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China: The First Chinese Novel on Twitter?

Lian Yue, an ex-teacher and ex-procurator and now a famous blogger and political commentator in China, announced on his blog that he is starting a novel, entitled 2020, on twitter this month. According to the blog, the novel will last until 2020.

As far as I can tell (and please correct me if I am wrong), this is the first Chinese novel to be released on Twitter. Matt Stewart is said to be the first writer to release a full-length literary novel, The French Revolution, on Twitter. He decided to do so after failing to find a publisher for his ‘risky’ novel. But for Lian Yue, his motivation is quite different. Here is why:

这跟在浴室唱歌同一个道理。人在放松自由的时空里,你会想到娱乐自己,你有创造与表达的热情。浴室歌声无法发行,偶然听到的人也许耳朵要受罪,可是那个在水雾中温暖松弛的家伙,他无法控制自己啊。

This is like singing in the bath. When you are relaxed, you will entertain yourself; you have the passion for creativity and expression. Bathroom singing could not be published. Those who happen to hear it may suffer. But for the guy who is enjoying himself in the misty bathroom, he could not control himself.

在极端严酷的环境中,创造力将逐渐消亡,文字的多义和暧昧,可以任意引申为犯罪的故意,创造等同于自杀,于是再也没人做了,文字只残存标准化的批判与审判。

In an extremely harsh environment, creativity will gradually die. The ambiguity and polysemy of words mean it could easily be twisted as evidence of crimes. Because creativity is equivalent to suicide, no one is devoted to it. Words have degraded to become standardized criticisms and judgments.

气候稍稍回暖以后,不必穿得那么厚,泥土也变软了,友好地保存你的鞋印,就像苗要从缝里钻出,创造性在这个阶段也是靠它的多义与暧昧甩掉追踪的尾巴,面对指控也可以自我辩护,好比巧妙的示爱,遭拒后并不丢脸。

The weather is warmer; we no longer need to wear so thick. The soil is softer; your footprint could be preserved. It’s like seedling coming out from the crack. At this stage, creativity depends on its ambiguity and polysemy to escape accusations and defend itself. It’s like expressing your love to someone else in such a way that you will not feel ashamed if you are rejected.

只不过,这场游戏不是爱情,谁也不知道哪块肉里有刺,不小心碰到了就痛得发火。创造力还是佯狂装醉,这对思维照样有害。李白与怀素不敢喝醉,只能在微醺中算计,这对他们来说,就失去了一切活力。

However, this is no love affairs. No one knows where the sting lies. If you are careless, you will be hurt. But if you just pretend to be mad and drunk, this will be bad for your artistic thinking. If Li Bai and Huai Su [ancient Chinese poet and calligrapher] dared not to be drunk, they will lose their vitality.

假如一个人在受酷刑,头被摁在水里,快要憋死时,可以探头吸一口气,此时呼吸是唯一主题。而到了正常呼吸的时候,呼吸却被忽视了,这个人就会去找一些别的事情消磨时间。在twitter上就是这种感觉,有创造力的新人们,在那里相会吧。

Suppose one is being tortured and pressed into the water. When he is suffocating, but has the chance to take a breath, breathing would be his only concern. When he can breathe normally, breathing would be neglected. He will look for other entertainments. Being on twitter gives me this feeling. For the creative and entrepreneurial ones, let’s meet there.

If you can read Chinese, you can follow the novel on twitter.com/lianyue (hashtag #ly2020).

2 comments

  • So the tweets are the whole book, one sentence at a time? What is the novel about?

  • The tweets are in paragraphs, each with a few sentences. From yesterday’s tweets (the first day), the setting is in contemporary China. It is not clear yet what the novel is about, but we’ll know more as we listen to his singing in the bath :)

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