Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: taiwan
Friday, 06 September 2013 16:32

Three Years with the Sadyaq Tribe

 

Scott Simon is a professor at the University of Ottawa and an anthropologist at the Lyons Institute of East Asian Studies (IAO). He works on the issues of development, indigeneity and identity in Taiwan.


Monday, 23 December 2013 14:17

The "Minuit" Sonata

Photographer and journalist Hubert Kilian shares his experiences documenting the side of Taipei behind the glitz and the glamour in black and white, a side of Taipei that is often forgotten.


Friday, 08 February 2013 18:57

A Sonic Meltdown: A Review on "I Love Nuclear!?"

The Fukushima nuclear tragedy in March 2011 sparked a global discussion on nuclear energy in the 21st century. This question was discussed with particular vigour in Japan's neighbor Taiwan, a seismically unstable island with a voracious appetite for energy. 

Opposition to nuclear power in Taiwan is not new. Former movie star and spiritual author Terry Hu's involvement with campaigns in the early 1990s is but one high profile example and eRenlai has probed the issue here. The Fukushima incident, Taiwan's ageing reactors and the ongoing construction of a fourth nuclear plant have coalesced a range of social responses in recent years. In this context, the underground electronic artists behind I Love Nuclear!? have come taken nuclear power as an "object of criticism as well as a space for introspection". Their music "is foregrounded against nuclear power as well as the craziness and absurdity revolving around it". The result is a bouncy, glitchy electronic nightmare. But a well-meaning nightmare, as the music was contributed free of charge and organisers will donate profits to the Green Citizens' Action Alliance for Anti-Nuclear Purposes.

Unlike the majority of electronic music compilations, I Love Nuclear!? is not structured around a single easily identifiable sonic template. Metal riffs and lurking psytrance grate against bleak industrial beats. Lush ambience leads to the familiar throb of house. The unifying theme is a dark audial portrayal of the confusion and fear that nuclear power generates. The contrasting styles employed by the artists could be seen as the various phases of the nuclear issue - development, progress, protest, decay, meltdown, destruction, apocalypse, mutation. Just as the various styles of music are all 'electronic', so too are the moods evoked all 'nuclear'.

I Love Nuclear!? appears to have been compiled not as an enjoyable listening experience or something to shake your booty to, but as more of an experiment in letting music generate a palpable sense of the unease and imminent danger so inherent in nuclear power. In the interests of fairness I have given each track a 140 character summary. Tweet style, yo. 

ilovenulcear 01
The poster that is enclosed in the CD

1. 只是魚罐 It’s Just Canned Fish by Blackbells

Spooky looped distorted vocals. Gradually building dread. A faux-ambient portent for the warped digital tunes to follow.

2. 機器人的烏托 The Utopia Of Androids by Vice City

Am I in Düsseldorf circa 1991? The tinny bass drum üm-tish üm-tishes into some floating synths. Even if your skin is peeling off from nuclear flash burns you’ll still be able to slo-mo shuffle to this.

3. 美帝的禮 A Gift from the American Empire by Iang

Ethno-ambience morphs in and out of power-chord laden psytrance metal. If you put a mic next to a drum of radioactive waste it sounds like this.

4. 沒有人反 Nobody’s Against Nuclear Power by Yao

Minimalist pops and bleeps and buzzing bass. Tinnitusinal outro. Relatively easy listening. Thanks Yao.

5. 怪獸電力公 Monsters, Inc. by Aul

Like a electroencephalogram attached to Mike Wachowski's brain or a malfunctioning nuclear plant alarm, this track will drive you cRäzY.

6. 那天春天寧靜的 Remember the Silent Sea that Spring by Koala 

Classic psytrance, the most danceable track thus far. Your getaway music for when the reactor overheats and becomes unstable.

7. 台電的移動城 Taipower’s Moving Castle by MAD+N ft. Troy

Epic synths, glitchy paranoia, soothing piano and an uber-gloomy finale. I love it.

