North Korea Notes

North Korean media reports that a small amount of radioactivity from Japan has reached the DPRK.  How does a regime that is so good at depicting Japan as a source of constant threat assure people that they are now safe and in good hands?  Is there any kind of debate at all among North Koreans about the relative merits and dangers of nuclear energy generally?  If Germans in Saar have a right to complain about the French reactors just over the border, don’t North Koreans have the right to ask their neighbors to de-nuclearize?

A young man from Canada (he is 14) is working on a documentary in Seoul about North Korean defectors.  Apparently he will be interviewing the South Korean President, whose wife has also been showing interest lately in refugee issues.

China’s major foreign affairs daily, the Huanqiu Shibao, reports (in Chinese) that a North Korean doctor has been wounded in NATO airstrikes in a hospital in Libya.  (Showing support for the Libyan government, the same periodical quotes extensively from Quaddafi-regime newspaper in Tripoli which accuses the U.S. of imperialist action in the Korean War and interference in the Chinese revolution of 1949.)   I would interpret China’s hard line against military action in Libya as having a side benefit in its relations with North Korea.  Perhaps it isn’t so much itself that China is thinking of defending when it stands up for Libyan sovereignty, but the case of little and potentially restive North Korea.

After all, when France (not even the United States) is actively intervening in two civil wars in Africa (Libya and Sierra Leone), there is a good reason for the Chinese to take Europe and the U.S. rather seriously when it comes to rhetoric of regime change and military attacks that come on humanitarian grounds.  The very same logic that is today being employed against the Libyan regime could be turned rapidly on Pyongyang.

In the meantime, the action in Syria must be making Kim Jong Il particularly nervous.   And the fact that North Korean weapons are being found in Libya.

Of the possible influence of the Arab revolutions on North Korea, Professor Seo Jong Min states:

I think the Middle Eastern democratization movements offer a starting point for rocking the North Korean system. A thought revolution is spreading, a paradigm shift foretelling of the end of authoritarianism in human history. North Korea cannot avoid being a part of this.

We know that North Korea has already prohibited those of its people who were sent to Liyba from returning. It fears the spread of revolution by word-of-mouth. Of course North Korea has almost non-existent internet and social networking infrastructure, and because of this it will be hard for democratization movements to spread like in the Middle East, but the North Korean authorities are worried, which itself tells of the start of change.

Maybe those authorities are worried, but they are also on tours of the northern provinces.  Kim Jong Il was in the arsenal city of Kanggye recently, as reported in Chinese media.  (As important as Kanggye is to North Korea and to the Sino-North Korean relationship, the city’s Wikipedia page evidences very little work.  It doesn’t even have a map.  Can we do something about this, friends?)

Kim Jong Il in Kanggye, April 2011

Stephan Haggard, up to his ears as usual in some of the best data available about the DPRK, has a brief but insightful look into the Kimist culture of “on the spot inspections.”

Finally, North Korea is again demanding apologies and reparations from Japan, as reported here in Chinese.

Faculty Research Page

I was recently asked to update the “Adam Cathcart” entry for the “Faculty Research Page” at Pacific Lutheran University.  I kept one sentence from the old entry and then tallied up other recent activities in the research side of the “Adam Cathcart” ledger. It was judged to be too long and was consequently cut down. I think that ultimately I will need a separate web page for my musical scholarship and performance, which are in fact intimately related to everything else and which do constitute a form of research.

In any case, the following update is, in fact, what I am doing and have been up to of late, beyond the inspiring teaching and spirited committee work which is also part of the professorial professional pattern:

Assistant Professor Adam Cathcart continues his field work and archival research in Beijing, Berlin, and the Chinese-North Korean borderlands.  In December 2010, Korean Studies published his research article “Nationalism and Ethnic Identity in the Sino-Korean Border Region of Yanbian, 1945-1950.”  His recent scholarship on Korean War propaganda was published in Chinese Walls in Time and Space (Cornell University Press, 2010) and Popular Music and Society (London, 2010).  On the subject of North Korea’s relationship with China, Cathcart’s blog contains several hundred relevant and original essays written since 2009.  In the area of Sino-Japanese relations, Cathcart’s article “To Serve Revenge for the Dead: Chinese Communist Responses to Japanese War Crimes, 1949-1956” won China Quarterly’s Gordon White Prize for the best article of 2009.  The China Quarterly article is part of a larger project about the impact of the American occupation of Japan on the growth of Chinese nationalism in the 1950s based on research in the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs Archive in Beijing.  Along with his fieldwork to various anti-Japanese museums in the autumn of 2010, Cathcart performed cello recitals at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and Southwest Nationalities University.  In July 2011, he will appear in Chengdu for performances and master classes, and will give a lecture at the American Consulate in that city on the subject of Chinese-Western cultural diplomacy.  In April 2011, he gave the German premiere of Gao Ping’s Cello Sonata No. 1 in Berlin and also continued his research in Nazi Party archives.  He is presently constructing manuscripts relating to Nanking Massacre films, Japanese-German relations in the Nazi era, Chinese administrators in Tibet in the late 1940s, East German propaganda during the Korean War, Simone de Beauvoir’s appraisal of the PRC, Chinese music and culture after the Lin Biao Incident, and North Korean internationalism.

Post-rehearsal of the Gao Ping Cello Sonata in Berlin, April 2011 -- photo by Adam Cathcart

Ai Weiwei in the German Press

Adam Cathcart at Berlin's Tacheles, April 7, 2011

[Stump Post]

There is simply a staggering amount of interesting material being published in Germany about the CCP arrest of Ai Weiwei.  I seem to have gathered a great deal of newsprint into my orbit, am reading as much of it as fast as I can (Tagesspiegel-Stuttgart Zeittung-Suddeutscher Zeitung-Die Zeit-Frankfurt Allgemeine, etc.), and hope to have something more fertile soon in this space on the subject of Ai Weiwei.

And Tacheles, the old Haus der Technik, the imminently to be destroyed artist cluster!

“Warte nur, warte nur, balde ruhest du auch….” – Goethe, Night Song of the Wanderer

Japanese-Inflected Utopias and the Search for a Boat: Supporting Research Threads

Black Ships? Cesar Haradas Protei Protype in Rotterdamm

Pimping products isn’t the style of Sinologistical Violoncellist, or what the Brooklyn literary blog Moby Lives calls “a single scholar’s East Asia Journal,” but when a product is tied to Japan in a fashion, veers toward a utopian vision, evokes Kenzo Tange’s “Marine City (1960)” and has yet to exist, then we have a situation worthy of some consideration.

The project under view is Cesar Harada’s “Protei,” a fleet of oil-gathering robots currently under development.  Harada, should you have missed his rise, is the son of the famous sculptor Tetsuo Harada (designer of the Tazawako Dam in Akita, not so far from the recent tsunami), was educated in Paris, and is currently based in New Orleans, having walked away from some corporate influences in his MIT lab.  Apparently the fact that BP seems to be funding (and thereby putting parameters around) most of the research in the Gulf got on his nerves.

A good introduction to the Protei project was published yesterday on the Good Environment blog.

If this person or this project interests you in the slightest, I would urge you check out this TED website, which has all the necessary links.  Donating even ten bucks or ten euros or ten RMB to Protei would help Harada and his team to “get into the black” (if you will pardon the carbonic expression) in the next four days, which is necessary for the project to move forward.

By way of disclosure, I don’t donate myself to many causes besides the World Food Program for North Korea, but this project is one that I backed on Kickstarter, which is a cool and inclusive way to fund and crowdsource small projects which can then become big.

Unlike Kevin Costner’s similar project (and most profit-incentivised oil cleanup projects backed by the brilliant-yet-hemmed-in-by-political-pressures-and-not-yet-choice-of-the-masses-for-2016-Democratic-nominee Steven Chu), Harada’s project is explicitly a non-profit venture.  Just in case you were thinking of dumping your BP stock options for something more interesting.

As long as I’m still pimping on the utopian front (so to speak, incongruously using my North American argot in the Haus am See ["My House on the Sea"!] cafe in Berlin), don’t miss the career of one Matthew Mullane, a polyglot academic/musician/graduate student in Chicago who got me turned on to Kenzo Tange’s “Metabolist School.”   Cesar Harada’s present work, though it clearly responds to present conditions, fundamentally appears to flow out of a similar cloud of ideas and possible futures which are still worth consideration: Osaka “World Ocean Expo” of 1972 and “Marine City/City Over the Sea” of 1960 in particular.

When we’re tilting forward at such vertiginous speed into the future, it feels good to have a foot in the past, to get a push from our intellectual forefathers, the dreamers, the schemers, the planers, and the planet-embracers.  Matthew Mullane does that, and he is a thoughtful touring guitarist to boot.  A career to watch, a future to be won.

