“Grassland Tribe” and “Chief” (Excerpt)
[Chat about Books] [Communicate on Old Books] “Grassland Tribe” and “Chief” He Xiongfei
01:05:53, August 27, 2009 From: Tian Wen (Chongqing)
Title: [Chat about Books] [Communicate on Old Books] “Grassland Tribe” and “Chief” He Xiongfei
Author: yiping1914; Submission time: 10:32:00, December 13, 2004; Visits: 1,073; Replies: 39
In fact, as an ordinary reader, I do not know the “chief”, but his self-introduction is included in the preface to books published under his general editorship. Here is the excerpt:
I graduated from Beijing Institute of Economics (the current Capital University of Economics and Business) and carry out Jewish studies during my spare time… Although I am not a thinker, I love, respect and pursue thinking and thinkers, and I try to think and be a thinker. In this modern era, what else can we do apart from thinking? My role is to look for bosom friends and markets for thinkers and inject thinking into soil where there is lack of thinking. There is no thinking and even anti-thinking exists like an agent of thinking. I hope my countrymen will learn to think and dance with thinkers.
—Preface to Wind and Rain Knock at Study Window in 1999
In recent months, I feel the most depressed and helpless in spirit and the most hesitant and bored in my publication career… I flinched and was in low spirits in the face of all kinds of tests, and tried to escape. Mr. Qian Liqun said to me sincerely, “Mr. Lu Xun always opposed unprepared warriors. People should have strategies about life, as long as the base line of spirit is kept. Existence comes first, followed by food and clothing, and then development.” Another young friend said to me, “Intellectuals are like a group of migrant birds, soaring in the sky together when spring comes, and flying to the south to wait for the next summer when winter comes. Take care, chief.” But Mr. Qin Hui said, “The reason why Grassland Tribe is highly respected is that it shouts in severe winter. If it becomes a migrant bird, is it necessary for Grassland Tribe to exist?” That's true. Will the spring come without cuckoos crying blood?
What really scared me was on the evening of a Mid-autumn Festival when a police officer nicknamed “Butcher” met me for the first time. He was big and tall with a fierce look. He had asked me to talk with him several times but I rejected. Afterwards, the situation became increasingly severe so I had to accept it and went to see him alone. After I entered the room, “Butcher” stared at me without speaking for two minutes, and I was “frightened” into cold sweat when he spoke. “Do you really think you can solve everything by escape and flinch? If I want to look for you, I will find you no matter how far you go. Considering ugly acts of Grassland Tribe and counterparts recently, I have to say something. What China needs is not opportunism, not swallow, not sparrow and not verbal Marxism-Leninism. Your flinch really makes me feel disappointed. Of course, it’s not just you who should feel remorseful and shameful. I also need to do so, as I myself is also a paradox. I’m a qualified husband and father. And I’m also a qualified police officer who works conscientiously, never goes out eating, drinking, whoring and gambling, never seeks private gain through power, and maintains peace and image of police officers with my bit of power. But harsh reality made me feel disappointed and remorseful. Since I met “Grassland Tribe”, I have read books for lots of nights. ‘Men do not easily shed tears’, but I cried several times. You let me see a glimmer of light at long lights, but it's a pity it’ll go out. My spiritual world is now full of despair, not just disappointment!”
I was shocked by his words and tears flew down. “Butcher” continued, “I couldn’t restrain my depression, so I couldn’t wait to talk with you. No offense. A toast to you, for tomorrow! You said Grassland Tribe is dying, but I think it doesn't deserve the word ‘dying’. Death is heroic. I think Grassland Tribe degenerates. Not just you alone degenerate. Most of Chinese intellectuals including me degenerate…”
It was a head-on blow. As the ancient poem goes, “put down the cup and chopsticks without feeling like eating, and draw the sword, look around but feel at a loss.”