8. 我如何學著停止煩惱並愛上炸彈 How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Roweing

More retro Euro-beats and arrhythmic percussion. Claustrophic and nauseating. Kubrick would be proud.

9. 黑色狂歡派 Dance to the Scam by Betty Apple

Betty gets funky and then freaks out, scooping out your brain and filling it with digital detritus and toxic gloop.

10. 黃色蛋 Yellow Cake by VARO

I think Varo is some sort of post-nuclear mutant, that's the only way he/she could compose this. Just as it starts feeling comfortable, the music gets weird. Again.

11. 都是為了世界和 It’s All For The Peace Of The World by TJ Zhang

No beats here. Just a surreal conversation between two mutants scavenging the remains of Taiwan’s Longmen reactor 500 years in the future. One chanting a baritone mantra, the other whimpering and quivering like a scared guinea pig. 

12. 讓你瘋狂的要 I Want You to Want Me by 灰雁

The piano is all Summer of Love 1989. I can see the yellow smiley faces and goofily grinning ravers. But the glow sticks they are waving are actually spent nuclear rods. 

13. 核廢永久遠、一噸永流 A Family Heirloom by Alöis

Static and eerie, this is the sound of Geiger counters scouring the ruins and scorched earth, finding nothing but death. The legacy of Sector 7-G.

14. 進化特 Evolution by Tech Yes

Industrial chaos. Your mum will hate it. The most challenging track here ends in a crescendo of static. The discordant ripping of a scratched CD evoking the death thralls of an earthquake-shattered reactor.

I Love Nuclear is a unique aural representation of how the complexities of nuclear power in 21st century Taiwan might be understood. It is not always easy listening. But since when did a nuclear meltdown sound good?

For samples, you can check out http://i-love-nuclear.bandcamp.com/album/i-love-nuclear-preview


Note from the editor:

The album (250 NTD) can be purchased in the following locations...

Taipei - RE caféLuguo caféSpecies RecordsIndimusic RecordsThe GoodsMyHome多麼 Cafe+Vicious Circle

Taichung - 小路映画

Kaohsiung - Booking

Others – Lacking Sound Festival or buy on internet 


Tuesday, 16 April 2013 16:52

Finding your path within the unexpected

In this two-part interview, Barnabe Hounguevou tells us the story of how he gradually decided to join the Jesuits, how was assigned to Taiwan by the society, and what he likes most about the island.

 


Tuesday, 28 May 2013 17:18

The Taiwanese Experience: Adjusting to life on the other side of the world

In this video we talk to Roberto Villasante, a Spanish Christian living in Taiwan and learning Chinese, about his insights into Taiwanese culture, how it differs from the West, and what he misses most about home.


Sunday, 01 December 2013 19:15

In Search of Utopia

As observed in the mass media and our own personal experience, the Earth's habitat is facing an unprecedented crisis. We clearly realize that the problems and disasters caused by global warming cannot be avoided by any country: one infectious disease after another quickly spreads across national borders, acid rain floats over the seas, even China's sandstorms affect Taiwan. When humankind causes an imbalance in the natural order created by other species, the retribution always ends up coming back and affecting humankind. Never in human history has humankind realised, the way we do today, just how inextricably connected all life on this planet is, forming one big symbiotic entity.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013 14:47

In the eye of the Storm: Musings on the Danshui

 

The stream of the Danshui river was bringing me a peaceful melody, waves were biting the shore softly, but, stream inside the stream, slightly blurring the mirror of the water, I could hear a confusing tumult, news from the world struggling in the distance to spill a shot of truth at me:


"When the soldier was being interrogated, all 16 surveillance cameras stopped working. This is absolutely normal. It happens all the time in the army, the cameras are old. This is a banal accident"


Tuesday, 15 October 2013 13:18

Seeing through the haze: The truth about smoking

 

"...but as the world grew more and more affluent, laws and restrictions multiplied, discrimination increased, and somehow we lost our freedom. Why did this happen?"
Yasutaka Tsutsui, "The Last Smoker"

In Japanese author Yasutaka Tsutsui's 1987 novel "The Last Smoker", he depicts a fictitious Japan in which the anti-smoking movement has become powerful, leading eventually to the extermination of smokers. Even though this piece is classified as science fiction, the descriptions found in the novel, such as the unwillingness to understand smokers, their plight of being loathed, and the general state of discrimination against them are all too present in the real world.


