Erenlai - Cerise Phiv (張俐紫)
Cerise Phiv (張俐紫)

Cerise Phiv (張俐紫)

Former Managing Editor of eRenlai.com

前e人籟執行主編

Tweets @cerisefive

週一, 13 十二月 2010 15:29

eRenlai Volunteer Scheme

eRenlai and the Taipei Ricci Institute (TRI) have decided to launch a new volunteering scheme. The plethora of different events, awards conferences, publications and works that our organisation churns out annually means that there are always plenty of exciting opportunities, to learn some skills in the most dynamic, prestigious and creatively stimulating of organisations. We work in publishing, new media, writing, journalism, camera and soundwork, video editing, documentary film production, event organisation, academic conferences environmental or sustainability work and the arts... Working with eRenlai and TRI you are given proximity to the top academics, feature journalists and event organisers, eRenlai even has its own in-house art directors and fully equipped video editing studio. If you are interested in participating in eRenlai's volunteering scheme. Please Email住址會使用灌水程式保護機制。你需要啟動Javascript才能觀看它. Tell us a bit about yourself, why you want to volunteer and what fields you are interested in.

Whilst we are willing to take on internees year round and allow for various interests, some current areas of interest are:

Flash animation and video design

Subtitling and video editing

Journalism

Languages

For more info, email Email住址會使用灌水程式保護機制。你需要啟動Javascript才能觀看它

 

 

週三, 24 十一月 2010 16:03

Micro clim-action in Moura, Portugal

José Maria Prazeres Pós-de-Mina is the Mayor of Moura, Portugal, who oversaw the building of what was the biggest solar power plant in the world, in a town of just 16,500 people. This led to Moura being a net exporter of sustainable energy.

週五, 12 十一月 2010 22:27

坎昆氣候變遷會議前夕,世界城市齊聚台北縣

2010年聯合國氣候變遷會議即將於年底在墨西哥坎昆舉行。鑒於哥本哈根會議的破局,各界對這即將展開的氣候談判會議仍不抱太大希望。然而,就在本月(8.9日)於台北縣舉辦的城市首長高峰論壇中,似乎看到了一股更直接的力量正在醞釀

週五, 12 十一月 2010 00:00

坎昆氣候變遷會議前夕,世界城市齊聚台北縣

2010年聯合國氣候變遷會議即將於年底在墨西哥坎昆舉行。鑒於哥本哈根會議的破局,各界對這即將展開的氣候談判會議仍不抱太大希望。然而,就在本月(8.9日)於台北縣舉辦的城市首長高峰論壇中,似乎看到了一股更直接的力量正在醞釀。在國際間對抗氣候變遷的行動顯得欲振乏力之際,城市與在地公民團體是否真能擔起永續重責大任?這問題已在本月8、9 兩日於台北縣政府舉辦的國際城市論壇中得到了非常明確的肯定答案 。

週四, 11 十一月 2010 15:17

World cities meet before Cancún Climate Conference

Will cities and local communities take the lead when it comes to mitigation action against climate change? This was the definite lesson of a summit held in Xinbei City (formerly Taipei County) on November 8-9 2010.

週一, 01 十一月 2010 00:00

Journey to the end of craziness

A review of documentary ‘Crazy’ directed by Heddy Honigmann, Netherlands, 1999, Digi-Beta, color, 97’

Crazy is a documentary on memory and on the way one deals with the memory of traumatic experiences. In her movie, Heddy Honigmann interviews a series of Dutch soldiers who have all experience in a war context as members of the UN forces/army. The movie is remarkable for its use of documents such as photo scrapbooks, news footage and personal films, letters and postcards… The interviewees are most of the time comfortably sitting in their living room, or in a restaurant. Sometimes they are accompanied by their spouse or companion as they recount their experience of wars in various parts of the world such as Lebanon, Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

Thus the contrast is even stronger between the violence and horror of their stories and the environment and items that surround them now: a cozy and bright room, a park, an expensive bottle of wine… What Honigmann succeeds in capturing is precisely the moment of the recollection, this indescribable moment when a painful or traumatic memory mightily comes back, bringing to the present a past that one might have shut off.