Finally, a few questions:

- Is it possible to crowdsource projects like Protei in the Chinese political and societal environment?

- Is there anyone in China like Cesar Harada working to innovate from the outside in (rather than tenured or otherwise in-some-fashion-subservient-to-the-state researchers) when it comes to cleaning up oil spills or radioactive water?

- Is it possible to set up an ad-hoc social network in China for a such a purpose, and if not, doesn’t this point to a systemic weakness in the Chinese system?

- Doesn’t China need some ocean-cleaning robots?

- Is it possible that books like Brett Walker’s amazing Toxic Archipelago could be translated into Chinese by a crowdsourced community of like minded bi- or tri-lingual people?  And that by understanding and critiquing Japanese (or American) approaches to pollution, Chinese minds might be, to misuse a phrase of today, “enlightened”?

- When do the North Koreans take their militarist utopian frenzy and turn it to their own beaches?  And when will Amanda Bradford be allowed to do her grey whale research in Hamhung?

Relevant Citations:

- Lin Zhongjie, Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias and Modern Japan, (Taylor and Francis, 2010).

建筑教育 [Architecture Education]- 黑川紀章 (1934~ )[Kawakura Kisho]

Adam Cathcart, “Essay Fragment in Long-Term Conceptual Development [Not Presently Requiring Funds But About Which Some Reading and Thinking is Being Done] About International Influence in Manchuria Which Includes a Short Section on Kenzo’s Youth in the Mainland Empire, and Seiji Ozawa in Shenyang, Among Other Things,” unpublished manuscript.

Adam Cathcart, “Environmental Catastrophe 101,” Sinologistical Violoncellist, 18 July 2010.

Adam Cathcart, “Asia’s Ahab: North Korea, Japan, and Environmental Geopolitics in NE Asia,” Sinologistical Violoncellist, 22 November, 2009.

Commencement Bay, Tacoma, looking toward the Glass Museum from my old houseboat -- photo by Adam Cathcart


Viewing Japan and China, circa 1937-38, via Nazi Archives

photo by Adam Cathcart

Among other things, I’ve spent a couple of days back in the Bundesarchiv here in Berlin, and found a new trove of materials in the R55 section, which is the Reichsministrium fuer Volksaufklaerung und Propaganda.  These are, in other words, documents from the Propaganda Ministry run by Dr. Goebbels.  To my knowledge, these files have never been used as the basis of a study of German relations with Japan, much less Japanese colonization of northeast China after 1931 or the murderous war that was going on in China in 1937-1938.

What good is a historian without fresh documents?

Among the files I’ve found thus far include:

- 1.) Reports from the front, describing the Japanese invasion of China in 1937-38. These reports are particularly rich when it comes to the embattled city of Wuhan, but they also deal with Nanking in the aftermath of the infamous Japanese invasion of that city in December 1937.  Among other things, there are critiques of the lack of discipline among Japanese soldiers, indicating that John Rabe’s protestations to Hitler (protests which along with saving 30,000 lives, earned him the moniker “The Good Nazi of Nanking”) were less of a lonely cry for help than part of a pattern of information flowing into Berlin about what was going on in the lower Yangtze River valley.

Japanese soldiers, for instance, assaulted a German doctor in Shanghai in February 1938, prompting reports back home and protests to the Japanese Consul-General in that city.

This document makes me wonder again why has no one bothered before to compile German news reports from such journals as Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung as a new source for historians to piece together Nanking and its aftermath?

Sample Citation for 1.: “Deutscher Protest in Schanghai (German Protest in Shanghai),” 27 February 1938, in “Meldung aus Japan, Hongkong, und China (Reports from Japan, Hong Kong, and China, 1938-39″), Reichsministirium fuer Volksaufklaerung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry for Propaganda), R55/21577 (Fiche No. 7), Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives), Lichterfelde, Berlin.

