Wednesday, 1 September 2010


It is indeed an extraordinary film. It is brilliant, inspiring and without a doubt the movie of the year.

Nonetheless, it's not as novel as it seemed. Matrix talked about human brain as well. It displayed the virtual world of brain and the world of reality in a rather more striking manner. It was a huge success, in the light of building up morbid freaking-out gigantic castles that stores  human bodies. I did not like the movie at the first sight, yet its powerful aftermath is undeniable.

The tension between reality and imaginary world is the ever lasting struggle in history, well, precisely speaking, after psychology was created. When Plato indicated a world of ideas and a world of reality (which is therefore imperfect and not ideal), he  somehow described a world that links our world and reason  to the ideal world of the Creator. This is more than any human beings can ever imagine. This is a religious pursuit of something beyond our reason. Therefore, this imaginary world exists, not merely in our brain, but somewhere that is not conjectural as well.

The invention of  psychology degrades the link of human being and the Creator into merely neurocyte work inside one's own brain. Either the reality or the imaginary world are brain work, hormone, chemistry,  stimulation and response. In this sense, everything could be, or, is unreal. This idea changes everything. Especially the nineteenth century, the great era of unparalleled success of the Industrial Revolution, this also changed people's understanding of themselves, the world as well as the universe. People's pride and confidence on reason of human being was so potent that the invention of psychology and the wholesale disbelief on religion was reasonably explained.

Anyway, get back to the film. Inception is about dreams and ideas, simple yet perplexing. Dream is part of the psychological subject matters, but the relations between dream, consciousness, subconsciousness, or psychoanalysis is definitely not my concern. Dream itself is the theme. Inception built a world of dreams which is so vicarious that it can be difficult to tell the difference. This is the point. When one feel comfortably numb in his own dream, sometimes it could be gradually problematic to 'walk away from it.'

A friend said Inception was very likely written by some on-drug screenwriter. It makes sense, totally.

Dream is as well the inception of the whole movie, it trigger the imagination on human brain, neuroscience, reality and illusion, and many more relating to the world we created, in real life or in our brain. Everything begins with the idea that, as said in the film, one's mind can be accessed through his dream. Therefore the ideas can be stolen, and then the 'mind-thieves' went deeper.

"What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere."

Cobb, in Inception

In this sense, what effects one's mind and personality is no longer from outside while from within.  Once an idea is planted, it rooted, and will be extremely hard to be exterminated. This indicates how complex human brain can be, and how delicate an imaginary world can be created within one's mind. This also says how proud human beings can be. The Creator created the world in 7 days, and human beings create a timeless and space-less world that surmounts the real world.

Other than the perplexing structure of dream in a dream (and in another dream), the plot of Inception is actually quite simple, and brilliant. It established itself as a great classic that goes beyond the genre of action, sci-fi and drama. Brilliant indeed.

Friday, 27 August 2010


I got ad email from National Express from time to time. Usually I read everyone of them before deleting, even I've never got a chance to book a ticket to Edinburgh or Bristle or Birmingham.

I guess I miss London, I really do.

My sister was once vexed by my wining about how I wish I were in London, and asked, 'What do you exactly miss in London?'

Suddenly I hesitated.

Probably everything, probably nothing but simply the city named London and hunted past.

Those good old days, I would say.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

眾聲喧嘩 首部曲 Lipsynch part 1 2010 Taipei Arts Festival 台北藝術節



"The must-see theatre event of the year. Masterful...any serious theatregoer would be well advised to try and grab a ticket!"
-Toronto Star

"It's mind-blowing, heart-breaking, hilarious and beautiful beyond words......Mandatory viewing."

