Cantonese Manichean Corridor


Forced against my will to consume Disney but not really.

When it comes to languages, especially Cantonese, I usually go with books or things I already know so I won’t be completely lost when I read them.

I read dozens of Geronimo Stilton books when I first started learning, the ones with a castle on the cover or a horror element initially then, later, the one where Stilton is on a fitness binge.

It’s a kind of brain death, but you’ve got to do it.

Cos then you get to the non-translated stuff

like Wai Si Lei.


Somewhere in my room, there’s a box with about 20-30 local Hong Kong sci-fi novels, all in Chinese, and I don’t think I’ve read more than five pages of any of them.

Give me a week of no interruptions and I could probably get through it, but it’d take a lot of dictionary work and only a vague intellectual concept as to what was going on in the plot. I wouldn’t be able to really feel any of it. Or judge the writing.

It is my sincere hope to one day reach the level where I can write a review of one of these novels that doesn’t sound like a seven year old’s school book report.

If it happens, I’ll put it up here.


‘We must expect not one, but a multitude of revolutions taking place in different countries at different times.’

Red Star by Bogdanov, the anti-War of The Worlds.

Not that I’ve read it yet. Just bits here and there. A utopian, communist society on Mars, capitalist drudgery on Earth, a Russian Bolshevik sliding between the two…

In some ways, Bogdanov saw Disney coming, only he called it the ruling classes and overstated its ability to put together military expeditions. Then he sailed off into the realm of endless blood transfusions. Interesting guy.

Would he have borrowed Jedi Academy from the library?


There’s a saying, possibly aphoristic: can’t help living in the system you’re in. I half agree. Live in it, okay, but put something out there that you wish the future to be, organise something under anarcho-communist lines at some point in your life, don’t just give your shit to Netflix if you make it, all their dramas look the same. A Hollywood film about a socialist utopia is still a Hollywood film. They’ve got you already. Don’t celebrate anything with a CEO. Stop expecting celebrities to morph into Bookchin or Goldman. Star Trek was too far in the future, we all thought, great, let’s just sit back and wait, it’ll happen eventually.

Counter-point – capitalist realism/slow cancellation of the future/Gremlins 2025 etc.

Hardest part is the iron-clad context of money. Capital as risk fallacy. The idea of a boss. The foregrounding of sitcoms set in large apartments. Fear of rap. Me me me me me me. Marginalisation of the Spanish Collectives on the school curriculum [I never got taught it]. Niceness of Trek actors/actresses on twitter. Random juxtapositions by me on WordPress. Skeet Ulrich.


You ever read something and retained it?

I’ve done three books on the Russian Revolution in the last year and can’t remember much of anything. The print unions were adversarial towards the Bolsheviks, Trotsky was pro-worker control until he wasn’t, then he was again, Bogdanov worked on blood transfusions, Stalin, at one point in the Civil War, was sent to a place called Perm…that’s about it.

I’ve forgotten how to say homework in Cantonese about 700 times.

Beginning of the end?


Other books I’ve read or tried to read recently:

Another Sherlock Holmes collection.

Q film parody comic [Cantonese]

Wimpy Kid [Cantonese]

Green Hell [Cantonese – read the back cover blurb]

Até mais, e Obrigado pelos Peixes [3rd time attempted]

Planet Rasputin

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