Tie-Dyed in Blood (A Sub-Urban
Child’s Voyage to Socialist Spiritual Civilization, With Critical Introduction,
Intermittent Commentary and Post-Mortem Ghostwritten by Marco? Polo!) is a
novel based on the events in
The main character Myles, an American Maoist, has been invited to
teach English in
By the spring of 1989, Myles finds himself caught up in the Chinese democracy movement and, ironically, protesting against the totalitarian regime. As the student demonstrations intensify, as he sees a whole people struggling for its liberty, he finds himself caught between his old militant revolutionary dogma and the new spirit of peaceful resistance, at the same time that the question as to whether history is progressive or cyclical begins to haunt him.
As the democracy movement begins, Myles (still obsessed with the Vietnam war) begins to re-live the radical days of the 1960s, but feels outside of the movement—as he is only just beginning to clean his head of Maoism. He then falls in love with a woman student, Mo Li, who is a product of the Cultural Revolution; Myles thinks she is a pro-democracy activist, but is probably a police spy. He largely ignores his teacher of Chinese language and civilization, Tao Baiqing, who is a scholar of Taoism, and the real activist for democracy against Communist rule, and who truly loves him. All this takes place in a tense atmosphere of suspicion, distrust and rumors. It is unclear who is working or spying for whom.
The last chapter is entitled, "Can't Go Back" (Thomas
Wolfe represents a major influence on the themes of the book) as Myles has
finally realized that he has dedicated his life to a bankrupt cause of Maoist
revolution. Yet he can find nothing to replace his beliefs. He can’t go back:
His family has disinherited him. The two women whom he met in
The novel is peopled with a host of bizarre characters.
There is Mark King Hayford, world famous NewsBlitz!!! journalist, who
would sell his amphierotic soul for a story, and who is subsequently expelled
Myles also meets a whole cast of international
characters: a Russian, Vladim; two Germans from both East and
In the tradition of Victor Hugo, the book critically
depicts both Chinese and American politics at the same time that it supports
Chinese student aspirations to achieve greater freedom and openness against the
odds, which have largely been pre-determined by
In addition to illustrating the roots of Sino-American tensions at the debut of the Cold War, the history of US-European-Chinese relations dating from the days when Byzantium stole the Silkworm secret from China, anecdotes involving Westerners who were often obsessed with Cathay), as well as stories of those who visited China during its revolution are interwoven with the story, as Myles learns more and more about “Socialist Spiritual Civ.” In fact, the story is introduced and concluded by Myles’ alter ego, the cynical and elitist spirit of Marco? Polo! himself, the weapons expert who worked for Kublai Khan, and who represents Myles' alter ego, but who also plays an integral psychological aspect of Myles’ suburban upbringing, where he played Marco? Polo! in his neighborhood swimming pool. It is Marco? Polo! who comments on, and criticizes, Myles' ignorance and naiveté throughout the book.
The book plays with themes from both western and Chinese myth, history, music, literature and poetry, including Biblical numerology and millenarianism and Chinese astrology. It contrasts, for example, the drug culture that Myles grew up in, with era of the Red Guards that his Chinese teacher, Tao, and Mo Li, grew up in. It examines relations (social and intimate) among Americans, Europeans, Chinese and Africans. It compares and contrasts different approaches to the “Truth” through journalism, academic studies, photography, classical music, art, literature and poetry.
Tie-Dyed in Blood thus deals with many themes of continuing relevance in the post-Tiananmen Square period. On the one hand, it examines what makes “true believers” like Myles click; on the other, it seeks to break the Biblical (and Koranic) myth of the Apocalypse Tomorrow—the millenarian belief that a "clash of civilizations" between China and the USA is “inevitable.” The book thus strongly critiques the exaggerated Western fears raised by the “Yellow peril” and the “Red menace”, as well as exaggerated Chinese fears of Western and American imperialism. In the critiquing the misperceptions and hypocrisies on both sides of the Pacific, Tie-Dyed in Blood attempts to find a basis for mutual understanding and reconciliation between these two very different cultures and civilizations.