-The Independence, UK


不論看電影、聽音樂或觀賞戲劇,最好的觀眾或聽眾其實是處於一種不受任何成見任何評論影響的安穩狀態下進入一齣好戲、一位好導演想要帶領你漫遊的世界。感謝天,沒有劇評、沒有節目單、沒有任何預設與想像,我是這樣進入Robert Lepage的世界,得到了一段驚喜而回味無窮的遊歷回憶。

眾聲喧嘩的首部曲由三段不同的生命經歷所構成,整齣戲用了四種以上的語言(英、德、法,部分義大利語),五種以上不同的音樂片段(歌劇、搖滾、爵士、聖樂,還有一種難以形容的純聲頻音樂),我想表達的並不是這部戲有多麼地多元或兼容並蓄,而是說故事大師Robert Lepage和他的編劇團隊們用一個個看似片段離析、多元素混雜的寫實人生,呈現了一部超寫實的生命史鉅作。


首部曲中由三個相互連結的獨立故事所串起來的劇情架構,不像電影Paris Je'taime那十多個碎片式敘事卻每每到了結尾卻回想不起來的敘事結構,意外地充滿了流暢感。一位無法正視養子出身的聲樂家、一位陷入科學與神學、感性與理性交戰的腦神經科學醫生、一位試圖找回童年聲音記憶的酒吧駐唱歌手,三段截然不同的人生,英語、德語與法語交錯的對話,其實串起這些故事的,就是這些角色們時空的流動。









Thursday, 19 August 2010

A Taste of London would be just enough

This exactly what I need for the summer: detective series, a little bit thriller style, and a great deal of  the life of Londoners.

My sister found online (indeed you can find everything online thousands miles away, legally or not) the latest  the BBC one series of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson's Adventure in the 21st century London and told me with pretension that she's 'absolutely gonna love it'.

Well, sort of. I was indeed excited by their typical Londoner's life and the yearning English accent and the adaption of the classic detective works of all time at the first sight. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in modern London would definitely be a very intriguing topic. Yet the 21st century Holmes seemed not as omnipotent as the Victorian one. Also, the inference and the logic of the story is not as brilliant either. The comparison between the Victorian Holmes and the contemporary adventure is fun in many ways. The 221b Baker Street and its interior remained Victorian style and classic British (and messy as well), Holmes and Dr. Watson dress coat and wear scarf and talk and behave in a typical English gentlemen's manner, you won't even aware it's 21st century until iPhone rang. Yet the Scotland Yard was turned into a whole new ugly skyscraper and some of their clients became bankers (new vocation since the early 20th century). Anyway, you'll find lots of stories from the adaption and how the director interpret the new (and a bit high-tech) adventure.

It's a good series no matter what.
But I miss everything in London, and this explains everything.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

staff's structure of brain:

staff's structure of brain:

1. raise
2. what's gonna have for lunch
3. promotion
4. vacation
5. when's off
6. kill the boss
7. murder the clients
8. waiting for the weekends
9. romantic relationships in the office
10. gossips in the office

Monday, 16 August 2010

Valentine's Day of the lunar calendar

Yes, miserably for the singles ones we do have two Valentine's Days in a year. One is off course on 14/2 and the other on the 7/7 of the lunar calendar. 

Do people still believe in true love and soul mate? 

There's a interesting survey indicating that despite the skyrocketing divorce rate in the United States, approximately 80% of people believe in true love. How ironic. 

I remember quite well what my mentor lectured when I was in the university, 'to find soul mate, you got to have SOUL first.' This is so true. For some, they believe in fate and destiny much more than in themselves. That explains why psychics or fortunetellers are never out of date. 

As a matter of fact, everyone believes true love in their own way. Therefore there might be true love for two years, or more than one soul mate in one's own life. Life's short, so why not be more open minded to love? 

I feel confused occasionally when people talk about love and how they get along with their loved ones. I guess I am a bit inexperienced to lecture or criticising them that 'He's not the one',  'what's the point if you're not in a relationship with your soul mate', or, what's worse, 'you don't even have soul to be in pursuit of a soul mate',

I don't get it. Love's perplexing. For most of us, the journey to find the right one never ends. Sometimes it's good to have faith in something without know what it would be like, if it's healthy. As, the story in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun said, 'Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.'

'Unthinkably good things can happen even late in the game. It's such a surprise.'

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The couple, my boss

In the project I am working on, there are three professors, who is also my bosses. Two of them are consultants retired from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It’s such a shame that I cannot find a better word (or as a matter of fact there are too many) to describe how special they are and how interesting and inspiring to work with them.

