminds you frequently and painfully

The essential of mute language exercises is in speaking

So as to avoid losing the ability to express through disuse

Speak like this, without any object

Speak purposelessly. Copy a mute's

Expressions and actions: exaggerations and details

Combining characteristics, affect being the subject of the verb. Affect

A predicate state. Make sentences according to mood

Speak without the need of lamplight

Simpler even than moving a chair

Its saves energy too. Take away the hand on the glass

Open your eyes, already you're a great master of pantomime

Speechless existence is a state

The trick to it lies between speaking and not speaking

A little audience involvement, embodies a thousand possibilities

A sort of explanation: If one day your tongue is cut out

You may use the language of the mute as your second means of articulation

Night Of The Cat King [猫王之夜] (December 22, 1991; in Xichang)

Night of sliding glass

I saw a cat at the corner of metaphysics

Lift a vigilant tail straight up ready to act at anytime

At this moment all clocks suddenly stop

This is a black cat

Representing total darkness deeper than the most secret impulses

I can't distinguish objective from subjective mutually the cat and the night make up the


Sometimes its one face sometimes its two completely different faces

Each animal species lies hidden within definitions

Only the one-eyed cat king keeps watch the revolving green eye

Sends out a soul-stirring radiance from the pedestal of darkness

Unavoidably we are toppled over

Sometimes feeling fine sometimes totally losing confidence

With a motion not easily detected by us

It imitates the sound of passing water the sound of light the sound of a plant falling to the

earth and sprouting roots

The sound of unseeable objects in midair resisting each other the heart of metaphysics

Is a blank space the cat king occupies the best position

From a height risk-free controls everything with its gem

Its sharp claws catch our skulls and our names its mighty leap

Takes our appetite away hard to settle down

When frightened we sense its magnificence even more insignificant ourselves

When fear scatters the crowd off in all directions

The business of the cat king has climbed to its zenith

Our senses have all been sucked out

Our bodies sprout pine needles bird feathers and wild animal fur

I know the relationship between this cat and me

A contract signed by others repaid by me an arbitrary debt

The fish bone stuck in my throat has two sharp ends I spit blood and live

From the blue of the tiger interpret the origin of things

Until a piano opens up the skylight and is speaking bright words

Then I roll in from the metaphysical depths to my own body

That cat alone remains in back of the glass night

Each night I am kept incontinent by his deep-set gem

The Hungry Years [饥饿之年][16] (March 12, 1992; in Xichang)

Very few people know how you live

Those days of anti-materialism have passed lightly by

A peculiar sensation in the stomach

Runs throughout the writing of this poem tighten the trouser belt

Appease your hunger with the bread of women and imagination

Fart like there's nobody around (there is food in poetry)

You possess the world's best cereals and wheat

A gourmet meal of the imagination still unfinished

But pushed aside for other reasons the search for reasons to console myself

A wry smile there are no endless feasts under heaven

When writing the climax I always get cold sweats

When out of bullets and food I silently recite the works of Mencius[17]

As if that gentleman were an empty-bellied me

Spitting acidic juices on one hand and on the other waiting for an important appointment to

fall from heaven

Actually there isn't any extraordinary reason

Only the writing of a few poems editing a magazine

Called Not-Not published irregularly

Like this, art getting the better of the stomach makes hunger

A fashion laid out in a column

It makes more people imitate and go through it

The holiness and honour of going hungry for art

Anyway I'm still young while it is tempered with words

The stomach is damaged no pain

Just because of the delusion created by a slight case of dropsy

Everybody says you look strong and stout have a fairly rich life

Until American handcuffs imported together with freedom of thought

Are clapped on your hands then someone discovers

Among the many rich and poor mouths crying out in hunger

You are starved into becoming the most patriotic on the mountain

You gnaw on roots of plants drink the north-east wind

Come out with an altered physique more room in your stomach

You leaf through unfinished poems and your entire body goes cold

Since coming into the world you've used the energy of a lifetime to write one poem

And still you have not finished can't give up on it half way

Take poverty as a pure prerequisite

To be experienced (let others play about with Qigong[18] and consumer goods)

You tighten your belt persevere to the end with art

The wife serves extremely clean and tidy meals everyday

There are always problems that lie low in the sunlight

Causing you to dwindle away like an immortal Taoist you abhor eating meat and fat

The wife says I think you'd best become a Buddhist monk

You say your ties to the world are not broken yet wait till this poem's done

When your mind's at ease you'll become a Buddha on the spot

The Way Of The Hand [手的方式][19] (March 7, 1992; in Xichang)

No hand of mine

Forever unwilling to cut itself off from my body

Breath heavier than a shadow

Oppressing each body part

From mouth to lungs then to the four limbs

Allowing you no reckless movement

Your spirit ought to be still more sensitive

It wants to go get far, far away

To a place where their whips are not long enough to reach

Beyond the scope of games laid on by the hand

Limited to thought only excursions of imagination

Just doing this alone is also very dangerous

More real than a knife edge are the feelers in the hand

Sharper they stick into the heart of dreams

Know everything don't ever let a

Detail go and speed like hawks and falcons

From the sky keep watch over the movements of a rabbit

It lurks in every place you might possibly go

It lurks in plainclothes, collar turned up long ago

It took only the fall of that fatal blow

And everything was lost with you kicking up a stink for half a year

They give you an out or they carry it out over an extended sentence

Carry out a manhunt as long as your life against you

Since you're not to be killed immediately the hand is certainly showing no lenience

Out of each day's terror you learn by experience

The patience and cruelty of a cat toying with a mouse

The magnificent efficiency of machines a hand still colder than iron

A wall away it cooks raw rice to a tenderness it smears

Your name in black on a list

And draws a thick red line[20] through it these are no idle hopes of persecution

The barbed wire running in and out of life and the mobile walls

Force you to back into a book for self defense

To hold out for the last few isolated words and phrases

The light from the hand points at all things inclusively

If you come out of the water there is a mesh of the fish's internal net

If you escape out of the sky there's a deadly target range for flying birds

Open the classics and find oppressive chapters

Violence and persecution aimed at thought

During each day's meals the illusory shadow of the hand

Even begins to interfere with your stomach and intestines

Suppresses your appetite

The urge for sex rapidly sinks into paralysis

Premature hair loss and forced sleep nightly

Leave behind the mark of the hand a element in the callousness of metal

Like the beauty of an omnipresent tiger

The structured control of the crystal the theme's

Control of characters the poet's concrete form

Can't shake off the abstraction of control theory

The hand tosses and turns makes you laugh bitterly wildly

Taste all the sweet sour bitter spice of the human world

At the last not knowing whether to laugh or cry you finally understand

It turns out that a national chess champion is matched up against you

The imperiousness of the hand the rhetorical shape of violence

Unavoidable defeat as inevitable

Outcome better to live by the way of the hand

As a show of submission slice into the depths of time

Use silence as an indirect reply

Under the hand's pressure and influence

This poem can have two endings ----

­First you think of living in seclusion study the examples of ancient poets

Behind a chrysanthemum (no mountains for the hermit

All mountains have been nationalized)

You have to stay in your original place not thinking

Change from a mute into an idiot

Sit forgetting under

An unmindful tree without beginning without end (Ending #1)

Or peal off your tense skin throw yourself

Toward the light from behind armour plate

Catch hold of the hand with no body temperature

Let your blood flow smear it all over the palms

In the final testimony of this century force it

To leave behind a bloody print (Ending #2)

There are always painful privacies in the game of compulsion

You must act as if nothing has happened

On an irregular chessboard

Continue your match against the shapeless hand

Fire-Bath Sensations [火浴的感](March 23, 1992; in Xichang)

No more a bird. Get rid of that element in the metaphor

In man's name step directly into the center of the flames

A naked body. At the non-mythical level of meaning

Taste the flames. Savor a pure-gold enthusiasm

Enveloped by a greater enthusiasm, or the fire-extinguishing

Baptisms and devotions. The subject and the non-subject

Are separated only by a wall, the distance of a footstep. He

And I, two absolutely different kinds of flame

On the tongue of a flame experience your own flesh

Much more realistic than watching others set fire to their fingers

The smell of burnt skin, the smell of well-done meat

The greatest significance of excessive agony, is not to know pain

Inside a very small flame, the faces distorted by a great distress

Mutual barbarity, mutual blood-letting, mutual betrayal

Reciprocal snowstorms. In the heart of the flames

It's so cold you give off smoke. The fire's penetrations change endlessly

A resolute siege and slaughter. Thought

Is unadulterated darkness. The white of a pure blue flame

The red of a flag. The transparency of bloodless killing

You read the biographies of great personages a hundred times and still can't attain the sublime

Can't find any sense of the phoenix

Or even its feathers. What's harder than iron is fire

The perfect opportunity for self-refinement. The crucial moment

Blood pressure rises high. Consciousness at arm's length

The teeth of fire nibble your hair white

Like the ashes of finest charcoal one by one. Radiance

Consumed by silver. In the flames life tends toward purity

A resolution that overpowers all other thought. Neither restless nor hot

Inside the fire you shake off the fire, return to the core life-force

The initial position. Tempered into steel, or

Tempered into essence. Water evaporating in high temperatures

None of these portray your condition at this moment

Better to return to your original idea. Shake off the ashes

From the flames not a phoenix

But a crow is reborn, a gleam of complete black

Third Generation Poets[21] [第三代诗人] (February 28, 1991;

in a blizzard at Mount E Prison Camp)

A mob of refined thugs under the dictatorship of words

Isolated for too long in this year finally raises the flag of revolt

They held an antipathetic position toward the faces of gentle sincere poets

Pee on them Causing neatly ordered China

To sink into prolonged chaos these are the third generation poets

A generation that blows its own trumpet declares itself a revolution

A from-bottom-to-top insurrection within the limits of language

Smashes the old world to pieces fabricates lots of rare nouns and verbs

Blackens or gilds its own face and no one applauds ever

The third generation's perception of itself is grand they think their golden light is great

All around the country for a long time they write first rate poems read second rate books

Indulge in third rate women as bandits make a permanent name for themselves

They possess the insight to recognize heroes a word from Brother Yaobang[22]

And third generation poets come up from the underground looking deathly pale

Sit in the central hall of the propaganda bureau and sing a folk song for the Party to hear

They spit out a gutful of acid and bitterness the gentleman died for. the sake of his intimates

Those who shouldn't die get out first the third generation poets were suicidally grieved

They swore to carry out the behest of Brother Yaobang unfettered to the end

In this way the third generation poets understood that inviting guests to a meal is not revolution

They learned to talk dirty be cynical to curse the mothers of others

Upper strata in China's sky switched back and forth third generation poets

Often caught cold or got sick they became hypersensitive and careful

Too many unmentionable taboos the only escape is poetry

The third generation poets changed into clean clothes on the ivory surface

Played games with no rules remote from the heart, the body and the blood

Or imitated the forms of the ancients wrote poetry by moonlight wrote poetry

With chrysanthemums wrote some very delicate words from red

To white enthusiasm gradually degenerates to the zero degree of language

The third generation poets lived very poorly eating the cooked food in the world of men

Speaking a common language sitting in teahouses sipping tea enjoying

The jasmine blend Marx said a non-worker didn't deserve to eat

Third generation poets rely on their old ladies for food but write only for mankind

So with an easy conscience they smash the iron rice bowl of marriage

The third generation poets have made many gorgeous mistakes

Pursuing Freud they go deep into the tips of women's tongues and vaginas

Expend too much semen in imagining these which results in a great deficiency of Yang[23]

The third generation poets love parts of Mao Zedong a kind of peasant simplicity

And impulse ambition for a dynastic change in poetry is unconscious

It's merely the feeling that there's a fart to let fly and doing so it leaves the fragrant flowers and

poisonous weeds to others

Fettered by the roots of the imagination stick in the knife, shut off the water or

Expose it even more crudely to prove the purity of their blood line

The third generation reads Zhuangzi the Yijing[24] they tend toward mysticism

Or forced mysticism make use of the eight diagrams and practice divination have one palm


And learn a way to deceive others swindle friend and foe

Afterwards enter into a state of Qigong[25] the location of the Dantian is of little importance

