WHERE MEMORIES GET DISTORTED

This is a place where memories get terribly distorted: people in their fifties now say that the government was right to crack down in 1989. And many people forget that 1989-92 was an ice age, before China began marching towards the market. I don’t think ordinary people should have to concentrate on remembering – it’s not good for them, and it’s not their job. It’s intellectuals who shouldn’t forget. These days, they can’t say anything, though. They know the risks of speaking out: that there’s a huge difference between having government approval and losing it, in terms of the housing you’ll get, access to international funding, and so on.

– Chan Koonchung, in the preface to The Fat Years

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

4 thoughts on “WHERE MEMORIES GET DISTORTED

  1. Jeff says:

    > They know the risks of speaking out: that there’s a huge difference between having government approval and losing it

    A similar thing could be said about social media users in Europe and the US losing their jobs because of things they’ve said online. A case of the greatest memory machine ever having so much held back out of fear?

    • Excellent point. Shaming as a horizontal collective threat in addition to potential vertical clampdowns. Shady operators everywhere.

      This is a pretty excellent radio show on public shaming and social media:
      https://onpoint.wbur.org/2015/04/02/so-youve-been-publicly-shamed-interview

      • Jeff says:

        Hadn’t thought of shaming. Makes me think more of how informants were the lifeblood of the Stasi’s surveillance. I guess, in memory terms, although the Stasi would appreciate the power of today’s social media, they were able to build up a record that showed a different picture because of the different imperatives at work in its data. Informants could use the police to settle scores with family and neighbours. They could also be induced / seduced by power and money. I’m not so sure the same could be said of the record that’s (mostly innocently) volunteered on social media.
        I shall listen to the podcast. Might be some time though – currently installing OSX Yosemite. Wish me luck!

        • Yes, the overlap between shaming and surveillance/informing is pretty provocative. There’s at least one example in that podcast that would seem to qualify as informing via social media, I think. Overall the podcast raises a lot of interesting questions as to how to respond to the social media record and how to deal with what is considered to be “volunteered.” Good luck with the install!

REMEMBER:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: