Monday, March 09, 2015


A new American has arrived at the desk next to mine in the office the Fudan International Center for the Study of Chinese Civilization offers its visitors. She's a scholar of Chinese philanthropy who's actually been coming to China since 1983 - she's really got the long view. When she first arrived in Beijing, she says, the baggage was brought to the terminal in a horse-drawn cart, and Shanghai before the Expo was nothing like what it is today. But today's conversation, with another American (who teaches in England) pitching in, was about settling into life here now, which they both decided is much more expensive than they expected. But what inspired me to dig up this picture of a folkloric paper-cut I saw in a show at the Shanghai Public Library early last month was realizing that my going six months without seeing a fly or cockroach isn't a wild coincidence. Pesticides are pervasive. It's no longer DDT, which apparently used to to be sprayed liberally under beds and furniture, not to mention on crops, but probably something not much less lethal...

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