Explaining the humor in a masterpiece of western satire to a room full of Taiwan students is approximately as difficult as explaining the frustration some of us feel when we consider the images of women we may find in advertising here in Asia.
Two points arise when I consider foreign reaction to the latest twists and turns in democracy, Taiwan style. One is closely linked to media coverage. The other touches on various meanings of "the personal" in our lives.
Fridays now bring me into contact with two groups of students, one meeting in the morning and the other at night. I've been curious all week how these students feel about their peers "occupying" the legislature. About 48 hours ago, I invited them to respond anonymously to an anecdotal survey for this column. The morning class (studying European literature) included students from their sophomore to senior years. The evening group (American Literature Part II) was composed almost totally of seniors.
An article this past week in The China Post about an early graduation ceremony at Taipei Japanese School coincided with thoughts I've had for some time about what students might consider doing in the last weeks of their college careers.
As we contemplate the recent shot in the foot that the government of the People's Republic of China gave itself, it is useful to remember how the scourge of prejudice appears in nearly every culture under the sun.
The recent toppling and desecration of a 3-meters-tall statue of Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China, may have occurred deep in the south, far from bustling, sophisticated Taipei, and in a relatively tiny, tucked-away niche of the country at that, but the crudity and symbolism of the act were enough to provoke concern for thoughtful citizens everywhere.
Professors all over Taiwan are busy these new semester days introducing students to literature courses of all sorts.
One of my heroes in Taiwan is a priest ("shen-fu") from the Netherlands, the country we once called Holland. This special fellow would blush and half-seriously scowl at me if I were to drop his name here, so I won't do that.
I've been contemplating the fact that social network Facebook (FB) is celebrating its 10th birthday these days. As everyone knows, it's virtually impossible to speak of FB without confronting scads of statistics.
I don't know how readers of this column think about the uncles they may have in life, but I know how I feel about the uncles I have in mine. Perhaps for reasons special for my family, the uncles my siblings and I shared were and, I like to imagine, still are very significant people for us.