No, really, I was blocked. Not that kind of blocked!
I wish I could say that I was off on some adventure involving the national security agencies of half the known world and spanning the other half of the globe, but I suffered from the quotidian: I was experiencing technical difficulties…please stand by.
I left America for China in October of last year (after a brief, all-too-brief vacation)…without renewing my VPN subscription! So…when I returned to Harbin and tried to sign on again…I couldn’t! I was blocked! Locked out! No contact with the rest of the civilized world! No blog! No FB! No Youtube! No Netflix! No porn! Oh the horror!
Normally it would not have been a problem, but since China was undergoing their five-year changing of the guard so to speak, which means new hands were going to man the helm of the state, they began to shut down any channels to the outside world. Seems some of the Western news agencies were being awfully naughty and reporting on the vast wealth accumulated by the new crop of leaders. Tsk tsk! Can’t have that! VPN services all over were “experiencing technical difficulties” or perhaps I might have been singled out. Scarily possible.
The Chinese have a phrase (which I may have shared with you before, and sorry if I have, I am getting older you know) for when one’s blogging or micro-blogging has garnered the attention of Big Brother and He in His infinite wisdom decides you are deleterious for the body of the nation. They call it “getting harmonized” or “I was harmonized”…我被和諧了. wǒ bèi héxié le. [I wrote this phrase in traditional characters, sorry, but I prefer traditional characters over the simplified ones; just more beautiful.]
It seems, however, that I was not “harmonized”, but that VPNs were getting shut down up and down and all around. Luckily, I met a young American lass who turned me onto Astrill vpn (no, not a shameless plug for their service, just stating the truth here) and somehow (I don’t know how), their website was open. I paid the fees, downloaded their software, and voilà! HERE I AM!
So, I’m back. And I know I am way WAY WAY behind on the Harbin Diary, so behind that…I have decided to do something radical: maintain essentially two blogs. I promise I will catch up on the Harbin Diary (which is fictionalized past), but in addition I will begin posting current entries. If it becomes too confusing for you (or me), I will cease and desist. I hope it will not be (too confusing) as Harbin Diary posts are always titled: Harbin Diary. New current posts will just have a title and obviously a current date. Think of it was a literary experiment! Perhaps literary is assuming much too much for the level of skill manifest in these entries…. Hmm.
I think this blog should always have been like this, but I was reluctant to scrap all of my earlier writings. A decidedly bad habit for any writer, or even a writer poseur. Eh-HEM!
I need to leave. BUT before I do, let’s visit the magical land of linguistics! Language is a pliable, malleable, almost living thing! Culture is too for that matter. What we normally conceive of as traditional and set in stone is actually as fluid and liquid as mercury. So, the example above. A certain pressure exerted on the Chinese people forced them to take the word “harmony”, turn it into a verb (-ize), with a specific socio-political connotation. It kind of lends credence to those sociologists who claim that the next evolution won’t be physiological but actually sociological. I can readily think of another example…in Spanish.
For so many decades, people have been kidnapped, lifted off the streets, taken from homes or vehicles, on the way to school or work, in Mexico, Central America, and South America by totalitarian governments, narcoterrorists, or human traffickers, that the people invented a new usage for the word “disappeared”–desaparecido. Kidnapped wasn’t accurate enough. Taken wasn’t strong enough. Heretofore, one could never use it with an implied active agent, but now it made perfect weird sense: My child was disappeared. My daughter was disappeared. My husband…my grandmother…my teacher. Some shadowy force caused a beloved family member to no longer be present. Just like the passive Chinese phrase wherein some undeclared agent effects a pacifying influence on a body.
These are tragic examples and really all one has to do is look at any technical website (or teen magazine,what have you) to see how science adds all kinds of new words to the modern dictionary, but these two phrases sort of leaped out at me. As ravenous “Tygers! Tygers! burning bright/ in the forests of the night” often will. And do.
Food for thought.
I’ll be seeing you.