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 NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?

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Jcbaran

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PostSubject: NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?   Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:16 am

I'm posting this opinion piece from the New York Times since it makes a very good point that is related to Shasta and Shimano and Sasaki and all the other Zen and spiritual groups that became personality cults.  Who gets to tell the story?  As we noted, until this forum came along, there was only ONE story about Kennett, about Shasta - that was acceptable, that was TRUTH - and anyone who didn't go along with it one hundred percent was expelled, vilified, and all the rest.  Old story.  One true way and one true way to see things.  And we've noticed this in so many large and small religions, eastern and western.  Nothing enlightened about this kind of behavior - self-preservation, self-glorification, self-promotion.  Catholic Church / Sasaki / Shimano / Kennett - not much difference in the dance - abuse of power, grandiosity in leaders and dogma, one true way-story, denial, cover-up as long as you can, persecute those that question or speak out ..... common patterns in human nature. 

Anyway, so this piece posted here about the cultural revolution in China address this issue of denial and -- who gets to tell the story?  China wants to forget the cultural revolution just like Japan wants to forget WWII - or change and control the story.  Who writes history?  Can there be more than one story?  This is also the danger of the 'mono-story."  and what's inherently false about the whole Zen lineage schemes from India and China - the one patriarch transmits the truth to the next patriarch - as if there is only one person - whole thing is fabricated and also ridiculous - just some big simplistic myth that might sound good if you don't think about it. 

June 28, 2013 - NYTimes Opinion Page
Cultural Revolution Vigilantes
By JOE NOCERA


Even now, nearly six months later — during which time Amazon.com has been flooded with hundreds of negative reviews condemning her; a Web site was set up attacking her; and her friends and colleagues have been bombarded with e-mails denouncing her — it is a little hard to understand why Ping Fu’s memoir, “Bend, Not Break,” has aroused such fury in some quarters of the Chinese immigrant community.

Fu, 54, came to America from China nearly 30 years ago. In 1997, she founded a company, Geomagic, that was recently sold for $55 million. In 2005, Inc. magazine named her entrepreneur of the year. On Saturday, she’ll be speaking at the American Library Association’s convention.

In other words, Fu is the classic immigrant success story. You’d think that would be a source of pride for Chinese immigrants. Instead, she has been subjected to what they call in China a “human flesh search” — an Internet vigilante campaign designed to bring shame on its target.

Fu’s mistake — if you can call it that — was to include in her memoir scenes of growing up during the Cultural Revolution, China’s decade-long descent into madness. It was a period when people were routinely denounced and punished (and sometimes killed) for the crime of being an intellectual or teacher; when millions were sent to the countryside for “re-education”; and when teenagers ran rampant as “Red Guards” — all with the assent of Chairman Mao. It is impossible to read about the Cultural Revolution without conjuring up “Lord of the Flies.”

Three decades later, there is almost no one in China willing to delve into the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese government does not exactly encourage discussion of the subject. It remains a deeply painful subject to those who lived through it.

When I spoke to Fu recently, she told me that she had originally wanted to write a business memoir. But once she started writing, she realized that to explain the woman she is today, she needed to write about the girl she had been during the Cultural Revolution. A daughter of privilege, she was taken from her family in Shanghai when she was 8 and sent to live in a dormitory far away. She was raped by Red Guards when she was 10, she writes. She worked in factories and had to raise her younger sister. Although she says that she saw atrocities, she also writes about kindnesses that were afforded her. (Disclosure: I am currently writing a book for Portfolio, which published “Bend, Not Break.”)

In China, a blogger named Fang Zhouzi, well known for his Internet denunciation campaigns, decided to attack her. Quickly, Amazon was flooded with one-star reviews denouncing her as a liar. Her critics, most of them Chinese immigrants, picked apart her story, and, though they found a few real errors, most of their criticism was highly speculative. Yes, they seemed to be saying, bad things happened during the Cultural Revolution, but they couldn’t have happened to Ping Fu.

“School was interrupted a bit, but there was still school,” sniffed Cindy Hao, in attempting to refute Fu’s claim that she had worked in a factory. Hao, a Chinese-born journalist who lives in Seattle, has become one of Fu’s most vociferous critics. “Ping Fu made up her whole story,” she told me.

(Note: Hao, a freelance translator whom the Beijing bureau of The New York Times uses on occasion, helped report an article by Didi Kirsten Tatlow. She says that she became a critic only after that article was published. She is no longer permitted to do reporting for the bureau.)

You can’t spend time talking to Hao and other critics without thinking that the real issue here is not whether Fu’s book has errors, but rather who gets to tell the story of the Cultural Revolution — or even whether it should be told at all. Roderick MacFarquhar, an expert on the Cultural Revolution who teaches at Harvard, told me that for anyone who lived through it, the memories are ones they would prefer not to conjure up. “If you were a teenager in China during the Cultural Revolution, you were likely either being beaten up or were doing the beating. Either way, it is humiliating to think about.” Yes, Ping Fu’s book has mistakes in it. But it is hard to see how they justify the level of extreme, unrelenting vilification she has suffered. Her real sin, it appears, is that she stirred a pot most Chinese would prefer to leave alone.

In recent months, Hao tried to get Ping Fu disinvited from speaking at the American Library Association convention. In one letter, she described Fu as lacking “honesty, integrity and trustworthiness.”

