Speech for Receiving ICPC 2010 Lin Zhao Memorial Award
By Cui Weiping
This winter day assumed its serenity at last, and I was counting my gain and loss of the year. Hardly had there been another year in my life in which I was undergoing more turbulence than in 2010. At that moment, the Independent Chinese PEN decided to grant me the Lin Zhao Memorial Award, which was such a big surprise to me. To see my name put side by side with the kind like Woeser (2009) and Lu Xuesong (2005), I feel I am greatly honored, given especially that we are all gathering under Lin Zhao’s name and deeply guided by her spirit. Why cannot we help but being attracted to the late female? Why do we look up on her like a bright star that gives us strength in dark nights? Why do we want to take her as a source for our today’s thought and action? At Lin Zhao’s statue inauguration ceremony last May, I wrote the sentence: “Because of you, we have acquired our own genealogy.”
What kind of genealogy is this? No, I don’t call it the genealogy of martyrs, because that would “acknowledge” the contribution of the killers as well. Their hands must be got rid of; those inhumane treatment imposed on Lin Zhao must be got rid of. The radical actions do not mean Lin Zhao was “radical”. The narrow-defined political life that we had in the past and the restricted language context it created has undermined the significance of Lin Zhao.
This is a genealogy of “thinkers”. I don’t mean to overemphasize the significance of “thinkers”. However, when one cannot physically set out to where they wanted to go, she can only remain within the domain of thinking. The freedom of thinking, having not promoted to the freedom of speech and expression, is the last resort of “freedom”, an ancient word.
However, returning to “thinking” does not mean taking a retreat into the “self”. Many are busy in their worldly affairs, but they are actually merely reacting to the urge arising from their bodily need, to fulfill the need of their personal interest; their vision and senses couldn’t go beyond their body covered by skins. Exactly this type of attitude toward life is “radical”, as there is a suffocating character in it as if there is a determination to keep separated from the world.
Thinking is a power for insight. When one is “thinking”, the material she is working with is not physically present. People cannot figure out what she is thinking by looking at her forehead. Because of this, she could possibly transcend herself and embrace a broader vision, space, and time. It wouldn’t be appropriate to describe Lin Zhao as “in independence oblivious of the world”. She bravely threw herself in contemporary “political vortex” without personal calculation, remained firmly persistent after encountering adversity, and “attempted to hold back the spread of tragedy with her weak force” ( ref. Feng Lingfan (Lin Zhao’s sister): History Will Declare My Innocence), including writing letters with her blood while in jail. All these indicated that she had never abandoned this world; rather she was embracing the world with deep affection, placing herself in a deep connection with this world and others.
Thinking is also a double-edged sword. It points to the world, and also to the thinker himself; it deals with the darkness in the world, and also the darkness in one’s own mind. Lin Zhao was not a prophet; she didn’t go by a straight path. She has expressed things like “Liberation can only be achieved by self-liberation”. In her famous questioning, she was also questioning herself: “What we are fighting against is very clear; yet what on earth do we want to build?” In this sense, Lin Zhao shows her distinction from what she was opposing.
Opposition cannot lend meanings by its own. People cannot acquire the meaning of life and their physical existence through opposing. Rather, only after they have acquired the meaning of life and living, and holding their stands and values in this world, would they be able to oppose something.
The more appropriate object of the “insight of thinking” is “history”. History is not present, yet constitutes a more powerful existence like a horizon, providing us with a framework of this world as well as the criteria and standards for what we should be and what we should do. Not only does this mean that what happened has been recorded somewhere, but it also reminds us that we are the species to embrace the future and deeply aware that there is a force behind us which is much more magnificent than ourselves.
Although we are not in the future yet, we have our visions, able to see our current deed and path through the eyes of future people. We can make it stand the test of future what we have done today, and let our descendants not embarrassed when reading our stories. “History will declare my innocence.” Whatelse can be more powerful than this statement? Those who respect history will be rewarded by history; those who dare to mock history will be forsaken by it.
“You have a choice.” Today’s history is whispering to people. Exactly because there have been pioneers like Lin Zhao the history is not the previous one any longer. It will be so open to all as possible, to give each and every one an equal place and a new name, whether he is nobody, a criminal, or somebody great.
Thanks, my friends of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, for your kindness. Thanks also to this world.
December 21, 2010