- 2.) Files About Japanese Diplomats. On one file marked with an urgent “Secret” (“GEHEIM!”) in pencil, the Japanese Ambassador to Berlin (Oshima) is described:

Oshima is a soldier of the best Japanese samurai-type, who is in fact more soldier than diplomat.  Intellectually, he does not surpass the average; he is a man of will…He has, more or less, made enemies with everyone in his Mission.  He has his own politically loyal circle, including especially the Adjutant working underneath him, the Lieutenant Nishi, and also the First Embassy Secretary Uchida, both of whom have finely-tuned minds who unquestioningly give the Ambassador everything they have…The Business Section head Matsushima and the Embassy’s Trade Officer (the latter named Nagai, who is a half-Japanese with a German mother), go totally their own way.  As the head of the Cultural Section, everyone agrees that Sakuna is totally a diplomatic flop and will soon go home.

Oshima didn’t understand that he could win great sympathy from the Japanese colony in Berlin….An influential Japanese told me in a bitter tone, that Oshima practices politics like a man at the horse races who has placed all his bets on the horse named “Germany.”  His friends in Germany are sentimental, but not political.  Thus Oshima has not the slightest idea about the spiritual and cultural Germany.  German music, theater, arts, literature and the like make him obviously bored, even though he shows a little interest to those who have hope that he does.  Apart from that, he tells the local Japanese that he, in their eyes, is totally blind to Germany’s weak points.

Oshima honors the personality of der Fuhrer (e.g., Hitler) from the bottom of his heart and is, “like a good National Socialist,” convinced that der  Fuhrer “will make everything beautiful (again).”  In other political matters, he has nothing to say.  His honoring of der Fuhrer goes so far that Oshima has stated in advices to his regime that nothing passes in der Fuhrer’s politics, even via his (e.g. Hitler’s) foreign minister, that escapes his necessary energy.

In the Japanese circles, the unseemingly (strong) role played by the wife of Toyoko Oshima is very often discussed.  She in fact lives in the background, but she has, however, had her finger in all of the political activities.  She is only interested in her husband’s career, as, in the event that everything goes well, he would surely receive a high post in the Japanese government (upon his return).  The young staff at the Embassy live especially under the real Terror of Mrs. Oshima, who mixes herself into all of the Embassy’s duties.  Mrs. Oshima’s most intimate friends are Mrs. Viktor de Kowa, the Japanese singer Michiko Tanaka, the divorced wife of Julians Meinl of Vienna (“Coffee Meinl”).  This (information) is won from the impressions gathered from my discussions with the Japanese journalists, who look upon that truly dangerous line between political and military news.

Citation for 2.: “Reiter” zu Staatsskretaer (“Reiter” to State Secretary), Berlin, 13 September 1944, in “Beurteilung des japanischen Botschafters in Berlin, 1944 (Assessment of the Japanese Ambassador in Berlin, 1944)”, Reichsministirium fuer Volksaufklaerung und Propaganda (Reich Ministry for Propaganda), R55/20786, Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archives), Lichterfelde, Berlin.

There is much, much more where this came from, including:

- the strange case of Heinz Baruch, a Jewish classical music imprassario in Tokyo who the Germans essentially forced into deportation to the United States (via wartime Shanghai, pre-war Philippines, and Australia, charging him to renew his Jewish “shield” at every step) so that they could plan to bring the Frankfurt Opera to Tokyo (in a vastly overambitious and expensive plan that failed anyway);

- the Germans who accompanied a Japanese opera company on a tour of Manchukuo;

- the book entitled “Der Gelbe Gefahr (The Yellow Peril)” published in Berlin in 1942;

- dispatches about Japan from a journalist directly in the employ of the Propaganda Ministry

- “Writings from the People Suggesting Improvements to War Propaganda, Especially the Piece ‘A Word on Enemy Air-Terror’ by Dr. Joseph Goebbels from 27 May 1944″;

- A visit to Japan of the “German Boy-Scouts” in 1934;

- Fees for Chinese translators for Germans in Nanking.

All translations from the German by Adam Cathcart.

from the German Bundesarchiv, R55/20562, f. 6-7, photo by Adam Cathcart

Enlightenment, Cell, Studio: Beijing, Berlin, and Ai Weiwei

Image courtesy Richard Kraus, University of Oregon

In its typically understated fashion of reasserting totalitarian facts, the Chinese government appears to have arrested the dissident provocateur Ai Weiwei in Beijing.  (Hat tip to Evan Osnos in Beijing for the full story.)

The timing of the arrest is a bit curious.  What serves as a trigger for such an arrest, after all, particularly given that this action seemed to be the work of China’s central government rather than an arbitrary action of local cops?

For me, two things:

1.) Ai Weiwei is building a studio in Berlin, and 2.) the German Foreign Minister just returned a few days ago from a visit to Beijing, where, among other things, he opened a much-celebrated “Art of the Enlightenment” exhibition at China’s newly-rennovated National Museum.

Are the Chinese Communists so paranoid that the “Enlightenment” theme — held in a museum once focused wholly on Party history, no less — prompts internal criticism and necessitates a conciliating step whereby an artist with deep ties to Germany is silenced?  It’s a speculative connection, but so is most of the reporting from Ai Weiwei these days.

Fortunately I am in Berlin this week to present a recital of Soviet and contemporary Chinese Cello Sonatas (and crank out as much book manuscript as possible, and get into some Nazi archives as regards relations with Japan in the 1930 and 40s) and can make a few inquiries into the question of Ai’s studio in the city.

Given the rising consensus on China’s increasingly confident external veneer, and Ai’s high international profile, it seems foolish not to place Ai’s arrest in the matrix of China’s foreign policy, a policy which has an explicitly cultural component.

How can China’s global cultural expansion be considered as viable of study and emulation when the homeland displays such a lack of fundamental freedoms for artists.  Doesn’t China gain much more by leaving Ai alone with his ridiculous Tweets, his children’s backpacks, his furniture salvaging all rumbling out the pedal tone of a harmonious society?

Or is harmony a synonym for silence?

Looking for truth in Party slogans is a fool’s game, but then again, the artist produces slogans, too, of a counter type.  “Im gegenteil…” A thesis which goes uninterrogated by a counterthesis emerges as weaker thereby, unforged, a tepid strength which can only be compensated for with quick bursts of arbitrary force.

Is China ever going to emerge beyond a situation whereby arbitrary exercise of state power is no longer a defining characteristic of the state?  Is it possible for a one-party system to maintain a legal system whereby one knows clearly when one is following the law and when one is breaking it?  Can’t China keep its Legalist, Qin-dynasty model of judgment and open punishments while ridding itself of the arbitrary and paranoid Stalinist elements?

Is paranoia a desirable cultural trait?  Perhaps China’s Public Security Bureau could use its vastly augmented budget (eat your heart out, “Department of Homeland Security”/Vaterland Staatssicherheitsdienst!) in order to host a series of seminars abroad, using foreign Confucius Institutes to explain to all the doubting foreigners why Ai Weiwei, in combination with a few hundred million mobile workers, several million prostitutes, gangs in Heilongjiang, a horde of hungry North Korean refugees, gangs of qi-gong prone grannies in Shandong, and whole swaths of nomadic/Islamic religious and ethnic minorities are in such dire need of a strong and paternal steel hand.  Take a lesson from your predecessors in the business, China: Justify the truncheon and it shall be celebrated.  Succeed in demonizing and defining the decadent foe and its elimination shall be tolerated.  But your Othering is miserable, lacking the strength to expel totally what you yourself have helped to absorb and recreate.

Veering back to analysis: It would be a little shocking if there weren’t someone in the Central Committee who thought it might be a good time to remind the Germans that no one in China’s government gives a damn when Germany makes waves about human rights issues.  In other words, the CCP tells Berlin, we can cooperate economically (China is Germany’s #2 trade partner, second to the U.S.) while you give us as much green technology transfer as you can, but your protestations relating to Tibet, human rights, freedom of speech, etc., are not only futile but counterproductive.

As in the case of Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize ceremony, where Beijing made everyone crassly uncomfortable about attending and strong armed some smaller countries like Afghanistan into skipping the ceremony, the CCP will today use its punishment of an intellectual figure to reinforce its imperviousness to foreign critique.  For the CCP, the desired corollary of the arrest is the renewed wave of foreign opprobrium, which, after the facts of the matter are sufficiently spread via oral rumor, acknowledged and redigested by such leading organs as the Huanqiu Shibao, can then be fed into the nationalistic echo chamber of the Chinese internet, thus reminding the lobotomized-of-Locke (John, not Gary) netizens that external criticism of China’s path forward is just unfair.

So expect another predictable cycle to begin.  Perhaps that was the goal in any case.

Relevant Links and Sources

This recent Frontline documentary, “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei?”

The United States government, which announced a “return to Asia” in October 2010, has yet to comment on Ai Weiwei detention.  You can, however, get a quick overview (via both text and video) of U.S.-East Asia policy via this short testimony summary by Kurt Campbell at the State Department.

Although the author of The Party and the Arty does not seem to be a blogger, Richard Kraus‘ writing on matters relating to the specific cultural borrowing by and the specific political nature of the CCP is highly recommended.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s short statement on Ai Weiwei’s detention.  Is it possible that China wants to put so much egg on this man’s face that he, already embattled domestically, just gives up?  But as we already know, weak and embattled Parties will sometimes do desperate things.


My friend and colleague Paul Manfredi, who has written quite a lot about Ai Weiwei on the bookmark-worthy blog China Avant-Garde, gets the last word in a prescient December 2010 essay:

…on balance, I’d say we’re approaching the point when Ai Weiwei transitions from artist to activist.  Of course, the zero-sum, or mutually exclusive implication of that sentence is questionable—how many the venerable artist-activists in human history, and how many of them in China.  Indeed, the literati figure, well schooled in classics and fully imbued with a “art for society’s sake” 文以載道 mentality, is by definition (or at least by some definition) a social activist.  Yet, in the contemporary Chinese setting, the artist, particularly one as globally inflected as Ai, often curtails his or her ability to connect with a constituency.  I don’t mean just a Chinese constituency (which is commonly the argument against their legitimacy), but ANY constituency.  This is because by and large in the Euramerican West what Ai “means” is thorn in side of the Chinese government regardless (indeed, without “regard”) of his actual works.  In this case his status as activist amounts to a kind of barrier, obscuring his works from engagement or even the visibility they often deserve.

Of course, less than “curtailing” this can certainly be more a suspension of Ai’s contribution to the world of art per se.  He no doubt knows what he’s doing, and exchanging hats (because wearing these two simultaneously does not work) is certainly his prerogative. I just find myself wondering how much good (call it “better”) work might otherwise appear if Ai were to shift activities from politics back to making art.

Bibliotheque Blast Out #4: United Nations Library, Geneva

With but nine minutes to go and up against a French keyboard in the UN Library and Archives in Geneva, Switzerland, a few thoughts:

- Yosuke Matsuoka is a tough guy even though it took Japan (and Germany) another two years to completely withdraw from League of Nations (reams of film footage here); at the same time it’s possible that Matsuoka got schooled by his trilingual Chinese counterpart at the League of Nation’s Manchukuo debates.  Staring at some of the Lytton Commission reports, it becomes so clear how Dalian (and secondarily Korea, moving into Dandong) was an anchor for Japan as it moved North and into Manchuria in 1931, but also how this was not, as is often asserted, totally ignored by the world community.  China’s internationalization began long before 1931, and we, least of all those of us who sometimes call Seattle’s Japantown-which-post-internment-became-Chinatown, should forget it.

- Environmental protection and public awareness of oil spills was already big in the 1930s, so what excuses do we have not to be discussing Dalian in the same breath as Fukushima?

- In terms of acres of reforestation from 2005-2010, China was by far #1; of course with my own eyes I have seen them importing timber from two of the delinquents on that list, Myanmar and North Korea.  Green Totalitarianism, here we come!

- If Kim Jong Eun really soaked up the Swiss atmosphere, it is hard to imagine him becoming a copy of his father, much less his grandfather.

- The first major anthology of translations of Liu Xiaobo’s writings just came out.  Of course, they are in French, confirming that the United States is better at creating military officers (an important process in which I myself participate) than Chinese human rights translators.

- Sarkozy was bathing in relevance and decisiveness with the Libyan episode but one third of all workers (the old reliable socialist voting bloc) are already committed to Ms. Le Pen of the right wing.  As the Suddeutsche Zeitung wrote: “She is young and blond and extreme-right…”  The French Sarah Palin?

- There is an immense (well, moderate by German prose standards) spread today in Suddeutsche Zeitung on the subject of “The Biggest Museum in the World,” which is apparently the National Museum in Beijing.  There is a big, big Enlightenment painting exhibition there from three big German museums.

Finally, I would add that there is something just a bit magical about this place.  I would recommend the experience to any human: arrive in Geneva, marvel at its polyglot everything while the newspapers prevaricate against minarets, walk past the Red Cross as if you too were Tessa Morris-Suzuki, go to the archives (prearranged appointments are preferred, but a university ID along with a passport will do), and stand in a massive sunbeam reflecting off of the sandstone, a lake filling up your mind just as surely as Korea remains divided and the texts are there in your hands to prove it.