Taiwanese Publisher Who Printed My Dissertation Ruined by Inferno

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I was sad to learn that Zonghe Zhuangding, Ltd., the publisher who worked with Y’s father to print an exquisite hardcover edition of my PhD dissertation, “Brains, Minds, and Computers in Literary and Science Fiction Neuronarratives,” shuttered their business after their shop burned down. Zonghe Zhuangding provided printing and book binding services for publishers in Taiwan until the fire consumed their entire facility.

Y’s father insisted that we publish my dissertation after I defended it in 2012. Zonghe Zhuangding did an amazing job printing the book-version of my dissertation, which I had to layout with opposing running headers and other book-design features. The gold-typeface on the cover and spine look very impressive. And, the stitched-in red ribbon bookmark was a surprise bonus (see below).

After Y defended her dissertation last year, her father had her dissertation printed there, too.

N.B.: In Chinese, zhuangding means binding or book binding.

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The A-Team: Sky Dragons in Translation

A-Team_logo

This afternoon, Y and I caught the beginning of The A-Team first season episode “Holiday in the Hills”–one of many episodes that reveal the horrors of the home front, in this case the backwoods of South Carolina.

While we were watching the episode, Y shared this very interesting bit of information with me: in Taiwan, The A-Team is called 天龍特攻隊 or Sky Dragon Special Attack Team.

I asked what is the significance of “sky dragon?” She reports that it is because “sky dragon” just sounds cool. Television shows and films often get Tradiational Chinese-translated titles in Taiwan that might not have much connection to the original English title, because the promoters/importers want an impressive title that will attract viewers.

In point of fact, “sky dragon” is the name of another of my favorite 80’s television shows: MacGyver, or 百戰天龍 (“One-hundred Battles Sky Dragon”). Also, Miami Vice was given the title 邁阿密天龍(Mi-a-mi Sky Dragon”).

I should add that these titles might vary in other Mandarin-speaking countries, including Hong Kong and mainland China.

 

Demos Chiang, Chiang Kai-shek’s Great Grandson, on the Cost of Social Media

Demos Chiang, photo by Yi-Ping Wu. CC BY-ND 2.0.
Demos Chiang, photo by Yi-Ping Wu. CC BY-ND 2.0.

In a BuzzOrange.com interview with Demos Yu-bou Chiang (蔣友柏), who is Chiang Kai-shek’s great grandson and  founder of the Taiwan design firm DEM Inc. (橙果設計), the interviewer asks if he uses social media:

Q:你有 Facebook 或 Line 等社交通訊軟件嗎?

不開,很累,真的很累,而且 Facebook 商業行為太嚴重。我的手機是 4G 可以上網,但所有通訊軟件 、Line 都不使用,只用簡訊。我不喜歡人家可以免費找到我。

Y’s translation into English:

Q: Do you have Facebook or Line accounts, or any kind of social media apps?

A: I don’t use it. It is too much work. Facebook has too much commercial activity. I have a 4G cellphone to get online, but I don’t use the communicating apps like Line except for text messaging. I don’t like it that people can find [or reach] me for free.

There are three parts of Chiang’s response that I would like to discuss.

First, he observes that social media takes “too much work.” This is one of the reasons why I deleted my Facebook account a few years ago. It seemed like I was putting in a lot of time and labor on the Facebook website and mobile app. On the one hand, I wanted to connect with others, create conversation, and share my goings-on while enjoying the goings-on of others. However, it increasingly seemed to me to take a considerable amount of effort to keep up with the information and conversations taking place there. Jennifer Pan goes into the issue of labor that sustains social media networks in her Jacobin article, “The Labor of Social Media.”

Chiang laments that there is “too much commercial activity” on social media. This can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, there is a lot of advertising on social media, which is a kind of commercial activity. On the other hand, people use social media as a platform to publicize their work or seek support for their work on social media (another form of advertising). While social media opens new ways of supporting otherwise unfunded projects (such as with Patreon or Kickstarter), the number of such projects that one sees on a daily basis can be overwhelming and seemingly unsustainable.

Another aspect of Chiang’s lament is the unseen commercial activity of tracking and personal information. Social media platforms make money in part through targeting advertising to its users by selling targeted and detailed access to its advertising partners. The more information that a social network can get about its users and the more meaningful that information can be made for the purposes of advertising mean that the social network can potentially make more money by selling a higher value to advertisers.

Finally, the third issue that Chiang takes with social media is that he says, “people can find me for free.” This is important point that I hadn’t really considered when I left Facebook and other social media platforms a few years ago. For Chiang, he is a business person whose time is valuable. Even deflecting questions or offers takes away from his focus and time, which is time and focus he could apply to other endeavors. Social media at its core is about connecting people together. Social media makes it easier for one person to contact another person. Some networks, such as LinkedIn, place monetized barriers in the way of too easy contact, but others, such as Twitter, make contact for public accounts extremely easy. By not being on social media, Chiang places the ultimate old-school barrier to others bothering him, stealing his focus, or taking away his time. Making it so that others cannot simply find you “for free” protects your time and attention so that you can apply yourself to the work and living that matters the most to you.

Chiang’s three points are useful for thinking about what the costs of social media are for you. It involves our labor, out information is bought and sold, and others want to monopolize our time. Consider these things when you sign-up or configure your social media accounts to protect yourself and maximize its value to yourself.

Science Fiction, LMC3214: Global Perspective Unit on Taiwanese SF and Review for Exam 3

Taiwanese SF lecture notes on the chalkboard.
Taiwanese SF lecture notes on the chalkboard.

In today’s class, I introduced my Science Fiction students to Taiwanese SF. For class, they read David Uher’s “Trends in the Development of Science Fiction Literature in Taiwan” (Anthropologia Integra 1.1 2010, 63-70) and a translation of Chang Shi-Kuo’s (Zhang Xiguo) “City of the Bronze Statue.”

In today’s lecture, I charted a brief history of China and Taiwan (revolution, Kuomintang/Republic of China, Civil War, and diaspora to Taiwan), the history of Taiwan SF with an emphasis on Zhang Zioafeng’s “Panduna” as the first Taiwanese SF and her role–like Mary Shelley’s–as the “mother of Taiwanese SF” and Zhang Xiguo’s as the “father of Taiwanese SF” who also coined the term for “Science Fantasy Fiction” (科學幻想小說: Science/科學, Fantasy/幻想, Fiction/小說). I also identified five general characteristics of Taiwanese SF: 1) Synthesis of Western and Eastern culture, 2) Wuxia (武俠) or the Chinese martial arts chivalry story, 3) Adopt Chinese mythology and history to make the reader more familiar with the fantastic elements of the story (c.f., Star Trek), 4) Themes of nostalgia and loss, and 5) Conservative affirmation of society and the existing social order.

During class, I led the students through two exercises. After explaining to them the general characteristics of reading and writing in traditional Chinese, I handed out worksheets for them to practice writing the four characters of the truncated term for “Science Fantasy Fiction” (科幻小說). I gave them about 5 minutes to try out their Chinese penmanship while I walked around watching their progress. This also led to a discussion about how written traditional Chinese is different than Japanese (kanji, hiragana, and katakana).

In the second exercise, I divided the class into four teams of three students each. I handed each team two pages from the John Balcom translation of the Prologue to Chang Shi-Kuo’s City Trilogy (which corresponds to the “City of the Bronze Statue.”) The students were tasked with identifying differences between the two translations. They discovered small variations in measurements, descriptions, and phrasing. In particular, they noticed that the two translations differed in tone–the translation on his website is more vernacular and the book translation has a more formal tone. However, they reported that the Bronze Statue seemed more life-like and personified in the Balcom translation. I was surprised though that they did not pick up on the understated comedic tone in either translation. Nevertheless, I was glad that they got to experience first hand how much of a role the translator has in the creation of a translation–translation being a creative act itself.

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Exam 3 review notes.

At the end of class, we reviewed for their short third exam tomorrow and I talked with them about the fun Lego project that I have planned after the exam.

Their final essays in the class will be due next Tuesday.

Many thanks to Yufang for helping me with my research, writing, and pronunciation for this lecture!

“Altars” for Steve Jobs in China and Taiwan, Built with Walter Isaacson’s Biography of the Tech Titan

Taiwanese Home Guy Lucifer posted photos from around China and Taiwan of “altars” for Steve Jobs built out of his official biography by Walter Isaacson. They aren’t really altars, but they have a striking similarity to the kinds of altars a family would build for a deceased relative. A traditional altar for a deceased relative would include photos of the deceased, incense, flowers, and white candles. Go here to see all of the photos that Lucifer posted–I have included only one to the left.