The sitting posture is the key you have to create the appearance of understanding and


Deliver a few sentences of informed opinion on counterculture and then believe you've

achieved The Way

Of course alcohol must be drunk and even more must be eaten an entire generation

Lives this way in a mix of truth and lies the sounds of praise and condemnation forever in their


The facial expressions of the third generation poets do not change their hearts do not leap they

still write first rate poetry

Read second rate books smoke cheap cigarettes and indulge in third rate women

After passing over a thousand mountains and ten thousand rivers the third generation poets

Are forging out true achievements Then suddenly they're shot down by a birding gun

And become wonderful fragments of a tragedy just as they successfully complete their

magnanimous opus

Bei Dao and Gu Cheng crossed the sea to join the ranks of the outsiders the third generation


Remain in China and continue the war of resistance they learn silence

Learn to run away from home are heroes and cowards at the same time

They learn to sit in jail cells express themselves vehemently in prison refuse to admit quilt

and repent

They learn banishment learn to do hard labor their heads shaved bald

They change their way of life under the hammer and sickle

Zhou Lunyou served his sentence on the slopes of Mount E Liao Yiwu and Li Yawei

Stood trial in Chongqing Shang Zhongmin wrote self-criticisms in Chengdu

Yu Jian gave a name to a blackbird in Yunnan the third generation poets

Scattered like monkeys when the tree fell

in ten years time we'll judge the crimes

and merits of these thousand autumns

The Rhetoric Of Violence [暴力的修辞]

-- the second cycle of the Knife's Edge series

Immortality [不朽] (November 4, 1992)

He understood from the start

This was no ordinary stone

Bright smooth concealing a bewildering charm

An ardent lifelong love pours into this icy beauty

Already he can't remember from what day

And for what reason he came to love this stone

Perhaps his initial intent was to carve a work of art

A relationship with matter changing from antagonistic to intimate

In his experience

This was a novel event

Inclined to action the hands rose up and dropped down

Each time he underwent this kind of failure

He felt some loss of vitality

And the stone was still a stone no more

No less precisely in its original image

He thought this stone cannot be changed

Thinking this way he felt somewhat comforted

But he could not give it up the bright stone

Tempted him to add or take away a little something

Or else he would be drained by the stone's silence

And reduced to being a construct a sentence of suspended words

Ridiculed by later generations again he screws up courage

The moment it touches the stone the diamond's cutting edge is damaged

The hands refuse to budge

A taste of marble suddenly enters his life

Starting from his tongue the stone spreads to the four limbs

Only consciousness is awake striving to save

A hand from paralysis or a leg

The stone continues on down hands have lost feeling

Legs without feeling wide spreading whiteness

The stony feeling of the face thickens layer by layer

Consciousness completely lost

Already you can't tell him apart from the stone

Squeezed out from his ass after a drop of quicksilver

The last of his body temperature drops to zero

"Perhaps ..... immortality is sculpted ..... like this"

One last flash of an idea

Then the effort is abandoned

The statue of the artist

Is done

Dye-Works Co. & The White Sunflower [染料公司与白向日葵](December 30, 1992)

Those are non-manufactured things

Dyes of unspeakable colors mixed up

In a room piled full of scrap metal (an abandoned warehouse)

In the shady half-light of this sticky state of affairs

People of indifferent faces are washing lumps of coal

(But there's no water) some women are reeling silk

A little to the left on a cement floor

Many tightly-sealed cans irregularly arranged

An unfamiliar male face states coldly

"This is the dye-works company I invented"

I remember passing through several guarded entrances to get in

Naturally the examination of ID and similar procedures were unavoidable

A sunflower insignia was pinned to the chests of all the people there

Its overly large design made wearers appear somewhat ill at ease

But real sunflowers were growing in those cans

And they all bore white flowers

(I didn't know if they had only blossomed when I came in or were always blooming)

They were a rare white color

In the shady half-light of that oppressive atmosphere

They had the illuminating effect of a lamp

Logically speaking I should be able to see the sign at the entrance

The interior of the company is affiliated with a brewery

Now those people wearing insignia begin to mark time

The sunflowers emit an even stranger white water begins to gurgle

Mixing together with the scrap metal, this sticky situation

Thoroughly muddles my mind

I can't remember why it is I came here

I'm struggling to recall. The door behind closes softly

Another unfamiliar male face states coldly

"Those sunflowers are the trademark of this reputable company"

Open the Dictionary of Dream Interpretation to page 65 no dye-works entry

Under sunflower it says: A portent of danger

The Stone In The Mirror [镜中的石头] (December 24, 1992)

A mirror in any room

Held by a fictitious hand, represents the spirit's

Classical form. The bright mirror pane

Passes over some noble objects, then moves off

The theme of the stone is written out by hand

And becomes the most striking image. Compel the mirror

To retreat to its initial non-aesthetic state

A stone drowned by water, or a stone emerging after water subsides

Internal matter subverts a drop of quicksilver

As an accomplice the hand is investigated first

The stone is inscribed repeatedly; soon after, it grows roots

Surmounting two-dimensional limits, approaching the concrete

Make dignified faces withdraw from the mirror

In accordance with demands the background is reduced to a minimum

Stones disrupt order, then establish order

Far more than ideas, but all along beneath the mirror

A finite circle is suggested and enlarged

More stones grow in geometric progression

Swell the mirror full, or cause it to change shape

The stone written by the hand breaks away from the hand

Becomes the acquired part of the mirror, undeniable

Even more immovable. In the depths of quicksilver

All high-stepping is reduced to one fabrication

In the stone the mirror meets up with another hand

Externally representing the hardship and deprivation suffered by light

The stone penetrates deeply into glass, directly becoming

An alternative meaning of the mirror. A drop of quick silver

Quietly boils under sunlight. Excited or calm

The mirror cannot change the stone's intent

The stone shatters the mirror, providing an excellent reason

For me to abandon writing

Painting Fish Like The Eight Great Masters[26] [仿八大山人画](February 22, 1993)

This kind of fish has already been painted by man for hundreds of years

From the Ming and Qing dynasties on down, no new ideas have reached canvas

Only the brush strokes change, the search for a small variation among the pleasing options of


Above all, this fish's eyes must be square

(The idea determined by the artist's hatred for the world and its ways)

A lattice work of the net is a projection of the fish's limited freedom

Some post-modernist additions must now be put in

Paint one eye only, or one black eye one white

With a little of the aloofness and indifference of the literary types from the renowned Wei-Jin


A very casual stroke and the fish mouth is open

It disgorges a string of bubbles, the fish's vitality on display

Of course it won't do not to have fins. You should also remember

This is a literati fish addicted somewhat to cleanliness

(Possessing certain features of ancient Eastern culture)

Therefore the water must be extremely limpid, seemingly invisible

Making it ever a fish out of water

Just like Zhuangzi's transcendental state

Now paint a few lotus leaves, a dragon fly, half a lotus flower

(Representing the artist's moral character which emerges unsullied from the mud)

At this point the fish swims happily among lotus leaves

To the left paint a craggy stone, use the appropriate light-ink stroke method

You want to draw out the stone's dark green moistness, now add a few strokes of fragrant


As to whether or not the plum blossoms outside the painting have bloomed or not, the fish

takes no notice

In this way an imitative fish is basically completed

(The inscription of a poem, the affixing of a seal remains to be done)

This was all very appropriately done by the ancients

Now I attempt to dissociate the fish from the ink and Xuan paper[28]

And swallow a little salt and silt with plain ordinary water

Half a fish has emerged, the other half remains in the Song dynasty

The part in touch with reality immediately decomposes and stinks

The remaining half-fish still plays on the Xuan paper

Dividing the artist's heart and head harshly into two halves

The fish sees itself cut open in the middle by a hand

When I feel the pain, I have experienced the keenness of the same knife

Thirteen Lines Of Symmetry [称十三行] (December 28, 1992)

The angler sits on his own on a round stone

A clear stream runs below, his eyes fill with the mist and sound of water

Fitted with a inlaid-silver saddle my horse

Crosses the plank bridge, off on his long journey to the under world

The angler casts his hook into the water

An unbaited hook, he only angles for fish doomed to be caught

My horse travels on ancient paths in autumn winds

to echoes of Shang and Zhou,[29] not the imperial city of my dreams

The angler hooks mountains and rivers, his aspirations lie beyond fish

Covered by cuts and bruises my horse still moves staunchly on

Angling, the man forgets the stream. He is transfused with the brilliance of the moon

My horse journeys into the setting sun joining the ageless herd

The horse travels on in the fullness of the moon. The angler is turned to stone

The Scholar’s Hand [读书人的手] (November 12, 1992)

The scholar's hand, a hand which takes up pens and writes essays

Sometimes props up the head in a thinker's pose

As self-styled as the hand which rules the land and pacifies all under heaven

A hand without the strength to string up chicken. In the face of powerful authority

It persists in pacifism, earnestly practicing what it preaches

Conscientiously signing the arrest warrant C.O.D.

On one's own behalf holding the hands out for handcuffs to be slapped on

(The entire process is somewhat less than moving and tragic

Recalling a certain film you can't help laughing)

The following procedures are also carried out in this way

To receive a body search. You loosen your belt and shoelaces

Hold up your pants with your hand, loudly shout "Reporting in"

Day and night recite the ten prison regulations, lock each in your mind

Gradually grow accustomed to the toilet bucket, piss and shit on schedule

The hand of the scholar, the hand that fights only on paper

The intellectual didn't rebel but is found guilty of rebellion

Yet the hand is reluctant to write an appeal. Since it's incapable

Of chopping through nails and cutting through iron, there is only glad acceptance

With the effort necessary to empty-handedly wrest hold of a bare sword, control your

movements, control anger

Control every philosophical or literary mood, control all possibly

Injurious pride, character and self-respect

Focus the mind on the navel. Keep your last piece of foundation safe

In the depths beyond the reach of power, enter into deep thought

Restrain sexual urges, hunger and the desire for freedom

The trees holding out by the green hillside contain fire

The axe gleams. Placed in mortal danger but surviving

The scholar's hand, the hand which comments on poetry and literary work

Only waits to write fine essays which leave a reputation for eternity

The hand which will never stop unless its own words shock

The hand which yields to the good, the warm, the reverent and the frugal. Under the iron fist of


Begins to change, from the bones to the heart

After this type of experience, change comes as no surprise

The hand reaches out, fingertips suffused with a blue sheen

And a pair of eagle's talons sprout from the face of the dove

Forced Heroism [被迫的英雄] (March 10, 1993)

Seldom have you thought of what great task you might undertake in this life

Being a hero is a very dangerous thing, blood might even flow

And you've always been cowardly, fearful of death, oversensitive to pain

Well aware that you don't have the stuff of heroes

So all you can do is write inconsequential words

That win you an undeserved reputation in literary circles

Sometimes you are forced to be a hero

It's not a matter of what you want, but what is wanted of you

A slip by God's pen is viewed as an immortal masterpiece

He knows this, and has to go along with it

When this type of situation is encountered explanations are superfluous

It's best to give in, make the sham more real

Your current circumstances are just like this

Plainly you're from the audience out front of the. stage, yet they insist

You are an actor (explanations are not permitted)

Because of a little extra bravery, they also give you three years

In the interlocking cracks of the tiger's teeth they make you

Go through something that smacks of being violated

To seem more like a hero, you forcibly raise your spirits

Eat into and swallow hunger and humiliation

Bones are pushed to the forefront, get to take

The most impeccable attack. Memories tainted by blood

Make your wounds appear really moving

No one will say your suffering is unreal

You must suffer still. To look the more like a hero

Your hair has gone very gray over this past year

Autobiography, Page 39 [39] (March 20, 1993)

There will always be unimaginable things

Like being trampled to death in a nightmare by ants

Having the crown of your head smashed open by a leaf on a walk

Or to fall as a peace envoy

Under the guns of two opposing armies. All this seems

Absurd, but actual events

Show that the power of the absentee is stronger than man

You can't avoid the unavoidable. You are doomed

To sharpening the piercing pain of the knife

It has long been hanging icily, crosswise, in front of you, sublime

Or silly acts, eagerness which has destroyed

Many heroes, points its finger at your name next

Despite you hiding your identity, you are still picked

You can't say what kind of feeling this is

A trivial thrill that contains enormous amusement

Also the edginess and anxiety of a virgin on her first night

Anyway, no solemn, tragic feelings about why you give your life

You really feel like laughing, but amidst vague irrelevant generalities

You let fly a silent, self-mocking fart

Furthermore Mencius says he who courts disgrace is blessed by good luck

Before heaven will bestow great tasks upon you, you have to

Undergo a modicum of physical pain (including hunger)

Also there's Mao's saying that bad things become good

Thus your conscience is clear, and you tell yourself

Bending to the will of Heaven is never wrong

After great affliction just one year is left in the three year sentence

A miracle has yet to happen. But you've learned to pick tea

And understand silence is golden. You learn that your name is on a list

Of prisoners a foreign prime minister asks to be released, and Li Peng says

This person doesn't exist. Immediately afterwards you are set free

The day you leave prison, "Zhou Lunyou was here!"

