Thursday, May 19, 2005

China & Taiwan (Humor)

I really can't call the People's Republic "Red" China anymore. It isn't really Communist, but closer to Fascism, with a weird mix of totalitarian politics, private and state capitalism, and not even a pretense of laissez faire. But people would look at you funny if you started calling it Black China.

Anyway, I'm re-reading Professor Anders Henriksson's Non Campus Mentis: World History According to College Students. There's a review of it by me here. The short version is that it is a collection of sentences out of college papers and exams that construct a history of the world that leaves you breathless with laughter.

Sometimes the humor is because of a particularly tragic spelling error (the kind that reminds you that many college students learn English now by listening, not reading): "The five European grade powers were England, France, Germany, Russia, and Australia-Mongolia." "Literature ran wild. Writers expressed themselves with cymbals." "There was a change in social morays." "The Civil Rights movement in the USA turned around the corner with Martin Luther Junior's famous 'If I Had a Hammer' speech. Martian Luther King's four steps to direct action included self purification, when you allow yourself to be eaten to a pulp."

Other tragicomic moments are the result of scrambled collections of facts--but scrambled across many centuries, rather as if Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) actually took place. (This is one of my favorite movies, by the way.) "Friedrich Nietzsche was a German movie producer who wrote Triumph of the Will and Superman." "The history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham, Issac, and their twelve children. Judyism was the first monolithic religion. It had one big God named 'Yahoo.' Old Testament profits include Moses, Amy, and Confucius, who believed in Fidel Piety." "Admiral Dewey sank the Spanish Armada in Vanilla Bay."

A number of the amusing moments, however, suggest that contrary to the popular perception of wild college students, a number have been sublimating desires into their writing. "German unity was acheaved by William I coupling with Bismark. After several hurtful convulsions he culminated to power as the first Geyser of Germany." And the sentence on topic for the headline: "Manifest Destiny is China yarning to embrace Thai Won as a kind of imperialist foreplay." Well, yes, rather like the Rough Wooing of Scotland by England.

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