crazy_3So there are two kinds of memory: a voluntary one and an uncontrolled one. The first one comes from the effort of remembering, it also rebuilds a story, gives an order and a signification to events. It is also the one that overcomes in a certain way the absurdities and the horrors of the war by choosing carefully what one wants or can remember. For instance, a soldier evokes the refugee camps in Rwanda: when asked if it was terrible to see, he just replies that one gets used to it; he’s then asked how quickly he got used to it, very fast, he says, as for the horror scenes he could have witnessed, he just brushed them aside, using what he calls the “blinders’ technique”. In his role as a strong and efficient soldier, he denies having showed any weak feeling during his mission, for him, it is a matter of survival.

crazy_4On the other hand, Honigmann also invokes another kind of memory aroused by music in her movie. Each soldier is asked to introduce a song linked to their experience of war time. From the Stabat Mater by Pergolesito Guns n' Roses' "Knocking on Heaven's Door", the soldiers all used a song of their own to find a bit of peace and comfort in a context of violence and dehumanization. So the camera just films them as they are sitting on their home sofa listening to these songs that carry such a heavy recollection. They stop talking but their silence is even more eloquent than all the stories they just told, eyes begin to float, sweat beads on their foreheads, hands are twisted together as if supplicating under the torture… And in fact, the special signification that these different songs carry for all the protagonists reveal precisely the banality of horror and the way craziness arises from the trivial.

This importance of music and its power of reminiscence have been evoked before in French novelist Celine’s “Journey to the End of Night” (Voyage au bout de la nuit). The novel also describes the absurdities of war and its impact on the mind as the story starts with the narrator enrolling for First World War after following the gay music played by a brass band! In fact Celine’s book is punctuated by music: the author himself named his writing “the little music”; describing the decay of age as the moment when “one has no more music inside to make life dance.” In another quote, the narrator says: “In fact, nobody resists to music. We have nothing to do with our heart, we give it gladly. Y’have to hear at the bottom of all music the tune without notes, made for us, the tune of Death.”

週五, 15 十月 2010 18:24

The master at home

A recent survey conducted by the Research development and Evaluation Commission in Taiwan gave some ‘positive’ results regarding the progress of gender equality in Taiwanese society: for example, approximately 86% of respondents said that men and women should share equal responsibilities at work and at home while 80% “disagreed with the idea that men should be the master at home and women should obey them”.

To what extent are these opinions reflected by reality? Actually, the 2010 figures published by the Service of Accounting and Statistics of the Executive Yuan are not so bad: they show improvement in the decreasing of inequalities between men and women in the work environment in terms of salary difference as an example or even unemployment rate. But in 2009 there were also 1.5 more women working in a part-time job than men and only 17% of the parental leave allowances were taken by men.

So how much real improvement do these figures really show? In a context of economic recession, it doesn’t seem so surprising that the majority of people would think men and women can do the same amount of work. In the West, women only obtained the right to vote after having shown how necessary and efficient they were to keep the society and the economy functioning in the absence of the men (out on the front line). It is often in times of crisis that a society is pushed to find solutions and adapt. But shouldn’t we be looking for more preventive solutions than just patchwork?

Furthermore, polls are interesting themselves in the terminology they use. I was actually more surprised by the questions than the results, as the way the questions were asked are quite indicative of how conservative Taiwanese society still is in 2010:

In regards to traditional perception of social roles, 80% of the people surveyed disagreed with the “men should be the leader in the home, and women should try their best to obey their husbands” concept. Moreover, 68% of the interviewees disagreed with the “to carry on the bloodline, one must give birth to a son” tradition, and roughly 60% of them disagreed with the notion of “it is men’s responsibility to bring in income, and women should stay home to take care of the family.” Concerning the idea of “calling both sides of grandparents as ‘grandparents’ in the future,” 50% of the respondents approved while 44% of them disapproved.

Here is the survey in Chinese
The Report on Women and Men in R.O.C. (Facts and Figures)

(Photo: C.P.)

週三, 30 六月 2010 21:12

In Bed with Rock in Hose

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is Rock in Hose!!

