It's 2am in Singapore, and after a three hour sleep and an hour long attempt to keep on sleeping, I've given up and am now trying to figure out how to get some french fries delivered to my room. It's been a long day with the twelve hour flight, a walk around town, and an eventful dinner at which I was almost forced to eat fried duck feet, but Singapore strikes me so far as a very friendly city with lots of opportunity for strange fun. I was a little scared when I read on the landing card that drug crimes are punishable with death and that chewing gum may be confiscated, but once through customs and out of the airport I saw the palm trees and manicured hedges, breathed in the balmy air, and forgot all that.
While I'm here writing, I also wanted to mention that I'm really moved by the Nobel picks this year. I've been a big fan of Mario Vargas Llosa for awhile now, and think he is justly awarded the Nobel Prize for literature "For his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." Here's an interesting interview with Vargas Llosa in the Paris Review. He's a man I would love to talk to and get to know. This is what he has to say about inspiration:
"It’s never happened to me (a magical force of inspiration). It’s a much slower process. In the beginning there’s something very nebulous, a state of alert, a wariness, a curiosity. Something I perceive in the fog and vagueness that arouses my interest, curiosity, and excitement, and then translates itself into work, note cards, the summary of the plot. Then when I have the outline and start to put things in order, something very diffuse, very nebulous still persists. The “illumination” only occurs during the work. It’s the hard work that, at any given time, can unleash that . . . heightened perception, that excitement capable of bringing about revelation, solution, and light" (Paris Review).
The Nobel Peace Prize went to a Chinese dissident named Liu Xiaobao for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China"(The Guardian). Xiaobao is still imprisoned in China, and the award has enraged the Chinese government, spurring government censors on Nobel prize reports and declarations that this will harm Chinese relations with Norway. Since I'm traveling to Sydney for having written an essay on China's authoritarian capitalism, I see this as a boon to my argument that authoritarianism in any form cannot prevail. As Xiaobao says,
"I firmly believe that China’s political progress will never stop, and I’m full of optimistic expectations of freedom coming to China in the future, because no force can block the human desire for freedom. China will eventually become a country of the rule of law in which human rights are supreme. I’m also looking forward to such progress being reflected in the trial of this case, and look forward to the full court’s just verdict ——one that can stand the test of history" (Reason mag).
And besides his dedication to freedom and human rights, I found this expression of love for his wife deeply touching: "Ask me what has been my most fortunate experience of the past two decades, and I’d say it was gaining the selfless love of my wife, Liu Xia. She cannot be present in the courtroom today, but I still want to tell you, my sweetheart, that I'm confident that your love for me will be as always. Over the years, in my non-free life, our love has contained bitterness imposed by the external environment, but is boundless in afterthought. I am sentenced to a visible prison while you are waiting in an invisible one. Your love is sunlight that transcends prison walls and bars, stroking every inch of my skin, warming my every cell, letting me maintain my inner calm, magnanimous and bright, so that every minute in prison is full of meaning. But my love for you is full of guilt and regret, sometimes heavy enough hobble my steps. I am a hard stone in the wilderness, putting up with the pummeling of raging storms, and too cold for anyone to dare touch. But my love is hard, sharp, and can penetrate any obstacles. Even if I am crushed into powder, I will embrace you with the ashes...." (Reason).
Hurrah for defenders of peace, freedom, and the human spirit. And with that I'm off! My 3am meal should be arriving any minute from McDonald's Singapore which, mercifully, has 24 hour delivery. After that I'm sure I'll fall asleep just as the alarm tells me it's time to head to the airport for another excessively long flight, this time to Sydney.