Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Chin to China, part 1


“Know your enemy as well as yourself,” SunTzu the strategist says. Chinese thought begins with strategy.

The humble Asian-American Writers Workshop says, “Follow the lead of Chinese-American Maxine Hong Kingston. Her re-vision of Far Mulan caused a revolution and a re-thinking of and in AAwriting.” There is however a caveat: If her Far Mulan is real she has launched a revolution in the literary world.

If she has faked Mulan, Kingston and all the writers of the AAWriter’s Workshop are on record as being committed white racists.

“I doubt that!” the woman who seems to be a feminized Russell Leong with the same jaw, and dimples the same lips but darker more swollen, not that Russell’s aren’t full, but hers are more full. She’s the AAlit expert from Hong Kong UCLA waves like a trophy over the Asian American Studies Dept. She’s become a white racist for Kingston in the name of white feminism, to prove she’s become an American.

She defends THE WOMAN WARRIOR as a “very original autobiography” When she was new in America, and didn’t know the autobiographical form, she was offended by Kingston’s putting Yue Fei’s tattoos of Mulan. Over time she realized that Kingston was using the mistaken understanding of Mulan to dramatize her search for the meaning of being a Chinese-American. And when does the wrongly unnamed tattooed warrior Yue Fei make his case?

“What kind of case can he make?” Hong Kong big dog lushes out like oil “He was not in the book. Not one mention,” from her mouth.

“There goes your ‘original autobiography’ argument. If she didn’t come to realize she got the tattoos from Yue Fei, she believes her victimized tattooed Mulan is real. Does Kingston ever confront her mistake?”

How did Kingston come by her seeing the tattooed general Yue Fei as the virgin warrior Mulan, in the first place? Five hundred years separate the Mulan the girl warrior who was famous and the birth of Yue Fei. Nowhere in the book does Kingston discover the tattoos she gave Mulan really belonged to Yue Fei. Where in WOMAN WARRIOR does she restore Mulan to the first expression male-female equality in the poetry of the world, and not a tattooed victim of her parents’ cruelty?

To defend Kingston she has to falsify all of Chinese history and literature. She asserts that the autobiography is a Chinese form, that the tattoo was not the mark of a criminal, that feminism was flourishing outside of misogynist China in 550 ad when THE BALLAD OF MULAN was published, that Kingston is right when she says “myths change,” that Americans have the right to change the facts of another country’s heroes, and “artistic license” frees artists of being charged with bias or the more severe “white racism,” that artistic “style” has the power to transform objective fact. Peter Kwong, of Hunter College, New York, another Chinese seems to have transformed himself into a Chinese-American through the same falsification of Chinese lit and history. In his CHINESE-AMERICANS: the immigrant experience, written with Dusanka Miscevic, he accepts Kingston’s fake Mulan as real, and characterizes my attack on Kingston as a phony and my attack on Kingston is an act of pure misogyny. Helen Zia, a Chinese-American born in Newark, NJ, in her ASIAN-AMERICAN-DREAMS: The Emergence of an American, sees my defense of the Chinese children’s chant against Kingston’s revision, as “unfortunate.” Amy Tan accuses the nameless critics of her work of jealousy and refuses to talk about criticism of her and Kingston.

In the Summer of 1999 I presented the Arthur Waley translation of real BALLAD OF MULAN, as reprinted in the bi-lingual Singapore comic book MULAN JOINED THE ARMY published by C.C. Low’s Canfonian PTE LTD, and my own translation to demonstrate that the translation process doesn’t create new facts, at the NAROPA INSTITUTE’S Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. I was greeted with nonplussed silence. One student asked a question that he confessed was asked because he was embarrassed for me not getting any questions. That Kingston’s Mulan might be phony had never occurred to them. I was the manly proof of Kingston’s lone heroic feminism against woman-hating Chinese culture, and the girl-hating Chinese children’s story.

Later I was approached by a yin yang team of white faculty who glowered at me and said, I should be ashamed to be a man instructing whites on Chinese culture.


“You had no right to say those terrible things about Maxine Hong Kingston’s heroic book.” At the University of Oklahoma, an expert of folk tales challenged me on Kingston with, “Then why has President Clinton awarded her a Humanities Medal?”

“Only racists like Kingston’s Mulan.”

“Are you accusing the President of racism?”

“You’re the one who said he gave a medal.”

