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I, Etcetera




I am going to China.

I will walk across the Luhu Bridge spanning the Sham Chun River between Hong Kong and China.

After having been in China for a while, I will walk across the Luhu Bridge spanning the Sham Chun River between China and Hong Kong.

Five variables:

Luhu Bridge
Sham Chun River
Hong Kong
peaked cloth caps

Consider other possible permutations.

I have never been to China.

I have always wanted to go to China. Always.


Will this trip appease a longing?

Q. [stalling for time] The longing to go to China, you mean?
A. Any longing.


Archaeology of longings.

But it's my whole life!

Don't panic, "Confession is nothing, knowledge is everything." That's a quote but I'm not going to tell who said it.


--a writer
--somebody wise
--an Austrian (i.e., a Viennese Jew)
--a refugee
--he died in America in 1951

Confession is me, knowledge is everybody.

Archaeology of conceptions.

Am I permitted a pun?


The conception, of this trip is very old.

First conceived when? As far back as I can remember.

--Investigate possibility that I was conceived in China though born in New York and brought up elsewhere (America).
   --write M.
Prenatal relation to China: certain foods, perhaps. But I don't remember M. saying she actually liked Chinese food.
--Didn't she say that at the general's banquet she spit the whole of the hundred-year-old egg into her napkin?

Something filtering through the bloody membranes, anyway.

Myrna Loy China, Turandot China. Beautiful, millionaire Soong sisters from Wellesley and Wesleyan & their husbands. A landscape of jade, teak, bamboo, fried dog.

Missionaries, foreign military advisers. Fur traders in the Gobi Desert, among them my young father.
Chinese forms placed about the first living room I remember (we moved away when I was six): plump ivory and rose-quartz elephants on parade, narrow rice-paper scrolls of black calligraphy in gilded wood frames, Buddha the Glutton immobilized under an ample lampshade of taut pink silk. Compassionate Buddha, slim, in white porcelain.
--Historians of Chinese art distinguish between porcelain and proto-porcelain.
Colonialists collect.
Trophies brought back, left behind in homage to the other living room, in the real Chinese house, the one I never saw. Unrepresentative, opaque objects. In dubious taste (but I only know that now). Confusing solicitations. The birthday gift of a bracelet made of five small tubular lengths of green jade, each tiny end capped in gold, which I never wore.

--Colors of jade:

green, all sorts, notably emerald green and bluish green
brownish reddish
other colors

One certainty: China inspired the first lie I remember telling. Entering the first grade, I told my classmates that I was born in China. I think they were impressed.

I know that I wasn't born in China.

The four causes of my wanting to go to China:

The oldest country in the world: it requires years of arduous study to learn its language. The country of science fiction, where everyone speaks with the same voice. Maotsetungized.

Whose voice is the voice of the person who wants to go to China? A child's voice. Less than six years old.

Is going to China like going to the moon? I'll tell you when I get back.

Is going to China like being born again?

Forget that I was conceived in China.


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