Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Strange Dream, Part 2: Mr. Xe and me

And now for something completely different.
Fun with fiction. To continue my narrative of a dream I recently had where I found myself at Nier's Tavern. Not today's Nier's but as it looked in photos taken around 1900 and as often in real life hanging out with people you'd never expect to meet. The best part about drinking in a dream is you never really get drunk and it doesn't cost anything so you could spend as much money as your subconscious supplies you with.

Part 2: Mr. Xe and me

Talk about the old one of these things is not like the others: A modern world leader in modern clothing in an old neighborhood bar set in 1900. Then again, I seemed to be wearing my usual and also modern attire. But being a dream, this is all characters and imagery conjured up by my own subconscious mind. Being a lucid dream, it was a chance to gain access to thought processes and memories outside the reach of the waking mind and who knows what insights that could bring.

I mean it worked gangbusters for Randolph Carter and I might yet run into Nyarlathotep. Now that would be cool.

I had brought up the topic of Hong Kong with my newfound drinking buddy so long as I was buying, Ping, and it seems to have struck a nerve.

Ping glowered at me then said "Hong Kong is just a bunch of wet behind the ears youngsters out to trash the place and tank their own economy. Sure, ya dumbasses, go wreck yer own economy ya spoiled brats. See if I care if you're all starving in the gutter. Hell, they'll all be begging me for help before long then I'll show 'em, those buncha prissy wisenheimers. Those kids got no respect for nothing, the little smug brats. Not their elders, not their government, not their people, nothing! Hell, the little bastards even took to calling me Winnie the Pooh, can ya believe it? Where's the respect?" Ping picked up his glass gesturing to Louie for a refill and the bartender disdainfully poured another double of scotch.

But Ping wasn't done yet, he drank the double in one gulp then ranted on "they got more and better stuff and more privileges than anyone else in all China but do they appreciate my generosity? Naw, they still whine like little bitches. I work my ass off making China a big deal on the world stage, ya think they'd be proud to be on my team? Naw, it's commie go home, we want democracy and those stupid five demands" Ping said in a mocking tone. He paused a moment before practically spitting out "Democracy, huh, yeah I got yer democracy for ya right here, champ" he said angrily grabbing his crotch. Ping took a deep breath, shook his head for a moment then continued more calmly "you know what it is? too much British influence on those jerks. Those goddamn limey pansies made those Honkies forget how to be Chinese, filled their heads up with western bullshit. So I try to do the right thing and bring 'em up to speed on how we do things in China, make real Chinese people outta them, ya know, slowly and bit by bit. I try to make it easy on them and they kick up a stink. And things just get worse. I almost had Taiwan back in the fold offering them the same one country, two systems 50 year deal, but now this donnybrook in Hong Kong just queered that deal but good."

This whole spiel was nothing more than I expected and nothing more than comments from 50 cent army trolls and nationalistic Chinese commenters summarized. I heaved a sigh of disappointment as there were no new insights, deeper thoughts and meanings to be found here. All that talk about the deeper thought processes of the subconscious, the hidden doors to new perceptions and enhanced creativity were all hogwash. At least in my case. It was all a mundane rehash of whatever news I read or watched and history I either read or saw in old photographs. Maybe I should just take it for what it seemed: A brief trip to a different era in a historic old bar if only in my own dream.

As I was thinking this, things in the bar seemed paused. Louie the bartender stared off into space as he polished a glass with a towel and Ping just sat there with a cigarette in his hand, also staring off into nothing and I just noticed the crumpled soft pack of Lucky Strikes on the bar in front of him. Maybe this is where the dream is supposed to end. I was about to leave when I had that feeling that I was missing or forgetting something and it seemed important. I had to give it one more try.

"Hey Ping, you can moan and groan all you want about Hongkongers but you know what? You screwed the situation up all by yourself" I said. He turned to me and snorted "heh, you treat punks like punks. What else are ya gonna do? " I chuckled warming to the debate. "Your ham handed reaction, having your bulls go full retard with the batons and tear gassing the whole city only solidified the opposition and the CCP mouthpieces' rhetoric only made Hongkongers more aware of just how different they are from the PRC" I said. "Ya treat cockroaches like cockroaches- stomp on 'em and fumigate the joint to get rid of them." Ping responded matter of fact.  I leaned forward towards Ping and continued. "Three kids shot and that other kid that fell to his death in that parking garage not only made martyrs but adds fuel to the conspiracy theory fire about other suicides of guys in black being police murder victims. It's almost gone too far to find any common ground anymore. The lines are drawn hard and fast. You could've had Lam completely withdraw that bill after the first demonstration and made the whole thing go away, but no. You just had to show 'em what a tough guy you are and now you've got an independence movement going from a small group to making more and more people more sympathetic to it or see it as a good option. Whatever else happens, those Hongkongers will probably forever remain a thorn in your side because they'll never forgive the PRC or forget this. Call them cockroaches and all you do is validate and affirm that mainlanders and Hongkongers are really two separate and distinct peoples."