A Kingston fan and teacher from China challenged my assertion that only Chinese Christians wrote autobiographies. “What about Lum Yutong?” she asked with triumph in her voice. Lum Yutong? Who was Lum Yutong? The high mountain air had affected my head.

“Did he write an autobiography?” I asked stalling for time. Then Lin Yutang, the Mandarin pronunciation of Lum Yutong, the author of MY COUNTRY MY PEOPLE hit me. “He was a Christian, wasn’t he?” My shouting shocked her. “Wasn’t he?!” I wasn’t asking. I was telling the facts. Her face turned red. “WASN’T HE?!” She shriveled up into the fetal position. “He was a Christian! WASN’T HE?!”

She began to cry.

“Don’t cry! This is college! Answer me!”

Her answer was to run from the room.

I presented the real Mulan at The Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. They refused to print what I had said, but paid me, and invited me to spend the night in the Thurber bed.

Kingston had slept in the James Thurber bed of the Thurber House. I chose not sleep in the Thurber bed that had held Kingston’s body overnight. POETS & WRITERS Magazine cut my remarks about Kingston and Tan, from an interview about Kingston and Tan and asked me for subscription to their white racist magazine. The Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle, good old hometown papers have treated me likewise. Only the L.A. Times, thanks to Carolyn See, mention that I call Kingston a fake, but she was careful not say why. Her daughter Lisa See peddling her racist lies in ON GOLD MOUNTAIN repeats word or word her mother’s suggestion that my dislike of Kingston and Tan is misogynist.

Am I a misogynist for defending THE BALLAD OF MULAN as the first bald-faced expression a male-female equality in all the world’s poetry? From 550 AD:

The he rabbit tucks in his feet to sit.

The she rabbit dims her shiny eye.

Two rabbits hopping for the tall grass.

Who can tell which is the he, and which the she?

If Chinese-Americans and the Chinese from China can no longer tell the difference between the real and the fake, Maxine Hong Kingston can, and does, with relish but not in the WOMAN WARRIOR.

She admits she pulled a fast one on her publishers, the public, four universities and the ultimate --President Clinton in an interview with Kay Bonetti, found on page 40 of the feminist-to-feminist CONVERSATIONS WITH MAXINE HONG KINGSTON, edited by Paul Skenazy and Tera Martin, U. Press of Mississippi: Jackson

KINGSTON: "Oh, yes, the myths I change. I change them a lot, and I've been criticized for that by the traditionalists because they don't understand that I have no intention of just recording myths. I mean, I'm not an archivist. I want to give you an example of myths that I've changed. When the woman warrior has the words carved on her back, that's actually a man's story. It's about a man named Yüch Fei [Yue Fei, Ngawk Fei] who had a vow carved on his back by his mother. Now, I took that and gave that to a woman. I gave a man's myth to a woman because it's part of the feminist war that's going on in THE WOMAN WARRIOR, to take the men's stories away from them and give the strength of that story to a woman. I see this as an aggressive storytelling act, and its part of my own freedom to play with myth, and I do feel that the myths have to be changed and played with all the time, or they die. The problem with doing all that is that these myths are not known to most of my readers. So I had to figure out a way to inform people at the same time play around with them. I think at that point I just decided not to tell anybody the original stories, and then tell the story, and I just figured, well, let the scholars figure it out later, but they've actually attacked me for not sticking with the story."

The woman who looks like the editor of UCLA’S AMERASIA JOURNAL, defends Kingston by dissing her, “I doubt she knew Yue Fei when she wrote WOMAN WARRIOR,” she sniffs. Only Asian-American’s use Ignorance as an excuse? But then where did Yue Fei’s tattoos come from? And what of Stupid’s finding Kingston’s autobiography “original?” Where in THE WOMAN WARRIOR does Kingston admit her mistake?

The baring of CA ignorance of the still published, still translated, still recited, still gamed in Chinatown sixth century children’s chant, THE BALLAD OF MULAN as a badge of Americanism has struck fear of all Chinese children’s stories in all the Chinese-American writers writing today. “Don’t get on me for Maxine Hong Kingston,” a writer I used to be close to shouted, “I have a kid to support.” He supports that kid by his writing and teaching AALit. So he’s afraid of the Chinese children’s story for the sake of his kid. He admits the program he started, is racist. He blames his being a coward on his kid. Wow! What about the kids the BALLLAD was written for?