The burlesque dance troupe was formed in 2009 in Taiwan. Please meet Alita d'Bone and Trixie Treatz from Canada, Kitty N. Heat and Amor Galore from the U.S., Duke Vita and Onyx from South Africa.

週四, 18 三月 2010 00:00

Meeting up to standards

Annie Lai's path to university was a very different struggle to the normal one. She explains her tough route to Providence University in Taichung, Taiwan. Furthermore, she explains why she feels that despite the struggles it's worth the effort.

 

週一, 03 十二月 2007 00:00

Asian Union and Interreligious Dialogue

On December 2d, the Ricci Institute organized a roundtable on “Asian Union and Interreligious  Dialogue" at Tien Educational Center, Taipei. Moderated by Dr Chen Tsung-ming, executive director of the institute, the roundtable gathered representatives from different religions. What are the prospects for unity and cooperation among Asian nations? And will cohesiveness among Asian peoples be strengthened through religious dialogue, or will religious divisions further nurture conflicts throughout Asia? These were the questions introducing the roundtable.
Mr. Ni Guo-an, president of the Board of the Association of Chinese Islam, stressed the value of friendship in Islamic tradition, pleading for a dialogue form the heart, and distinguishing social and cultural tensions from purely religious ones.
Pastor Lu Jun-yi, Taiwanese Presbyterian pastor of the Dong-men Church, emphasized the importance of grassroots and localization work, giving example of the way the Presbyterian church in Taiwan committed itself to a mission of truth and justice.
While recognizing that Buddhism is a Pan-Asian religion, Prof. Li Zhi-fu, Emeritus director of the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies of Fa-gu shan, also described the diversity of Asian Buddhism, making it difficult to transform it into an unifying force throughout the continent. He also stressed that fact that Buddhism is a religion, while not being merely or first a religion.
Benoit Vermander, editor of Renlai, insisted on the work of self-examination conducted by Catholicism in the fifties and sixties, seeing in the this opening the roots of European unity. Likewise, he said, capacity for self-examination and trespassing of boundaries pursued by Asian religions could be a driving force for fostering a new style of communication within the continent.
Prof. Tan Yao-zong, Director of the Department of Multicultural and Linguistic Studies of the College of Global Research and Development at Tamkang University, gave a personal testimony on the way his identity, be it cultural or spiritual, had been shaped by the encounter with various religions and a search for inner sincerity going beyond dogmatic definitions of truths to be believed.
The debate that followed the presentations was rich and sometimes heated. Taiwan was a case in point both of the riches brought by inter-religious cooperation and of the difficulties to translate these riches into political and social assets. However, everyone was agreeing that cultural interaction was a way to transform Asia’s future through confidence-building and cross-fertilization. The future of Asia cannot be based solely on economic premises. Especially, taking ecological and spiritual dimensions as a basis for transnational cooperation will help Asia to creatively tackle global challenges.

On December 2nd, 2007 the Ricci Institute organized a roundtable on “Asian Union and Interreligious Dialogue" at Tien Educational Center, Taipei. Moderated by Dr Chen Tsung-ming, executive director of the institute, the roundtable gathered representatives from different religions. What are the prospects for unity and cooperation among Asian nations? And will cohesiveness among Asian peoples be strengthened through religious dialogue, or will religious divisions further nurture conflicts throughout Asia? These were the questions introducing the roundtable.

Mr. Ni Guo-an, president of the Board of the Association of Chinese Islam, stressed the value of friendship in Islamic tradition, pleading for a dialogue form the heart, and distinguishing social and cultural tensions from purely religious ones.

Pastor Lu Jun-yi, Taiwanese Presbyterian pastor of the Dong-men Church, emphasized the importance of grassroots and localization work, giving example of the way the Presbyterian church in Taiwan committed itself to a mission of truth and justice.

While recognizing that Buddhism is a Pan-Asian religion, Prof. Li Zhi-fu, Emeritus director of the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies of Fa-gu shan, also described the diversity of Asian Buddhism, making it difficult to transform it into an unifying force throughout the continent. He also stressed that fact that Buddhism is a religion, while not being merely or first a religion.