You write on the cell wall to commemorate your stay

An incident. Not good, but really not so bad

Life turns to page 39. No tracks are left in the snow

Berlin Wall Postscript [柏林倒塌后] (April 19, 1993)

A brick from the Berlin wall, left by the widely-travelled

Hand of a friend for me, set on my writing desk in the study

On the other side of the sea the friend's face smiles slightly

Everyday the brick confronts me with attitudes of the cold war

Often causing me to sense a certain danger in my calm

The Berlin wall has fallen. I should believe this

The memento on the desk is an excellent testimonial

That true collapse happens from inside the edifice

Later it cannot withstand even the gentle push of a child

The wall's coming down marks the end of an era

But the brick remains. Those bricks on which doves and olive branches

Are drawn turn into murals, those that become souvenirs are transported

All over the world by tourists, like this one on my desk

No one notices anymore that the blood of the dead

Is in the colors of these bricks; a dent where the thinker's skull was dashed

I read Orwell so as to forget this unpleasantness

The book becomes very heavy, each page piled full of stones

The book continues to get larger, it bears down maliciously upon me

Pinning me down within a word. At the same time weighing this brick again

In my hand life's alarm makes the nerves in the freed horse twitch

Peace has become a self-mockery of words

Synonymous with appeasement, acquiescence and the indulgence of atrocities

The wall is down, the brick won't be looked into again. I saw

Deformed hands indicate approval or opposition in the legislature

The Berlin Wall has fallen, but the bricks are blameless

Its easy to indict everything on the fallen wall

Exactly like squeezing it all into the one organization that can't appear in court

Is this really all? No bricks

So none of the wall's tyranny; just as if there was no wall no imprisoning

But they laid the Berlin wall with these bricks one by one

As long as bricks exist, it's possible it may be erected again anytime

Each frustrated brick cherishes the intention of the wall

They only need one great gaffer to rise up and call out

The bricks will muster together, an iron squad once more

A hundred times the ill-will, cut deeper than the wound yesterday

.....Clearly I have been ripped apart by a hand

Behind the high wall, mouth stopped by a brick

Wantonly humiliated. Under a fluorescent light I can't hear

My breath or the heartbeat on the right side of my body. From summer

Until winter of the second year, my heart hurt continually

The Berlin wall has fallen, but the bricks still exist

There are walls still which have not. Right now on the ruins of the wall

A last stand is made by some very square bricks

I can see the bricks' efforts, and have reached a conclusion

Once they have wrecked a wall, they should also demolish the bricks

The Dimension Of Silence [沉默之] (April 30, 1993)

Cast off symbols of glory, let your name be withdrawn

From books, return to life's minimal state

Keep company with the silent roots of words. Persevere beneath the knife's blade

The final shred: Poetry which has survived

Calamity, the right to daydream

Just at this moment the zebra appears

The black and white animal of deep thought: very large, very bright and beautiful

On its back stands a crow

Always it mysteriously runs off before I get near

A dove-faced girl sets fire to herself within the bronze mirror

Becoming the secret anguish of your heart, kept at arms length

Shards of glass persevere in their necessary brilliance

Let my writing prove living is important

What is food? What is Sartre?

The attack of commodities is gentler than violence, more personal

Also more savage, giving impetus to a complete nervous breakdown

Turn off the lights outside the window, read thirst-quenching waters

The stripes of the zebra spread into my sleep

Making me unable to set my mind at ease, I practice meditation

Sit facing a wall, or walk on the wings of the crow

Prolonging my ignoble existence in the fashion which approaches death most closely

The piano's fingers consume too much moonlight

And develop shadows within light. That zebra

Is waiting for me in the pain of the wound, the crow on the zebra's back

Quietly burns on sunset's canvas

They are all fed on rarefied air, so they are very light

And run very quickly. Behind the mirror image

Is an empty, continuous, brighter silence

Death cannot see me, but I can see

Those hyenas prowling around the zebra

The crow's beak pierces the rotting meat of time

Opening the text up, my silence

Plunges straight in, grappling with the world

The white boned hatred of several generations

Flashes phosphorescently. The air begins to stiffen

I know I am already too close to it

Keep watch for a few steps more. Cross over the elephant's wide savannah

When the zebra appears, the crow's cry

Will blow down these living buildings

Round Table [圆桌主题] (May 3, 1993)

A table has four corners

When one corner is cut away, how many are left?

-- A child's intelligence test

That three corners remain is wrong. And when two corners are cut off

My answer is to grind the hypothetical knife even sharper

Now chop off another corner. Cut off four corners

Cause the fixed answer to be continually postponed

In adult games the problem of the table disappears

Continue cutting off ascending and descending numbers of corners

Afterwards put down the cherished knife; control motion with stillness

Watch how a square table becomes round

I must cut again. The table isn't round enough yet

A sharp implement put to non-violent ends

A hand that grows up on hate drunk on one drop of blood

Passing over the deep of a wound, blossoms of its own

A fruit-pit sprouts swiftly from the stone

From within it produces a change in the nature of the table

Time revolves and rotates, carrying the table along

A knife so prodigious as not to make the flesh bleed

To cut away off corners is to cut away direction

The place of honor, the difference between the government and the people; to cut off


Confrontation and enmity; permanent, unchanging unity

Stop the blood letting, set up the conditions for harmony

Have old foes shake hands wage peace, killers

Lay down their butcher knives, victims forget pain

The overbearing learn to compromise, share and yield

Gradually they are weaned to peaceful coexistence with unfamiliar thought

Of course this is merely my own private wish

To finish a round table requires the work of several generations

With the meticulousness of a worker in platinum cutting and repeatedly polishing a form

Like a quick thought caught by a poet

A miracle fashioned out of nothing. So a round table such as this

Is gently lifted up by a feather

The dark shadow of a dove puts out the flame of hate

In a revolution, soft as velvet, it is softly done

While writing this poem, my mind is at peace

Those things outside the window (slaughter, prison and war)

Are forgotten for a time. I'm only concerned with the satisfactory

Presentation of a theme, that more people know and understand

The necessity of a round table; matter of life and death. A table

Turns with difficulty, shifting off of the blueprint into the sunlight

The speakers sit equal around the round table

Discuss, cross swords, cut no one to the quick

Talking About Revolution [谈谈革命]

-- In imitation of a particular ideological discourse (April 14, 1993)

Inviting guests to dinner is not revolution.....

---- Mao Zedong

Chairman Mao said only the half of it about revolution

I'll supply the remaining half

First I want to say: This topic of revolution is very big

Very broad, we can't get a grasp of it

We can only see a color (which makes us remember

That the blood of revolutionary martyrs did not flow in vain)

Red is the representative color of revolution. Ergo the red flag

Is red, the red scarf is red, the revolutionary

Soldier's heart is red, the red sun is red

Looking at it in other ways, revolution is

The loudest volume, the most sublime thing

All commendatory terms plus the best adjectives

Throw in the adverbs too, the bright side and the brilliance of language

Revolution is really big (mighty upright far-reaching grand lofty

The Great Leap Forward big character posters mass criticism the Great Cultural Revolution)

When a word is preceded by revolution that word

Takes on a highfalutin sound, like "revolutionary action"

Looting becomes a righteous act

Also the "two hands of revolution":[30] Conspiracy becomes an overt act

Treachery becomes virtue, it triumphs over honesty and intelligence

Anything can be said in the name of revolution

And it becomes irrefutable truth, not open to doubt

Revolution + romanticism = revolutionary romanticism

Revolution + realism = revolutionary realism

Putting the two ism's together is the equivalent of revolution's gear

And screw, positive propaganda, the main melody

Primarily consecration, the three stresses, laughter is better than tears

Light vanquishes dark. These are all

Basic principles of revolution, inviolable

Born into New China, nurtured beneath the red flag

You and I grew up drinking the milk of revolution

Of course we know what revolution is. Revolution is

Instantly effective when using the class struggle, when the three great mountains[31]

Are toppled, we stamp another foot down on them

A million feet, teach them that they will never stand again

Revolution is a political campaign, incite masses to struggle against masses

Fight yourself: Ruthlessly struggle against fleeting thoughts of the word "private"

Revolution is revolt to its greatest degree (combat imperialism combat revisionism

Combat leftism combat rightism combat liberalization combat peaceful evolution)

Only revolution cannot be opposed (counter revolution carries a death penalty)

This way of saying it is still too abstract, let me explain

More concretely: Revolution is to examine ancestry back three generations

There is theory of class status, but not theory of the unique importance of class origins[32]

Revolution is "the people" running the show (but not in a position to decide anything)

One's entire life given over for the Party to arrange. Revolution is

Land distributed to poor and lower-middle peasants[33] (and taken back again)

Revolution is state monopoly over purchasing and marketing, food from the big pot

Politics in command, all people soldiers. What's understood

Must be carried out, and the incomprehensible must be carried out too

Revolution is overt plotting, is to lure the snakes out of their nests

Especially to attack snakes with eyeglasses (the more knowledgeable

The more reactionary) Revolution is the East wind prevailing over the West Wind

Its "asking for instructions in the morning", "reporting back in the evening", the fandango of


Mao's quotations sung. Its Attention Long Live Chairman Mao To the right Dress

Down with Liu Shaoqi[35] Look to the front Forever loyal to Chairman Mao

To the left Turn Forever loyal to the revolutionary line of Chairman Mao Quick

March Respectfully wish Chairman Mao the Great Leader a life of ten thousand years

A LIFE OF TEN THOUSAND YEARS Respectfully wish Chairman Mao's close comrade

In arms vice-Chairman Lin[36] Good Health Forever Healthy FOREVER HEALTHY

Revolution is to stay close in step, it's to set a pole in the ground and see its shadow

It's Chairman Mao's words, one sentence worth ten thousand

Not only do cadres have to study the three essays,[37] soldiers must also study

An all-conquering way of thinking, a line

Forever correct. Chairman Mao waves and I advance

Revolution is a vast world which tempers red hearts

Its to recall past suffering and to think of present happiness, to remember the diabolically evil,

old society

To adore New China even more. Its Lei Feng[38]

Wang Jie, Yang Zirong, Ouyang Hai, Guo Jianguang

Just before dying the hero raises his arm in salute and shouts:

"Long Live Chairman Mao! The diary is under the pillow....."

