Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stirrings of Dissent

It's a peaceful morning. I sit with my entire day ahead of me. Speakers, set at a low volume, hum with Lightning Hopkins and Skip James. The coffee in my cup is the way I like it, strong. Oatmeal, for my morning meal cooks slowly on the stove. I am surrounded by what I will do today: my journal, my composition notebook and the two books I'm currently mired in, Richard Arlington Robinson's The Man Against the Sky and Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World.
My mind wanders.
Outside hundreds of cars and buses and trucks pass the intersection of SW Vista Ave and SW Main. It's a gray day, but are the days of Portland, Oregon this time of year. I live in a gray city.
I'm free. I will leave the table today. At some point later, I will walk through the Southwest neighborhood all the way to the US Bankcorp tower, Ol' Pink, where I will punch a time clock. And in the meanwhile, I am alone with my thoughts, my musings and my writing. In short, this is the way I spend my days, my life. And I am free.
My thoughts go out today to another writer. Oddly enough my thoughts are not with Robinson or Ishiguro. No, my thoughts go to another writer, who, separated by language and one very vast distance. I have very little in common with this writer. We do share many views, I'm sure of this. We do not share a common language. But what we do share is the compulsion to write, to think, to be left alone with our musings and ultimately to produce a product for others to read.
Chen Xi.
Chen Xi, it is not right what they're doing to you. Chen Xi, it is not right that the world, yes, the entire world is not rallying outside your prison cell lobbying for your release. It is not right that your government has not only imprisoned you, but they have taken away your pen and your notebook. It is not right that some bureaucrat has stopped you from writing. And to think that you are Chinese, and your people have produced a volume of writers surpassed by none in the history of human scribblings.
Chen Xi, with tears in my eyes, I say this to you: “Your words will only gain more power now. Any injustice done to you will only weight your words more.”
Chen Xi, I long for a world where writers can write. Chen Xi, I long for a world where readers get to read. It is the only thing that separated us from the ghastly beasts so many are so hell bent on becoming.
Chen Xi, you are with me, or should I say, I am with you. 

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