Dishonor in the New York Times, A US Marine Suggests “Ditching” Taiwan

Paul V. Kane’s op-ed piece in the New York Times saddened me today. How could a US Marine offer Taiwan, the last vestige of a democratic China and a long-standing ally with the United States, up on the sacrificial altar of balanced budgets? How could he write not only that the US should enter into negotiations with China without involvement of the Taiwanese? What gives the US the authority to decide Taiwan’s fate? What gives a Marine the right to say that we should “ditch” an ally?

Kane is a Marine who served in Iraq. I don’t profess to know everything about the Marines, and I certainly don’t suppose that all Marines think alike. However, I do know that the Marines’s motto is Semper fidelis–Always Faithful. It is virtually the Leatherneck raison d’etre. Certainly, Marine faithfulness and honor should first be to the duties of the Marine to the US and the Corp, but it extends through our alliances to those who need our support the maintain democratic governments, especially in the face of overwhelming antagonism from the Chinese.

Shame on Kane for suggesting that we should give up on the Taiwanese people and their government. Does he forget that Taiwan’s economic powerhouse helped support the US economy through the technological revolution? He is correct that there is much economic interdependence between China and Taiwan, but much of that is anchored in the businesses and industries of Taiwan that built those bridges to the US economy. Also, would he suggest that in explicit language that we should hand over a democratic country to a Communist regime? Taiwan is certainly uppity in the eyes of the Communist elite in China–I can only imagine the severity of any takeover by the Chinese government of Taiwan. It would be swift and there would be nothing we could do to protect the Taiwanese if we gave into such an unhonorable decision as that suggested by Kane.

If we as a people support the ideas of democracy and the protection of those who endeavor to be free despite the crushing power of totalitarianism, we have to hold the course. If we waver for Taiwan or any other people who ask for our assistance to preserve their freedoms, then we will lose our honor in favor of unfaithful short-sightedness. The fact of the matter is that freedom, for ourselves or others, is not free.

More Commentary About Taiwanese Home Guys

Y’s friend Amy from Taiwan sent me a wonderful write-up about Taiwanese “Home Guys” awhile back, but I have neglected to publish it on Dynamic Subspace. I have pasted her extensive explanations below in English and Chinese, and I give her my thanks for taking the time to contribute her expertise on the Home Guy phenomena to an English-speaking audience. Below, Amy qualifies what I had wrote before about “actual” Home Guys and their relationship to Media Home Guys and Lucifer Home Guys. You can read more about Home Guys on my blog here and here.

The term “Home-guy ” is came from the Japanese word “otaku”, originally referred to people who “over-indulged in comic books, animation, video-games , can not or just fear to contact with the real people(or opposite), and almost always stay in home. ”

Because these people stay at home, with most of the money spent on animation products, they are general not pay attention to how they look. (also part of the reason is because they do not have too much experience of communicate with others, so no way of knowing how dressed up)

Sometime:
Too obsessed with animation and game → did not resonate with the people around or do not know how to get along with people around → frustration on the relationship →stay at home, do not want or Does not create a social relationship, or just talk to people who has the same enthusiasm about animation or video games → slovenly.
Or:
Do not good at relationships with people around → finding out animation, comics, games, are more interesting than real people → stay at home, do not want or Does not create a social relationship, or just talk to people who has the same enthusiasm about animation or video games → slovenly.

In other words, only in full compliance with three conditions: “enthusiast about comic books,playing games than ordinary people “, “like stay at home, do not want to establish social relations, “”do not pay attention to their appearance, “can be most “otaku” means.

However, in the media in Taiwan, as long as “love the cartoon or games ” or “dowdy” or “can’t be easy to fall into talk to the opposite sex, ” one of these three conditions are met (or even the media is that they meet the “unkempt looks” like) , will be considered “home-guy “.

Even when TV show invited some “people who like anime or games” on the program, it is also meant to these people “dress up a little slovenly. ” Only to come more in line with the media to create stereotypes.This also affected the public’s perception, as long as animation or comic books than the average person to understand that it could easily be said, “Oh, you are such a home-guy! ”

Therefore, the matter that “love the comic, animation, video-games ” has been twisted, in addition to the definition of the image of the media,there are many people in Taiwan are: like cartoons, comics, playing video games, but they are not always stay in home, or fear to communicate to others.

