Some days, I swear, I would just like to have an actual identity. Something I can hang my hat on and call me for the purposes of employment and getting on with getting on. Still, on those days I'm glad I don't have a really real identity like Julian Assange or Liu Xiaobo, whose lives were effectively over the moment they realized that they were in their moment of truth.
There are so many funny things going on all at once these days! You have the whole WikiLeaks travesty, the Nobel peace prize being taken as an indictment of the Chinese government, crooks wearing Hollywood fake identities, and Hollywood re-presenting actual spooks as speakers of truth to power.
It would seem that Assange has fallen into some kind of understandable paranoia in contrast to Xiaobo's serenity, but it's in that strange category of 'even the paranoid have real enemies.' He knows he's targeted and hated by many in power, and he remains in a state of wanting to survive, which must be relatable to wanting to get laid. He seems tormented, or maybe it's his fan-club which is concocting this poison pill fail-safe of the "thermonuclear" trove of still more embarrassing leaked documents that they were apparently too scrupulous to let loose previously. Or were they just preparing their arsenal?
But that still seems a contrast to Liu Xiaobo and you have to honor the Nobel committee for being able to tell the difference unless they're just cuing/queuing up Assange for next year's prize. Liu seems already to have decided, long since, that his life is over: had only one direction to be lived out and that would be the direction of rule of law and (western-style?) freedom for China. Then you have the Chinese government at odds with seemingly the entire Western World about what they think is good for we the people, and granting such vitality to at least one person who can feel that totally alive on his extended reverse-Procrustean death-bed.
On the one side, you have plain criminals who have figured out that they can dress in silicone parodies of stereotyped crooks, and thus automatically deflect attention from who they really are. But you also have this asylum seeker who wanted to look more innocent. You have vigilantes out to get Mr. Leaker, but you also have freedom fighters on his side demonstrating their power against the likes of MasterCard and PayPal, wanting to teach them a lesson about denial of service and having corporate opinions. Or about pandering to perceived patriotic principles when they still accept contributions to the KKK since maybe nobody makes a stink about that and hey, business is business.
I'm trying to sell a car on Craig's list and find that there are more people employed in the art of seducing me into falling for some Internet trap than there are earnest and legitimate buyers. Caveat Emptor becomes something more like sell at your own risk and the employed are now all organized bandits, or was Jerry Rubin always right?
Hell, step out into public and you might be targeted for things you've never even heard about. What would you do if you were to find yourself the one on the hot seat with a public choice between honor and survival? Or even between comfort and turmoil? What if your blog starts getting comments other than the kind which are transparently part of someone else's self-promotion? Or is all you've got to do is to say something everyone in the world wants to agree with or disagree with or gawk at like a train wreck?
I'm making a kind of valiant attempt to rehabilitate my lapsed career as a professional involved with China. Aging transcripts seem to mean as much as what I might know right now, which is not so much a function of current reading and scholarship as it is of a life-long habit of paying attention to things in ways different because of my once deep and serious study of things classically Chinese.
What's really real in all of this? Sometimes people have to disguise themselves just to be treated fairly at all. One has to pass for whatever the norm is where one wants to be protected and it can be courageous just to dress in native garb when you're out of your element. Sometimes one has to trot out a paper reality to substantiate the real one. Sometimes one just wants, earnestly, to be taken as oneself without, paradoxially, the need to assert some selfness in the process. You tell me! How the hell do I know who I am????
Last night I watched that film about Valerie Plame which I thought was quite well done. Simple recitations of the facts can lead to interesting themes. This guy, Joe Wilson, an ambassador who oddly doesn't seem quite to have it made therefore, marries a quite evident babe who's adept at leading a secret life, the details of which aren't even known to her husband. I guess being an ambassador ain't what it used to be. Maybe it's just a living, the way that working for The Company apparently is. Maybe there just isn't any more natural aristocracy Jeffy.
And then in this film portrayal of something approaching reality you have the White House, the seat of global power, acting for all the world like a lowly grifter, putting forward an image so utterly at odds with the reality that you'd have to really really want to believe - like being in love maybe or thinking you can get rich quick - to go along with their bald-faced lying.
There's another film upcoming about the King of England having to learn to speak in public so that the people can be rallied in the face of unspeakable horror. He has to put on a good false front, and he, apparently from the reality trailers, hires a nobody to do the training. How does this happen in a reality which so trails the movies?
Evidently, I can't really write, right? I have all these brilliant little points of light floating around in the soup of words which passes for my mind, and somehow, for some reason, I lack the discipline or training or self-belief or inborn talent to order them in ways that mesh with something in the future to cause them to crystallize here in the present on what was once a blank space.
I re-read myself as a fool and tip over into a kind of despair at what it is I just can't do, quite. I read the writings of published and accomplished voices and I see myself falling so short. Of young and talented voices. Of natural voices, and I just wish I were the analog of Valerie Plame or King George to be believable on my face no matter what, of substance, was lacking in actual fact.
And yet, I soldier on. Knowing full well that the blank page is always all that's between oneself and ones future. That scientific induction is really just a matter of teasing out the actual connections from the merely metaphoric and that at its root this is a fool's game because, apart from machinery which we construct - and even that doesn't always work flawlessly - all connections are probabilistic at best. There's always room for insertion of intentionality and therefore room to fool oneself.
I look on the blank page as I fill it and find, I'm afraid, even a little less than you might. I look to the fringes of the knowable universe and find nothing there in the direction of certainty, nor even a mirror nor even something very much not me. I am a diminutive jot.
As if there were ever anything other to be. Dutiful like a good Chinaman who still might be jettisoned overboard on his way across the mighty Niagara. Earnest like someone who believes that his word must be kept. Authentic likes someone whose greatest care is to appear not like anyone else. I'll take my chances being me. It ain't always easy. Sometimes I just wish it would happen all by itself.