Wednesday, 16 October 2013 07:57

Publishing Debate part 2: Are you sure we're still really free?

The Cross-strait Trade on Services Agreement is a mirror into a possible dystopian future, in which appears a undemocratic Taiwan, lacking in freedom. Regardless if you're for or against the opening up, the publishing industry should take this opportunity to reflect on their own problems.

By Sharky Chen (the head of commaBOOKS Publishing House), translated from the original Chinese by Conor Stuart. Photo by 楊忠銘.


Sunday, 06 October 2013 16:19

Publishing Debate part 1: Greater Freedoms Grant Greater Power


The Cross-strait Trade on Services Agreement does not, nominally at least, extend to the publishing industry, but it has unleashed an explosive debate in the publishing industry. Those in favour and those against both agree that 'freedom' is at the heart of Taiwan's publishing industry and that it's a value that must be upheld, but they hold opposing views of the effect that the implementation of the agreement will have on the industry. This special two part series allows two publishers on opposite sides of the argument to air their views, giving the reader a fuller picture of the possible advantages and drawbacks that the agreement will bring. The second article is available here.

What does the publishing industry really have to fear from the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement?

By Octw Chen (A long-time publishing industry insider), translated from the original Chinese by Conor Stuart. Photo by 楊忠銘.


Under the pressure of China's large capital is Taiwan left with no other option and destined to go under? The strong "soft" power of the vital and diverse space cultivated by publishing freedom might just exceed our expectations...

Are we really seeing things clearly when we talk about the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement?

A new debate has broken out in Taiwan surrounding the signing of the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement. What's interesting is that it was in the publishing industry that the controversy first blew up, despite the fact that this industry has no direct relationship to the content of the agreement. Despite the fact that the publishing industry wasn't one of the industries under discussion in this agreement, some of the topics discussed are very interesting and deserve further discussion. However, it's necessary to first state that what follows is limited to the publishing industry and that this essay is unable to make a more comprehensive judgment on the merits of the trade agreement as a whole, or to state with authority what effect it will have on other industries.

According to the views expressed by Hao Mingyi in his piece 'We have less than 24 hours left', which was the subject of much debate, Taiwan's publishing industry is a model for cultural industry that will quickly be swallowed up and obliterated when the market is opened up. Publishers on the other side of the strait need only kill us softly with cash injections and these 'essentially small scale, micro-industries' will 'all be outgunned, unable to escape going under or being bought out'.

Is this true? Is the publishing industry in Taiwan really so weak that it can't even withstand one blow? This assertion really is rather horrifying and it certainly serves the function of scaremongering well, the only unfortunate thing about it though is that it does nothing to explain the status quo.

In a creative and innovative industry it's hard to succeed just with capital

It's true that we have countless micro-publishers. We also have a publishing market that is the most liberal, fortified and competitive in the history of the Republic of China. However, because of this, in the best-seller lists, it is the small to medium sized publishing houses that are strongest when it comes to innovation, influence and competition.

In the 2012 Books.com.tw top hundred overall bestseller list, the hundred books came from forty-four different publishing houses. This would be hard to imagine in a country like the United States – the bestseller list in America is the province of six major publishing groups (Oh yeah, that's right, now there's only five!) – the fact that Taiwan's bestsellers aren't concentrated in a few publishing houses is testament to the fact that no one publishing house in Taiwan enjoys market dominance.

The bestseller list has another peculiarity, which is that small to medium-scale publishing houses feature prominently, making up more than half of the total, with even a few legendary one-man publishing houses. These small- to medium-scale publishing houses have little fear of the capital of larger-scale publishing houses and they even outperform them by quite a margin in the bestseller rankings.

