Caution, Contract!


I had lunch with my high spirited translators Mu and Carol. I moved on from fried duck and crispy duck skin to duck tongue preserved in egg-shaped jello. The jello-eggs  looked very beautiful but the tongue inside tasted a bit bony, even though my friends called it very “smooth.”  I started my interviews and noticed that people are very cautious about my topics.  Dr. Li Yinhe answered my questions with short answers and reassured me that “there is no actual danger involved” in talking about sex and pornography in China.  But still I feel shadowed by a darker spirit–severity, seriousness and disconnect–when walking and talking about such topics. I have the feeling that 99% of what I care about is located elsewhere and  “underground.”  In the evening I talked to three cosplayers about their adoption of Japanese animation characters and gneder roles. They babbled and giggled a lot but also demanded money and brought along their own contracts. This had never happened to me in my long history of interviewing people.  It made me sad to meet this level of suspicion or absurd self-imposed bureaucracy. Tomorrow I will be interviewing about 15 university students and wonder how we will relate.