I’m in the Chinatown apartment of Japanese married to a Chinese, playing with their very active boy and talking about Kingston. “Aren’t we so far removed from China that we don’t know the stories anymore?”

“Are you so far removed that you can’t go downstairs to the bookstore and buy, or read the real stories? If you don’t like that store you can find another bookstore on Broadway. Where do these excuses that blind us to what’s around us, come from?”

Haven’t you, a Chinese in China who’s had a Chinese childhood noticed that Fear has made all Chinese writing in America and Chinese-American writers afraid of all the stories of their childhood? You, the litterateurs of China have yet to be heard from, on the question of Kingston’s Mulan being real or fake. Has she buffaloed you too?

The students from China who write me from surprising parts of the world seem bewildered by the question of Kingston’s Far Mulan being real or fake. The Americans have their own version of Mulan, they say. If they do, it is a racist version because Americans are not Chinese, and Far Mulan was Chinese or created by a Chinese.

“I disagree,” the Stupid from Hong Kong said in a familiar voice from the movies. “It is the right of Americans (or Westerners) to create their own versions of foreign cultures.” The voice of Hildegard Neff!

“That means that the Chinese have their version of Queen Elizabeth II doing the naughty with Cromwell and for that matter a version of the dance of Elizabeth I over Shakespeare’s poetic codes and hidden meanings? Writers don’t mess with names and don’t change the facts of history.”

What would the Kingston fans make of Thomas Paine, the Anglo-American Frenchman who coined the ideas and the name “the United States of America” before there was a United States of America, had ideas that contributed to the French Revolution, and won a death sentence in England? Three nations in turmoil because of one man’s writing COMMON SENSE and THE RIGHTS OF MAN. Nations come and go, but history is history. He was the first to write that there was no divine right of monarchs, and it wasn’t natural for a man to be owned by a monarch, and invented 18th century republican democracy. If a monarch had no rights over a man, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote in her 1789, answer to RIGHTS OF MAN, THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN he also had no rights over a woman, and feminism was invented.

Kingston has a right to be a racist, if she wants to be a racist. I have a Chinese obligation to call a white racist a white racist. And you, China you need to take charge of your culture.

There is no “American version of Far Mulan,” as there is no Chinese version of George Washington. All American versions of Ebenezer Scrooge give credit to the original and the author.

It’s like jazz. You might have given “Goodnight, Irene” a sound that is yours, like Lead belly, but he acknowledges he was not the first to sing the song, he didn’t write it. He learned it from Anonymous, the Weavers made their “arrangement,” based on hearing Lead belly sing. Lead belly and the Weavers acknowledge they didn’t create the words or music we hear on record. That’s a nod to “Anonymous” the unknown author of the words and music.

“I’m a Christian and believe in the prince of peace, Jesus Christ. I’m only taking this course because it’s required,” a student pipes up.

“No, you’re not,” I say, “This is my class, my subject, my classroom.” And it was my class. Russell Leong, the editor of UCLA’s AMERASIA JOURNAL had gotten me Regent’s Professorship, teaching the children’s story and the Heroic Tradition. Unfortunately I had asked to teach with the woman with Russell’s feminine twin. I had intended to infect her with my knowledge, not the students’ plea for grades. “Get out, now!”

“May Christ…”

“Get out of my classroom. No Bible thumping, no saving children’s asses, no religion allowed. The rest of you Christians you either live with my hostility or get out. Now, please!”

Do you have classes like this in China? These are grad students. Top skim of the cream. Twelve of the best and brightest? They all impress me as totally empty, untaught and stupid. What I am anxious to teach … the literature and meaning of Chinese children’s lit and the heroic tradition…they aren’t anxious to learn.

They don’t know what a “myth” is. That’s the stupid prize from Hong Kong’s fault. She argues against the fact that myths don’t change. It has never occurred to her that, that’s why they’re myths, not legends. She cites Kingston, who teaches in the English Dept at Berkeley, who asserts she changed the myth of Mulan to prevent it from dying. To save the myth of George Washington it’s legitimate to change his facts? What nonsense. I challenged her to name a myth that’s changed. My hand was on my copy of Bullfinch’s MYTHOLOGY, ready to flip it open. Of course she couldn’t. She asserted “artistic license.”

