All posts by Miss Lapine

Singles’ Day

What is so special about 11.11?

1, looks like a single man without anything, isn’t it (well please use your imagination here, would you)? According to the unofficial history, during early 90’s, there were 4 single male students in Nanjing University going to organize a speed dating event. When they were trying to set a date, someone suggested it should be 11.11 because it symbolized four single students. Thus, 11.11 Singles’ Day was born.

It is very similar to some of the events which are very popular in Japan. Singles’ Day (Guanggun Jie in Chinese pronunciation) was developed from school culture. In early 90’s, it was just considered as a dating event among university students. So, it’s a little bit like Japanese Valentines’ Day (Feb 14) and White Day (Mar 14), which are the best chances for single school students to “confess their love” to their beloved one.

Why Valentines’ Day is not as much popular in China, and instead students needed to create an original event for finding love in early 90’s? Probably because the government has been fighting against Western culture since a long time ago. Imagine western festivals mostly have lots of moral values behind, which PRC does not want their people know too much about them.

However, PRC does not really ban its people to celebrate western festivals. Borrowed from the Marxists, all kinds of cultural events could be tools, especially for money making. It is not impossible for one to find young people celebrating Christmas, Western new year or Valentines’ Day, however it is usually more on the consumer side instead of religious side. Well it is more or less the same trend in the western world, right? The only difference is Chinese people don’t have the same public holidays. But yea, still, they can consume and enjoy the festive discounts on something something. Not bad at all!

Consumer Jesus by Banksy (2005)
Consumer Jesus by Banksy (2005)

The reason why I related consumer behavior to festivals here because 11.11 was no longer just a “dating” festival among students. 3 years ago, the monopolies of online shopping sites in China “redefined” what Singles’ Day should be by introducing all kinds of attractive discounts, rebates and lucky draws in this special day. It was claimed that “11.11” had created the world biggest scale of one-day online shopping event of 2014.

Between love and shopping, it seems that the latter one has won the battle among Chinese singles.

Inspired by propaganda poster, the advertisement of Chinese Singles' Day.
Inspired by propaganda poster, the advertisement of Chinese Singles’ Day.

Are you a spy?

If you a white foreigners and you are eventually traveling in Hong Kong with your iphone or camera, you may probably be asked,

“Are you a spy?”

I don’t know if you have been following the “Hong Kong Umbrella movement“, which was called Hong Kong 2014 protest on Wikipedia (what a name). Indeed it was not very pleasant to see such a large-scaled social movement to break out: Checking social media, worrying about friends and feeling disappointed to “HK puppet political power group” (I refuse to call it as government because it does not govern at all) has become my daily routine. Sad is sad, but thanks God that we have a group of people called “Blue ribbon”, the opponents of the social movement supporters “Yellow Ribboners”. If you know Chinese (if not, please use Google translation), you will find lots of fun just to read the comments from “Blue Ribboners”!

Besides of blindly believing some random screen shots captured from TV drama or photos from the internet have truly happened in the reality (I will explain this to you next time, it is super funny), some of the Blue Ribboners starts to suspect or accuse the “white guys” living in Hong Kong are actually spies spent by the (evil) Western world.

N is one of my good friends who has been living in Hong Kong for quite a while and he manages to speak okay Mandarin and type in traditional Chinese. He used to study political science and that’s why he followed the news of Umbrella movement, which was closely enough to write a series of journals about what was happening the past month. We youngsters love to discuss the movement on the social media a lot, especially on Facebook. Thanks to the horrible settings of Facebook, it is so easy to gain attention from your FB friends whenever you write something on your own wall (that’s okay), or others’ wall (no, I don’t like it).

Once, N published his opinions about the politics of China. Nothing personal, just some technical analysis as usual. All of the sudden, there was one of his FB friends who was from Mainland commented on his statue. Here is his honest (or you call it bold) question:

“Have you been trained to write about this and left so many comments on news about the so called Umbrella Revolution… I just read the news that so many foreigners are trained to do so.

!!! After reading that, it kept me and my another friend laughing very hard for some time. GOSH! That’s the power of Chinese propaganda news! In my mind, spies are like James Bond who can carry out a lot of dangerous missions or beautiful Russian spies who can capture “important guys” to steal all kind of secret information. Oh my friend N is just a very typical young man who likes to express his point of views on Facebook and blog!

And there is another news about a foreign PHD student who was accused to be a spy:

I still remember I was once kicked out by a pair of Russian couples who worked for Russian National TV stated in Berlin. The reason was, their boss suspected me and my boyfriend were spies. Well, back then I was doing my ENG to CHI translation and my boyfriend was writing a X-box program, that truly alerted their wifi system, which was actually underĀ supervisory control directed from the TV station. We showed them our work and obviously they were scared and did not want to believe us…

This very unique couch-surfing experience in Berlin helped me to understand the extreme communist logic about the internet world: Information can be more dangerous than guns and fire!

On the contrary, back to the FB story, if expressing one own views are considered as a “very unusual behavior” and it should be “trained”, then you may realize how impossible to have freedom of speech in that country, and how “honest” their comments on opposing the movements could be…

I am a painter

“Colour has taken possession of me; no longer do I have to chase after it, I know that it has hold of me forever… Colour and I are one. I am a painter.” Paul Klee confessed his love of colour after a trip to Tunisia before WWI.

I wonder, is there anything more bold, explosive and beautiful speech than one can declare his marriage to where his passion lies?

Paul Klee, a Swiss-German artist who was born 1879, is renowned for his magical world of colours. His work is not just colourful, but also technical, which is able to reveal different layers of colours.

A promise to the mystery, Klee offers his audiences not just a painting, but a theater of colours, dots and lines. Audiences are welcome to guess and explore both the visible forms, and other invisible possibilities: for example, musicality or philosophical concepts.

fish magic
Fish Magic (1925)

When fish intermingles with flowers and children, the earth meets aqua, light glows in the dark… Fish Magic (1925) celebrates the philosophical realm of invisible visibility in arts. It is ambiguous, however exciting at the same time, to encourage audiences follow the line and tempt them to pull off the tower with their vision.

Mind, like a trigger, makes our visions like a bullets to go through the canvas and have a look “inside”. No more trompe-l’oeil, if we are determined to unveil all the illusions in front of us.

organizationRemembrance Sheet of a Conception 1918
Organization (left) and Remembrance Sheet of a Conception (1918) (right) express the horror of WWI.

Paul is not just an artist. He is also a pioneer who uses the depth of colours to leads us to go beyond the visible, cultured reality.