All posts filed under: Literature

A Uyghur Dream Manifesto

In an earlier version of her “Wild Pigeon” project the award winning National Geographic photographer Carolyn Drake dedicated one category of her images to dreams and what Uyghur viewers of her images said about them. One viewer told her:    “Good dreams, you tell your good friends. If you do, maybe the dream will come true. If someone says ‘I was in a forest, I faced a tiger, and the tiger attacked me,’ some people will say, ‘don’t speak about it.’ If someone speaks bad words, they will come true.” Not only are dreams an important way of relating to reality, Uyghurs have particular conventions for describing dreams. Dream narratives are told as if the dreamer is simultaneously a participant and an observer of the events in the dream. In this dream logic the teller is the center of an out-of-body experience. Lines are consistently concluded with a suffix that highlights the “as if” or “seeming to be” aspect of the dream world. In this post I will discuss two good dreams that relate to …

Wang Meng, Chinese Literary Giant, Uyghur Speaker

   By all standards Wang Meng (1934- ) has had a tremendously successful career. Easing out of his problematic role as Cultural Minister in 1989, Wang was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1994 by the Chinese Literary Society. He has published more than 100 books and was listed as the 24th most commercially successful writer in China in 2010 with a net worth of 1.75 million yuan. This past year a village on the border of Kazakhstan opened a museum in his honor. Unlike other contemporary Han intellectuals who have been exiled to Chinese Central Asia, Wang spent most of his life in Xinjiang living with Uyghurs in Ghulja (Yining) on the border of Kazakhstan. He wrote numerous books about his experiences with Uyghurs which addressed the way he came to appreciate Xinjiang culture and learn Uyghur language. Relative to Ai Qing (who I wrote about last week), Wang was able to transform his exile into the Central Asian landscape into a tremendously productive career. By utilizing an ethnographer’s curiosity, Wang was able to …