'Is this particularly out of the ordinary?' you might ask. Of course it is. This is indicative of the fact that Taiwan's publishing industry is still based on innovation and creativity and that you can't dominate the market with just capital. There have been competing investments from Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US in Taiwan's publishing market, but no single publishing group or foreign investor has achieved market dominance and no foreign investor has been able to use their vast capital and resources to defeat the innovative and creative small- to medium-scale publishing houses.

This is the simple reality of Taiwan's publishing market since the end of Martial Law in 1987.

The assertion that Taiwan's publishing market is too unconstrained, that it lacks security and as a result is too easy to infiltrate or 'invade', not only demonstrates an inability to understand the status quo, but also an ignorance of the way a free system functions.

The publishing market is already a healthy ecosystem

If Taiwan's publishing industry is defenseless, why hasn't it been monopolized by a major publishing group? I my opinion, this is because of publishing freedom. In Taiwan nobody can stop you starting up a publishing house or starting a publishing branch of your company or even just striking out on your own as a self-published author without need of a company, you just need to apply to the ISBN centre of the National Central Library for your own ISBN – you can even call them up to complain if they're not quick enough about it.

As this industry is so simple, in the past few decades many people working in the publishing industry have resigned their posts at big companies and starting out in their own micro-publishing house, making waves in the book market with a lot more capacity for innovation than bigger companies. This is an industry that is impossible to monopolize, because the industry allows for new people and companies on the scene, not only in terms of the lack of a structural hierarchy but also in terms of the ability to do business. You don't need to have a lot of capital to play the game and there's no burdensome entrance fee. The Books.com.tw top hundred bestsellers' list tells us that you can make an impact on the bestseller list with just your own individual intelligence and hard work.

You'd be hard-pressed to find another industry in Taiwan that values individual creativity so much, and this is all due to the individual transactions of the readers as they choose this book or that. Anyone seeking to dominate the market wouldn't be able to do it just by buying up all the existing publishing houses, they would also have to pay off all the editors to prevent them from setting up shop themselves. How can one clamp down on the freedom to start one's own business? And how also, can one dictate reading preferences to readers on a national scale? If capital could warp preferences when it comes to buying books, then the top hundred bestseller list should, by rights, be dominated by big companies.

I believe that Taiwan's publishing market is already a healthy eco-system, it is strong enough and determined enough to withstand 'invaders' from abroad, these 'invaders' could even be said to strengthen the industry by challenging it. This is the truly formidable power of Taiwan's publishing industry.

The best defense is in not erecting walls around ourselves

In an article in Next Magazine under the title 'A great place for reading', Zhan Hongzhi, the founder of Cite Publishing stated, 'Historically, the places where there was most freedom to print and publish often became the places were cultural renaissances took shape amongst a diverse range of voices.' Such was the Dutch enlightenment, wherein many French and English thinkers, because their views were proscribed in their own countries, were forced to publish their most important works in the Netherlands. Freedom and openness pushed the Netherlands to be a country at the forefront of European thought at that time, attracting a talented elite, allowing this small Western European country to cut a formidable figure on the seas in competition with the English and the Spanish. Dutch navigators were more or less engaged in global trade even then.

Freedom and liberty forged the Netherlands' golden era, likewise, publishing freedom is an extremely valuable soft power for Taiwan. It represents not only the collecting together of ideas, but it serves to awaken our minds – only places where there is publishing freedom will win the recognition of intellectuals.

What's most startling about the viewpoints that have been put forward concerning the publishing industry amidst the controversy surrounding the trade in services agreement is that these commentators seem to see Taiwan's clear strength as its weakness. The firm ground of freedom is seen as unable to withstand even one blow. When we should be upholding freedom, we instead build a high wall to cut ourselves off. This viewpoint is blind to the reality of the publishing industry, and underestimates its strength. If this viewpoint becomes the popular one, then that is a pity for Taiwan and if it goes further and becomes government policy, than that will be a tragedy for Taiwan – as our greatest advantage will be destroyed by our own hand.

