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2014年6月22日 星期日

Another Weekend "joke"

A really long time ago when I was about 8, I read in Chinese translation a wonderful tale by an author who gave me lots of pleasure. His children's tales were first published in 1837 in the land which has since become famous in Hong Kong for its "blue can cookies". The author is Hans Christian Anderson. The name of the tale is "The Emperor's New Clothes."

It's a really short story and goes something like what follows.
A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and showing off beautiful clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or "hopelessly stupid".
The king is delighted and orders them to go to work immediately.
Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished.
They mime dressing him.
The Emperor sees nothing but can't admit that he's not fit for his position.
The Emperor's ministers can't see the clothes either but pretend that they can for exactly the the same reason.
The Emperor then marches in procession with pride before his subjects.
Not wanting to be seen as "hopelessly stupid", the townsfolk play along.
Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out, "The Emperor has no clothes!"
The cry is then taken up by others.
The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true but continues the procession.

Hans Christian Henderson appeared to be writing tales for children. Reading the story decades later, it begins to look as if he might not be writing just for children. We now read articles from the north saying that "one country two system" does not really mean "one country two systems" but that we need to understand that if necessary, a state of emergency can be declared unilaterally by the government north of our borders and that instead of judicial independence and the separation of powers, even our judges are part of the "governing machine" and  it's explicitly demanded of them that they should give "assistance" to the executive branch of our government. Have "truth" and basic "honesty" become "commodities" in the political market, with corresponding daily fluctuation in their "market value" according to conditions of the political market and those who have power to manipulate such a "market"? Do we lack "worldly wise" politicians here who are prepared for the sake of eagerly anticipated "favors" from those who have power to dispense the same agree with whatever is said by our "collective Emperor" from the north who is said to represent the "people" . What exactly does the word "people" mean in that context?  Have words lost their their ordinary meaning? Have we entered the world not only of Hans Christian Anderson, but by an ironic twist of fate, also that of Lewis Carroll's "The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland", where it has become not at all easy to tell any more what is real and what is illusory, where words may sometimes mean the exact opposite of what they normally mean? Or have we not already entered that bleak world of 1984 depicted by George Orwell ruled by Big Brother, where "double-speak" rules the day? Does democracy not mean democracy as it has always been traditionally understood? Does universal suffrage not mean universal suffrage as is normally understood? Have some of our politicians been magically transformed into narrators of fiction ? Has the time not come for us little nobodies to act like the little boy in Hans Christian Henderson's tale "The Emperor's New Clothes" by telling the Emperor what we see with our own eyes and the eyes of our political conscience?