"Separate people?" Ping exclaimed incredulously. "Have a good look around, buddy boy. We're all Han Chinese, mainland and Hong Kong in case you haven't noticed. We're all of the same people no matter where in the world we are and China is all of our mother country. And we all belong to China- no exceptions. Those Hongkongers are a bunch of stuck-up snobs who think they're better than us on the mainland. What we're doing is knocking those brats down a peg, just teaching those snot-noses they're no better than we are, is all. Sooner or later, they'll get the picture and fall right in line. And the Taiwanese, they know they're Chinese and part of China. It's just a spat over politics and some old grudges from the 40's. In due time, bygones will be bygones and we'll get it all straightened out and they'll be back in the fold."

I heard Ping out but again, just the usual stuff anyone can get from the news. But most likely, the only argument in no greater depth or detail the PRC of the waking world has and not even a good argument at that. "In terms of this pan Chinese thing you're pushing, an analogy with Europe can be made. Just because Europeans are white Caucasians doesn't mean they are ethnically the same people. Europeans all have their own different nationalities with their own languages, history and cultures. Sure there are some commonalities aside from race such as Christendom, but the ethnic differences and long standing national rivalries are more and trump race alone. Even European Christendom, whatever is left as Europeans seem to have little use for religion anymore, is split between Catholic and various Protestant sects. And with Hong Kong, they've developed over time their own history and culture different and distinct from mainland China and use Cantonese as their primary language not the Mandarin of the mainland. The same can be said of the provinces which is why China since the time of the old emperors was called an empire and not a single nation. Wasn't Guangdong not too long ago protesting for independence among other things as there are occasional protests in other provinces too?"

"Who told you there's protests in Guangdong and other provinces?" Ping demanded. "Your media? You of all people should know your media is full of shit. But even if there were, just maybe were some noises being made here and there, well once in a while every family has their disagreements. And we'd appreciate it if you westerners would keep your noses out of our business and yer CIA would quit making trouble starting these protests and egging the malcontents on. Anyway what of it? You Americans protest and argue all the time and at the end of the day, you're still Americans. So same with us too. People just blowing off a little steam, nothing to it. We're all still Chinese at the end of the day. And the European Union?" Ping went on, "the only problem they have is they don't got a strong leader with some good lines of rhetoric to pull all the Europeans together. They need a guy like Putin instead of that washed up old hag, Merkel."

I had a good chuckle over this. "Ah, so how's your strong leadership and good lines of rhetoric working out for you in H.K.? I see videos of commie go home and Chinazi graffitti even some China go home. Or how about the time protestors stormed the Legco and graffittied all over the PRC symbols or when they were burning or tossing into the bay PRC flags? Yeah Ping, if you guys are a family, seems like Hongkongers view you as second cousins. What was that poll where 53% identify themselves as Hongkongers with 23% as Chinese or Chinese in Hong Kong and only 27% proud to be citizens of the PRC? And this poll was 6 months ago so I wonder how the numbers are now especially after the District Council elections. Now I'm just some outsider looking in and I've got no dog in this fight so for what it's worth, looks like a majority of Hongkongers are Han Chinese to be sure but they see themselves as Hongkongers first. Just as a Frenchman is a white Caucasian European just like a German, but he's still a Frenchman first and not a German. The harder you club 'em, the more Hongkongers will see themselves as their own ethnic group if not their own nationality. Face it Ping, you blew it."

Ping favored me with a look of disgust. "Whaddya mean I blew it?" He scoffed. "Whadda you know? You're a foreigner and don't know squat about Chinese people. I know my own people, how they think and how to handle them. The cops are arresting those rioting front line punks, thinning out their ranks and soon we'll have 'em all behind bars. The others don't want to get into trouble and will be too scared to try. The cops are even busting up the creeps who're collecting money and supplies for the rioters so soon all's there gonna be are the malcontents with their origami, Lennon walls and holding hands stuff. Nothing but pests walking around doing nothing. We pay no mind to their dumb demands and they'll see we mean business then they'll get bored and just go home. Problem solved." Ping said.