From where I’m sitting, it sounds a lot like the denunciations that were so routine, and so awful, during the Cultural Revolution.
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?   Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:13 pm

I would love to tell you my story of China , it would not all get passed Lise , maybe I could etirw backwards that may fool her,however there is nowhere else like China..it's so Chinese . The layers of spin,of truth of the right story. The right story sticks, it has to or you are out and that is dangerous.
I am lucky i saw China from the back streets, parts of Fujian Province, where i went, surprisingly no one had seen a white man and they thought I was a ghost. where ever I went I became a focus of attention the masses wanted to see me but not get too close. Once I became acclimatised i could take fear out of any situation by simply waving ,I would get out of a taxi , hundreds of people would see me and i would wave amazingly they would all wave back, I think it also had some thing to do with the long grey hair,but there I was a ghost of Fujian Province.
But one cant leave down town China with mentioning the loos ( polite English for toilet) because very often they do not have any..and if they do they are mixed ladies and men and there are no doors.Now that is fine if one is very careful about what one eats...but this is the down town China that is not mentioned in the official story. Happily during a sudden need for a loo, and there were not any, out of desparation I was allowed into Chairman Mao's private building of some sort, and walking passed ornate gold inlay I was personally shown his private loo complete with attendant. At that moment I would happily accepted any story about anyone,anything,any organisation, I would have signed that anyone was god,enlightened,the greatest, whatever...as long as I could INSTANTLY get into that private room.
Show me your original face before you were born...Just open that door man.
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breljo

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PostSubject: Re: NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?   Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:52 pm

LOL, CMH, I can totally relate.  If you've lived long enough I am certain that all of us have alittle story to tell like that.  Many decades ago, on a return trip from Mexico City to El Paso Texas, during which a friend and I decided to cancel our return flight and take a bus back so we could see a bit of the Chihuahua Desert (we were young and very naive then and although Mexico was never a safe place to travel around in, it wasn't as dangerous as it is today) I soon became acquainted with the Mexican toilets that surely rival the Chinese ones in ambiance.  Montezumas revenge struck shortly after boarding the bus and since the bus didn't have a toilet on board I was at the mercy of the driver to stop every few hours at some little village.  It was the most agonizing trip I ever took. !!!!!!!!! Only my good health and youth at that time spared me the ultimate of embarrassments and no amount of stench and swarms of flies deterred me from being extremely grateful for reaching another outhouse just in the nick of time.  Just in case someone not familiar with the term,  Montezumas revenge=dysentery
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?   Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:04 pm

yep I remember El Paso. I t was there in the  olden days I rode there from Neuvo Casas on a beautiful Appaloosa a lively mare at 16 hands, I had to ride her with just a blanket as it was the tradition of the local people I was staying with. we did a long route as they were in search of some lophophora to do a religious ceremony. The ceremony was important to them as it reconnected them with their ancestors and also the animal kingdom.
I was fascinated, although a little concerned, however El Paso meant journeys end and I was ready for another go at being civilised. I had got to know my new friends very well after all they had fed me whilst I helped update the irrigation system, and as I discovered a new summer well I was well in 9sorry about that) and if I wanted, I could be part of the family.
 
The journey to our hopeful realisation or end of the road was troubling as at night after every day of travel we were heading towards the sinset, this worried me , but I thought maybe it was a scenic route, scenic it sure was, I got to understand the journey and the need for the journey, and that it did not matter where one ended up, I fell into an easy relaxed way of viewing life. here I was with experienced lophophra seekers, People who had been eagles and  had been adorned in gold,which apparently foe a few hours had taken them away from their challenging surroundings. It seemed the greater the animal the greater the person could assume they were, so for the first time I could see people stature grow before me as they related their stories of who they once were. It was exciting,....knowing my luck I would be a chinchilla or shifty rodent of some sort, maybe even destined to be a morsel for a huge soaring eagle. Imagine how I felt, my sense of importance, as the summer well finder, would dissolve into blind panic as I became( to everyone's merriment) a rodent with a long tail,
I became determined that if we eventual ended up in the right place and found what we were looking for that I would be a somebody maybe important, maybe if I chose to stay I could rise up in the ranks and even have people beneath me doing what I wanted,looking after my needs...maybe I once was an eagle maybe a big golden eagle,maybe I could jie,who would know my plot grew I could pretend ,I would of course not eat the peyote but secretly spit it out just in case I embarrassingly became a rodent, but watching how they all reacted, I could act in the same way and say I was meeting my ancestors and had gold clothes and in fact was an eagle..
 
Well all did go according to plan I told them all about the eagle that flew over them in a looking for prey type way, it seemed to work the levels of respect for me grew,but then somewhere near Janos karma caught up with me, I met Montezuma . My plot was seen through I was indeed human, I was after all the cunning rodent,I was the laughing stock, I had to beat a hasty lonesome retreat just me and Xanthia the horse... that led me neatly into zen and eastern religions that were just starting to hit the masses,I knew it was where I belonged,it would be the making of me.
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breljo

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PostSubject: Re: NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?   Wed Jul 03, 2013 7:29 pm

You've covered a lot of ground in your life, CMH, a life of adventure and discovery, finding wells in the land of Huitzilopochtli, all the way to the other side of the world and Zen practice. Not bad for one lifetime!!!
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: NYTimes: Who gets to tell the story?   Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:38 pm

Who said it was one


and anyway as Josh asks "who gets to tell the story?"
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