Liu Xiaobo awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize

By Cindy M. Carter, published

On this day, October 8th (John Lennon's birthday), writer, literary critic, political essayist and democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.



# 1.   

If there's surplus translation energy still floating around the blog, I think we should work up some translations of Liu Xiaobo's works -- the media doesn't seem to have anything of his, but he was a fairly accomplished poet and writer. A lot of his work is collected here.

I'll start:


In the dark night
I turned a light on
weak light
could only brighten the space of a palm

with light
I can think that there's hope


Spring's here!
Village dogs
along the long dike
and in the fields
chase around and romp
just like dogs in spring heat

I know
feeling, this thing
is like sex and seasons
when you oppress it with all your might,
like a dog dreaming of a lover,
it will go to the fence gate and peek out

Let's see if that formats correctly. Who's next? I know you're all just sitting at your desks...

N., October 8, 2010, 6:23p.m.

# 2.   

A Night Without Moonlight

This night is a night without moonlight,
and alone, I pace along the riverside.
Oh, my dear one--already you've
gone to that far away place.
With only stars flashing, flashing,
this night is a night without moonlight.
Unattended shadows drift in the wind,
and this deepens my heart's anguish.
Oh, far away stars--
you teach me what is distance.
This night is a night without moonlight.
In dark mood, I hear my blood
gurgling forth from my heart
Oh Ocean--you truly know:
when Sun grows great as you, so is my time of death.
This night is a night without moonlight.
The flowers on the table already sleep.
The clock sighs its even breaths.
Oh Time--stop!
I fear this blinking passing.


r.t. cotton, October 8, 2010, 10:12p.m.

# 3.   

Gonna throw in two more short ones:


The eagle sees the earth
and thinks the world is grey.
The chicken sees the sky
and thinks the world is blue.

Humankind's tragedy, too,
is often not living
in our own world.


She came to my home,
entered the front gate,
walked down the path,
and stood in the center of the yard.

She says: This rooster's gorgeous.
I laughed.
Then she says:
This piglet's really beautiful.
I laughed as before.
Still she says:
This flower's really pretty.

I know what she said were lies,
but my heart is still warm.

r.t. cotton, October 8, 2010, 10:54p.m.

# 4.   

I'm sort of new at this. I just picked a zawen at random:

How Can Keeping the Lights On Still Be This Hard

I was just visiting home a few days ago, and there happened to be a power outage. It was right in the busy season for the farmers—I don't know how they managed to work from before dawn to after dusk, now that they're used to electricity. After I got all the little pieces of the whole story, though, I felt like I had fishbones in my throat: I won't be happy until I cough it up.

The situation is like this: for historical reasons, the electricity my village uses is from another county, and the village selects two representatives to collect and then deliver the electricity fees, and their salaries are covered by the village. From the time we first got electricity up until now, the price of each unit has continually increased from 0.5 yuan to 0.7 yuan, and each month you had to add one unit to each family's bill regardless of how much they used, everyone had to add one unit to their actual consumption. But this had a beautiful name: "electrical circuit consumption fee." It wasn't that this fee hadn't been paid promptly, but they turned off the power anyway, and since electricity first arrived this happened at least twice a year, which pretty much befuddled everybody.

First of all, this writer goes to work at a particular work unit, and its power cost per unit in the city is 0.47 yuan, plus now there should be one unified price for city and countryside. So how did the village price of 0.7 yuan per unit come about? Was it authorized by the commodity price department, or did it undergo a confirmation committee? After all, you can't just quote a price from nowhere! You've got to have some kind of minimal justification! You might say that this has to do with the salary of the people who collect electricity payments, but that's the second problem, which we turn to now.

Second of all, everybody knows that electricity is a commodity. When our farmers go to the city to sell the crops they raised, they haven't heard yet that first you hire a salesperson, and then let that salesperson recoup their salary from your customers. To take a step back, this 0.47 yuan/unit price should include all sorts of fees, and if it didn't, how would such a huge electrical enterprise survive? Even if everything wasn't included, why not open a building and hire someone to take the fees, you could charge high prices and that'd go over okay, all in all at least the city and the countryside would be on the same level, and you'd avoid creating too big a difference between them. But you didn't do this, and people can't do anything but doubt you, you're just cheating hayseed villagers.

Sam, October 9, 2010, 12:21a.m.

# 5.   

Second part. Did I break your webpage?

Third of all, even though our peasants have broad backs and a lot of patience, you just can't be so cruel to them. One unit costs 0.47 yuan, but you charge 0.7 yuan, and you still want to add a unit. At our house each month's fee is only five units' worth, after you add your one unit charge, how much are you getting? Plus, your "electrical circuit consumption fee" isn't logically applied, adding a unit per month regardless of the level of use. People with even a little knowledge would never do this, it's clearly an unfair tax!

Fourth of all, you constantly use outages to threaten the villagers, in fact you turn the power off all the time, how can you justify turning the whole village's power off? Even if your collection comes up short, it's an individual who did it. I've heard the story that if one person commits a crime, calamity comes to their family and neighbors, but what kind of age do we live in? We are lifting the flag of the rule of law high as we enter into the twenty-first century! Don't you think that your behavior is entirely outside the law?

Finally, why do you do this? Give me a reason, provide some kind of explanation. If you have some logic or evidence then all our words are empty. But otherwise —

Better make some changes at the head office!

Sam, October 9, 2010, 12:22a.m.

# 6.   

Fixed it! And thanks so much for these samples! It's true that there's not nearly enough of his writing in English…

Eric Abrahamsen, October 9, 2010, 2:19a.m.

# 7.   

They're not so complex -- he has a kind of proto Han Dongish attitude towards poetry (the zawen I wouldn't have even been able to try). It would only take a talented, fashion-forward website administrator (or a Cindy Carter!) a half hour to rough out something and post it under the name "Michael Vick" or somesuch other name.

N., October 9, 2010, 4:23a.m.


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