Dedicated to the memory of Lin Jun, a young man who met his untimely and violent death on the night of May 24 when I was in the audience of Tafelmusik’s Beethoven “Eroica” concert.
Fragments of News on July 1, 2012
Eurocup. “Italy didn’t just lose. They were never in any danger of winning.” says Toronto Star: their disappointment and distress, thus, look childish. Meanwhile, on the scene at Montreal’s Angrignon Park, news outlets are reporting that Lin Jun’s head might have been found (Update: it is confirmed to be Lin’s remains).
Lin was said to be uplifting and trusting, and this was not first time he became the victim of self-serving people, which reminds us of a newly-published Susan Sontag diary. The New York Times reviewer finds her constantly in danger of being possessed by self-absorption, self-pitying and other “malign spirits” if she stopped thinking.
Sontag must have been well aware of or even self-stylized her narcissism. In her 1964 forward to Michel Leiris L’age d’homme (translated into English as Manhood: A Journey from Childhood into the Fierce Order of Virility), she compares Leiris’s narcissism to that of Norman Mailer. Leiris took pleasure in his self-loathing while Mailer did it to gain public attention and fame, Sontag says. But she is wrong: Leiris might have written two-hundred pages of self-absorbing profanity, but that is one page of admiration – for one of his uncles who despite his social background, education, and noble sensibility chose the profession of street comedian and acrobat and had a preference for women from lower-background – that brought Leiris’ writing such sense of transcendent humour, something Sontag never managed in her own all-too-serious writings.
It is dangerous to go down. Claude Lévi-Strauss refused to go to the Parisian streets in the1960s student movement. He maintained his scholarly dignity and lived to 100 years. Luciano Visconti, whose films are generally in need of a sense of humour except for the superb melo-comedy Bellissima, refused to go to gay bars because they were “vulgar” as a new book on his Death in Venice revealed.
Leris’ uncle lived in poverty in the turn of the century. Pier Paolo Pasolini was brutally murdered on Novermber 2, 1975. Lin Jun lost his life violently on the night of May 24, 2012.
Pasolini claimed that he had discovered Africa in his defeat of death in the following small poem – both Michel Leiris who was on the Mission Dakar-Djibouti and Jacques Derrida who was born in Africa made the same claim.
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Fragment: To Death
Pier Paolo Pasolini
I came from you and I return to you,
a feeling born of light, of warmth,
baptized with a wail of joy,
recognized as Pier Paolo,
at the beginning of a frenzied epic:
I’ve walked in the light of history
but my being was always heroic
under your dominating, intimate thought.
Every real act of the world,
of that history, coagulated in
the wake of your light
in the atrocious distrust
of your flame, and in death
every act proved itself entire
and lost its life to regain it
And life was real only if beautiful …
The fury of confession, at first,
then the fury of clarity:
It was from you, Death, that such hypocritical
obscure feeling was born! And now
let them accuse me of every passion,
let them bad-mouth me, let them say I’m deformed,
impure, obsessed, a dilettante, a perjurer.
You isolate me, you give me the certainty of life,
I’m on the stake, I play the card of fire
and I win this little, immense goodness of mine,
I win this infinite
miserable piety of mine
which even makes my just anger a friend.
I can do it, for I have suffered you too much!
I return to you as an émigré returns
to his own country and rediscover it:
I made a fortune (in the intellect)
and I’m happy, as I once was,
destitute of any norm,
a black rage of poetry in my breast.
A crazy old-age youth.
Once your joy was confused with terror,
it’s true, and now almost with other joy,
livid and arid, my passion deluded.
Now you really frighten me,
part of angry state, of obscure hunger,
of the anxiety almost of a new being.
I’m as healthy as you wish,
neurosis sprouts out of me,
exhaustion dries me,
but doesn’t possess me: at my side
youth’s last light laughs
I’ve had everything I wanted, so far:
indeed I’ve gone beyond certain hopes for the world;
emptied, you are here within me,
filling my time and all time.
I have been rational and
I have been irrational, to the utmost.
An now … ah, the desert deafened by wind,
the stupendous filthy African sun
that illuminates the world.
Africa! my only
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Fragments: Cinemas of Pasolini & Visconti
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Fragments: Lin Jun’s Life in Pictures
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Fragments of Memory: Lin Jun in the Eyes of an Acquaintance
(Translated from a Chinese website)
“My first acquaintance with Lin occurred 14 years ago when both of us were college students in Wuhan. My first impression was that he was very thin with big eyes and naughty mouth-shape. He liked to blink when talking to people – but he rarely spoke because he was shy. My friend who brought him to my place was very fond of him: “Is he cute?” He asked me again and again. They sticked to each other all the time and gradually I saw less both of them.
But this friend did tell me more about Lin later. Lin’s parents were both factory workers with very limited income. As a child, he was sometimes beaten up, but he was loved and provided for. By the time he was in college, Lin fell in love with an handsome newly-graduate med student who rented a room in the vicinity of the campus. Lin moved out his dorm and stayed there. His lover was a bisexual who had a girlfriend with marriage persepctive. The relationship was purely casual for the med student but romantic for Lin – he even brought him home to his mother. The “lover” got married eventually. Lin was very depressed for a long time.
I saw Lin again many years later in Beijing when I was introduced by a friend to join a local swimming team. I met him there and was surprised by his rather chiselled body – he also dressed up like your typical gay jock. He was much less provinicial.
The last time I saw him in Beijing, he was with a very tall and muscular man shopping in a supermarket. We were never close friends so we just nodded at each other without even speaking a word. I didn’t expect he met his end in this way.”