"I wouldn't be too sure of that if I were you, Ping" I said. "Maybe all you're doing is simply treating the symptoms, papering over the problem rather than addressing and curing the underlying problems. It's been what, about 7 months and the New Year's demonstrations were pretty big, probably as big as last June. So it looks like you've made no real progress, not even slowing it down, which still means you blew it." Both our glasses were empty so I called Louie over for refills.

I reached over and took a lucky from Ping's pack of cigarettes, calmy lit it and took a deep drag. Ping stared daggers at me but that didn't bother me as I was starting to put it all together, this dream, so I continued on a new track. "Y'know, Ping, even though you blew it in Hong Kong up till now, you can still beat this pro democracy movement. In fact, I don't understand how you and your boys managed to overlook the solution because not only was it staring you right in the face but it's so damned easy too." Ping favored me with a nasty sort of smile and sarcastically said "oh yeah? So you've got it all figured out, donchya wise guy. Some nobody, a punk-assed street kid from Corona figured out something that guys with brains who run whole countries didn't. Well, okay then, Einstein, let's hear your big idea. I could use the laugh."  I now had the key part of the puzzle of the meaning of this dream, its interpretation.

"Like I said it's easy and the CCP already knows what it needs to know to break the pro democracy movement into atoms and have Han Chinese Hongkongers begging you to come in and save them. You give them their 5 demands. All of them free and clear with no strings attached." I said as I sipped the dream scotch with its ghostly flavor and warmth prodding me on. "Give them the full democracy with universal sufferage they want. Then use Marxist materialist dialectics to break them into pieces."

The look on Ping's face was priceless. I thought his jaw would hit the floor and the seconds it took for him to respond seemed like ages. "Are you outta yer mind? Give them cockroaches what they want? Use material dialectics against them?" He said sounding as if he were about to have a stroke. "So that's your big idea, eh?" He sneered. "Well, you'll have to have your state security boys to manage it but only very little, I could recommend a couple of books that'll help." I replied.

At that, Ping burst out laughing and then said "Sure, easy peasy, coming from some nobody putz. You know who you're talking to here? I'm university educated, well educated, champ, I wrote books on material dialectics, worked my way up through to the party to the top spot. No mean feat that, so I got book smarts and street smarts and you couldn't hold a candle to me on either. I run a whole country and you only run your mouth. You recommend books to me? As if." Ping sniffed disdainfully. Then smiling said "Y'know, I gotta hand it to you, you really gave me a good laugh there. Recommend a couple of books, gimme a break. Ever think of doing stand up cause you're one funny guy as ain't nobody gonna take you or your nonsense seriously."

"Ok, then", I replied. "So I gave you my answer but a big shot and a real mastermind like you is too good to hear me out. Alright tough guy, do it your way 'cause it's been working out so well having your cops go captain caveman on anything that moves. Good luck getting the Taiwanese to trust you enough to believe your one country two systems bullshit is on the level now. Good luck getting anyone else in the world to believe you're anything more than a neurotic thug with a thin skin. And see how much longer any of them will do business with a bunch of two-bit chiselers like you and the CCP. And so we're done here and I'll wish you all good day, good health and be on my way." I said as I finished my drink, got up and started to walk out.

"Hold it right there, pal!" Ping growled. "Sit down cause I ain't not done with you yet. You don't just call me out like that, call me a chiseler and then think you can just walk away like it was nothing." He said sounding good and angry, pointing his finger at me and almost jabbing me in the chest with it as he spoke. Almost there, I thought as I put on my best mocking tone and said "Aw, now the great Ping wants to hear what a nobody putz has to say? "C'mon" I said now sounding more serious. "You've dug yourself a hole and can't figure out how to stop digging. I had a boss back when I was a kid who told me you can either work smart or work like a dog and you, my man, aren't working smart and having a hard time even working like a dog."

"Bullshit" Ping shot back sounding amused. I just want you to explain this plan of your so I can make a jackass outta you by pointing out how wrong you are and how stupid your reasons are." He took a swig of scotch then grinning maliciously said "Go on, you got the floor now, wonderboy. Let's get this over with, shall we?"

And here I'll end part 2. Next I'll go into the scheme. So until next time which will be the last installment in this experiment in fiction.

Donald Cavaioli

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