We do need to protect Taiwan's publishing freedom, but the best way to do this is not to build ourselves a greenhouse, that will, on the contrary, destroy competition within the industry. The best line of defence is to continue to give free reign to competition, only then will the industry continue to cultivate publishers with determination, who will, when unhappy, be able to go their own way and start up influential independent publishing houses. To ensure that the eco-system continues to be balanced, innovative, free and diverse, this is the only way in which we can safeguard Taiwan's publishing industry.


Wednesday, 02 October 2013 16:10

When Dreams Don't Pan Out


Translated from the original Chinese by Conor Stuart, photo by Cerise Phiv.

Dreams have the dual meaning of hope and desperation: they can represent longing for the future, or they can be an unrealistic fantasy.

"中國夢" (Chinese Dream) . In the middle of August this year, I embarked on my first steps onto Chinese soil. From when I entered the airport, these three characters followed me on my trip. In the papers, in the media, even slogans written on walls at the side of the road, these three characters appeared at every turn. According to the Chinese government, the meaning of this phrase is 'Realize a rich and powerful nation, to reinvigorate the Chinese nation and to make the people happy'. On the surface, this dream not only looks to have a very solid definition, but it seems to have the power to be passed down from the top to the bottom rungs of society.

When conjuring up the Chinese Dream, it's very hard not to associate it with the American Dream, which took its origins in the nineteenth century, which consists of the idea that if you only work hard, you will not lack for opportunities and was pursued and yearned for by people the world over. And now, a rising superpower is staking a new claim in an attempt, it goes without saying, to replace it. Only, amidst this atmosphere of prosperity for all, I can't help but feel a little troubled: Don't dreams represent people at their most unconstrained? People under the same roof often have different dreams from one another, so how could more than a billion people all have the same dream?

By chance, it was at the end of August when I was jettisoned into this dream. Fifty years before, on 28th August, the American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King made his famous speech which featured the famous line "I have a dream", which is probably one of the most widely known dreams in the world. The dream Dr. King describes is one in which "the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood [...] that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." So, the American Dream actually turns out not to be realizable with just hard work, certain people are already pre-excluded from it. Half a century has since passed, and even though the US has already elected its first black president, I'm not naive enough to think that Dr King's dream has been realized. One need only open one's eyes to see the multitude of dividing lines that exist in the world today, and what keeps us apart is not only race, but also gender, sexuality, class and even religion...

The Chinese Dream, the American Dream and Dr. King's dream remind me of the era of illusion in Taiwan spurred by the lines "Having a dream is wonderful, hope is never far behind" (有夢最美,希望相隨, you meng zui mei, xiwang xiangsui). These lines, a slogan from an election campaign (Chen Shuibian's election campaign), used the simplest of words to inspire hope in countless people, as if just believing in these words, one could emerge from the darkest of times. However, the reality of the situation is that dreams can't dispel the differences between people and they give us a clear direction, as for Taiwan this turned out to be an even more ambiguous and tumultuous era than what had gone before.

Perhaps, as we sing the virtues of dreams, we often forget that dreams have the dual meaning of hope and desperation: they can represent a longing for the future, if you naively believe that where there's a will, there's a way", allowing you to release your unlimited potential. Or, on the other hand dreams can be an unrealistic fantasy because what you yearn for is so distant from reality, so, in the end, it can only ever be a dream. Of course, if we get to the core of the issue, as the Diamond sutra says, everything in this world is simply a "phantasm". 


Wednesday, 02 October 2013 09:24

5 different Chinese input methods


Here we have a short guide to five different Chinese input methods, including pinyin, zhuyin, cangjie, sucheng and boshiamy, all of which can help your Chinese in different ways, some can improve your tones and some are based on the shape of the different characters. We apologize for the bad video quality - hopefully we can improve it soon.


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