Revolution is Xier not becoming Huang Shiren's concubine[39]

The ignominiousness of Wang Debiao as a traitor.[40] Li Yuhe

Before departing drinking a bowl of wine to his mother, Thank you Ma![41]

Heroes always fall beneath the same pine tree

Accompanied by The Internationale, there's no pain

The final victory must surely be ours

Revolution is not to allow monsters and demons to act and speak carelessly

Much less allow them to fart! Class warfare must be stressed day in day out

Month in month out year in year out (with regard to farting

Only later did we hear that it is beneficial to mind and body)

Now the wording is different: one center two points[42]

Class struggle must still be stressed. Revolution is to

Emancipate thought, seek truth from facts, not to wrong good people

Initially it gave you hats to wear,[43] now it gives you redress

All is correct, all is revolutionary necessity

Correcting one's own mistakes is the equivalent of making no mistakes

Revolution is "dichotomy",[44] and the "seventy-thirty ratio"[45]

Results are of paramount importance. Don't get cocky

(Being more correct than chairman Mao is in itself an error)

Revolution is the reimportation and sale of exports, defective goods

Sold to Chinese, don't worship foreign things

With foreigners you can transcend ideology

Not with nationals. or in other words

Peacefully coexist with imperialism, with the people

Under no circumstances be soft-hearted! This is called distinguishing between domestic and


Government policy and tactics are the life of the Party, now

There's no need to recite them, but they must continue to be carried out

The East Wind did not prevail over the West Wind, but

Certainly will never be overwhelmed by the West Wind. Future prospects

Are bright, the road is torturous

Revolution is like feeling for rocks with your feet while wading across a river, suddenly left[46]

Suddenly right, it's difficult to avoid paying some tuition

Its all a matter of dressing warmly and eating one's fill. A comparatively well-off level of

living. Double it and double that again

Now we need to lengthen our strides a bit

Revolution is to get things moving, for a second time

Distribute land to the farmers (no change for fifty years)

Its all the people going into business. A stockholding system. A market economy

Revolution is changing from agricultural to non-agricultural producer, the "54321 Office"

(Five stresses four beauties three ardors two civilizations brought together as one)[47]

Possessing Chinese characteristics. Casual pissing and shitting is not allowed

But of a billion people nine hundred million gamble. Saunas at public expense

Blind wandering of the unemployed. Syphilis. Sexual diseases spread widely

Is revolution surnamed "socialist" or "capitalist", it's hard to say

Don't argue anymore. Together a11 the people of the land look to money

Ultimately revolution is an issue about cats

I approve of this way of saying it: white cat black cat

If it catches mice it's a good cat.[48] Finally I want to say

Revolution is buying a cat over an open sack

Revolution is catching the mice

Red Writing红色写作

The 1992 Arts Charter or The Principles of Not-Leisurely Poetry

Time cuts a hole in a fresh subject

The place where blood unceasingly flows is a new start

--- from [拒绝的姿态]

  1. White Writing And Leisureliness


Chinese poetry has just passed through a period of White Writing. In unprecedented numbers and over a wide range of subjects, the feeble-minded have written many words that have been forgotten as soon as they were read: cowardly, pallid literary works of an indifferent nature, lacking in creativity and of pretentious surface refinement. Defeated and scattered in all directions from the center of being. A dispersal without a core. Drifting, rootless words crowding and jostling against each other. In the guises of idle talk, hermits, hippies, ruffians..... endlessly trivial, insipid and empty. Deliberately avoiding the masters and their works, in fear of or without the courage to pursue profundity and power. Passing white turnips off as ivory tusks to avoid real and fabricated dangers. To the weak rhythms of elevator music, a generation of poets forms into meandering rows and uses a limited vocabulary to imitate one another and themselves repeatedly and collectively. Persistent repetitiveness and inadequacy have made triviality and mediocrity the universal characteristics of an entire period of poetry.


This is only an outward impression. In the midst of this cacophony we discover that the dominant tone is one of "leisureliness" (闲适) --- a tranquility with escapism as its rationale, a placid, uncomplaining "golden mean" (中庸) and "correctness" (雅正), meeting all the demands of Confucian teachings on poetry: think no evil, be benevolent and be sincere. A cultural traditions passed down through the ages have dulled the sensations in the blood of poets, and the "serene inaction" (清静无为) of Taoism has made the little consistency that had existed in the blood become even weaker. Be it the leisurely feeling brought about by the rays of the rising sun entering through a window, or an idle state of being among eastern hedges and southern mountains, white writing takes the most insignificant thing as a point of reference (corresponding to the innate nature of these poets): sweep some moonlight with bamboo, be spellbound by a little dust on the table top, reduce or expand an ink stain on the wall, and so on. Wholehearted insignificance. Quietly, superficially amusing oneself while writing a few inconsequential words, the leisurely poetry of the onlooker that has been deemed appropriate throughout ancient and modern times.

This great tendency contrasts with one incontestable fact: a multitude of poets of weak character are flaccidly articulating a white noise which has escapism as its principle aim, and a nearly girlish gentleness during an age chock full of violence and confrontation. This, then, is my first image of white writing.


Of course, this is not representative of the situation of all contemporary poetry.

In the midst of universal weakness and deficiency, a minority of strong-willed poets are still opening up and cultivating art with the vigor of their lives and persevering as obvious exceptions to the general rule among contemporary poets (Bei Dao was the first exception, and with the passage of time his brilliance is even brighter); there is also a group of young poetry critics who in the face of the flood of white writing have tried to bring order out of chaos on the theoretical level, who persevere with uncompromising critical stances, and attempt through their theory to lead white writing in a more serious direction. All of these individuals have made great, dedicated efforts during this time. However, although this has been the case, universal inadequacy is still an incontrovertible fact.

The uncertainty of this generation, in addition to the weakening of inborn human dignity, is primarily the result of spiritual self-weakening. As the transmitters of the spirit of Eastern aesthetic consciousness, we instinctively tend towards leisurely and carefree moods. Faced with the violent structure of the world, we deliberately become orchids and chrysanthemums [symbolic of the life of the hermit in classical Chinese poetry] in pastoral settings: a graceful escapism. For this reason, nothing can be more natural than the production of escapist art.


"Leisureliness" (闲适) is a typical Chinese mood. It makes me think of the literati of long ago sipping tea while admiring the beauty of the moon or of the natural scenery. Of course, the basis for all this was being well provided for by land rents and silver, and that indispensable decorative item: the fan. On the other hand, "leisurely comfort" was not only the life ideal of traditional Chinese literati, but it was also their artistic ideal. The spirit of the literati and officialdom consisted of both Confucianism and Taoism: the internalization of Taoist thought was embodied in a leisurely attitude towards life; its externalization was an indolent taste in art. Escape from society, escape from the great contradictions of reality, a calm mind and body and unruffled poetry all in harmony with nature. This fundamental tone became a great concealed, yet unbroken, strain throughout classical Chinese poetry, and easily overcame the weak-willed poets and readers of later ages.


The literal sense of "leisurely" is "idle, easy and comfortable" (清闲安逸: Modern Chinese Dictionary, Commercial Press, 1979). By inference, it refers to "even-tempered and good-humored" or a mental state at harmony with nature: a life free of worries and desires, a serene state of mind; it is also related in meaning to "boring" 无聊), "indifferent" (淡然), "indolent" (懒散), and "to idle away one's time" (无所事事). In short, it is an axiomatic gentlemanly, worry-free cognizance of life (even though there may be some worries, they are no more than a few idle concerns of the sad, seasonal variety), possessing all the economic and cultural implications of the words "of leisure" (悠闲) as in the tern the class of leisure” (悠闲阶级). Even the words related to "leisure", such as "carefree", "at loose ends" (闲散), "refined" (闲雅), or "a leisurely and carefree mood" (闲情逸致), and so on, all lead one to think of "a man of leisure" (悠闲者) and his bored state of mind as he idles his time away. When they write poetry or do something else, it is no more than a "playful way" (玩法) of killing time. No matter how hard they try to put up a serious front, the overtones of "play" () are always present in their attitude toward life. Among the literati of recent times, Lin Yutang (1895-1976) was a typical representative of this philosophy of "playing with the world" (玩世 = cynicism) as conveyed by his 'leisurely' writing style.

New Chinese poetry [dating from 1919] tried to be different by being "anti-traditional,” but in the end, it has returned to poetry's most traditional artistic sensibility. This is the greatest irony of modern Chinese poetry!


What needs to be pointed out here is: as a poetic phenomenon in the aftermath of "misty poetry" [朦胧诗: or obscure poetry, 1976-1983], white writing achieved influence at the cost of a divorce from reality (to a greater extent, it is a conscious divorce from humanity). At the same time that critics correctly pointed this out, they also believed that this kind of separation was a contribution to the diversification of poetry. They were, thus, equally mistaken. Just like all poetry traditionalists throughout literary history, what white writing shows solicitude for is not the truly important structural transformation of poetic form, but the harmlessness of content! Sucking the incisive spirit of skepticism and critical consciousness out of "misty poetry", the grinding flat all cutting edges (especially as seen in the poetry of Bei Dao), resulting in a skillful, cloying branch of poetry and a leisurely mood of little consequence. Indeed, they have done no more than this to strengthen and advance modern poetic art, and what they have discarded are, in fact, the very qualities that bore the soul of modern Chinese poetry.

We are not left with a more graceful butterfly, but have changed from a butterfly into a specimen sample. This is my supplementary image of white writing.


Let us now look at the situation outside of China.

Whether white writers say it or not, we all know the facts that they wish to hide: Not only are they bound to ancient roots, but they generally also have genes which have been transplanted crosswise --- these are the styles and literary forms of foreign authors which they have skinned alive and swallowed raw.

From classicism and the Imagists (including Hemingway's novels which were influenced by Imagist theory), they advocate simple, restrained, self-restricting literary forms, opposing metaphor and over-embellishment; with Camus, this form of writing had already reached a relatively high level of self-awareness, in its calm depictions, it developed a direct form of literary tension. There is nothing wrong with this. Its principle achievements constitute an important component of modern literature, making the world transparent and deeply penetrating. In Pound's Cantos, Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, Camus' The Outsider and many other classics of modern and contemporary literature, we discover a common quality that has made these works great and immortal. This consists of the style of each individual writer. But these styles are beyond literary form, they are spiritual things that can never be imitated or peeled away.

When white writers exert themselves to copy these writers' styles and forms, it is exactly this magnificent, inherent spiritual quality that is not (and never can be) imitated. As a result, their imitations are, ultimately, no more than superficial.


However, imitated most by white writers is still Robbe-Grillet and other new French novelists (currently, this imitation has already "developed" from the new novel to the "new new novel" --- "the school of original appearances"). In order to not pass off fish eyes as pearls and to avoid creating unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding, let us listen to what the effigies of the originators whose faces have been obscured by the hands of those who run after them have to say for themselves:

--- The spirit of skepticism has already come into the world; we have already entered the age of skepticism (Sartre)

--- Reject all notions concerning the a priori order (Robbe-Grillet)

--- Make the indescribable reality become comprehensible, a reality more real than reality (Simon)

--- Literature changes the way we look at the world and changes our descriptions of the world, therefore it may be said that literature changes the world (Barthes)

Digging down beneath the surface, we are also unable to find a basis for escapism among these sources.


As an experiment in modernist writing, writers of this tendency have never invoked escapism or withdrawal [from society], but, instead, an even more profound existence within and engagement with it. From the transformation of the united march of the arts into the unconventional, opinionated stances of individuals, from their words and deeds there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that their works contain escapist material. Indeed, just the opposite, after reading their works, we more thoroughly understand the perilous condition of mankind. Furthermore, we are led to a resolve to make an effort to change this state of affairs. As any writer knows, when using language to write, he has no way of placing himself outside of the actual world: be it due to accommodation or resistance, sometimes even silence is a posture. To some extent, it can even be said that all linguistic attitudes demonstrate certain positions. A real "second kind of language" separated from all contact with reality simply does not exist --- unless you throw away your pen and abandon writing entirely. Therefore, the only thing a serious writer can do is: hold fast to his artistic believes in his language and bear his responsibilities to freedom in his form. Writing has never been an art of bystanders. Nevertheless, the serious spirit of these works has been screened out by their imitators. They have obtained a feather, but have forgotten the sky. Not only can they not change into hawks, but also, because of this, they will never be able to step high.


There are also the issues of "colloquialization" and the importance attached to "daily life experience.”

