Posted by: Dr Churchill | October 14, 2012

Cultural Revolution

Awards and Nominations are disruptive…

Not only because they pit you against your fellows and colleagues  — but because they are altering the equations of you work….

I speak from experience as when I was nominated for the TED prize, I wasted a whole lot of time and effort to presage another small time victory, or a non-win or maybe a cultural non-sequitar…

But we are all primates made of flesh and bone and we like shinny things like prizes, because even when you don’t want it, the very idea of it is enticing…

Still the answer is to find yourself aloof and intelligently nonchalant about it and only care of it when it materialises and only if it allows you to augment your reach, enlarge your voice and enhance your work. Otherwise forget it…

Still for many others and for the less hardy souls, the easy thing to do when you crave recognition is to reject the very idea of it … on the face of things and yet jump for joy when it arrives.

Human nature being what it is, this issue has been especially evident in China.

And the last few Nobel prizes have been extremely disturbing for the Chinese People’s party and the Politburo, since the Nobel prizes in literature and peace have been awarded to “Chinese” men who have been clear dissidents, and thus rotting in “the farms” in internal exile or in prison.

And if that’s not enough – the official press condemn the funny Swedes – lest we forget the despised Dalai Lama and his bloody Peace prize. Or that Obama fellow…

Chinese official leadership mouthpieces, have called such Scandinavian awards, deliberate attempts to topple the Communist Party, damning one award to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo as a clear desecration and the others stone cold betrayals.

Now imagine the pleasure in Beijing when a writer officially approved, as a correct author, a party member and a People’s Army retiree as well as being the vice chair of the vaunted Chinese Writers Association — gets a Nobel prize…

No need to imagine no more, because comrade Mo Yan was awarded this year’s Nobel prize for literature…

In great contrast to previous Chinese recipients of Nobel Prizes, such as the dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010, Mr Mo Yan’s award was widely celebrated across China this week.

Yet this is the man who gets a salary from the government for writing novels about bucolic life and village folk lore and still manages to keep mum and even condemns those fellow writers, who have been assigned to permanent “garden leave” from society, family and freedom.

And now comrade Mo Yan – newly christened Nobel laureate – will have plenty of opportunities to use his status as a prize winner to denounce all this western interference in China’s internal affairs and enrich their cultural isolationism.

For Mr Mo Yan is a Communist party member and a former soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. And now is vice-chairman of the government’s China Writers’ Association where he holds an official role in the Chinese political system. Further Mr Mo Yan has been consistently refusing to acknowledge or discuss the 2010 Nobel Literature prize awarded to Mr Liu — a writer who has been imprisoned in China for his writing style. And Mr Mo Yan’s public boycott of the 2010 Frankfurt book fair because of the presence of Chinese dissident writers is another sign of his intellectual and ethical failure.

But not to worry, because after all Mr Mo Yan whose name means “No talk”  or “Silent” has also been organising government initiatives with other officially sanctioned Chinese – observing the party line – writers to commemorate and praise the cultural policies launched by the late Great Steersman, Mao Zedong in the mid-1950s and 60’s that were later used to purge, torture and exile countless writers, intellectuals and educated citizens from their home lives, and throw the country backwards in what has been called the Cultural Revolution…

and the great leap forward.

And all of a sudden, the Nobel Literature prize – that had so far been vehemently despised – becomes, according to the People’s Daily: “a comfort, a certification and also an affirmation. But even more so,  a new starting point.”

The Swedish Academy claims that none of this is political.

The fact that Nobel himself made his money peddling gun powder – first invented by the Chinese – is not political either.

Nor is his remorse for the killing and maiming his munitions caused to man, the political reason, he decided to establish the awards system…

Because as Peter Englund Nobel prize secretary says: “We are awarding a literary prize, and it is based on literary merit. The political fallout and other political effects don’t enter into it.”


That’s why the literature prizes awarded to Eastern European and Russian writers during the decades of Soviet dictatorship, were all earmarked for dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn, Brodsky, Pasternak et al.

And even the physics prize went to famous dissident Sakharov among others…

Politics is all…

Pure unadulterated politics is also why some worthy English and American writers of our time – people who truly deserve the prize – Updike, Pynchon, and Roth, don’t get it.

Not that Pynchon would show up to be decorated by the “svelte” Swedish king — but there you have it…

In a no political decision the Nobel Lit prize was awarded to a Chinese comrade in arms for the people’s communist army: Yo Man…

And as the Twitter storm followed the awards, the dark humour surmised:
“So this is the first Nobel that China has officially acknowledged, is it?” — Thus wrote one user in Shanghai.

Another twitter, wrote in response: “The first one was moyan [silent], the second one was still Mo Yan.”

At this point, am going “moyan” myself.




And lest I forget, I must congratulate Mr Mo Yan for stepping into the political puddle with gusto, as any novice can do, because once the Literature prize was awarded to him by the irrepressibly uncomprehending Swedes, he affected the famous ‘je ne ce quoi’ or  “I don’t care” attitude about the Nobel, which is remarkably Chinese and yet always cool…

Then again, comrade army officer Mr Mo Yan, who has never spoken up for the dissidents, nor for the dispossessed writers and the disenfranchised artists — suddenly called for the release of 2010 winner Liu Xiaobo… in measured terms.

Liu Xiaobo being the imprisoned fellow Nobel Lit prize winner, who is serving a recurring 11-year sentence for subversion because of his writings.

What else is new?

“I hope he can achieve his freedom as soon as possible,” Mr Mo Yan – silent army lieutenant –  said.

Xie xie

Toa chie

This is the Life…

Just look at the Cultural Revolution a Nobel Lit prize can create.

Clit-Lit as they say in China…

Next up: “Fifty shades of Gray” for the Clit nobel prize 2013 — to be awarded … again to China.

In exchange of a few plastic toys, some faux NIKE trainers, and the “original” gunpowder recipe.

As for myself,

Am fairly certain …

The Holy Inquisition isn’t far behind…


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