Benoit Vermander, director of the Taipei Ricci Institute, insisted on the work of self-examination conducted by Catholicism in the fifties and sixties, seeing in the this opening the roots of European unity. Likewise, he said, capacity for self-examination and trespassing of boundaries pursued by Asian religions could be a driving force for fostering a new style of communication within the continent.

Prof. Tan Yao-zong, Director of the Department of Multicultural and Linguistic Studies of the College of Global Research and Development at Tamkang University, gave a personal testimony on the way his identity, be it cultural or spiritual, had been shaped by the encounter with various religions and a search for inner sincerity going beyond dogmatic definitions of truths to be believed.

The debate that followed the presentations was rich and sometimes heated. Taiwan was a case in point both of the riches brought by inter-religious cooperation and of the difficulties to translate these riches into political and social assets. However, everyone was agreeing that cultural interaction was a way to transform Asia’s future through confidence-building and cross-fertilization. The future of Asia cannot be based solely on economic premises. Especially, taking ecological and spiritual dimensions as a basis for transnational cooperation will help Asia to creatively tackle global challenges.

 

週五, 28 八月 2009 02:53

Fear in the post-apocalyptic movies of the 90’s-2000's

In the last decades, the movie industry has produced hundreds of blockbusters in the post-apocalyptic genre, i.e. science-fiction movies picturing the end of civilization and the human race after great disasters such as a natural catastrophes, nuclear wars or plagues. These films, often considered as “B genre” movies, might have a certain cathartic function beyond their mere entertainment value. In some ways, they concentrate the popular anxieties of their time and push the possible scenarios of the reality to their limits, oscillating between plausibility and over-exaggerated violence. This is especially the case with post-apocalyptic movies which exploit the fear of pandemics and viral plagues such as Outbreak (Wolfgang Petersen, 1995), Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gillian, 1995), 28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002), the third sequel of the movie based on the eponymous video game, Resident Evil: Extinction (Russell Mulcahy, 2007) and I Am Legend (Francis Lawrence, 2007), inspired by Richard Matheson’s novel (1954).

Primal fears

These movies are first meant to create feelings of horror and fear in the spectator, the primal fear being that of death. Thus, these movies do not only display images of dead people but they play with the suffering and the deformation caused by illness. The first characteristic of the viruses is the rapidity of their spread, airborne contamination being the fastest type, as in I am Legend, where people get infected merely by breathing contaminated air.  In the other movies, the virus mostly spreads by contact with infected fluids or biting, which also allows for more spectacular fights splattered with blood.  Indeed blood plays one of the important roles in these movies, as it is the most visible representation of the deterioration of the body. In all movies, except Twelve Monkeys where the virus and its effects are almost not shown, once one gets infected, one does not only die, but also has to endure the intense pain of being deadly sick, as in Outbreak where the agony is described by an officer of the U.S. army: “When the patient first gets the virus, he complains of flu-like symptoms and in two or three days, pink lesions begin to appear all over his body along with small pustules that soon erupt with blood and pus (…). These particular lesions become blown. They feel like mush. There is vomiting and diarrhea and bleeding in the nose, ears, gums; the eyes hemorrhage, the internal organs shut down, they liquify…” Outbreak gives a very realistic representation of the symptoms, as the virus called “Motoba” is directly inspired from the Ebola virus and its own symptoms. Thus, the mask of death quickly replaces the one of the living and becomes the antithesis of the sanitary mask worn by the doctors and scientists.

Indeed, what is also at stake in the conflict between the sane people and the sick people is their humanity, and what could be more fearful than death if it is not becoming a monster, especially a zombie or a living-dead. Thus, except for Outbreak and Twelve Monkeys, the pandemics turn the infected people into zombies (or vampires, in the case of I am Legend). The main characteristic of the zombies are their beastliness and their inherent stupidity, they are the extreme metaphor of monstrosity as their body is mutilated, their moves are not human anymore, they are awkward, mechanical and they attack indifferently, usually starting with family and friends. In 28 Days Later, the virus named “Rage”, inspired by rabid viruses, turns infected people into mindless and vicious creatures; when Selena, one of the main characters, is asked how she knew that her friend who she just executed with a machete was infected, she replies: “I didn’t know he was infected, but he knew and I could see it in his face. If someone got infected, you’ve got between ten and twenty seconds to kill them. It might be your brother or your sister or your oldest friend, it makes no difference.” Each person is a potential monster as each one can break the boundary of humanity and pass to the “other side” once infected. The virus seems to awaken the dormant beast within us as it forces the survivors to fight and kill for their existence.