After the 1960s, a new generation of American poets, following in the footsteps of William Carlos Williams, opposed Eliot's "impersonalization" and advocated the direct expression of individual life experience; they opposed Eliot's aristocratic language, and advocated the use of colloquial language. This has had a direct effect upon white writing. However, what gratified white writers most was the "rejection of profundity.” Without expending great effort, this allowed them to dispel misgivings about "superficiality" and "banality" in their writing. Little did they imagine that they were defending something of which they had no understanding: a revolt against the modernist tradition. But in China, where a far from stringent modernism had not yet taken shape, much less been established, from where does a "modernist tradition" come? The story with regard to "profundity" is even more farfetched. Modern poetry, having only just slipped out from under the directives of political parties and groups, had not yet entirely won for itself even the minimum prerequisites of art: a non-ideological standpoint and a pure consciousness. Furthermore, from beginning to end, modern poetry has been in a state of crisis due to a lack of the basic conditions for its existence --­ creative freedom and the freedom to publish. Where do they find a "profundity" to turn their backs upon!!! To put it bluntly, this is no more than a tactic of white writing: latching onto the slogan "reject profundity" makes their banality seem reasonable and necessary, and even allocates to white writing some modicum of the hallowed nature of art.


Finally, there is the self-flaunting of the so-called "post-modern", a cheap trick like that of beating one's face till it swells up and passing oneself off as fat which, in the imaginations of white writers, then becomes an apparent fact. Yet another attempt to improve their prospects by way of an external phenomenon, it is still of no help in altering the indifferent nature of white writing.

Just as I have already said in the section above, as a recent artistic concept, the basic motive behind "the post-modern" derives from a departure from and a rebellion against the modernist tradition. While concentrating on experimentation in form, at the same time it cuts more sensitively into the heart of the individual's and mankind's existence: from its concern over the current state of mankind's existence, it produces its theme of social protest; out of the cruel, violent nature of this century and the continuing destruction, is produced its theme of hopelessness; the third theme related to life is reconciliation and the singing of praises. If it can be said that white writing has truly received something from "post-modern" art, then it is the same as all the other acts of imitation mentioned above: through constant circumspection, they carefully avoid the serious themes of "post-modern" poetry (social protest and hopelessness) and choose to acknowledge the theme best suited to their weak character --­ reconciliation. This has only served to add a foreign tone of peace and elation to the skillful, cloying nature of leisurely writing. But it has not allowed white writing, even in an imitative sense, to become Chinese "post-modern" poetry.


Aren't you weary of this yet? A weakened will, a loss of vitality, an obtuse feeling for language. There are so many playing together with the same ball; it drops down from the sky directly into your hands, and then is passed on again. Duplicated language and actions. Writing has become the simplest of crafts --- a uniform imitative enterprise while in pursuit of the masters.

From the imitation of novels by novels, of poetry by poetry, the imitation goes on until it develops into poetry imitating novels and poetry imitating the news. Imitation has been universalized and has struck roots in the minds of the people! A gourd-ladle truer than a calabash. Reproductions more materialist than the writings of Robbe-Grillet:

Subject matter (objectification, writing about objects)

Technique (a purely objective description of superficial details)

Tone (placid narration)

Imitation to the point of similarity in the feeling of language between entire paragraphs, definitive application of words (no associative monads), a linear structure with the addition of a recurring, long two-line refrain, boring, insipid synonymous repetition, a false mysticism lacking all sense of mystery; the maximum use of black and white together with trivial linguistic detail, all things that can be arranged into lines and columns can become "poetry" and "poets"!

Just as the sense of humour of Chinese people is always slow by half a beat, the unmasking of the misdeeds of this type of writing also seems to be somewhat tardy, to the point of allowing this imitation bordering on plagiarism to swagger through the streets in the guise of the avant garde, destroying the reputation of modern poetry. It also must be pointed out that for a time now, some enthusiastic poetry critics have been unable to distinguish between original creation and imitation. Approving of clumsy imitations by looking upon them as new creations has led to an even greater flood of imitative writing.

The time to put an end to this activity is now!


Enough said about white writing's pursuit of the masters through imitation. The objects, which they misread and use falsely in and of themselves, constitute the revolutionary achievements of literature. The serious thematic nature of their work, from literary style to form, tends toward a certain degree of difficulty: the experimental nature of writing and the creative nature of reading. And not the indifferent popular poetic style flaunted and, in fact, advocated by white writing. I point this out merely to show that: it is impossible to imitate truly great works of art; and, no matter how the imitators try to adorn themselves with the feathers of the phoenix, their original pedestrian natures still cause them to lack a certain self-confidence. The result: on one hand, the imitator is forever trying to throw his predecessors into the black void forever, thereby coming to enjoy sole patent on "origination"; but conscious imitation always unconsciously brings the object of imitation out from the darkened background and places it in the foreground. This unavoidable illumination finally exposes the imitator to the light of day and the hoax is suddenly laid bare.


The fault lies not with the literary pioneers. The problem arose among Chinese poets.

Always impulsive, always indifferent, always leisurely, always eager for quick success. The disorderliness of an entire generation. Without the great wisdom of creation, only possessing the meager ability to imitate others; without the courage to destroy and to build, only possessing the inferior ability to pursue fame and fortune. The blood of a race poisoned by a rotten tree runs deeper than memory; docile ants gnaw at the soul of a generation. During China's age-old decline, brittle shadows have piled up layer upon layer, forming an enormous enfeebling mechanism, dissolving the increasingly rare, creative passion. No matter whether it is out of the native soil or transplanted from foreign lands, any new and vigorous thing, including its initial impulse --- all that is uncouth and cannot be digested, and the spirit of skepticism have only to pass through the digestive tracts of Chinese poets and they will loose their original aspects and be transformed into a thing lacking initiative and overly cautious --- leisureliness erected upon a low, petty character defended by the "golden mean", a smooth evasiveness, and worldly wisdom combined together with caution in the extreme --- a self-manipulated delight!


I have now sketched out the preliminary contours of the fundamental features of white writing.

An art of evasion and reconciliation. All aspects of theory and practice reflect the fact that this ancient civilization of ours has lost its original creative power, all that remains is a little modesty and an effort to recall the past. As a reflection of the race's spiritual weakening, the weak character of poets constitutes its internal condition; escape is the most basic impulse. In form, it is expressed by imitation (method of writing) and leisure (aesthetic pursuit), the golden mean and a correctness that lacks vitality. In the burnishing and ripening of modern art, its experimental nature becomes inert, its incisiveness is neutered, all the cutting edges of avant-garde art are dulled, and it now reaches an accommodation with the violent structure of the world. This is what white writing has already done and is still in the process of doing: An enterprise fully intended to enfeeble.

B. The Purity Of Poetry: The Transformation From White To Red


The purity of poetry is a matter that has never been clearly explained, it is an unsettled issue over which argument has dragged on for a long time and will continue to due to insufficient evidence in support of any position. Putting this exhausting argument to one side for the time being, we can see that several people are upholding one particular thing, or going through the motions of upholding something in a devout manner, as if holding up an enormous glass marble or a piece of crystal, one slip of their hands and it will fall to the ground and be shattered. Their overly serious expressions give rise to skepticism: what's so mysterious about what's up there? Or, that this exhortational posture is merely an expression of devotion. Thoughts like these, however, do not dispel the questions. The formerly raised hands are still raised as before, of their own volition even more hands gather around, and together they wait upon its fragile holiness. Even if we knew that the piece of crystal in the hands of artists was fabricated, it is undoubtedly still shining. Furthermore, it displays a certain quality and weight, causing one to feel it, associate with it mentally, give expression to it, and it then proceeds to become the artistic ideal in which poets can believe and rely upon.

It is said that when many people worship at the feet of a clay Bodhisattva, it quite naturally becomes effective. In this, there is a mystery that can only be sensed.


I have reservations about the kind of holiness that is waited upon.

Having experienced the process of moving from belief to skepticism, at one time I removed my pious hands and the mirror did not fall to pieces, I was suddenly convinced that above all these lofty salutations nothing is being held. The existence of true purity is an inexpressible non-existence. This thought penetrated deeply into my later writings. Taking into account the fact that modern Chinese art slipped out from under the dictates of parties and groups not so long ago, a tendency toward pure art may strengthen a solitary determination. Therefore, in <Anti-Values>, I still retained one final foundation for the purity of poetry. After three years of this accommodation (up to the time I write these words), it still effectively binds my limbs. Precisely out of my respect for and understanding of the desire for this type of purity among Chinese poets, I will continue to restrict my thoughts within the necessary limits, and under the premise of the affirmation of pure poetry, I will develop my exposition. Furthermore, as I clarify the misunderstandings of my predecessors, I will satisfactorily resolve this problem.


First, three categories must be clearly differentiated: pure literature, pure art, and pure poetry.

Pure Literature: In the first sense, it is distinguished from history, philosophy, etc., among the humanities; in the second sense, in contrast with popular literature and literature for the masses, it is synonymous with "serious literature", meaning all serious writing of a non-commercial nature, including poetry, novels, plays, criticism, prose essays, etc.

Pure Art: The self-purifying ideals and the realization of the art of mankind, primarily painting and drawing, music, sculpture, and sometimes also including poetry. Artists holding this view generally are of the "art for art's sake" tendency.

Pure Poetry: As a unique form of linguistic art, poetry's pure ideals are both possible and impossible to realize. But is does no harm to try.


Pure literature has been in existence since ancient times. One can say that it is an existence that has been achieved entirely. Although its initial widespread practice has been weakened by popular literature, to this day it still occupies the principal position in world literature. The situation of pure art is somewhat different. As the process of self-purification in art, it embodies a certain possibility, and in painting (by way of abstract painting), and in music (via music without melody) it has been partially realized. Pure poetry's circumstances are more distinctive. Its entire difficulty is hidden within its premise: a language that gathers into one unit the real, the unreal, limitation, and self-indulgence. Therefore, the attainment of purity in poetry can only be resolved by the use of language within language.


On the level of attitude towards language, there are two linguistic points of view that need to be distinguished.

The traditional concept of language looks upon it as a tool through which thought or something else is expressed, this concept focused only on its obstructive and partial nature, and adopted a simple attitude of repudiation. Confucius (language is incapable of expressing all meaning), Laozi (the speaker is ignorant) and the central position of "logos" in the West since the time of Aristotle sustain this linguistic point of view.

The modern concept of language has disposed of the "functional theory" position. From the analogous nature of being it has penetrated deeply into language, it has come to understand that language is not a tool, but that language is man's mode of being --- that it is being itself. Through language, man brings existence to light; man can only exist within language.

--- Language is the home of being (Heidigger)

--- Language is a form of life (Wittgenstein)

--- We ourselves are language (Gadamer)

In this way, the full hidden nature of language is revealed: As the basic form of existence, on the one hand language defines the indefinite; on the other, it endows the definite indetermination. Therefore, it is obstructive, but it infers even more. All the darkness and light of being starts and ends with language. No matter whether it is repudiation of language or revolt against culture, the poet's struggle within language is merely a "magnificent, futile effort" which is incapable of changing mankind's predetermined (therefore everlasting) linguistic predicament by even one iota.


As conjecture on being and as conjecture in and of itself, the ideal of purity in poetry is a battle between the obstructive and definite qualities of language within language, and an endeavor related to linguistic openness and linguistic possibility. Here we now enter into the realm of theories about original and non-original languages.

Original language is the root language, as a theory of poetic openness, it is the comprehension of and self-reflexive language of being, once spoken it illuminates, it is the first naming of objects in the primeval state. Its poetic expression always brings forth entirely new meanings. This constitutes the poetic realm of pure truth.

Non-original language is just the opposite: They are terms suspended in mid-air divorced from the root of being. As a phenomenon of words and phrases of tainted roots, they are not the expression of new meaning, but the repetition of old; understanding and expression of a repetitive nature: a darkness moving from obstruction to obstruction. All those institutionalized languages, ideological terminology, public opinion, conceptualized words, abstract preaching --- all elements of linguistic pathology are manifestations of it.


As the clarifying intent of language, original language can only be understood and expressed through poetry. But non-original language, as an obstruction to being, is never inclined to remove its shadow. Furthermore, once all the entirely new meanings brought forth by original language have been defined and repeated by mediocrities (or by poets themselves), they will also become new obstructions. Therefore, the poet's tendency towards purity is manifested as: subjugating non-original terms and the self within language. However, precisely because non-original truth is an inert quality inherent in language, no matter how the poet strives, non-original language unavoidably accompanies original language into poetry, becoming the impurities of a specific work of literature. For this reason, "pure poetry" refers to the elimination of these impurities and poetry from which these impurities have been eliminated.