They (I may call “Taiwan home-guy”) is the most common of the other features:
a. interest in new technology.
b. In the Internet,they are all great writers.but in the real conversation,they may not be a good talker.(but not exclusive to have a chat)
c. against the war (except the game), and usually don’t like politics.
d. have a open mind to everything.
e. of the favorite things, even if not get any real benefit, but also willing to bet a considerable enthusiasm and energy to study.
f. not a fan of outdoor activities and sports, most of the time would rather in static leisure: reading, such as in the coffee shop and so on.

But in Taiwan media, they are all regarding as the “home-guy”.

Of course, these people (including me), sometimes claimed as the “home-guy”, because sometimes it is the easiest way to make people understand your hobby, or sometimes just do not want to be a killjoy,or do not bother to explain so much with others.

Call these people “actual home guy”, may not actually quite correct. But I can not think of a better term to replace that …

2. Everything is from her personal point of view. Others may have different perspective on this phenomena.

3. About Lucifer Chu and the related information why he is called the home guy is on wikipedia (see link).

“Hot blood activities” = things that you are passionate or enthusiastic about. English course translations to Chinese and put online. Pro-death penalty and rallies. Public service persons die in the line of duty, and he tries to get people to be more aware of their sacrifice and donate money to help their families. A lot of things about him correspond with what is considered Taiwanese “homeness.” But because he come out to do these things, to be more public, he become an idol for some people on the web and they call him the “home god.” Celebrity shows or talk shows will invite him to go on tv, but like what Amy said about point b above, very often when he is on the tv show, he doesn’t talk in a very organized way, he couldn’t convey his ideas very clearly, the way he dresses himself corresponds with people’s stereotypes of home person. additionally, some motivations of his behavior do not seem to be that just. Sometimes, he does not seem to have a good capacity for criticism or toleration for other people’s viewpoints. This last point is more complicated than that. This has to do with 氣度 (chih du) or the capacity for taking in criticisms or different opinions, and how you react to those things. The Far-East Chinese English Dictionary defines it as 1) “spirit; air; bearing; manner” and 2) [more appropriate here] “capacity for tolerance.” Even sometimes, you can see his personal capacity for tolerance is not that great. This issue is debatable. Furthermore, there is debate online about Lucifer Chu’s role as spokesperson for home guys (see link). However, the media consider Chu the spokesperson or leader of the home guy movement.

In Chinese:

1、關於他文章裡說的三種home guy定義:media home guy 、actual home guy(我說的那部分)、Lucifer Home Guy。
關於「actual home guy」這項,其實還有待商榷:

「宅」(home-guy)這個名詞的起源來自於日本的「御宅族」(O-Taku),原本是指「過度沈迷於漫畫、動畫、遊戲與衍生周邊,而對真實人際接觸產生恐懼與挫折(或因果相反),最後導致足不出戶的人」。「御宅」在日本是「家」的意思。因為這類的人足不出戶,加上金錢多半花於動漫週邊產品,加上他們會沈迷研究於自己喜歡的事情,因此通常這種人對外表都很不注意(也有部分原因是因為沒有太多與別人接觸的經驗,所以無從得知怎麼打扮),甚至很邋遢、不修邊幅。

簡單畫成流程圖是:

太過沈迷動漫遊戲(因)—->跟周圍的人沒有共鳴或是不曉得怎麼跟周圍的人相處—->產生人際上的挫折—>足不出戶,不想或不會建立社交關係,或是只跟同類的動漫同好接觸(果)—>外表邋遢(果)。

或是:

因個性關係不曉得怎麼跟周圍的人相處(因)—->發覺動畫、漫畫、遊戲比跟真實人物相處更有趣—->足不出戶,不想或不會建立社交關係,或是只跟同類的動漫同好接觸(果)—>外表邋遢(果)。

但是A等於B,並不代表B等於A。
邋遢的人不一定就喜歡動漫遊戲,喜歡動漫遊戲的人也不一定就足不出戶。

換句話說,只有全數符合了三種條件:「熱愛動漫遊戲超乎異於常人」、「足不出戶,不想或不會跟一般人建立社交關係」、「比一般人不注重自己外表」,才能算是最符合「御宅族」(O-Taku),這個語意。