 

The animality of humanity

The themes of war and battles are omnipresent in the movies which all develop the topics of hunting, of the relationship between man and animal, predator and prey. Animals indeed play an important role in all the movies. The recurring animal is the monkey, who is the carrier of the virus in Outbreak and more specifically the chimpanzee in 28 Days Later. This movie starts with scenes of experimentations and torture of chimpanzees which are, among other cruelties, forced to watch clips of extreme violence broadcasted on TV. The line between humanity and animality is then crossed when we no longer know which one is the crueler between both. Ironically, in the movie mentioned above, it is the attempt by animal activists to save the monkeys that starts the virus outbreak when one of the chimpanzees infected with the “Rage” virus bites one of the activists. Twelve Monkeys also exploits the theme of animals ill-treatment, drawing a parallel between the way monkeys serve as guinea-pigs and the way a “healthy society” treats its mentally-ill subjects, segregating them into asylums or making experiments on the prisoners. And, at the asylum, one of the internees affirms it to Jeffrey, the main hero: “Torturing experiments. We are all monkeys (…) Maybe the human race deserves to be wiped out”. Furthermore, in the post-apocalyptic future drawn by this movie, men are forced to live underground while animals occupy the surface: the encaged ones are no longer the animals, they’re the humans.   

So, one of the other fears also exploited in these movies is the transformation of man into a prey: man is no longer the dominant species as we are close to eradication (many of these movies explicitly indicate the level of infection e.g. Twelve Monkeys mentions5bn people, leaving only 10% survivors,) and sane people are hunted down by zombies who feed on them. Survivors have to live hidden, always on the watch for a danger which surrounds and outnumbers them; the environment has become hostile to them, cities are deserted, without electricity and drinkable water (I Am Legend, 28 Days Later), its also explained by the heroine in the beginning of Resident Evil 3: “The virus didn’t just wipe out human life; lakes and rivers dried out, forests became deserts and whole continents were reduced to nothing more than bare wastelands. Slowly but surely, the Earth began to wither and die.” Then, besides escaping from zombies, the survivors have to sustain their more elementary needs: food and water. I Am Legend describes in length the daily routine of Robert Neville, the main hero, who endures a solitary life during three years, scouring the city of New York and visiting abandoned flats in search for supplies. During one of his excursions, he spots a stag which he aims at with his rifle, just before a lion pounces on the prey. In fact this scene can be seen as the counterpart of the one when Neville is caught in a trap set by the vampires and attacked by infected dogs, he barely escapes but his own dog and only companion gets bitten and he has to execute her, grieving inwardly.  

 

The conspiracy and the cure

The survivors are then isolated and left to ones’ own devices, they cannot even trust other sane people as some of them reveal themselves to be worse than the zombies they fight: in Resident Evil 3, a bunch of stereotypical rednecks set a trap to capture the heroine, they are obviously only motivated by cruelty and sadism and the heroine has no other choice than to kill them indifferently, in the same way as she exterminates the zombies. As the human race comes close to extinction, the humanity of those remaining appears to vanish too. It is also noticeable that the survivors are mostly youngsters, kids or the military. They are then divided into two groups which could be roughly summarized as the “goodies” and the “baddies”. The masses themselves identify two different types of people: the zombie crowd and the army. Apart from Twelve Monkeys, the army and associated medical researchers play an important role in the movies chosen here: In their own way, all these stories celebrate the triumph of individualism over the masses and the success of guerilla over big-scale war. In Outbreak for example, the U.S. army knows beforehand the existence of the virus and as they plan to use it as a biological weapon, they are ready to all means in order to protect its secrecy. They even destroy a mercenary camp in Africa and order the bombing of the town where the virus outbreak occurred. More generally, the outbreaks of viruses in the different movies are all parts of diverse conspiracies or products of experiments made by mad scientists (Resident Evil). When the origin of the virus is unknown, the army still seems to aggravate the situation by its incapacity to contain the infection and to control the panic of the crowd, and the crowd is the ideal place for the virus to spread.

