To the man behind the "madman" -a tribute to Lu Xun
It was late afternoon when this writer went to Ongpin, Manila to buy some dextrose powder.
While walking, he seems to be reminiscing something, especially that he sought edifices and places of a past that everyone seemingly tend to be forgotten-knowing that those edifices are deemed to be full of grime, places of whores and pimps and eventually demolished for mere boxes, it seems that this writer think that most people are being eaten "by the flow" of commercialism-and this means forgetfulness, obsessed with materialism and dubbed thee as modernity and beauty, yet giving up something what others tend to call it as meaningful and just.
And so was what the late Lu Xun thinks about in a culture whose norm and more summarised in a sentence: "Eat People."
Born in 1881 at Zhejiang China, Lu Xun became konwn for his essays and short stories that became inspiration for the mass actions in China during its early years as a young republic.
Sensing that China during those times remained under same conditions with its vast majority repressed and poor, Lu Xun wrote 26 short stories, short commentaries, as well as translated foreign works into his native tounge. There many of the characters in his writings were painted with sharp humor and satire, recalling how people from different classes, including the vast majority of oppressed masses, had adopted slave-like ways and thinking under feudalism and imperialism.
One example of his satirical work is "The story of Ah Q", made in 1921, the story reflects the Chinese everydayman during the late Qing dynasty and ther early days of the republic, all criticized due to its lack of thoroughness as Ah Q, the main character of the said tale symbolized the failure of the revolution that meant modernity and progression; constantly bullied by his fellow villagers and unable to fight them, instead developed a dream world for himself and pretend to have won a "spiritual victory" whenever he was humiliated; but sadly he was put into trial as he was caught stealing and worse, with "revolutionaries" collaborated with the existing gentry Ah Q thinks of as contrary. There it reflects how the vast majority hath been betrayed and that the bourgeoisie rather compromised with the ruling gentry, all at the expense with its presupposed goals such as democracy and livelihood, according to the three peoples principles.
But another story Lu Xun became popular is the "Madman's Diary", written in 1918 and published in New Youth, it showed a furious attack on the old society and tradition. And through it Lu Xun conveyed his belief that Chinese people be emancipated through radical means such as breaking away with old, antiquated ideas the way Rizal, as Crisostomo Ibarra in Noli me Tangere paved way for a radical-minded Simoun.
According to the "diary", the Madman, a protagonist, is a paranoid obsessed by fear that his society was driven in a cannibalistic orgy. But despite his madness, he is able to diagnose the social cancer that penetrates deep through his society such as tradition:
"In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it. I tried to look this up but my history book has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words 'virtue' and 'morality.' Since I could not sleep anyway, I read hard half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words--'Eat People.'"
These somehow reflect a state of backwardness as Lu Xun directly attacks in it, as the Confucian classics bid everyone to "Eat people" through its norms and mores inimical to progression, that somehow made Chinese youth during his time tend to assail the classics and instead favoring science and liberal thinking:
"Seeing the people in his village as potential man-eaters, he is gripped by the fear that everyone, including his brother, his venerable doctor and his neighbors, who are crowding about to watch him, are harboring cannibalistic thoughts on him" .
Quite weird to think of these in a contemporary setting such as todays, but in a backward-driven society ruled by the few that imposes norms and mores regardless of modern day education and gadgetry, this writer made him think that Lu Xun put things straight to the point, blaming the old society for keeping people backward as what today's commercialism for keeping people as mere consumers of goods with the few generously benefit from it; not noticing that everyone joining the "flow" "eats", "swallows" every individual with the latter unnoticeably knowing it thinking that the former as a norm that is ought to observe other than the one sponsored by the church and state.
After all, it is quite hard to deny an inconvenient truth such as what Lu Xun tried to vent upon. The allegedly Marcos-sponsored Pinoy Monkey Pride tried to be like Lu Xun's the way Alexander de Leche (of ALASKADOR) and professor David Michael San Juan did so. It is true enough that an inconvenient truth stir dissent as everyone dares to expose corruption, repression, poverty and directly blames a rotting society with the privileged few who controls in it. Then someone else dare to criticize his intention such as "why are you using computers or enjoying facebook" with a trying hard insistance of equating "technology" with "capitalism"! The irrationality of the latter unveils its narrow mindedness thinking that gadgetry, technology decides than the one who creates that is, man; and it somehow reflects a person being eaten by the norm that is, commercialism.
That somehow made this writer ridiucle over the narrow minded. They've been eaten by the "flow" guised as "modernity" as this writer had seen decades ago. Like Lu Xun, this writer sensed that as he sought the deteriorating nature of Avenida Rizal and perhaps Manila itself, of old facades and people craving for branded goods in ShoeMart Carriedo or overtly playing "Teach me how to Dougie" or "Super Bass" in the radio while keeping antiquated norms and mores such as the heavily criticized interference of the religious sector as the maintainer of social morals around (such as being against homosexuals, family planning, even Lady Gaga's 'Judas') felt that everyone is eaten without noticing that they've been eaten by the flow that made others benefit from the society's deteriorating nature guised as modernity.
And perhaps, few dare to resist and revolt against this rotting "modern" world full of cannibals guised as moralists. As the world became heavily corrupted by heavily influx of consumer goods and its side effects, repressive policies and of rotting morals "given modern garb" yet backward in its very own existence and essence, there will always be people, fun, free and rebellious who dares to resist those prevailing norms. Like Lu Xun's madman, offers a glimmer of hope:
"Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men? Save the children."
And this writer, after bought his dextrose powder and some French bread, mantou, thinks that Lu Xun, like any other writers like Lewis Caroll or Jack London as his basis for some of his works.
Strange to emulate him but to understand him like Rizal reminds of looking what 's going on in Manila-more Ah Qs and imitation foreign devils.