Of course every artist has license to be racist if they want. “Artistic license” does not free one to be racist without being called a racist. “Artistic license” is not a God given license to lie; it is not a law but an artist’s conceit. All defenses, and justifications, for Kingston’s lying about Mulan and China are racist in content and style.

Russell Leong had gotten me a Regent’s guest professorship to teach this course with a woman from Hong Kong determined to “become an American.” Her brand of “Americanism” is “Feminism” and “American feminism” is a religious belief. The bottom line of religious belief is faith, not fact.

This true believer in her right of UCLA professorship to pronounce without proof that “texts naturally change” (they do not), that “myths change” (they do not), that the “tattoo was not the mark of a criminal” ( The phrase “the mark of a criminal” is an old Chinese phrase from the First Empire [ 221-207 BC ] )-Her defense of Kingston to prove her Americanism goes so far as to deny Confucius said, “Your unmarked skin and uncut hair are gifts from your parents.” If he said that (and he did) that would mean that Mulan’s parents would not mark the purity of the skin they had given her and protected while she was at home.

She basks in the glamour raining its confetti and light on her as a Chinese with no Chinese text behind her from real Hong Kong. She had the following of a tick tack toe champion who’d just made the record books.

I would hate to have gotten stuck in championship tic tack toe. I was stuck in Aiiieeeee! And the Big Aiiieeeeee! as the last words to be said about Asian American lit till the AA critics of AA lit, I was sure they would be along soon, made the case for the lit as lit in the first place, inevitably they would come upon the chaos of their own time and the emergence of AA lit in 1970 with Kai-yu Hsu and Helen Palubinska’s ASIAN-AMERICAN AUTHORS, and find that Kai-yu was not wholly convinced by my arguments to consider any publication by a CA, including autobiographies as “Chinese-American writing.” It’s not anything I’d want to write, but the fact is most of CA writing is the autobiographical form.

The critics capable of giving a literary definition of Asian-American lit just haven’t appeared. Nor have AAmagazines or newspapers, with critics appeared between the writers and the public. Without critics and magazines AAwriters have no public. Without a relationship of AA writers, AA critics in between, and an AA public, there is no AA lit. The AAWriters are servants of white culture. They serve, they entertain and do what they are told.

We were young and arrogant but still oh so right in the two Aiiieeeee!s but we didn’t make the
difference between the “Chinese-American” and the “Chinaman” real enough.

The difference should be obvious to you the Chinese writers of China. The “Chinese-American cannot or will not tell a Chinese children’s story for every “American” kid story they tell.

On C-Span now! -somebody’s panel of Vietnam war writers. The writer of a famous book that was the basis of one of the definitive and famous films on the Vietnam war wanders into talking about a Viet vet of the war who had learned English as a Viet Cong, read American writers Melville, Walt Whitman, Jack London and Ernest Hemingway when Kennedy was President on into the war. And went from camp to camp lecturing on Melville through Hemingway throughout the war.

“What authors of Viet literature did you teach your soldiers?” the former guerilla asked. The white telling the story didn’t answer question. That was the story I heard him tell.

He says that he was in units where Walt Whitman was never mentioned. The other authors, vets all, on the panel guffaw in recognition.

As Charlie Chan says Contradiction please, the Viet had asked about white knowledge of Viet lit to balance the Viet knowledge of American lit.

Oblivious to what he’d revealed about himself he wonders out loud and on camera about why Jack London was a great American writer to the Viet. Perhaps because of London’s high regard among Communists, he mused.

Off camera, in real time (or not recorded earlier) a “Chinaman” muses: Perhaps because of London’s palpable dislike for the yellows of Asia and his rabid hatred of the Japanese in stories found in Jack London’s adventures in the sailor’s Orient MOONFACE and other stories. One of his other stories is THE CHINAGO (a marriage “Chinaman” and “Nigger”)

Little Chinese darlings you and I similarly speak a deceptively common language. For romantic rather than real reasons I want to say Mom! We are one again! But our languages of literature and experience are different one from the other. We Chinamen can tell the stories we brought with us from China. We know enough stories to detect a story being faked as Chinese. Likewise we know enough Chinese stories to enjoy any allusion, reference, parody, or quotation of form you might use in telling another Chinese children’s story. But Chinese lit beyond that is foreign to me as American lit is foreign and bewildering and full of contradictions to you, in China. It was educated into my instinct when I was a kid.

