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A Noble Lesson from a Nobel Lecture
Seven Men in a Rundown Temple

8 October 2013
 

At a chilly night in December last year, Chinese novelist Mo Yan made an acceptance speech in Stockholm when receiving a Nobel Prize in Literature. It was a big event for him, and might even be a bigger one for a politically-smart Prize Committee, although a great number of China's self-respected literature-wise mass did not think the prize highly.

Many of Chinese critics do regard Mo Yan as an excellent story teller, and as an story teller he is so excellent that he can create any story out of thin air.

In his acceptance speech, for instance, Mo Yan recalled some past incidents and recited some quotes from his late mother, but those who claimed to have known about Chinese history and reality better than the writer said his account is purely fictional.

Mo Yan however insisted that this time he told a true story. He could be right, especially when you take into account the fact that his mother was a Shandong woman, and that some Shandong women can be extremely helpful even when help is not requested.

养尊处优、浓妆艳抹、心情舒畅的山东大脚娘娘花费大把国库银子专程出国学雷锋做好事,比如帮助印尼小贩做工艺品。后面站着两位宫女,一位专替娘娘拎包,一位专替娘娘拿花(娘娘是在编军人但手不能提)。

China's First Lady tried her hand at Indonesian folk art, while her maidens carrying her bag and flower watching on.

After her husband ruthlessly crushed his political rival's wife and sentenced his potential challenger to jail for life, Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan, another Shandong woman, traveled to Indonesia to smile kindly like a reincarnated Mother Teresa at an Indonesian woman and offered to help her doing some work on her craft.

Now let's back to the Nobel Prize winner. Lately some literature lovers in China argued Mo Yan not only is an excellent story teller, but an insightful prophet, since some tales told by him though had nothing to do with reality in the past yet would come into existence later on, such as the story about seven men in a rundown temple.

"Bear with me, please, for one last story, one my grandfather told me many years ago," urged Mo Yan during his Nobel lecture.

The story goes like this: Eight men took refuge from a storm in a rundown temple. But the thunder rumbled violently, sending fireballs their way. The men were terrified. One said, "somebody among us must have offended the Heaven and this guy should leave the temple." But the problem was no one considered himself as guilty. Finally the gang decided to fling their hats towards the gate. Seven hats were blown back but one went out the door, so the team of seven pressed the eighth guy to plea guilty and accept the punishment. When the guy insisted his innocence, the seven men picked him up and threw him out of temple.

"I’ll bet you all know how the story ends," said Mo Yan in the end, like a true master story-teller. "They had no sooner flung him out the door than the temple collapsed around them."

China's top authority body is a seven-men team called the Central Committee of CCP. Who's the eighth man? Aha, ya, in real life, he has not been thrown out of a temple but into a prison, supposedly forever.

Mo Yan's story was told in Stockholm nine months before the actual event occurred in Beijing.

Seven Men in a Rundown Temple

 
 
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