This, then, is the fundamental relationship between "the purity of poetry" and language.


Now we may seek out poetry's impure elements.

From an investigation of poetry's vertical links, the earliest impure element was the "narrative quality" (Homer's historical poems); afterwards there came "moral preaching" (Romantic poetry). Early in this century, aside from the pre-existing limitations, "sentiment,” "reoccurrence,” "logical transition,” "defining components,” and so on were added. Contemporary poetry looks upon "obscurity" and "abstraction" as the most impure elements, therefore contemporary poetry possesses universal characteristics of clarity and concreteness.

But, when all is said and done, poetry, after all, is not a nihilistic undertaking, when it points out those impure qualities that hinder its pure realization, it also hints at an ideal transparence. From the common pursuits and acknowledgements of poets, we can distinguish these qualities: "the sublime", "lyricism", "musicality", "expression", "impersonalization", "anti-lyricism", "abstract wisdom", "ambiguity", "suggestive imagery", "psychological detail", "the perceptual", "personalization", and so on.


The problem still exists. Due to the divergence between the artistic concepts of different eras and the innate self-love of poets often carried out to the point of madness, people are always diametrically opposed to one another with regard to artistic concepts, one never willing to give way to the other. Poetry is no exception. Not only between different groups of poets, but even between poets sharing the same goal have different, individual beliefs regarding the nature of pure poetry. As a result, this has produced different standards for pure poetry and has made impossible the establishment of unified criterion for pure poetry. Taking "ambiguity" and "clarity" as examples: in the poetry of Eliot and Auden, "ambiguity" is taken as the key fundamental element of poetry, but "clarity" is an impure element which must be overcome; contemporary poetry ("the confessional school", "the Beat generation") opposes the standards of Eliot and Auden, looking upon "clarity" as crystal and denouncing "ambiguity" as poetic garbage. The contradictions between "personification" and "non-personification,” "lyricism" and "anti-lyricism" are also of this nature.

All sorts of similar arguments do not allow us to make a final determination about "the pure nature of poetry.” In the end, we can only give it up and suggest that "pure poetry" is a metaphysical ideal of poets, the cause that propels the poet to incline toward purity, and not an effect.


The first mistake of white writing is to confuse "leisureliness" with "purity,” believing that poetry is pure when all the incisiveness of suffering, profundity, despair, and being is averted. Its starting point is to make the serious and enriching nature of the relationship between poetry and living world mutually antagonistic, separate --- turning from society to nature, from conflict to harmony, from steel, movement, flames and the cruel teeth of matter to mountains and rivers, lotus flowers and white cranes (the feathered symbol of Taoism). In a word, turning from living in the world to standing outside of it, from serious thought and action turning to the leisureliness of inaction (无为的闲情). As if "poetic purity" only exists in a dialogue between the poet and autumn waters [a traditional metaphor for the limpid eyes of a woman’], equating "pure poetry" with "pastoral poetry" (田园诗) and "mountains-and-waters poetry" (山水诗), the recluse of antiquity becomes the purest of poets. For the moment, let's ignore how this view has no theoretical legs to stand on, but even with regard to poets such as Tao Yuanming (372-427), Wang Wei (701-761) and the abstruse poets of the Wei-Jin period (220-420), held up as exemplars by white writing, they are grossly mistaken.


Eighty to ninety percent of the works of the Wei-Jin poets (including abstruse poetry and poetry about immortals) are works of consternation and indignation. Although Tao Yuanming may have been a pastoral poet, he most certainly was not a poet of idleness. In a volume of Tao's poetry (including the poet's unrhymed works, "Notes on the Peach Blossom Spring", "The Story of Master Wuliu", etc.) not one poem does not speak of his ideals. For the most part, the early works of Wang Wei recount his yearnings, and the mountains-and-rivers poetry of his later period often carry Zen (Chan) Buddhist connotations. There are still other examples: The exceedingly sentimental language of Li Shangyin's (813-858) untitled poems frequently place a certain faith in a political ideal; Representative of the greatest artistic success of Li Houzhu (or Li Yu, 937-978), writer of exquisite spiritual ci [ts'u: strictly regulated poetry written to music, often sung], is the gloomy poetry written after the empire had perished in which he concentrated the anguish of losing both home and country. The above examples are all poets of pure artistic tendencies. Qu Yuan (340-277 B.C.E.), Chen Zi’ang (661-702), Li Bai (701-762), Du Fu (712-770), Bai Juyi (772-846) .....as the troubled, righteous voices of hardship and suffering, they had even less to do with "leisureliness"!

Western theory of "pure poetry" does not contain leisureliness. In this regard, it is only necessary to make one additional point: Honored by critics with the titles "a poet's poet" and "a pure poet", both Valerie and Stevens were advocates of intelligence, the former approached purity through "abstract intelligence", the latter approached transparency by way of "profound truth". The were both poets of metaphysical philosophy.


Is "purity" a neutral principle then?

Of course not. Since poetry is a poet's involvement in the world of being by way of language, it is necessarily articulated as a particular tendency. This is determined by the essential motivation of art.

Those tending toward the purity of intelligence, manifest an absorption with metaphysics; those with a tendency to subconscious illusions, express themselves through persistent, prejudiced rantings and discontinuity; Futurism emphasizes power, speed, weight, and a metallic movement; the confessional school wallows in the confessions of private concerns, a kind of holy howl.

--- Baudelaire's "Flower of Evil" is not neutral;

--- Mallarme's "The Coincidence that can never be eliminated by the roll of the dice" is not neutral;

--- Rimbaud's "Season in Prison" is not neutral;

--- Breton's "White haired left-barrel rifle" is not neutral;

--- Eliot's "Wasteland" is not neutral;

--- Pound's "cantos" are not neutral;

--- Ginsberg's "The Howl" is not neutral.

Kafka is not neutral; Dostoyevski is not neutral; Joyce is not neutral; Faulkner is not neutral; Sartre is not neutral; Camus is not neutral; Hemingway and the French "new novel" are not neutral; black humour is not neutral; the "anti-utopian" trilogy is not neutral; the theatre of the absurd is not neutral. Magical realism came out of Latin America advocating the direct engagement of literature with reality, all the absurdity of the real world is magically exaggerated by it, an extreme too tangled to unravel which blurs reality and illusion --- this is the principle characteristic of Latin American magical writing founded by Borges (early on, Borges had been a convert to a school of literature appropriately called radicalism)!


Writing is engagement.

And engagement implies inclination. No matter whether you are inclined toward a particular aesthetic position, an artistic style, or are only inclined towards art itself --- an inclination is unavoidable.

All serious poets should completely abandon "the golden mean", the "neutral" principle of writing, and ultimately make it clear that: purity is without a doubt not a neutral state of art, but an art form pushing toward an extreme cutting edge. On the same principle, the pure blue flame of a furnace changes iron into steel, and water heated above the boiling point becomes gas and forms ice when below the freezing point. "Iron" and "water" are states prior to purification, a kind of neutral inertia.


Whenever one talks of purity, one necessarily touches upon "transparence.” In modern poetics this term is raised up highest and at the same time is the most misunderstood, most terribly damaged term.

According to its chief meaning, "transparence" indicates the specific property of an object through which light can pass. There are no extended meanings and shifting explanations --- just like the term in itself: clear without obstruction, a depth, and range that takes in all things.

However, in the area of poetic theory, the situation has changed somewhat. There are two types of transparence here.

One refers to semantic transparence, occasional language, the functional efficacy and efficiency of language, direct linguistic meaning (including all indicated fixed qualities and the distinct and unequivocal nature of expression). Scientific terminology conforms completely to all the conditions demanded by this kind of semantic transparence.

The second type is the transparence of linguistic situations, related to the poet’s perception and free association, a non-obstructive quality attained within language. Just as Odysseus Elitis describes it: "Behind a certain concrete object and able to penetrate through another object, behind the penetrated object and then penetrating through another object …. Stretching on like this into infinite." A depth and scope that truly takes in all things!

What we advocate is precisely this latter kind of transparence.


This effort towards purity penetrates deep into a poet's writing, but only when it meets with god given literary talent and intelligence is it able to produce satisfactory results. Since this is the case, it cannot emerge as different tensions because of a poet's language, psychological elements, the composition of his literary talent, aesthetic pursuits, or differences in diet and environment.

--- Valery penetrates deep into the ocean's sand, pursues the relationship between a drop of wine and the entire world, and the concealed composition of a pomegranate. Within metaphysical intelligence, he causes the depth of the sea to rise up to become the depth of the sky. A high-stepping transparence and an integrated whole. A tendency towards a blue purity.

--- Elitis drinks deeply of ancient Greece's sun, speaks with "light" and "clarity", in perceptual analogies he understands the crystal principle of the sun and mankind: The sublimation and deepening of reality, raised up to become the unity of "light" and "clarity". A golden purity.

--- Stevens lights a candle in mountain valleys at night, uses an unglazed earthen jar, a hemlock tree, an accordion and the cry of a peacock to build a permanent order of art to resist the black domination of the world's chaos. His purity is black.

--- Dylan Thomas returns to the depths of the womb, he experiences the moment when the sperm and the ovum enter one another, the touch of death, and the trembling of life. The thick, sticky liquid within the body of the mother. The constant temperature of flesh. A world still in its primeval state. A purity bordering on crimson.

There is still a higher principle of purity. It is the colour that I feel in my blood: Red. A new theory of purity.


The transformation from white to red is not the result of any one poet's subjective efforts, but is a turn to the better by art itself.

A great fissure delineates a prominent battlefront. We are on the side of art, within the abyss we place ourselves inside a deeper wound, the sensitive core of profound being, touching the sore spot of the soul. Gushing hot blood dyes red the sense of taste. Chinese art has never been as close as this to the heart, the flesh and blood. This should be a matter for rejoicing.

Turning from white to red is to turn from books to reality, from escapism to involvement (engagement with life and the world), from the sky to the earth. It is to turn from imitation to creation, from water to blood, from reading works of the masters to reading one's own life. It is not the imitative transplantation of Western "modernism" and "postmodernism,” it isn't the stealthy crossing over from art to art or the displacement of one art by another. It is not abstract intelligence. It is a reality little short of brutal, the deep penetration into all the dangerous circumstances of the world of flesh. The intensity of metal. After casting off leisureliness and imitation, Chinese poets will write with their lives, a truly modern poetry of Chinese experience. With the density of blood, learn first hand about the purity of poetry. This, then, is the purity pursued by Red Writing --- Red Purity.

As a new principle of poetic purity, red purity does not seek to reduce but to expand the intentions of poetry, but to cause the subject matter of poetry to expand into life, into the flesh. To unit the texts of books with the texts of the flesh. Ultimately, liberating poetry from books and causing it to become a more widespread art form that dissolves reciprocally into life, an art form that can be seen, felt, and heard.

The time of Red Writing has begun.

C. The Facts About Red Writing


Don't ask us where we came from, where we're going and who we are. The massive wandering whirlpool of the present tense has irresistibly swept into us and formed our indeflectable, concrete plight. The rhythms of our breathing, the need to dream and to speak, the basic rights of life; furthermore, the incontrovertible fact of spiritual oppression penetrates deep down into the dictatorial conduct of food and drink. More urgent than inherent qualities and the future. Return from the suspended staircase of metaphysics to the starting point of matter, the interior and the surface, the deepest penetration possible and as concrete as possible. Red Writing positions itself in life, being, and the present. It is not memory and illusions, it is to experience, to pass through, and to learn through one's experience. It is the flames of brambles burning at this very moment. It includes this one moment of birth and extermination, the unweakenable brutal breath. It is the greatest stress on perception and flesh. It thrusts a hand into the core of time, it experiences the crushing of bones, the rotting of muscle, the absolute temperatures of cold blood and hot blood. It is the deep distress and love accumulated at the century's end.

At present and in progress. The immediate form of possession and expression.


