From Han Han’s Sina Blog:
2011 went by a few days ago. Back when I was in school, I used to hate writing those year end reflections and self-appraisal essays. Year after year, apart from having nothing to wrap-up, I always felt it pointless to pour my guts out to some authority figure. Plus, I’d remember what I wanted to remember. Later, I discovered how unreliable memories can be and so nowadays I’m happy to record things through writing. As a kid, I always thought that people recorded their memories in pages and pages of memorandums just so they could forget them. Not so…could it be that things don’t actually work this way?
My racing record wasn’t bad last year. There were 11 national races. Apart from two races where I had car problems, I made the podium 9 times. I won the turbo race for Shanghai Volkswagen 333. This year I drove for the Chinese Subaru Rally Team and won its first annual Formula One championship. The last time I won a National Rally championship was in 2009. Together with my 2007 championship and my championship at the 2008 national 1600cc tournament, and I’ve received four all-year round championships. I have to thank my technician team here.
In 2011 my good friend Liu Caodong passed away. When he was alive, he was my toughest opponent in the rally races. He was also China’s best rally driver. I beat him in 2009 but lost to him in 2011. Xu Liang has also been gone for 3 years. He sat even higher on the throne of rally race legends. Nowadays, I blame them both. When they died they took away the gold standard in racing. Even if I win these days, I can’t help but feel regret. In a mountain without tigers, the monkey becomes king. It’s the same with my other endeavors: without heroes, even rats can become famous. So I’m a monkey and a rat. I really wish I could race Dongdong and Xuliang again but there’s no point in talking about things like this. They can’t come back, and I don’t want to die.
People die and people are born. I became a father. Apart from really loving my daughter, the most important thing is that my daughter really loves me. As expected, her first word was “Baba.” The press once asked me about my opinion on sons or daughters. I remember that at that time, I’d replied this way: I only wish that my daughter is happy. It doesn’t matter if she can’t achieve the Chinese measure of success. As long as she has character, I’m willing to create opportunities for her. I’m willing to create a world for her so that she does not have to suffer in this corrupt society. Of course, everything is up to her. If she wants to try something, then she can climb as high as she wants. I’m just her safety net.
In 2011, my writing changed a lot. These changes started between 2009 and 2010. Back then, these posts on social ills and government corruption were full expressions of my inner hatred. I’m someone who hates being controlled and restricted. I’m also someone who drives on the road at night, sees a pothole, calls the police and guards the hole until they arrive. Everyday I’d long for the time when Chinese could transform into America and Taiwan. I even felt that Hong Kong and Singapore weren’t good enough. Systemization is the spring well of evil. Systemization is the source of government abuse. I became very popular for these pieces of criticisms. Slowly, I started to care for praise, and even subconsciously began to write what others wanted me to say.
Up to 2010 my posts always followed the same structure—systems are evil, government is corrupt, tragedies have occurred, people have suffered. I suppose that in any society, these kinds of words are always popular amongst the masses. It doesn’t matter where you are, or who you say it to: poor us, the guys above us are all farts. They mess up everything and still drive expensive cars and keep mistresses. A person with all your skills should be far better off than you are. Why let those idiots boss you around? Everyone has the right to become a boss or to change bosses. Everything that belongs to them should belong to you. Apart from bosses, what person doesn’t enjoy hearing those words? Everyone feels that those words come from the depth of their souls. Writing pieces like this, with a couple of witticisms thrown in, and everyone is bound to say that I’m a good writer.
Those who disagreed with me were denounced by the masses as appeasers, lap dogs, and the enemies of democracy. Those who wanted to give me two words of criticism had to pad their messages with a thousand word praises before mildly putting forth those words. Otherwise it was all too easy for others to put words in their mouths. When I discovered that there were less and less people criticizing me or were criticizing me with more caution, I naturally felt happy for a while. But afterwards I felt that something had gone very wrong. No matter how correctly I’ve said something, there has to be places where I’m wrong.
After a long time of thinking, I gradually began to feel that the good writer who slaughters the powerful elite should also be slaughtering the masses. My posts started to change in early 2011, beginning with my piece on the village head, Qian Yunhui, “Do we need the truth or just the satisfying truth?”《需要真相还是需要符合需要的真相》。Of course, if we put the governing and the governed side by side, we should criticize the rich and powerful first, since it’s easy. The rich and powerful act and the rest of society suffers. But a good writer shouldn’t be unconditionally seeking the good graces of the masses. You talk about how good the average person is, how right, how kind, how noble, that they should receive such and such, that they should enjoy this and that. But people’s eyes aren’t all bright like stars, don’t all have double eyelids— that kind of serial ass-kissing is no different from what Mao Zedong used to promulgate. Perhaps the masses were his most valuable stepping stone to consolidating power. Many years ago, I was still a resolute revolutionary. I believed that as long as a one-party dictatorship existed, we needed to overthrow it. There had to be multiple parties. There had to be separation of powers. The army had to belong to the country, not the party. At the time there were still friends who’d debate me. People will die, they argued. There will be chaos. We’ll go backwards. At the time my point of view was: Not necessarily, how do we know if we haven’t tried? Plus, there’s a price for everything, if you aren’t extreme, aren’t radical, how do you eradicate social ills. Order arises from chaos. We’re already in troubled times, and it’s not like I can’t be Robin Hood. But as time went on I realized that this type of attitude is no different from those dictators who say “After I die, who cares if the world ends.” The feeling is pretty much the same. The extreme idealist who’s escaped reality isn’t necessarily too different from the reality of an authoritarian dictator. In fact they’re from the same stock. It’s just that they’re holding different flags. It isn’t impossible to become the person who once disgusted you.
So I don’t wish to become anything else but when it comes to my work, I will act according to the constitution: I will never stop demanding. Lying, sitting, standing, walking, writing, speaking, I will continue to demand and demand until you want to escape from me. There can be no change without pressure. As for writing in the New Year, I wish that I can write only that which makes me happy. Apart from my daughter’s approval, I will no longer try to garner the approval of others. If I want to write, I’ll write. If I don’t want to write, I’ll write an ellipsis.
Translated by Cathy Song