Prof. Jin and Prof. Liu were the Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Chinese Studies and Jin was the Director of the Research Centre for Contemporary Chinese Culture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. After they retired, they decided to live in Taiwan (there’s an interesting news article about why they chose to stay in Taiwan rather than HK in China Times) and teach in the National Cheng Chi University.

Both Prof. Jin and Prof Liu are the living legendary couple in the contemporary Chinese academia. They are basically inseparable. You google one of them, and you always find another. Both were from the mainland China, born and grew up in the communist China of late 40s. It is interesting to mention that both of them were trained as scientists in their early life, Jin studied chemistry while Liu studied physics in the Beijing University. In the Cultural Revolution, however, they became interested in humanities and social sciences and therefore published a series of work ranging from history to literature. They were namely one of those active intelligentsia in the 80s China. I have no clue how they survive the infamous Cultural Revolution and mysteriously I find little information as well. They seldom talked about it.

In 1984 they published series of influential and controversial works including Towards the Future. Soon after it was banned, they were not allow to stay in the mainland China after the Tiananmen Square Protest in 1989, hence they had to live and teach in the Chinese University of Hong Kong for 20 years before they left for Taipei.
Some named the two decades in HK ‘the chill-out epoch’ for the two and indicated how their works changed from politically revolutionary to relatively neutral. Nonetheless their journal ‘Twenty-First Century’ became the major forum for intellectual debate after it was launched and established their status as their status as one (or two) of the most influential scholars of the Hong Kong academia. On the other hand, the journal certainly caused the tension against the Chinese government and Prof. Jin’s name and his works remains political sensitive today.
(to be continued)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


My brother was conscripted yesterday morning, a few days after his 23rd birthday. All my family sent him to the government office where they were called up. I wasn’t there, and was told my mother and my sister cried after watching him walking into the huge glum building.

I didn’t expect that things would be serious like this time. My mother is not an emotional person at all. I can still recall how surprised I was when I saw her tears in my grandpa’s funeral, and that was the only time she shed her tears. I know it’s huge. The only son in my family is called up, and will have to face his new yet unprotected life from now on. But I would really like to say, ‘Come on! He’s in “substitute military service”, not in army or navy or air force! Stop fussing around, he’ll be fine.’

Indeed military service in Taiwan has changed tremendously these decades. It’s not an unpredictable and dreadful experience one would try everything he could to avoid. (Although they still do, such as gaining weight.) The length has been reduced from more than 3 years during the civil war to less than 12 months these days. Also, military is becoming more ‘humane’ in many ways. The soldiers can keep their mobiles can contact their family quite often. And they have much more days off duty than they used to do. For those in the ‘substitute military service’, days are even easier. They are basically office workers, working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and get paid monthly. How nice! Especially in the critical time such as the credit crunch these years.

But I guess it still fretting when any of your family was called up. News about military service is never delighted on TV. Parents and girlfriends went to the temples (or churches) to pray for their loved ones to be safe and sound. In the face of the conscription, both soldiers and their family become superstitious. I heard some funny stories about painting an eye on the hand in order to get the better option in the drawing procedure (in order to decide which part of armed force you would be called up in).

No matter what, military service is part of manhood and the collective memory for male of every generation. They call the military service ‘the second round socialisation’, indicating it’s time when boys become men. Some reckon guys will be strengthened both physically and psychologically in the military service. After all, it’s a place of different rules and regulations to obey. For others, military service is totally a waste of time, a place where people do not use their brain and do ridiculously meaningless things without asking. I know exactly why they thought this way.

According to the constitution, every adult young man after 18 shall be conscripted only if they are students. Therefore it would be quite annoying if they planned to study overseas. Even though the abolition of conscription in Taiwan has been in debates for years, it will survive for the next few generations once the tension between Taiwan and China remains.

All the best to my dearest brother. I love you.

Monday, 2 August 2010

second job

Few months ago, I began my second job in another university. This time I got lucky. I was hired as a editor assistant of a database project in the History of Ideas in Modern China. My major is not in Chinese history, but modern history connects each other in a sense that modern histories of various countries interacted with one another.