From the very beginning, it should be made clear that what Red Writing opposes the escapist artistic activity of leisureliness. A false purity far removed from the heart and the flesh and blood. A retreat from the severity of reality, an expression of the weak character of a poet, no matter whether he escapes into Zhuangzi, the Yijing or into mountain forests and pastoral settings. Red Writing takes man's existence in reality as its focus, penetrates deeply into the bones and institutions, sets foot in the savagery of all time, embraces all the difficulty and intensity of the life of man. It is the courage of all magnificent refusals, great engagement with life, and majestic sacrifices. With the magnificent fearless spirit needed to enter deep into the tiger's mouth, write what others dare not write, write what others are not permitted to write. There are no subjects and dreams that cannot be written! The true situation that those people can only quietly hint at with a whisper and a finger to their lips, should be spoken of loudly by poets. Red Writing will never avoid the all the severity and truth of reality: the bloody reek of the steel which rushes to caress our faces, the infections of wounds to the body and spirit, handcuffs, prisons, forced labour, hellish conditions personally experienced. Together with art amidst the violence of matter, being born and dying side by side, drowning or being saved together.

Life and art are one.


We can also move back a step.

Writing in and of itself is an action. A deeper entry into society than sitting still and fasting. A depth that sinks from the glass sheet of leisureliness down into the blood, writing that doesn't shun metal and death, writing that is soundless and without a sense of taste. Within the hunger and jaundice of poverty, no matter if there are south-east or north-west winds, with the resoluteness of going to one's death, it penetrates deep into language, pushing forward from the center of consciousness. Strike words with words, use words to clash with words, break up words with words, and dissolve words with words. In the final grand spectacle of the twentieth century, we are both the actors and the audience, both the subjects and the objects, we personally experience all the cuts beyond the blades of knives, from rehearsal to performance to applause to the crying of tears and the spilling of blood --- we'll do it all seriously, conscientiously, scrupulous of each detail until we drop. Standing fast by our duty to art from beginning to end. Preserve life for art.

There is still another circumstance. At a certain unavoidable, critical moment, a choice between art and life must be made. The golden oath of your devotion still rings in your ears. We move forward without the slightest hesitation. We can accept the fact of physical defeat, but art must speak and clarify. Dedicate life to art.

It is not a verbal dedication of oneself. From the start, Red Writing contained the intention to spill blood: sacrificing life in the attainment of art is the supreme art of higher value than life itself!


While opposing imitation of form, at the same time Red Writing also opposes the horizontal transplantation of themes and images.

Red Writing believes: the dominant images of the life of a poet are related to the important events that occur during his lifetime. They are not philosophical reflections, not the replacement of one art by another, but the hand which has passed through the wounds of life and has been placed deep within the flames, repeatedly refined, purifying the facts of experience and the transcendence of experience into universal forms. And not the opposite, purposely seeking themes and imagery from the classics of western art. Precisely on this point, Chinese modern art has passed into the zone of greatest error.

Modern Western art is rooted in the existential predicament of the life of western man. Which are, primarily, the oppression of commercialization and a civilization of science and technology, as well as the misuse of freedom. At the same time as this highly developed material civilization benefited mankind, it also expropriated mankind, causing man to lose himself deep in a maze composed of commodities, desires, electronics and all manner of symbols from which he cannot extricate himself. And for this reason, the themes of "alienation,” "solitude,” "despair" and "absurdity" appeared in modern art. A kind of loss of theme, a loss of innate qualities (At this point, resistance to the dictatorship over thought has come to nothing, it has become a vague, generalized volley of arrows into the air. After two hundred years of repeated sacrifice beginning in the middle ages until the French Revolution in 1779, the principles of the freedom of -thought have already changed from articles in a constitution to principles that are common knowledge among all people and have become part of western spiritual tradition). The difficulties, which beset the body and mind of the poet and artist in the spiritual space of unrestrained freedom, are no longer political oppression, but culture and matter --- a non-violent form of oppression.


Chinese artists are doomed to seek a livelihood and to write in another type of environment. Although the soft knife of the initial stage of commercialization has already dazzled some so that they mimic the absurd and vomit ever so slightly, however, the principle reality which we face is still the violent structure of the dictatorship over thought, steel and control in all places. No matter how one emphasizes the differences in cultural traditions and qualitative differences between the citizens of nations, it is impossible to wipe away the one huge difference. It is precisely this central fact that determined that the “modern” and the “modern response” pursued by Chinese poets be necessarily of a different nature. This is to say, the themes and primary images of Chinese modern poetry cannot be transplanted from western modern art. They must be experienced in the real, existing circumstances and physical experience of Chinese poets, in a profound yet simply explained form channeled through the vicissitudes of being. In accord with all the inherent conditions of truth. There is no need to draw on the experience of others. some misunderstood modernism or post-modernism. This kind of art, when manifesting the poet's state of being, will necessarily bring out all the hidden relationships of the structures of time (the age) and space (region, country) which constitute the poet's actual existence. To a certain extent, writing about them calls into question the dictatorship over thought and gives impetus to the early arrival of the day of final judgment.

There is need of a supplementary statement: My opposition to "horizontal transplantation" most certainly does not imply that I agree with the silly attacks of false realism upon "the modernists", nor does it mean that I am wallowing in the theoretical mire with the stale proposition that "the more something is national, the more universal it is." These are two stances of an entirely different nature to that of Red Writing.


Red Writing values the strength of language, a metal quality that contends with the dictatorship over thought. It opposes feminine, soft, calm, evasive poetry, a language of the air or the void utterly lacking in substance. It possesses the rigidity of a rock, the richness of the soil, it takes in the four seasons but does not sprout flowers. It is the broad lines of a sculpture, it is an internal tension poised for action. It is the precipitousness of a downward slope, the unevenness chopped out by the heavens, the material image of a partiality for rigidity. A direct, deep penetrating touch to the quick. It contains the necessity for a particular incisiveness (Incisiveness does not necessarily lead to politics, but is related to certain dangerous circumstances of being); an ironical, blasphemous, contradictory, extreme form of terror; a critical state of life; the resistance and despair of people in hopelessly absurd circumstances; a powerful skepticism permanently on guard against all sacred stipulations; a cold, harsh language which comes straight to the point. It casts aside petty, girlish, cosmetic airs and all feigned innocent, infantile, childish, doll-like attitudes. It is freely swinging one's limbs on a vast open plain, the utmost degree of power and willfulness, and a hard masculine bearing bursting with vitality. This is not the division of the sexes, but a stress on character.


Red Writing advocates a serious attitude toward life: the unity of writing and the writer's conduct. It opposes unnatural character, the inflation of self, unprincipled flattery, obsolete modes of brotherhood; it opposes cliquism, self-centricity, utilitarianism; it opposes the literati disparaging each other; it opposes the false avant-garde passing off imitations as original creations --- all those false poets who use art as a stepping stone to a career in officialdom, all those trifling amateurs muddling about with art, all those brokers of poetry who regard art as a means to do business, all those moths to p poetry who consume, sell and corrupt art, have no regard for good faith, morality, justice, self-respect and honour, and who reduce art to shamelessness and hooliganism. These are all held to be shameless and are resolutely spurned by Red Writing.

Here and now we make a clean break with corrupt art: all those who uphold the false values that are only acknowledged by the government, all those occasional dabblers in art, all the irresponsible words and deeds of these riffraff, have nothing at all to do with Red Writing. Each person will be responsible for the course of his own life.


Rejection of the false system of values is a fundamental position of Red Writing. This is not because freedom and art are incompatible with false values, but also because false values as a form of the enslavement of thought force us into opposition and into battle against them. This is not blind impetuousness resulting from personal prejudices, but a value-based choice rooted in instinct and careful consideration --- it is artistic conduct that will never allow compromise half way to its goal.

Thus, Red Writing may be understood as a symbol composed of the spirit, a bayonet and a rose (corresponding with the sickle and axe, the cross and the star of David). The symbols of art, devotion, and life. Chopped down, it comes back to life; reduced one thousand times to ruble, it is still intact and undamaged. This is of tremendous significance: what art represents is obviously something even harder to destroy than flesh. An immortal throbbing which, having passed through the nets of the law, death and war, reappears within the same kind of spectacle, lets us breath the blood and thoughts of both the living and the dead, the freshness of the vitality of art's great structural transformations, and causes us to live and write vigorously. Red Writing rejects all power and lies, the dual restraints upon flesh and the spirit; Red Writing rejects any form of dictatorship over thought. The highest honours and the profoundest misery cannot shake our confidence: our faith in art.

Red Writing is the illumination of language in the flash of the last glance of all those who have died for art since time immemorial.


At the same time that Red Writing upholds the independent nature of art and a non-ideological standpoint, it is clearly aware that in and of itself a new style of writing is a revolutionary event: the negation of the old linguistic order and the establishment of a new one. Poets have always been of the world. The question now is not whether or not to enter into it, but how. on this point, the difference between Red Writing's concept of worldly engagement and the traditional one lies in that: the latter advocates engagement in terms of content, namely with the sacrifice of art as a precondition, to turn art into a mouthpiece for a political philosophy or a political concept (such as poets like Aragon and Mayakovski did); on the other hand, the principle stressed by Red Writing is engagement in terms of form, under the precondition of the purification of art, to

awaken mankind's dreams of freedom through writing, by way of revolutionary renewal of form to allow people to hold a firm belief in and make full mental preparations for the necessity of a rejuvenation of life. This also conforms to art's inherent tendency toward structural transformation.


Walk out of the wounds, set of from where the road breaks off. Red Writing is unobstructed, it is bright and spacious, and it is a vitality that shall never be exhausted. Stand bravely in the vanguard of conceptual transformation, push open the doors to all that is taboo. There is no sacred a priori order. within our grasp are all those limits that can be reached perceptually and those that can't be, all those limits, which can be reached rationally, and all those that can't be. The brilliance and darkness of irrationality. Ranging from religion to art, from power and influence to culinary art, from loyalty to betrayal, from sex to suicide, death at the of another, murder, slaughter, hanging up a sheep's head when selling dog meat, selling human flesh, selling the flesh of young girls, selling the flesh of the spirit of Plato, oral sex, masturbation, pornography, lasciviousness, liberation from the confusion of repressed sexual desires, faith and insanity! All the psychological and physical details which language can touch upon, the wonderful process of destruction and rebirth, this all lies beneath the pen of Red Writing.

Nothing is forbidden to Red Writing.


A major theoretical misunderstanding must be now clarified.

Antagonism between art and politics is a recent occurrence. It reflects an aversion to the false poetry which "closely follows the political situation" and charts government policy, it also reflects the vigilance of modern Chinese poetry's self-purification process. This is one aspect. During a certain period in the history of new Chinese literature, out of sincere faith some poets aligned themselves with politics, due to a qualitative change in class politics (a change from the pursuit of freedom to the suppression of freedom), not only was damage done to art, but the reputation of poets was undermined. Since that time, poets have kept politics at a respectful distance, afraid that they would be attacked and censured by others if art ever touched even lightly upon politics. Moreover, this sensitivity to "politics" is also reflected in a worldly, play-safe attitude of the people in a highly politicized society that, however, lacks freedom of speech. The psychology of an unbalanced society.

Therefore, what occurred was this: even when political "concern" fell upon poets and ridiculed the poet's aloof attitude with police batons and handcuffs, our poets still asserted that they had nothing to do with politics in order to prove their "innocence"! This has long been the case, and has proceeded to the next level where even "the age" (时代), "society", "human rights" and "freedom", themes that may easily be suspected of encroaching into the serious affairs of politics, have been removed from the scope of language by poets. Now they have concentrated upon a form of inconsequential, leisurely expression ( a worldly-wise, play-safe form of writing). Ultimately, this situation has been brought about by a lack of ethics and courage among poets of weak character.


As a self-manifest form of the spirit of mankind and as a manifestation of being, art is associated with the reality, ideals, and hopes of mankind. It can be beneath consciousness or above ideas, but it can never be beyond the deep-seated desires of man. Just as Octavio Paz says: "Poetry is not only the illustration of all than man thinks, feels and does, but is the definition of man established by man himself." No matter whether it is lyrical, an expression of beauty, the exposure of truth, reality or the exploration of new expressive forms, the limited choices open to art make it impossible, from beginning to end, for art to rid itself of the shadow of man. Art cannot be divorced from man and the realization of this brings an interesting phenomenon to my attention: not being free, mankind tends toward freedom, and art itself is also not free. This makes the following proposition tenable: Writing is an awareness of not being free.