Contrary to the masses of dead and undead, the survivors are scattered and have to move around restlessly, either to escape to their assailants or to reach a territory which hasn’t been infected by the virus. Thus, as the heroine of Resident Evil 3 states at the beginning of the movie: “The few survivors there were, wanted to keep on the move. We avoided major cities, if we stopped any place too long, they would be drawn to us. Only a few at first, but then more and more, a never-ending army of undead. Staying on the road seemed the only way to stay alive.” The last contacts with humans are messages left on a notebook (Resident Evil) or transmitted by radio (28 Days Later, I Am Legend), a digital voice which leads the survivors either to their destruction or their salvation. The survivors mostly head towards the North with the hope to find other sane people in some regions where the cold weather might slow down or stop the progression of the virus. In Twelve Monkeys, the main character, James Cole, even travels back in time to collect information on the virus and eventually obtains an original sample of the virus so a cure can be made. Then in some of these movies, emerges a certain image of the hero/-oine who is also somehow ‘superhuman’ like Alice (Resident Evil) who was genetically modified by the same corporation that created the deadly virus and who carries the cure in her blood; or – to a lesser extent – Neville (I Am Legend) who possesses a natural immunity to the virus and finally succeeds in his researches to find a cure, for which he sacrifices himself at the end of the movie. 

At the end, the hero is still above all a human, vulnerable even when immune; he/she is still primarily driven by the intense fear of dying and suffering. To overcome this fear, the supreme step is to tame the monster that lies dormant within a ‘normal’ person, might it be by becoming oneself this monster as Jim from 28 Days Later experiences, when he kills savagely the remaining soldiers. Just as the spreading of a virus in Outbreak is a chain of events where the virus travels from a monkey to a man who brings back the virus on a plane and contaminates a whole theater, the final raison d’être of the hero reveals itself in his very ability to break that same chain of doom.

 

Download the article (PDF)


週三, 01 七月 2009 02:57

Li Jinyuan sketches Taiwan

After several months going through the long and frustrating process of applications, Sichuanese painter Li Jinyuan was finally able to step onto Taiwanese soil. Retired professor at the Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, he thought he should take advantage of his new free time and gaily accepted French painter Bendu’s invitation to discover Taiwan. Li Jinyuan arrived in Taipei on April 24th , right during the “plum rain season”. The strait’s climate is often very unstable and can affect landings and takeoffs but the North-East monsoon had already switched directions and the southern winds were preceding the Kurashio current, meaning the shoals of flying fishes would soon be able to swim up the North coast.

On arrival in Taipei, Li Jinyuan was not very familiar with the Island’s geography, so his host decided to take him on a tour of the Island. They started at Danshui wharf on the North of the capital and Jinshan township on the Northern Coast. He then embarked on a twenty day trip which led him to Nantou County in central Taiwan; to Alishan forest in Jiayi county (West Coast), before switching to the maritime East Coast - from Hualien city to Nan-Fang-Ao Port, Orchid Island, off the coast of Taidong.

Li Jinyuan brought back a considerable amount of sketches, paintings and drawings from his trip around Taiwan. With his black felt-tip pen, he would capture real-life scenes, of which he was the occasional spectator: a man reading his newspaper in a fast-food restaurant, a couple drinking their tea in silence at the terrace of a café, a fisherman repairing his net while two women next to him play with a stray dog… Sometimes, he would use pastels adding a touch of colour and animating the drawing. Li Jinyuan also experimented with felt-tip pen techniques to display the textures and the movements of the millenia-old trees of Alishan forest and Jade Mountain: here, the painter plays with the spaces left blank by the heavy black line, whilst the crooked branches and trunks seem firmly root into the emptiness beyond the page…

Whether you know Taiwan already or not, let painter Li Jinyuan be your guide through this pictorial adventure, telling you his version of Taiwan’s story.

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