Chapter XV. Socialist Spiritual Civ. 3
It was during the Ming
Zheng He sailed as far west as was possible upon his Star Raft with its great feathered sails and 317 brightly painted junks—warships with dragon eyes painted on the prow, supplied with fire weapons of sky-flying rockets and incendiary bombs packed with human waste and smoke producing chemicals, horse carriers, supply ships, troop transports, water tankers, a flag ship with black flag and white characters. His crewmen gazed upon those long-necked creatures as strange as the four miraculous creatures—phoenix, dragon, unicorn, tortoise—but just as real as giant spotted cats and striped horses and ‘little men’ of Africa—brought to the Son of Heaven by the Moslem and eunuch, the Admiral Zheng He.
His seven voyages of a thousand oars caused too much controversy by those steeped in the anti-globalization thinking of 1403-09 Yung Lo Ta Tien encyclopedia—the work that railed against all foreign influence in China. Zheng He’s overseas project was to be beached upon the sands by those myopic Confucian Mandarins soon after the death of that ancient admiral.
It was during the Yuan
dynasty from 1275 to 1292 that the enterprising Marco Polo had been sent by his
If we can believe Marco’s account, which was written and re-written with such phenomenal and extravagant passages based vaguely upon Persian and Arabic mytho-anthropology—without, however, ever mentioning the daily and repeated rite of boiling and drinking cha—that most famous “five-flavored substance”—Marco’s sovereign was none other than Kublai Kahn, the son of the tyrant who had so blithely vanquished the sophisticated yet vainglorious neo-Confucian Zhu Xi civilization, the Mangi southern Song dynasty, and then attempted to raid Japan, only literally blown by the Kamikaze winds of fate.
by Marco Polo himself, Columbus was
determined, once and for all, to cut out the cutthroat middlemen as they camped
beyond Alexander’s Bronze gates in the realm of Gog and Magog along the Silk
Road full of wild animals, banditry, intrigue, assassins. He was determined to
sail directly to
His neck only saved from mutiny at long
last after the sight of the promised land once he landed upon terra firma, Columbus scientifically
determined that the planet was not round as Ptolemy claimed, but rather, shaped
like a “woman’s nipple on a round ball.”
But his real contribution to humanity was to bring the foul smelling tobacco
treasure back to Europe from what he presumed to be a “continental province
our history lessons continued, I began to get more into the subject. Tao had
wanted to know why the Italians, in particular, seemed so attracted to
As we moved closer to the present, the dark shadows of
the past began to haunt the present even more starkly. During years of his
opposition to Manchu rule (1673-83), in 1662 the Ming loyalist, Zheng Cheng-gong (known to the Portugese
as Koxinga), had taken refuge on
knew her stuff: the People’s Republic claimed that this was the second time
Blood Feud: Zheng Cheng-gong’s skull throbs with anger and revenge; hallucinations haunt him even when awake. His dragon eyed ships hold the Manchus in awe; the latter order an evacuation of the population all along the coast to the depths of ten miles for fear Zheng will be able to attack or subvert the people of the mainland.
Death encircles him as he douses himself with sweet
incense to ward off mosquitoes: He fears attacks by African fugitives from
Backed by the Manchus, the turncoat Shi Lang plots
his revenge, burning in hatred to avenge himself against Zheng Cheng-gong who
had his father, brother, and son murdered for betraying the Ming. With the
support of the Dutch, he plots the defeat of Zheng forces in the Pescadores and
to establish a garrison on
They can both hear the ringing in their ears and feel the proboscis of bloodsucking mosquitoes as they land upon the back of their necks, hands or legs, making them forever drowsy with sleeping sickness. Only the few dare brave the voyage for deer hide and horn, the most potent of aphrodisiacs… With 300 ships and troops armed with pikes and quivers full of arrows and emerald swords, a shower of flaming arrows alight the sky like the sun behind the flight of geese—Shi Lang will annihilate the guardians of the Pescadores and then walk “peacefully” onto Formosa and thus solidify control over “all” of China.