Accordingly, behind art, politics, and religion, I have discovered a deeply concealed mutual impulse: To surpass limitations and to incline towards freedom. This is also the original cause of all of mankind's spiritual aspirations. Differences exist only in that: politics pursue social freedoms, religions pursue freedom for the soul, and art pursues freedom of thought (including imagination and expression). of these three, art and religion are more closely related in character (both are spiritual, internal, and prophetic in nature), the difference between the two lies in that religion is manifested as an escape from reality, an emphasis on the world to come; art, however, engages reality and places emphasis on life in this world.


And so we come to understand: art for art's sake, or art with itself as the object, actually is man taking himself as the goal --- taking his spiritual freedom as the goal. In this sense, saying that "beauty is the symbol of freedom" is inferior to the more direct declaration that "beauty is freedom"! Writing is, then, the poet's awareness of not being free and the struggle towards freedom by means of this consciousness. Here, the reason why "freedom" in the political sense is not unrelated to the artist lies in the "basic human rights" for which it strives that contain the true realization of the creative freedom and the freedom to publish of such crucial importance to artists. These are also the minimum requirements for the existence and flowering of art. Therefore, it is not only of prime importance to the mass of men, but also to the artist (but it is not of ultimate importance, and this is the difference between artists and ordinary people). If we must equate freedom with politics, then pursuit of freedom is to engage in politics, in which case each genuine artist is political --- no matter how you try to explain yourself, you cannot divorce yourself from politics. Let's be frankly political! Derrida advocates the elimination the separation of philosophy and literature and uniting the two under the name of "writing.” This is still not enough, he should also add politics, religion, Qigong, rock and roll, and the babblings of the insane! Away with all man-made boundaries, bring everything in under the name of "freedom" --- let all aspects of the spirit of mankind form a pure whole once again, let's not consume ourselves anymore in mutual antagonism and division.


Red Writing holds in esteem those books written with blood.

Not spilt blood, but the heart's blood, the blood of the spirit, hot blood, that absolute sincerity spoken of in the saying "No difficulty is insurmountable if one sets one's mind on it", the core inheritance of the spirit of mankind. With all your life's strength, with all the blood, that fills your breast, write a book, write a poem, write one line, one word. This is the kind of attitude towards writing that we revere. From art to religion to philosophy to politics, all those great writers who with their spirit and flesh constitute the obverse or reverse sides of us, are the forerunners of Red Writing.

At this point, we want to offer our greatest respect to those fellow poets and writers in Eastern Europe and Russia who share with us the same values and beliefs (Solzhenitsyn, the Mandelstams, Brodski, Havel, Kundera, Milosz, etc.). From behind the Iron Curtain, they spoke out unyieldingly and this led to the sudden demise of the everlasting mythology of the sacred order. Despite long periods of political oppression, imprisonment, exile, and hard labour, they still held fast to mankind's universal values and ideals, and never wavered or ceased to write (Today we are reconsidering our situation and writing at the same point from where they set out). With rare courage and an indomitable spirit, they saved themselves and went out from hell into a pure world. We still remain in a shadowed corner of the world, each day we must differentiate our shadows from the surrounding darkness. But at the same time, I believe: Fate is impartial. What they have experienced, we will experience. And, furthermore, are experiencing. Starting from this very moment. Their today is our tomorrow!


Red Writing is wide open, it is not limited to poetry only, but also includes novels, criticism, philosophy --- all forms of written language! It is not only a method of writing, it is also an artistic standpoint that emerges through writing. Red Writing speaks to all true, honest, brave souls and all those vigorous souls filled by the great dream of creation. We are not isolated. I am writing these plan words here, while on the other side of time which the point of my pen passes through to, you have already heard and felt them; even if it be a blind man, his hands or another sensitive part of him has come in contact with the powerful strokes of my pen, and he has read out my scorching hot thoughts. Actually, my intention is a very simple one: to invigorate the pure fountainhead of your innermost being --- a consciousness of the blood ties between the individual and the fate of all mankind; the vigorous enthusiasm created by true freedom; the satisfying actualization of a full and complete life:

A new century will soon be rung in. We stand on this side and look toward it. A great battle is taking place within us. The entire meaning of Red Writing is to join in and fight it out to the end --­ to penetrate into all that is sacred or blasphemous in the arts, and to mount the final assault upon all the forbidden regions and ramparts of language. one day seventy-three years ago, Lenin's guard said to his woman: "We'll have bread, we'll have food, we'll have everything." Today, seventy-three years later, after having become sculpted reliefs of history, the Vladimir Ilyich's have been reduced to rubble. Now I will tell you that, aside from food, other things that have not been realized will be:

--- There will be art

--- There will be freedom

--- There will be everything

What but man's freedom does art hope to realize? All things are temporary, only this eternal undertaking will not change. Red Writing believes this and, furthermore, reaffirms: art that is rooted in life is immortal. Having experienced calamity, young Chinese poets are testifying with their golden voices that during mankind's final efforts to free itself, the people of china will not give themselves up for lost!

(March 14, 1992, Xichang, Sichuan province)

[1] The order and composition of this and the following series of poems is altered in later publications in Taiwan and on the Internet. Two poems have different titles, one poem is missing (), poems are shifted from one series to the other, and seven poems written between 1990-1994 are added.

[2] Squares refers to the space which a Chinese character occupies.

[3] A Buddhist monk who has severed all ties with the world.

[4] (Circa 400 B.C.E.) Philosopher who taught that all individual persons and things are inviolable --- denounced as extremist and harmful to society by Confucianists.

[5] Famous Tang dynasty poets; Han Yu韩愈 (768-824 C.E.); Jia Dao贾岛 (779-843 C.E.).

[6] 陶渊明Famous poet, 365-427 C.E..

[7] 王维Famous Tang dynasty poet, 701-761 C.E.

[8] 苏东坡Famous Song dynasty poet, 1037-1101 C.E.

[9] 李清照Famous Song dynasty poetess, 1084-1151 C.E.

[10] Reference to Xiang Yu项羽, tragic general annihilated by Liu Bang 刘邦who later went on to found the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E. - 220 C.E.).

[11]陈子昂Famous Tang dynasty poet, 661-702 C.E..

[12] A mountain of great legendary and religious importance in China.

[13] Ancient philosopher's anecdote about whether a recluse dreams a butterfly or if it dreams him.

[14] Crystal is symbolic of the process of poetry writing in the poetry of Odysseus Elitis.

[15] A famous general who helped Liu Bang, the founding emperor of the Han Dynasty, conquer China. As a child he was often insulted and tormented by others: i.e., he was forced to crawl through the legs of others. Died 196 B.C.E.

[16] Also published under the name of 胃痛时的纯艺术感觉A Sensation of Art When My Stomach Hurts.

[17] A Confucian sage-scholar, 372-289 B.C.E.

[18] The harnessing of the life force which flows through the body, much like blood, for medical use or for show: e.g. walking on eggs, smashing large stones with limbs or head.

[19] Also published with the name of与国手弈的艰难过The Difficult Process of Playing Chess Against a National Champion.

[20] Used on public notices to indicate that the death sentence has already been carried out on a person.

[21] A group of younger poets who were extremely active in the poetry underground (1984-1989) throughout China, and who have introduced new form, content, style and poetics into Chinese poetry. The third generation of post-1949 poets.

[22] Hu Yaobang胡耀邦; General Secretary of the CCP until forced to resign in January, 1987. Died in April 1989, precipitating demonstrations which led to the Tian’anmen Massacre.

[23] The male, strong, bright, etc. side of the Yin-Yang theory of the universe popular in Far East Asia.

[24] 易经also known as The Book of Changes. A mystical text of uncertain origins. The eight diagrams and divination refers to the uses of knowledge held within this book.

[25]气功refers to the skill of mastering the life force (qi) flowing through one's body. The Dantian丹田 is the navel area where this force is centered.

[26] An apparent reference to eight highly regarded artists of the late Ming (1368-1644 C.E.) and early Qing (1644-1911 C.E.) dynasties.

[27] 265-557 C.E.: A period of disunion and warfare between the fall of the Han dynasty (220 C.E.) and the rise of the Tang dynasty (618 C.E.)

[28] The name of special paper used for Chinese painting and calligraphy.

[29] Shang is the name of a semi-legendary kingdom which comprised China and existed from approximately 1600 B.C.E. until 1066 B.C.E. Zhou is a general reference to the Western Zhou (approximately 1066 - 771 B.C.E.) and Eastern Zhou (776 - 256 B.C.E.) periods of feudal kingdoms and warring states.

[30] "The two hands" refer to peaceful methods and violent methods, or covert and overt methods of carrying out revolution.

[31] The three "mountains" were imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism.

[32] The theory of class status referred to one's profession or economic prior to joining the revolutionary ranks (as everyone had to after 1949). The latter theory of class origins was an off-shoot of the previous theory but implied that those of non-revolutionary background were not welcome in the revolutionary ranks. This theory was rejected by Mao.

[33] Terms resulting from the extension of Marxist class theory to peasants and farmers: A "poor peasant" was one who could not reach subsistence level regardless of whether he owned or rented land, and so had to sell some of his labor; a “lower-middle peasant could usually sustain himself and his family, but often did so by also hiring out his labor.

[34] A stylized dance performed while singing quotations from Mao's writing which were set to music during the Cultural Revolution.

[35] Liu Shaoqi 刘少奇was the president of China and second in power for much of the time between 1949-1966. During the Cultural Revolution he was criticized by Mao, after which he was arrested. He died in prison in 1969.

[36] Lin Biao林彪: A successful general in the northeast during the civil war who rose in the ranks of the military until he was appointed Party vice-Chairman and declared to be second in command by Mao in 1969. He died in September 1971 in a plane crash in Mongolia as he was attempting to flee after a failed assassinated attempt on Mao (according to the CCP version of events).

[37] Three articles written by Mao (including one commemorating the Canadian doctor, Norman Bethune) which were held up as models for the kind of spirit needed by Chinese citizens in building the New China.

[38] 'Lei Feng 雷锋and the others are the names of model workers, soldiers held up by the Party to be emulated by other Chinese citizens (the spirit of self-sacrifice for the Party, communism and others was/is particularly stressed). Lei Feng's diary was supposedly found upon his death and in it were recorded his good deeds, deeds which had never come to the attention of others prior to his death.

[39] From the revolutionary opera, "The White-Haired Girl"白毛女. Huang Shiren was the evil landlord who coveted Xier, the white-haired girl.

[40] From the revolutionary opera, "Sha-jia-bang"沙家浜.

[41] From the revolutionary opera, "The Red Lantern"红灯. (In the 1970s until the end of the Cultural Revolution, the above are three of the seven operas allowed to be performed on stage.)

[42] Economic development of China as the central task, one point being to uphold the four basic principles (socialism, people's democratic dictatorship, the leadership of the CCP, and Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong thought); the other point being to persevere with Deng Xiaoping's "reform" and "opening" policies. (These were introduced into the constitution at the thirteenth congress of the CCP in 1987.)

[43] People were made to wear hats on which were written their crimes against the people during mass criticism rallies and demonstrations from 1949 until 1976.

[44] Mao's idea that there are two sides to everything (the right side and the wrong side, the positive and the negative side), everything or everyone is on one side or the other.

[45] A shorthand method coined by Mao and used when assessing individuals: i.e., one's record or past is seen to consist of 70 percent achievements and 30 per cent mistakes.

[46] A traditional folk saying used by Deng Xiaoping to describe how political and economic reform in China would proceed after his return to power in 1978.

[47] These are a series of slogans which have been in use since the Cultural Revolution with the aim to create the kind of citizens the Party requires. They stress absolute adoration of the Party, socialism and the nation, as well as moral standards to which all people are to strive for.

[48] A dictum uttered by Deng Xiaoping. Officially it is understood to mean that it is of no importance what methods (whether socialist or capitalist) are used to improve China's economy, all that matters is that the end result is achieved. Of course, Deng's saying is open to many other interpretations, ones seemingly better suited to a cat and mouse allusion......

No comments: