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Voice Card  -  Volume 10  -  Stuart Card Number 5  -  Thu, Nov 2, 1989 9:26 PM

This is a response to Vol 9 Roger 5 ("Back to You, Stuart")...


I am sorry if I made "erroneous assumptions" about your "feelings" on the issue of the Chinese students / dissidents. I was only interpreting the tone of that particular voice card's text.

That is my business. As an English Professor, close reading and interpretation is part of my job description. As a poet, creating tone, the right shading of meaning and feeling and emotion in language, is what I am involed in every time to set down pen to paper in the practice of this difficult art. I take tone, and close reading, and interpretation very seriously.

But sometimes I am wrong. Maybe you were morally outraged at the way the Chinese students / dissidents were treated in Tiananmen Square. Maybe I didn't give you enough credit for that. I am sorry if I misrepresented your views.

You bring up a number of other issues in your voice card, too. I'll try to cover them in order of their appearance:

  1. I'm not sure that predictability is the issue. Yes, there are predicatible "national" behaviors as you suggest; however, in our era of the global village, when news travels so fast and it is so easy to look at how other nations and cultures behave when faced with similar situations of despots and dictators (look at South Korea, The Philipines, Poland, Argentina, Chile, East Germany. . .) - such "national predictability," what might be called the character of a nation's people, seems to be under a certain amount of pressure in our computer / information age, a pressure to be influenced by what our other "nation neighbors" are doing.

    What bothered me in the original voice card on this issue was the tone that I seemed to interpret (there's that word again) of blase, even flippant acceptance of the government's brutal behavior because it seemed to be predictable, in accord with what you perceived as the Chinese national character.

  2. With regards to the word "dissidents," see my response to Larry's voice card on this issue.
  3. With regards to the paragraph about hooligans and students and throwing paint on Mao's statue, etc., I'm afraid I was rather confused there. I wasn't sure who the referants were, of who was doing what to whom.
  4. Yes, I agree that Fred Shapiro's article was a good account of what he saw in China during those weeks of protest. More that that, he also provided the most comprehensive and lucid analysis of why the students/dissidents were protesting, and I tried to point that out.
Enough said for now.