The project is interesting as to its research part; however, my job was much more than that. There are so many clerical and administrative chores such as writing official documents and managing fourteen part-time students that I got exhausted quite easily. Research is fun though. Especially there are two legendary, renowned professors in the project, supervising the graduates. They were born and grew up in mainland China in the 50s. They met in the University of Peking, got married and were prosecuted during the infamous Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. They survived
They are the intelligentsia of contemporary China.

One of the reason they hired me was my research background. They need something new. Nearly all of their students work on Chinese history or major in Chinese literature, chiefly in classic Chinese literature. I study European/ British history, and this provides some new point of view, supposedly. They want me to work as an assistant and be part of the research team as well. Therefore I am both a full-time assistant and a part-time graduate.

Another reason that I work here is its goal, constructing a database of the history of ideas of modern China. I reckon it worth doing and I am willing to be part of the great work. There are few useful academic databases in Chinese history, either classical or modern history.

All in all, this is a rather interesting work and I enjoy it a lot. I believe I’m gonna have a great time this year.


Monday, 8 March 2010

What do a RA do?

I am a research assistant (or a research associate in the UK), sometimes called a RA, just to be different from TA (teaching assistant). RAs usually require postgraduate certificates, often MA. TAs, on the other hand, are constantly graduate students who work part time, helping with the courses. I suppose the positions in the Universities in Taiwan are similar to those in the US or UK. But apparently most history professor prefer work on their own instead of hiring an assistant. It's really difficult to find a position such as RA relating to humanities, let along history department. Therefore it's quite natural when Ian (my supervisor at King's) asked 'what do research assistant do?' after I told him that I am hired.

After few weeks, I kind of realised that my boss needs a secretary rather than a research assistant. Basically she wants another 'her' to do everything that she doesn't like so much, including:

1. cleaning the office
2. making tea or coffee
3. babysitting when her kid's around
4. translating her papers and books form Chinese to English
5. revising her papers, including adding some 'theories' or 'arguments' which are not my specialty
6. doing research, writing papers

To be honest, many have told me that she's an exception. She has a reputation for her 'exceptional style' in the Uni. No research assistant was asked to do the cleaning but hers. Not many have to translate the papers from Chinese to English for a UCLA PhD associate professor like I do. Above all, I find the last task outrageously unacceptable.

I just wish that she's really an exception, and not everyone of the academia in Taiwan works this way.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

motorcycle to work

You can't get around in Xin Zhu without a car or motorcycle. The mass transportation in this city, or I should say, little town, is intolerably shabby. There are only two route bus passing by the Uni I work at, and there's no such thing as Metro in Taipei or Tube in London. Therefore most college students or people who can't afford a car would chose the later one. The roads are filled with cars and an incredible amount of motorcycles, which is indeed a spectacle to a foreigner. Basically, Xin Zhu is, like any other cities in Taiwan, a motorcycle-based city in terms of its transportation development.

I am so used to living in a convenient like Taipei or London that I felt like as if I am disabled in the first few weeks in Xin Zhu. When I studied in the Uni, I lived in the campus, literally, and constantly take subway to get around Taipei. In London, where has one of the best mass transportation in the world, I used to walk and take bus or tube. This is also why I don't have any driver's licence until last week. To me, it is totally outrageous that in some places of Xin Zhu (and my hometown Taichung as well) there's no pedestrian at all. How do people survive?

It looks like that they adjust it rather well. And I have to be one of them no matter what.

If I walk to the Uni to work, I need to pass at least three interchanges (to highway) without any crosswalk. I tried twice and gave up. I took the exam and got my ever first licence--motorcyclist licence and began commuting by motorcycle. Unfortunately (or, I should say, fortunatly), my first ride in Xin Zhu was a disaster, though a minor one. Apparently I was too nervous to keep the balance and fall on the road. Not a single person was hurt, fortunately.

I was a walking disaster and now I became a 'running disaster', if I am on the motorcycle.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

10 days after

I don't want to fill my blog with shitty things about my boss and my work. But if this is my life and there's nothing left (no cute guys nor pleasant scenery nor interesting musicals or performance) This, I hope, would be the second as well as the last one.

After ten days trying to sort out a means to get along with my boss, I realised that there's something never changes: personality. She's not evil. It's just that she is utterly incapable of being sympathetic to others, and constantly egocentric without self-awareness. That's all. (WOW, sounds like my ex, but he's not as evil though)

Details skipped. Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the problem is not her but me. Is is because that I stay in the Ivory tower too long that I am overly protected by everyone around me? Am I that vulnerable to the reality and the society? In the old days, well like my parent's 20s or 30s, people were so used to work overtime without pay and obey their boss no matter how unreasonable it was. It's different now. Probably the rising human rights and that sort of things refute it or it simply because time changes.

Time changes and so do values. Values of working moral, hierarchy and so on.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with working overtime and not being paid. It's about being respected or not.

It's somewhere near the place I lived in London. Oh, I miss London.

First Job

There are always angels around me in my life, either in London or the Uni days in Taipei. But this time's different. My boss, a recently promoted female associate professor, is a pretty young lady (or, as James said, 'a babe') but she's actually not as sweet to her employee.

I arrived at the airport at 22 Jan night, then my family picked me up and drove me to Xing Zhu in the midnight, because my boss asked me to start to work the next morning. The workload (translating a book from Chinese to English) is overwhelmingly heavy. That is also why I was willing to start to do it when I was in London, few days before my flight. Yet there's still a lot left. I have to work overtime everyday and night to catch up with her 'deadline'. When I almost finished half of the book translation, she said she'll start to pay me from 1 Feb, which means everything I did was not paid at all. Because of some 'bureaucratic issues'. She said it 'makes sense' because there's going to be a 9 days Chinese New Year's break in mid Feb, which is her way of 'making up' my 10 days hard work. And the monthly payment turned out to be less than it said on the website, because of some 'misunderstanding'.

Everyone told me to quit while my family want me to tolerate it, which is quite Asian way to deal with thing of this kind. It's a critical time, it's really lucky to have a job, they said.

I did neither anyway.

Indeed I did bear it for the first two days. That sucks. As if I have no choice but to do whatever she asked. In the fourth day I negotiated with her and we sort it out in a complicated way. At least I got paid. The amount of payment's fixed, so there's noting I can do about it. All right I'll stay, just for a while.

I started job hunting again on the third day of the first work. That's quite a good beginning. I hate working.

Everything and nothing

(I wrote the following weeks, perhaps months ago. It happens, shit happens. Complaining and reviving and exhausting, again and again. That's life. Ce'st la vie, as the French said.)

It's been a long week.

I kinda recall the Caribbean guy I met in Brick Lane last week. I asked him where he's from. He said 'everywhere'. That's creative. I knew he's joking around. And 'What do you do?'

'Everything and noting.'

I raised my eye brow. But after roughly 20 mins chit-chat I reckon he's right in a sense. He went on and explained to me the way leads his life, well, quite the way he pleases. He's a fashion designer and it seems that he's making trading and collecting antiques, stuff like that, too trivial to recall.

'I've done everything and nothing.'

And then a week after, here in front of my laptop, his words make sense about everything that happened these days, the months and weeks after the diss was done. I've been doing everything to prepare the next stage of my life. I am open to any possibilities in academia, considering taking another MA or going for PhD studies, pondering on at least 3 different approachs for the subject matter and being ambitious to work on an independent research on Scotland's identity. I had plans, or, precisely, many options, for the next stage of my life. I applied to some MA programmes and volunteering works, consulting several professors at King's about my studies and anxiously taking

Not long ago the symptoms of ambitiously aspiration began to developed and turned into confusion of life.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Horrible Histories, 'The 4 Georges: 'Born 2 Rule'

The hilarious song is about four kings in the Georgian Time of the British Empire in a programme called 'Horrible History'broadcast in CBBC, the BBC's children's channel. It makes fun of the four rulers by representing them as the once popular boys group, like Westlife and Boy Zone. Horrible Histories is a very popular book series that teachs funny and horrible historical facts in daily life of the past, from the remotely ancient stone age to the 20th-century two World Wars. I reckon it one good example to show how the Brits view view their own past and their history education.


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