August 3,2005 17:02
Remains of Life（unfinished translation）
by Dancing Crane, 2000.
Translated from the Chinese by Michael Berry
Translated from the Chinese by Michael Berry
The first time I read about the Musha Incident was probably back when I was still a teenager, the White Terror had passed giving rise to the simple and gray sixties, Taiwan’s economy had yet to take off, there were still no McDonalds fast food restaurants or computers and we had yet to be bombarded by electronic mass media, we had more than ample time to carefully read whatever we could get our hands on, in one book I read about a brutal and bloody incident that occurred on a mountain called Musha, at the time traces of the trepidation and shock that marked my hot-blooded teenage years still clung to me, up until I read a book on the history of social and political movements among Taiwan’s ethnic minorities, only then did I realize that it happened more than a decade after all of the Chinese and Taiwanese down in the plains had given up any form of armed resistance against their colonizers, the decision to stop resisting must have been the outcome of comprehensive deliberation wherein they were in the end left with no other choice, but didn’t this information make it to the aborigines living in the mountains; I was forced into the army to carry out my term of obligatory military service when I was twenty-eight and had yet finish college, for the first time I clearly felt that on our land there existed such a thing as a “nation” – an entity in which a system of authority and power is embodied in, and transformed into, a system of violence – that invisibly controls the heart and resources of this island country; I look back on the artistic days of my youth as nothing more than a kind of mildly insane romanticism, I was discharged from the military in 1981, at the time I came to the painful realization that I had been “castrated by the army,” I decided not to immediately jump into the flames of anti-Nationalist political activities, instead I moved to Danshui, a small town on the margins of this island country, where I lived in quiet seclusion, I spent all of my time lost in historical and philosophical works, I wanted to understand the origins and meaning of concepts like the “army” and the “nation,” finally after months in solitude reading about countless bloody battles, the illusions about war fostered by the history textbooks I had read as a youth all melted away, transforming into a true “historical reality,” it was perhaps then that my mind first turned to the blood spilled in our mountains, I settled down from the hot-blooded excitement of my younger days and began to contemplate the legitimacy and accuracy of the Musha Incident. Winter ‘97, I was renting a place on reservation land when one evening I saw my neighbor, Girl standing facing the misty mountains in the distance, she quietly uttered, “I am the granddaughter of Mona Rudao,” every night Girl’s door was left half open, the spirits of the ancestors followed the twists and turns down Valleystream until they arrived at Riverisle, throughout those difficult times, the spirits of the ancestors were with them everyday, Girl always believed that if you follow Valleystream all the way upstream you will eventually find the mystical valley – the place where her ancestors, one after another, threw themselves off a cliff to their death, “I left behind everything to return home, now I’m taking time to recuperate and play with the shrimp and fish,” Girl bent over in the knee-deep water to pick up a rock beside the stream, beneath the rock was a fish trap she buried there a week before, she didn’t turn around but could sense me following her, carefully wading my way through the unfamiliar waters, “I have a plan,” Girl uttered as she stood back up and gazed out over Valleystream towards the sea of mountains in the distance, “One day I’m going to set out and look for...” But is that is a genuine return, returning to the mystical valley where she can hold hands with the spirits of the ancestors, eating and drinking in ecstasy. In the beginning Riverisle was a place of exile, “We began by opening up the virgin land,” I inquired about the tribal hunters and one of their sons told me; anyone here over seventy has lived through the hard times and should remember, it started with planting rice, the civilized rulers taught them how to sow rice patties, from a tribal hunting clan that stood erect they learned to squat and bend over, “They have been a rice planting clan ever since,” as time went on some of them started planting bananas, and while harvesting the rice they didn’t forget to plant some taro on the ridge beside the field, later betel palms began to sprout up everywhere, and then someone discovered that the night air in the mountains was perfect for growing plum trees and transformed the entire mountain basin behind the cemetery into a plum garden, the mountainous slopes were filled with even larger areas of Chinese silvergrass and wild forest, but they left them pristine and untouched, only in deep autumn when the silvergrass sprouts its white buds and the forest leaves turn from green to yellow to a dull crimson do they sigh, knowing that yet another year has been spent in exile, “There haven’t been any tribal hunters in ages, the only animals we catch are the squirrels and flying squirrels we trap in the fields,” when his father arrived in this place of exile he was already past school age, the blood of a hunter must have still flowed in his veins, one year when he was almost thirty he went hunting in the back mountains, he returned with a wild boar or mountain goat but his fellow tribesmen did not greet him with celebratory wine and dance, instead welcoming him was a vicious beating from the Japanese authorities, surrounded by the silent confused gazes of his tribespeople, the rulers used the beating as an opportunity to warm the people, “This man is a lazy scum, instead of working with everyone out in the fields, he sneaked off to the mountains to do evil,” – there were two possible punishments for doing evil, the first was to be forever exiled from this place of exile, possibly chased into a cage by one of those “huge police dogs,” the second was to be bound to a wild boar and left outside in the dirt field under the blazing sun for three days, the hunter chose the latter and in the process sacrificed his last bit of dignity – from then on all the way up to his death Dad was a farmer who lived the rest of his days bent over in the field, he never passed on any of the techniques or stories of the hunter, his children and grandchildren had no idea how to respect the memory of their ancestors’ lives as hunters, it was good thing then when the old rulers were replaced by a new set of rulers who legalized cigarettes and alcohol, Dad spent the rest of his days gazing at the distant mountains and drinking himself to death, that’s right, the distant mountains, and not the rice fields that spread out before his eyes, When I was a kid, after dusk each day when our work in the fields was finished I would drink with Dad, my old man would drink in silence, “It didn’t seem to matter what we said or what was going on around us,” drinking became an addiction, the bottle became the source of this addiction, nothing in life seemed be as important, I’ve heard that after Taiwan went democratic and suddenly the people became most important, but for him nothing was ever as important as a drink, it wasn’t that he didn’t understand that drinking everyday will lead to what you academics call “self-destruction,” young people hit the bottle especially hard, “as a descendent of a hunter I have lived out my life between the bottle and the field, my time in the tribe is past, the lives of our young people along with the brave and courageous lives of our Sedeq people have all been lived out on the road to self-destruction...” And here we are at the fin-de-siecle, already nearly seventy years have passed since the incident, Mona Rudao’s statue and memorial tablet stand high, overlooking the elementary school field where he carried out his massacre, on October 27 of each year Riverisle always dispatches a group to bring sacrificial offerings to their former homeland to commemorate the anniversary of the Incident, they also offer their favorite mixed drink of whiskey and sake to Mono Rudao, from the speech made by the commanding officer, they understand that their even today their ancestor Mono Rudao is still heralded as the spiritual leader who led the people around Musha and Reunion Mountain, the fact that “no one ever investigated” the legitimacy of the massacre he launched has already been verified by government authorities, each year the cherry blossoms planted here so long ago by the Japanese shed their flowers and flutter to the ground for only Mono Rudao and he alone to see...During the course of my investigation into the Musha Incident, I only encountered two people who had a different take on the massacre than other people, both of them were Sedeq tribesmen, both of them outstanding aboriginal scholars who held degrees from two of the top universities in Taipei, and both of them had respect and authority in their tribe and both were approaching middle age, Bakan, a Sedeq who belonged to the Daya sub-tribe from Riverisle, believed that history had misunderstood the fundamental meaning of the Musha Incident, “The true nature of the incident lies as a traditional headhunting ritual,” headhunting was an important daily ritual for the Sedeq people, the motivations for headhunting may have always been quite complex, but they were never particularized, the Sedeq tribe grew accustomed to this complex ritual where “you are blamed for not showing proper respect to the tribe if you don’t partake in the hunt,” Bakan’s grand-uncle severed the head of the prefect commander with his own two hands, there was nothing really particular about that head as compared with the other decapitated heads, the civilized rulers were utterly panic-stricken by such a large-scale “primitive custom,” so much so that they offered a politically-inspired military assault in response to this head-hunting ritual, according to the local traditions an appropriate way to bring the incident to a conclusion would have been to have the Sedeq and Japanese work things out face to face and “bury the hatchet through reconciliation,” perhaps some respected Han Chinese – like the Gu family from Lugang or the Lin family from Wufeng – could have come up to the mountains to serve as witnesses, but who would have imagined that the “civilized savages” would turn around and send their civilized planes, cannons, and poisonous gasses to the “savage primitives” to show them the true face of civilization; customs and rituals in the end led to a horrifying and destructive cycle of revenge, the result was the historical-political entity known as the “Musha Incident,” fear was always a strange thing in the Sedeq people’s lives, “the spirits of our ancestors will approve of Mono Rudao’s head-hunting ritual, but they will never understand this thing called the Musha Incident... ” Danafu of the Sedeq Doda sub-tribe went even a step further in denying the historical existence of the “Incident,” claiming there was only a large-scale Musha head-hunting ritual,” the ritual was coordinated by the clan leader of Mahebo, thus there never existed any such thing as a “Musha Incident” and the common people must learn to forget the “man who led the ritual – Mona Rudao,” the Doda tribe was one of the six tribes that did not take part in the head-hunting ritual, they were later recruited to form the front line of the savage search team, Danafu said that it was only in his old age that his father finally began to talk about the excitement and joy he felt as he decapitated large numbers of Mahebo people, the Mahebos had actually planned to take the heads of the seventeen people led by the chief of the Doda tribe, and so that same rush of excitement and joy existed when the 101 heads were cut off during the surprise attack on the detention center, “This is my father,” Danafu points to one of the figures in the commemorative photo taken after the ritual, in the photo Danafu’s father was squatting on the ground with an expressionless head propped under his arm, his father never understood what the “Second Musha Incident” was let alone anything about its place in history, “I also think that those people writing the history books these days base everything on the explanations of government propagandists and misguided academics,” the academics subscribe to the governmental line that it was a plot instigated by the Japanese rulers, and that was the only way to explain the vicious tragedy of savages killing savages, “But this is only a tragedy as defined by civilization, how could anyone ever say that that we Sedeqs were the ones who prompted the killing, at the time we Sedeqs knew all to clearly about the rules surrounding each tribe’s head-hunting rituals,” it had absolutely nothing to do with the plots and unrighteousness that often appear in the history books, and so, a few years later, when the Doda tribal elder came all the way to Riverisle to propose a marriage, the Riverisle elders accepted his proposal, “We are all members of the Sedeq tribe, we understand each other...” I found it so surprising that neither of the two intellectuals who received a civilized education viewed the surprise attack on the detention center as what civilization would refer to as a so-called “massacre,” they resented the fact that civilization used their civilized tools to “massacre” the six savage tribes – almost to the point of genocide – but could not accept the idea that savages would “massacre” other savages, nor was this something that could be distinguished through mutual debate, nor do I believe that historians can advocate a balanced historical theory, “The word massacre does not exist in our primitive vocabulary,” I laugh at myself in self-ridicule as I gaze at the fish-tailed hunting knife left behind by Danafu’s father – the knife still bears traces of human hair – “Only civilization is capable of carrying out massacres,” the inscription on the “Memorial to the Remains of Life,” which lies beyond the Riverisle reservation bears no mention to the second Musha Incident, as a descendent of Mahebo tribe, Bakan did not have any real opinion when it came to the way Mona Rudao was venerated by the government, neither he nor Danafu agreed with “the government’s politicaliztion of the headhunting ritual as an exemplification of the anti-Japanese spirit,” during our talks Danafu seldom mentioned Mona Rudao, and it was only on one occasion that Bakan happened to vapidly mention Mona Rudao as the “hero of our tribal headhunting ritual.” I told Girl about the conversations I had with Bakan, although she never saw one, she knew what a “headhunt” entailed, however, she had absolutely no idea as to what a “headhunting ritual” referred to, nor did she understand the majority of Bakan’s ideas, “My father never lets us talk about those things, you won’t find any hunting knives hanging in our living room either,” who knows when her family’s fish-tailed hunting knife disappeared - she never laid eyes on one in her life, I asked her about that capricious little brother of hers, she said that the only schooling her brother received was through the study classes offered by the reservation church, for a while he had a job helping out around the church, he is the only young person in the entire tribe that doesn’t drink or smoke, instead he spends all his time riding aimlessly around the reservation on his motor-scooter, “my little brother is the most kindhearted person on the reservation,” Girl’s voice grows stern as she continues; unlike Bakan who not only has the best education, but is also “the best when it comes to women and wine;” I understand what Girl is getting at, during my time on the reservation there were three “democratic elections,” election campaigns in the mountains have become indistinguishable from those held down in the plains; campaign trucks decorated with colored flags drive around the streets and alleys of the reservation making a ruckus and there are a few more groups of people sitting around drinking and debating politics than usual – Bakan is one of the few tribe members who has a vested interest in the election, the majority of public servants on the reservation also fall into this category, the ball is always in their court when it comes to local elections and they are the ones who distribute the power, naturally they never fail to lend their support to those among their ranks with “the greatest actual strength,” in the middle are those people who “never have opinions about anything,” they work in the fields during the day and sit on front of the TV drinking when they get home at night, and then there are those people like Girl who “never seem to have anything to do,” at the most they get only a slight glance from men like Bakan; Girl returned to the reservation dejected and all alone, everyone in the tribe looked at her in the same way they looked at those routed men who returned after ruining their bodies working in the city factories, after her marriage to a member of the northern Atayal tribe fell apart, she left her two daughters behind and, surrounded by loneliness, she left the edges of the reservation, and went to Valleystream, no one seemed to care what she did, she spent her time fishing and swimming – swimming together with those fish she couldn’t catch – she spoke to them, “Valleystream is the place of my dreams,” she followed the riverbed, picking up rocks and pieces of dead branches along the way, “Look at these beauties, it is incredible what the handicraft of nature can do,” the beauties were scattered all over her bedroom and living room, she even taught people how to distinguish them from one another, “This piece was formed with a strike of lighting, it is like an angel of time, the rushing waters of the stream shaped this one over a long period of time, it resembles an elderly man who has endured the passage of time,” who knows how long it had been since the tribespeople had heard such “dream talk,” most everyone thought she was insane, deep in the night I could often hear strains of beautiful music coming from nearby, during my first night on the reservation I suddenly heard Chopin’s “Nocturnes” and almost thought I was back in the city at some recital hall or fancy coffee shop, the next night I head Mozart, I pulled open my curtains to discover that all the lights were out in Girl’s room, but that melody seemed to sneak out from that dark place and rise into the night, she brought a kind of mysteriousness to the reservation, leading them to confront a feeling of loss and the unknown, it was a good thing that the tribespeople had long grown accustomed to living amid the fog and mist of the mountain hillocks. It was an early autumn afternoon and rays of light were coming off the face of the courtyard reflecting a hot beam of sunlight inside through the window, I was in the living room wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, reading an work by a great Japanese scholar entitled Investigative Record of the Savages, when Girl suddenly appeared outside my door, she was also wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, but her outfit was entirely black, “I know this scholar, he brought a team of researchers here to examine the Musha Incident, my grandparents were all interviewed by him, although my maternal grandfather had a bad stutter, he knew more about the incident than anybody else, they kept him the longest – my mom told me that they didn’t feed him, by the time he got home he was dead tired and she had to warm up some taros for him to eat,” “But didn’t that scholar have to eat too?” I asked, “Didn’t it enter their minds that they should feed their guests,” Girl rolled her eyes, “My mom said that grandpa would rather starve to death than eat their sushi,” Girl picked up my book and nosily flipped through its pages, “I’ll bet this book about savages is no page-turner; c’mon, lets go over to the general store to sing karaoke,” it is not everyday that you get a chance to sing karaoke in the mountains, I was so excited that I threw my book aside, walking side by side in T-shirts and shorts we approached the bamboo forest, the trail on the way to the general store was filled with the strong aroma of blooming betel palms, the overcast chain of surrounding mountains made me feel as though I was closer to the mountains than ever before, the general store stood alone built in a arid depression, it was constructed of crude sheet iron and surrounded by a wide courtyard in front and a large bamboo forest behind, of all the reservations I had visited it was the fanciest general store of them all, the large refrigerator was always stacked with bottles of whiskey and beer giving people the happy and secure feeling that they would never go out of stock, next door was a large karaoke hall with a full sound system and stage, when you got hungry after all that singing the shopkeeper’s wife would cook all kinds of hot rice and noodle dishes with wild herbs so we could sit around in a circle eating and gazing at the bamboo forest and the mountain scenery, on the other side of the store is an arcade for the kids, the shopkeeper’s scruffy black beard was a perfect match for his wife’s round white face, “I remember you from your earlier visits, your second time here and you already learned how to hold your whiskey, don’t spend all your time wrapped up with academics, learn a bit about real estate, there is some new land that just went up on the market and the price is right, buy now and you won’t have to go running back and forth all the time,” Girl had already selected which songs she wanted to sing and came over to drag me inside so I would sing with her, “Buy real estate, buy, buy, buy...” I jokingly yelled as I went inside, the shopkeeper’s wife laughed harder than the lady at the vegetable market in town, Girl had already begun singing “Return to the City of Sand,” I took my first sip of whiskey and sake, the cold burn went down my throat as I took the microphone, seven parts sake mixed with three parts whiskey was the traditional formula for the preferred mixed drink in Riverisle, “I long to die intoxicated,” Girl twisted her body as she sang, “in your passionate kiss,” I drank my third glass of their standard mix as Girl finished off her fifth or sixth glass, “Are there any tribal elders around here that I can talk to?” I didn’t forget about my research, “So, since you are always asking questions, let me ask you, did you know that Atayal women used to drink alcohol by the bowl,” Girl was getting a bit tipsy, I told her, “Us men also drink by the bowl, nobody used to use little cups like they do nowadays, how about your elders, do they drink by the bowl too,” “There is tribal elder who lives nearby, once I finish singing this ‘Love You to Death’ song I’ll take you over so you can ask your questions,” as Girl loved him to death she told me to, “go buy a couple big bowls to take over,” love you to death love you to death, “you don’t know what it’s like to drink from a big bowl unless you try,” I went into the general store next door and bought three bowls for instant ramen; the love you to death elder lived right across from her cousin, we could stop by her place on the way there to drop off the three bowls, Girl’s cousin lived in a two story building, the steel gate was left open, far off we could see a few people sitting in the courtyard, “Just your luck, the elder you’re looking for is sitting right there waiting for you,” at first I thought that Girl had had too much to drink and was simply babbling, but among them there was indeed an old man wearing a squirrel-gray Chinese-style jacket and a pair of baggy pants, without any introductions they asked me to sit down and handed me a bowl of soup, as it turns out they had been sitting in circle around a hotpot cooking a flying squirrel they caught in the fields, squirrel meat is only good if you cook it in a stew, their internal organs are good for your health, Girl took turns flirting with several of the young men there, the old man drank in silence with a smile on his face, beneath the table were several good bottles of foreign and domestic spirits, everyone kept encouraging me to try the soup first, the soup still had the taste of the squirrel’s pain as it faced its death, “that taste is most nutritious,” someone beside me uttered before handing me a glass of brandy with sake, I could tell that the old man was drinking the same thing, they probably started drinking brandy after Taiwan’s economy took off as a way to show their respect for the elders while the sake was to keep with tradition, “What did you come here to research,” Girl’s cousin is the first person to ask, although she is a full-figured woman her face still carries the distinct features of the Atayal, “There are so few of us aborigines, what’s there here worth researching?” she had obviously been drinking, yet even so from her soft tone it was clear that she was not joking, “First go do some research on yourselves, you Han Chinese are the ones deserving of some real research,” no one interrupted her as she spoke and I could sense that she was one of the “progressive women” on the reservation; her words not only criticized the Chinese but also shut the mouths of her fellow tribespeople, she handed me a second bowl of flying squirrel stew, “Do your research on the great Chinese race, then when you’re bored you can mosey on up to the mountains to see how little savages like us carve out a life for ourselves amongst you great Chinese,” she turned around and ordered someone to kill a chicken, saying that a cute guy from the plains had come to research her, dinner was on her, everyone at the table still sober enough to move shouted with glee saying that they should call over so-and-so and so-and-so to celebrate together, “-- I’m not doing any real research, I’m simply interested in understanding what life is like for the Atayal people,” after getting slapped with the Atayal woman’s insults, I switched to a more sincere and apologetic tone and added two lines of fruitless defense, the woman went off (probably to help with the chicken) while the old man continued encouraging me to drink more as a sympathetic smile appeared on his face; I began to reflect upon my initial motivation for coming here to “research a weak ethnic minority,” – especially that well-known political incident that was aimed at them – even at my age after all these years it never once entered my mind that Han Chinese could, or even should, be the subject of research; with such a huge population and so many talented individuals I figured that everything worthy of researching about the Chinese had already been done, reports and research materials were probably all gathered together in some massive library somewhere, in order to understand the “true nature of the Chinese people” you had to go to that library and crawl through those records to figure it out, even as I set out for this trip to the reservation I was still rather ignorant about the true nature of the Chinese people, perhaps I needed that woman to point things out from her perspective of the “interrelationship between the aborigines and the Chinese” in order see a bit of our true nature, I could feel the deep resentment in her voice as she finished her last sentence, “when you’re bored you can mosey on up to the mountains to see how little savages like us carve out a life for ourselves amongst you great Chinese,” these are words of self-ridicule from someone who has been controlled and assimilated, within those words there is so much buried sadness that has accumulated after years of forced cultural assimilation, “Here is some chicken, and a bowl of chicken soup – fate has brought us together, welcome,” those last words of welcome were uttered by the woman’s husband, speaking with a soft voice, he was tall, skinny, and refined looking; must I keep my research a secret and avoid these remains of life that stand before me? The darkness of night slowly descended, the woman handed me a chicken leg, I took a sip of the brandy-sake mix and, facing the chicken leg at dusk, said, “I came here to see the remains of life leftover after the Musha Incident, but first I must understand the contemporary Musha Incident,” the woman translated what I said to the tribal elder, the elder nodded repeatedly as he took another drink with me, the woman told me that the elder sitting before me was regarded as the most precious member of the tribe, countless people researching tribal history and especially the Musha Incident had interviewed him, when the Incident occurred he was a fourth grade elementary school student – and he was there at the schoolyard when the massacre took place, “The Musha Incident is history, it’s all in the past; as to the actual details about what happened the elder has already told others everything he knows,” the woman’s husband continued, “If you want to understand the contemporary Musha Incident, then that’s another matter all together,” That’s right, I said, the contemporary Musha Incident is how I evaluate history through a contemporary perspective – there is no such thing as “historical history,” in actuality all that ever exists is “contemporary history,” the woman interrupted me to say that it was a rare occasion for the elder to be there (who knows where Girl and those young men ran off to), while the chicken soup was still hot, it wouldn’t hurt to ask the elder to say a few words, “Originally you invited me over for flying squirrel stew,” the elder sat up straight , “it’s a good thing that we have the nutrition of the chicken soup to keep us strong, otherwise how could we speak of intestine-cutting incident that occurred in my homeland of Musha,” the woman explained that most everyone in Musha had their head cut off in the incident, although the old man survived, at the time he was in so much pain that he felt as if his intestines were cut, he ridicules himself because even today at the age of eighty-four his intestines have yet to mend, when he is asleep at night his intestines crawl out and wriggle their way up the mountain path to the old schoolyard, “I don’t want to talk anymore about the details surrounding the incident or what caused it, after sixty or seventy years all the information there to find has already been collected and organized as good as it could ever be,” the old man only understood his native tribal tongue and Japanese; he spoke in Japanese, his tone of voice was calm and flat, the woman’s husband interpreted for the majority of the discussion while the woman spent most of the time with her cheek leaning on her hand as she gazed out at the western sky, “Someone once asked me what kind of person Mona Rudao was, he was naturally our ‘people’s hero,’” because of him even today the entire Musha area shines through history with the Atayal spirit of resistance, “I am a descendent of Mona, but all I can rely on are the legends passed down from the elders, it is said that when he first realized that there were only six tribes willing to join him, he sat before the burning fire in silence for a long time, the tribesmen surrounding him also sat in silence, then just as the first rays of dawn began to break through the night sky he stood up, and raised his spear...” He risked everything on a that one single venture, in his heart he understood, as did his fellow tribesmen, “Someone once asked me what he won for us, all I could say was that he won us back our ‘tribal dignity,’ ‘the power for a people that have been oppressed and defiled to fight back,’ dignity must be protected, the oppressed must resist – this is the law of history, Mona Rudao was after justice and walked straight into this ‘historical law’ without ever looking back,” the woman refilled the elder’s cup, but the elder didn’t seem to notice, “I know that some of those researchers look at me as if I’m the perfect person to come to for answers, that’s me, Mr. Answers, some of them probably even suspect that I’ve been prepped to always say the right things, that’s because I never made up any incredible moving details or explanations, it’s not that I lack imagination, during the Japanese occupation I also read a couple of books that I had borrowed from the Investigator, since the end of the war a lot of information has come out and I have always tried to keep up on all the developments, for me it was an intestine-cutting incident, weighing the whole situation, that’s the only answer I can provide, I can’t use my imagination to add anything or change anything, the heart of the incident remains as it ever was,” Girl returned with the others, filling the courtyard with a flirtatious laughter and drunken words which I couldn’t understand, “Sixty, seventy years later, here in this shallow mountain valley of Riverisle, I find myself often wondering: If Mona Rudao could see this far into the future – no, I shouldn’t phrase it like that – if he could stand another five, ten, maybe fifteen years, the entire situation would have radically changed, today we would still be living on the land of our ancestors, the Mahebo tribal territory on Musha would never have been transformed into the disgusting tourist spot that it is today, Mona Rudao would have led us in the fight to establish a Manayan-Sedeq Primitive Hot Spring Area; I often wonder, sometimes I toss and turn in my bed at night thinking about this, but I carry no uncertainties, nor regrets.” All through the night I toss and turn, when my bones start to ache I sit up in bed and rest my head against the wall, the cold mountain air comes in through the kitchen from the rear mountains and sneaks under my covers, it makes me want to laugh and cry when I think that love you to death love you to death Girl is sleeping in the arms of Tchaikovsky, as I was leaving the woman’s husband stood with me at the door waiting for the elder, a man of almost forty gazing through the darkness, a silent smile hinting at unspoken words lit up his face, I suspected that he had something he wanted to tell me about the elder, but in the end he didn’t say a word, as we parted he gave me a good firm handshake – he was a humble and straightforward Atayal; Only after the first cry of the rooster did I finally decide to start organizing the wild thoughts running through my mind , I sat at the small desk beside my bed and began writing down all the things that were bothering me, 1) the first thing that bothered me was when the woman raised the question of researching “Han Chinese,” 2) when the elder stood by his statement, “the facts are the facts” and refused to retract or add anything, 3) he used the phrases “resist with dignity” to approve of Mona Rudao’s actions, 4) although he thought through his answers in a extremely civilized manner, he not only seemed to have no intention of investigating the “primitive” side of Atayal culture, but expressed his hope that Mona Rudao would have waited another fifteen years for civilization, and 5) did his answers really all match the official historical line?...The woman’s comment about “Han Chinese research” digressed furthest from the topic at hand and I must put it aside for the time being, as for “the facts are the facts,” only those who