I wrote up this adventure years ago when I got back to where I had started, which was quite an adventure in itself, but another story for another day. When it got no enthusiasm from a couple of publishers, I just left it in the computer, where somehow it has survived all kinds of hardware and software disasters.

Maybe that's reason enough to post it now. But there's another reason. What impressed me then about the Chinese was the two worlds they somehow manage to inhabit simultaneously, the—what shall I call it—doctrinaire, or maybe theoretico-official, all piled on top of the real, where the family, the filth, the pride, the racket, the love, the utterly uncritical friendship, the stupendous land swarming with unsinkable millions keeps going just as it always has. None of this, as far as I can see, has changed much since I was there. You can read here what I wrote then. I haven't changed a word of it.

But Julia and I have changed (well, so have we all). She's now a top secret Chinese Intelligence Specialist for the NSA (bet you don't know what that is. It's secret, of course). I no longer "teach," nor believe there is any such thing as teaching. There's only learning, which we all have to do together.

The exchange program that sent me as its first emissary folded before long, partly from routine political brutishness (such as shooting your own children), but more tellingly because not one of the Chinese, of perhaps the dozen or so who through it got out of China, has ever gone back.



L.S., February, 2007


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