Beyond the Wings, February 2022

I always wondered what it would be like to live through major historical moments. Now I know. It sucks.

Still, we can’t stop living our little lives. Speaking of which, a new song I wrote covers the issue of modern warfare. Here are some things I’ve been up to this month.

Output

I was very pleased to finish my latest Chinese song this month 《某个地方的某个人》, which is roughly my third from last ever piece of Chinese-language song-writing.   It would have been nice to have become more famous and got more media attention over these more than ten years of creating Chinese lyrics, but not being prominent on the radar of the Chinese government has its advantages.

I didn’t bother adding subtitles this time because it is pretty much a translation of my English song ‘Someone Somewhere’.

I also finished two new English songs, ‘Glorious Times’ and ‘Bucket List’ and a new classical guitar video.

Activities

Attempts at getting more non-fiction published this year have been at a stuttering start. I have written an article about Tom Lehrer titled ‘The Twentieth Century’s Most Unassuming Literary Genius’. In March I will rewrite it and try to find another home for it.

Tutoring is still going well but I’m always trying to expand my business. This month, I held two free sample Mandarin lessons and in March will hold one for beginners and another for intermediate readers.

I have also started a new series of covers in which, unlike before, I use a proper mic set-up. The first in the series is ‘Where Angels Play’ by The Stone Roses.

Wider World

One of the most talked about books of the past decade was ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’, a door-stopper in which psychologist Steven Pinker argues that we are living through a ‘long peace’ and violence has progressively decreased over the course of history. Most of his arguments could also have been made in 1913, before the collective suicide of Europe.

Times change but of course human nature never does. A megalomaniac in charge of a powerful country has started a war for territorial expansion over a historical claim.  This has again been enabled by the West’s complacency.

Somehow Russia, with an economy smaller than Italy or Brazil, has tentacles all around the world. In the UK, the ruling Conservative Party has accepted £2.3 million in Russian donations since the current prime minister took office.

I don’t judge people for getting involved with unscrupulous players. I had my dealings with China (a country that is highly likely to start a war of aggression against Taiwan at some point in the 2020s), but the way so many people have allowed themselves to accept dirty money reminds me of a quote from former Literature professor John Carey: “The face of evil is neither fearsome nor formidable. The face of evil is weak, self-serving, and a bit pathetic. Not so unlike our own.”

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