但在台灣媒體裡,卻只要「喜歡動漫遊戲」或「外表邋遢」或「不太敢跟異性講話」這三個條件符合其中一項(甚至對媒體來說只要符合「外表邋遢」就好),就會被認為是「宅」。台灣媒體根本沒弄清楚前後因果關係,就隨意亂用這個名詞。
甚至有些綜藝節目邀請「喜歡動漫遊戲的人」上節目時,還故意要這些人「打扮得邋遢一點」。只為了更符合媒體想打造出來的刻板印象。
而這也影響了社會大眾的觀感,只要對動畫或漫畫比一般人瞭解一點,很容易就會被說「你好宅喔!」(但被說的人也許只是愛看的東西跟說的人不一樣,也沒有邋遢,也沒有不想跟人接觸)

所以「喜歡動漫遊戲」這件事情有點被污名化了,我那時候想說的是,除了媒體定義的形象,
台灣還有非常多人是:喜歡看動畫、漫畫、玩電動遊戲,但卻不會足不出戶,也不會不想跟一般人交際。
他們(我姑且稱之為台灣宅好了)大多數共通的其他特點是:
a.對新科技與新技術也頗有興趣。
b.在網路也許可以滔滔不絕,但在實際談話時卻不一定能口若懸河。(但不會排斥聊天)
c.反對戰爭(遊戲裡的除外 XD),也不是很愛接觸政治。
d.對很多社會上的事物都保持開放接受的態度。
e.對喜愛的事物,即使不會得到任何實質益處,也願意投注相當大的熱情與心力去研究。
f.不是很喜歡戶外活動與運動,大多時候寧可待在家裡,或是從事靜態的休閒:如在咖啡店讀書等等。

所以,嚴格來說,這群人並不是「宅」,但在台灣他們卻被媒體(與一般人)霸道地規類到「宅」裡。

對我來說,真正的「宅」這個字,應該只代表一種行為,那就是「因為某種原因,而不想與別人或社會接觸,選擇都待在家裡」這種行為,而原因可以是千百萬種,如在學校被欺負啊、失戀…等等。

但在台灣媒體與一般大眾裡,已經形成了堅不可摧的「宅」的刻板印象,定義也廣泛而隨便,所以我說的「還有一種阿宅其實是….」,只是要解釋在媒體的定義裡,有些人其實並不是這樣的形象,而不是說「這樣的人才是真正的宅」。

當然,我描述的這些人裡(包括我),有時也會自稱為「宅」,但其實那只是用來讓對方馬上瞭解「我對動漫電影很有興趣」,或有時候只是不想讓氣氛太僵,也懶得跟別人解釋這麼多(對方可能也不想聽 XD)。

所以,要將我描述的人規類於「actual home guy」,其實是不太正確的。但我也想不出更好的名詞可以取代就是..。

2、我所說的一切,都只是我個人的觀點,也許不同的人,對於這樣的現象都有不同的解釋。

3、關於朱學恆,以及他被稱為「宅神」的相關資料,可見:
http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/%E6%9C%B1%E5%AD%B8%E6%81%92

我很認可他的一些熱血行為(如麻省理工計畫、反對廢除死刑遊行、為颱風殉職警察發動募捐..等),其實他也有很多地方符合我前面所舉的一些台灣宅的特點。但是由於他跳出來做了一些事情,所以變成網路上開始有一些人崇拜他,叫他「宅神」,也開始有一些綜藝節目或政論談話節目找他去上電視,可是,正如同我前面講的特點b,很多時候,他上節目講述事情是很沒有條理的,要傳達的概念也不夠清楚,加上他的外表打扮正符合了一般人的刻板印象。另外,他有些行為的動機也並非總是那麼的正義凜然,甚至有時候可以感覺他這個人的氣度並不是很大….,這部分講起來很亂,總之頗有爭議就是。
關於朱學恆的相關反面討論,可以看這串:
http://komica40.dreamhosters.com/f1/read.php?key=1252679381

不管怎樣,現在台灣媒體都認為「朱學恆=阿宅發言人或領袖」,而我想有很大多數的人是不認同這點的。