This Book Makes Me Sad
Kam Louie, Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image
Like most of you, when I read an anthology, I find the interest level waxing and waning as I move from essay to essay based on the author’s style, area of focus or any number of other factors. Some evoke emotions like joy, sadness, anger or fear, while others bring a chuckle or some other momentary outburst. Others still are hard to stick with, I lose interest pretty easily (AOADD, Adult Onset Attention Deficit Disorder). I found this waxing and waning of interest to be true of Hong Kong Culture: Word and Image for the most part but last night, as I was wrapping up Essay 9 (the one about the movies) I realized that one emotion tended to persist through all of my readings in this book.
In varying degrees for sure, sometimes a lot other times just a hint, kind of like a low-grade fever, there was an ever-present sense of sadness that I felt. I found myself viewing “Hong Kong” through a set of anthropomorphic lenses, as if it is a single person with individual human needs, fears, anxieties and hang-ups and all the while, I felt sorry for “him.” (I don’t know why in my mind Hong Kong is a guy instead of a girl… that’s just how I viewed him.) I felt that he had no core identity of his own for which he could stand up, fight and even die. I saw him scrambling for legitimacy, trying desperately to be significant yet, somehow, always mimicking other “real” societies, dismissed as a poser by the power-holders who pilfer his intellectual property and resell it as their own. He follows off with toothless protests on blogs and in interviews but not really effecting any change is stature.
I’m not sure why these essays have affected me this way. I wonder if there is something in my present circumstances that is framing my view of these authors’ words. I’m looking forward to walking the streets of Hong Kong to discover whether or not these emotions are affirmed or dispelled, I hope they’re dispelled. It seems to me that Hong Kong is poised for greatness! No longer a colony, not yet oppressed, the possibilities are immense. I am hoping for the best.