So you can read my books

Saturday, January 13, 2018



Join the club.

While my short stories are being accepted in anthologies ...

My novels seem to be losing momentum.

As I finished typing the above,

 the ghost of Li Yaotang (pen name: Ba Jin) 

rapped on top of my head as if it were a door.

"I was born on this day in 1904, Roland."

His eyes were deep with wisdom hard bought by pain. 

"Only by not forgetting the past can we be the master of the future. 

 Now my education, life and consciousness are talked about by those who cannot understand what I wrote, what I thought, what was my life."

He sighed, 

"They make me up from their subjective imagination. Do not be like them. Learn from the me that I was. Learn from the Bamboo Tree."

And with that, he was gone.

When he died in 2005, Ba Jin was praised as one of China’s most important novelists, and as the embodiment of a tumultuous century.

He began agitating for change as a teenager, joining the Chinese anarchist group “Company of Equals."

When the Cultural Revolution arrived, Ba Jin became a symbol of anti-social thinking and a primary target,

his public humiliation at the People’s Stadium of Shanghai televised in 1968.

The nation watched the sixty-three-year-old author, kneeling on broken glass, endure the jeers and threats with a bowed head; then they heard him speak:

"You have your thoughts and I have mine. This is the fact and you can't change it even if you kill me."

Years of rehabilitation followed, his new work monitored, his old books and articles revised to suit the authorities.

When once again allowed to speak his mind in a public forum — the following is excerpted from a 1980 speech in Kyoto — Jin had emerged from the crucible true to himself :

"I do not write to earn a living or to build a reputation.

I write to battle enemies. Who are they?

Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development,

and every instance of cruelty in the face of love.

My pen is a light and my body a flame. Until both burn down to ash, my love and my hate will remain here in the world."

Feel unappreciated now? Live your own light. Fight the darkness as long as breath and light remain to you.

* Uploaded 17 October 2005 by Jiang Photo of Ba Jin taken in 1938.

This image is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired in China.

According to copyright laws of the People's Republic of China (currently with jurisdiction in Taiwan, the Pescadores, Quemoy, Matsu, etc.),

all photographs and cinematographic works, and all works whose copyright holder is a juristic person, enter the public domain 50 years after they were first published,

or if unpublished 50 years from creation, and all other applicable works enter the public domain 50 years after the death of the creator.

{Want to know what Ba Jin meant by "Learn from the Bamboo Tree?" Watch this video}



  1. Can't change it even if you kill me - now that is sticking to one's belief.
    Shame his work was changed. I wonder how much of the original works still exist?

    1. I was wondering the same thing. I hope he kept unedited versions privately. Thanks for dropping by and chatting, Alex. :-)

  2. It's rather unnerving to think that nowadays, anyone told "you can't change it even if you kill me" would probably do just that. The best way to "disagree" with someone in modern times seems to be to try to silence them, and if you have to kill them to do that, oh, well...!

    1. Life seems to be getting less and less valued -- unless it is the person devaluing the lives of others! :-(

  3. Fascinating post, Roland. I find your blog very educational and inspirational. The power of writing is beyond almost anything else (besides maybe missiles). Thank you for sharing Ba Jin's story here. The video is great, too.