record the fats have the power to change them, in the contemporary history of the Musha Incident we read of three separate massacres: the mass killing that occurred on the morning of October 27, 1930 at the Musha Elementary School athletic field (led by the Mahebo chieftain Mona Rudao), the second massacre began the following day on October 28 and involved Japanese mobilization of several battalions of garrison troops, aerial bombing, machine guns, howitzers, poison gas, and experimental incendiary bombs, it lasted until the issuance of an imperial edict on December 30 of that same year, the third massacre occurred during the early morning hours of April 25, 1931 and involved the Dodo tribe’s assault on the detention center; 136 Japanese were decapitated during the first massacre, over the course of the second massacre the population of the six tribes who revolted against the Japanese was reduced from over 1,300 to less than 500 (during which official documentary footage was shot by the Japanese), the third massacre resulted in the slaying of almost two hundred people, over one hundred of which were decapitated (after which photographs of the heads, which are still extant, were taken), ten days later when the remains of life moved to Riverisle they numbered only two hundred and ninety-eight; as for the extended killing of thirty-eight others by the remains of life of Musha and Riverisle, from our contemporary perspective this is truly a “tasteless” slaughter where the numbers barely add up to anything, they not only pale in comparison to the nazi death camps of World War II, but are dwarfed by the massacres that would occur seventeen years later during Taiwan’s own February 28 Incident, (and this does not include the following decade of purges carried out against the remains of life), even so every time I delve into this page of history my heart and soul shudders – that is because the inherent nature of what a “massacre” entails is always the same, regardless of the respective process or final death toll, for a massacre involves a fundamental betrayal of life by life itself, its inhuman, cannibalistic, and empty nature have the power to give birth in humans to the ultimate suspicion – history always harshly denounces those who incite massacre, as such, our contemporary history cannot but condemn “the Mona Rudao of the Musha Incident,” yet with his civilized rhetoric the elder used the “dignity of resistance” to affirm Mona Rudao’s place in history, while the intellectuals Bakan and Danafu affirmed Mona Rudao’s place from the perspective of a primitive “head-hunting ritual,” “The civilized and the primitive” each in different ways affirmed the legitimacy of Mona Rudao’s “head-hunt/massacre” during the Musha Incident, It is about time that I denounce the legitimacy of the second cry of the rooster, heaven only knows just when Tchaikovsky fell asleep, after the cries of the rooster, the entire mountain reservation fell under a boundless blanket of silence; and if Mona Rudao had been able to wait another fifteen years, “the contemporary” asks why Mona Rudao couldn’t hold on a mere fifteen years, reality never waits – but what if? When contemporary history poses such questions is it trying to be humorous or making an outright mistake, the contemporary must always “contemporize” history, contemporary history examines history from its own pluralistic perspective , but it is helpless to raise the necessary questions, it can quietly listen but is unable ask questions when the rooster cackled for the third time the faint light of dawn began to illuminate the horizon – As for the legitimacy of this phenomena, the elder’s response was the same typically simple answer one an expect from history; history records reality, but contemporary history never investigates reality, it instead investigates the “legitimacy of historical incidents,” it is obvious that while censuring the actions of Mona Rudao, the legitimacy of the Musha Incident was affirmed on two different levels; I opened the back door and walked down the small trail at the foot of the mountains that runs through the cemetery, most of the other people who come for early morning walks come to enjoy the fresh morning fragrance of plum blossoms blowing down from the mountain, through the long blades of November bristlegrass one can see the reservation not far off in the distance, hidden away in the bosom of the mountain cliffs it is a place seemingly removed from both history and the contemporary, “a mountain village neglected by time,” “the final resting place of the soul,” the morning sun rose over the distant mountains projecting its first ray of hazy sunlight over both sides the peak crest-lines – Actually, the contemporary cannot condemn history while, at the same time, affirm its legitimacy. Cigarettes and alcohol lead Girl from the canyon of dreams into a dazed and confused fog, she went to a lot of drinking parties during those days and was terribly skinny, she only ate one meal a day, which usually consisted of
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