August 23, 2007

Lu Xun, "On Expressing an Opinion."

I dreamed I was in the classroom of a primary school preparing to write an essay, and asked the teacher how to express an opinion.
"That's hard!" glancing sideways at me over his glasses, he said: "Let me tell you a story -
"When a son is born to a family, the whole household is delighted. When he is one month old they carry him out to display him to the guests -- usually expecting some compliments, of course.
"One says: 'This child will be rich. ' Then he is heartily thanked.
"One says: 'This child will be an official. ' Then some compliments are made him in return.
"One says: 'This child will die. ' Then he- is thoroughly beaten by the whole family.
"That the child will die is inevitable, while to say that he will be rich or a high official may be a lie. Yet the lie is rewarded, whereas the statement of the inevitable gains a beating. You. .."
"I don't want to tell lies, sir, neither do I want to be beaten. So what should I say!"
"In that case, say: 'Aha! Just look at this child! My word.... Oh, my! Oho! Hehe! He, hehehehehe!' "


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