Friday, January 30, 2015


'The mountains are high and the emperor is far away', is a proverb that originates in the Yuan dynasty, a chaotic time when the rapacious Jurchen's had managed to overthrow the Southern Song dynasty, chasing the last boy emperor to the furthest reaches of the the empire, to an island known as 'broken head mountain'. In this instance the emperor himself was the one far away from his own palace, with the humiliation the dynasty suffered of having to relocate the capital below the Yangtze for the first time in history.
The proverb itself is still used today, and in some way its meaning is unchanged only the particular co-ordinates of state power vary. In a way, it is an admonishment, that perhaps in the privacy of a conjugal bed, or the back of a taxi cab, one can speak and act freely. 

A boy emperor walks along a moonlit beach in the South China sea, a plums nest, and contemplates an empire he will never reign and a palace he will never command. 

In this museum of humanity, in the fragrant, cool mountains of Yunnan where the women wear beads in their hair, dance and weave while the men hunt, the families will retreat to the mountains when the officials arrive to collect tributes for the emperor. At what altitude does the emperors power wane as you climb the mountains, how high does the plane fly before the cold reach of the satellites begin to wane and those pullulating binaries with electronic ears being written with lasers turn to noise? 

Climbing alone, in the midnight, across wet grass, moss and stones Purple feels her chest get tight so she sits beneath a tree to rest, as the leaves of the camellia fall weightlessly on the ground and she breathes in their sweet earthy scent. 
She was getting close to the border where she knew her comrades were waiting for her in an old Toyota.

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