To the China experts who accuse me of being a racist for barring the Chinese from the autobiography I say, “Read!” The first Chinese autobiography published, was by a Christian, written with a white Christian, and was not a form of Chinese writing as proven by it’s publication in Boston, Mass 1910. It was not meant to be a Chinese form, but a Christian form of submission.

From the start the “Chinese-American autobiography” was dedicated to being accepted into whiteness, with white Christian ghostwriters. Read, Leong Gor Yun, CHINATOWN INSIDE OUT (1925), Jade Snow Wong’s FIFTH CHINESE DAUGHTER (1950) two of the better known Christian Chinese autobiographies that fall on their faces thanking their ghostwriters and slobbering gratitude for being accepted by whites.

The autobiography from Chinese state of sin to Christian triumph became a sacrificial form of initiation for Chinese-Americans. “Autobiography” The words are on every book. “Autobiography.” “Autobiographical novel.” “Memoir.” “Otto and Auto.” “Hallucinations” “Me and Me Stoned on Pot.”

The Literature that has come to be called “Asian-American” begins as the Christian ghost-taught Mission school boy in China come to America to become the first Chinese to graduate from Yale, when it was still a religious school. The Christian Chinese autobiography, MY LIFE IN CHINA AND AMERICA, 1910, was the first autobiography of a Chinese to be echoed into a literary form by like Chinese. The likeness was, they were Christian.

I emphasize Christian, because the Chinese are not naturally Christian. Christianity was imposed on the Chinese by force of arms during the 19th Century. The circumstances of the Christian oppression, opium, and ghostwriters define and enforce the Chinese form as submissive to whites.

The form of the Christian Chinese autobiography is: China and everything Chinese is evil. Christian whites are smarter, prettier, stronger, better, superior in every way of GOOD. The Chinese Christian despise China and the Chinese. The Christian despises it so much he uses their real knowledge of China against itself to sell a big lie, for Christ. That lie is: Chinese hate women more than the Christians. The knowledge of Chinese the Christian can’t give up, no matter how hard they pray, makes them feel guilty. They are attracted to China in Chinatown. They guiltily visit Chinatown. Some live in Chinatown. But feel guilty.

From the Yung Wing autobiography in 1910, to the autobiography of Hu Shih, known for giving up his Chiang Kai shek Generalissimo given post to modernize the teaching of Chinese lit for citizenship in a Christian country, the US, a job at the New York Public Library and tea with Pearl Buck, and Lin Yutang at the Russian Tea Room. Yes, the writer Lin Yutang, another naturalized US citizen and the author of another Christian Chinese autobiography MY COUNTRY, MY PEOPLE.

Yung Wing was echoed again by Leong Gor Yun’s Christian autobiography, CHINATOWN INSIDE OUT, of 1925. It was suspect because of the pronunciation of Leong Gor Yun in American accented English, is a homonym for “Two men” in Cantonese. The book might not be ghosted, but the words were too exactly like “Two Men” a sound effect to be an accident. The clincher is the preface thanking a second hand in writing 2 Men’s book. This Christian book contains the only mention of the Chinatown Hand Laundry Alliance, ever to hit print. This information from a Christian autobiography that suggests it was ghost written by white clergyman is gobbled up as the Gospel in the work H.M. Lai, of the Chinese Historical Society of San Francisco, and Peter Kwong of Hunter College of New York city. The Laundry Alliance existed. Significantly, the Laundry Alliance published a newspaper, the CHINESE VANGUARD. Were the Chinese Vanguard and the Hand Laundry Alliance also Christian?

The line of “CHINESE-AMERICAN (CHRISTIAN)” autobiographical writers continues through Pardee Lowe’s FATHER AND GLORIOUS DESCENDENT, (1943) Jade Snow Wong’s FIFTH CHINESE DAUGHTER (1950), and Maxine Hong Kingston’s THE WOMAN WARRIOR (1975). Kingston’s was the first book to slander a real named hero of a real, recorded, and dated culture and, started a trend of real names and slandered culture among Christian Chinese-American writers that followed her, David Henry Hwang, repeated Kingston’s fake Mulan and faked the red faced hero, Kwan Kung, in his Obie winning play, “F.O.B.” and Amy Tan, faked the Chinese children’s story, in her autobiographical novel THE JOY LUCK CLUB and the Kitchen god and kitchen queen THE KITCHEN GOD’S WIFE.


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