Sunday, 28 November 2004

stranger and stranger

The other day I left Tiananmen and moved 'tentatively to venture, down the which were to be discovered little buildings, whole little communities, that existed almost in the crevices of the modern city...Hawkers pushed handcarts of peaches or spinach [read cabbages or oranges]. Tailors worked outside at ancient tradle sewing machines and old men and old women meditatively smoked...As Anna [read little] lost herself there, irretrievably foreign, she felt the gazes of others resting upon her, like the lightest of touches on the nape of the neck, like a lover's caress. And when the gazes at last accumulated to the point of disturbing her, she would make her way back to the main roads...

'The bicyclists of Beijing...moved processionally everywhere: in their inordinate numbers and slow-moving continuity they gave the city a kind of animated and silken effect, recalling a rippling of fabric, a perpectual motino of undulation...' Language 'seemed to have altered...the more keenly she listened the more the language was complicated, the more sounds and circuitous patterns it contained. Her hope of achieving a tiny vocabulary of a few pragmatic phrases faded entirely away. She found herself feeling muted...'

Gail Jones, 'Touching Tiananmen'

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