- Preface to Centurial Analects in 1999
In August 2000, when I waited for the bus to the south of Hangtian Bridge somewhat accidentally, I saw a small book store with words of “discount, start at RMB5” on the roadside. I went in and looked around, and saw a thick book Problems and Doctrines- Qin Hui Collection with a line of little words on the top of the cover- “Collections of Intellectuals of Grassland Tribe/Chief Editor: He Xiongfei”, and “Changchun Publishing House” below. The price on the back was RMB25, but it wrote RMB5 on the book shelf.
I saw the name “Qin Hui” on newspapers and magazines before, so I was surprised that the collection of such a scholar was sold at RMB5. I asked the store owner whether they were pirate copies. The owner said they were absolutely not pirate copies, such books would not be pirated and told me to see the paper quality. I looked at the book carefully, and found the cover was designed in a simple style and made of a kind of thickened kraft paper and printed with the head portrait of Qin Hui, and the paper inside was a kind of yellow (renewable?) paper. I asked, “Where did you purchase them? Why are they sold in such a low price?” He answered, “You don’t have to know this. I have channels. Few people read such books, so I have to lower the price.”
Highbrow songs find few singers! In that year, I withdrew from institution in advance. My mother was diagnosed with cancer and had to receive chemotherapy in hospital once every month, and my father needed to be taken care of due to old age, so I rejected the invitation of a company and to accompany him. I had much spare time during those days which was a good time for reading after getting rid of trivial matters in the institution. Although I had much time, I had no much money. So I thought about it, and bought the book at RMB5. “No matter whether it is pirated or not, let me read it first,” I thought.
The book includes five parts with over 30 articles. After reading, I found it had almost no spelling errors and had clear printing and neat binding, completely unlike a pirated book. I could not help thinking, “I’m sorry for spending five Yuan buying such a thick book of yours, Mr. Qin.” Thereafter, after I bought such collections as papers and essays at a low price in the book market or discount book store, I always said “I’m sorry” to the author while reading.
After reading Problems and Doctrines, “Grassland Tribe” and the name He Xiongfei penetrated my mind. After two days, I went to the book store nearby Hangtian Bridge again and bought all “Grassland Tribe” series on the book shelf. I also bought the series from such places as Sanlian Book Center and Guolinfeng Book Store afterwards.
He Xiongfei is accustomed to writing this sentence on the top of preface: “A spiritual banquet held once is better than a material banquet held ten times.”
Yes, things that books give us are everlasting. If a book can be digested like food, it means that it is absorbed by our heart and brain.
Before I met “Grassland Tribe”, I also read books and newspapers (although I spent little time on reading), but I paid main attention to problems like economy, policy and macro trend relevant to my job; I read novels and biographies during spare time. “Grassland Tribe” opened another door of reading for me, and it reminded me to “love, respect and pursue thinking and thinkers, and try to think and be a thinker”. I know it’s impossible for me to become a thinker, and I can only love and purse thinking with my little knowledge and intellect. Being nobody, I think it’s enough. If someone says he sees a little of mind in my words, I will firstly thank “Grassland Tribe”.
After 5 years, most of thinkers in the collections and authors of those good articles have been well-known, and have stood themselves out in respective fields. So I do not have to (and do not have the ability to) introduce their thinking and only list contents of collections below:
Collections of intellectuals in “Grassland Tribe”:
Reject Forgetfulness - Qian Liqun
Revolution in Study - Zhu Xueqin
Problems and Doctrines - Qin Hui
Words of Freedom - Xu Youyu
Moderate Democracy and 0.618 - Cai Decheng Collection of Crow’s Voices for Two Decades - Li Ming
Excellent books of “Grassland Tribe” published in famous newspapers and famous magazines:
Wind and Rain Knock at Study Window - Anthology of 100 issues of Extensively Read
Marginal Feeling- Excellent novel on Tianya
Marginal Thinking- Excellent essay on Tianya
Marginal Records- Excellent folk Chinese on Tianya
Watch the Soul- Excellent essay in Shanghai Literature
Era of Thinking- Anthology on recalling the past in Yellow River
Centurial Analects- Anthology of award-winning works in Artistic Contending
Natural Fire (A, B) - Anthology of masterpieces in Book House
Historical Truth- Recalling the past at the end of century in Hundred Year Tide
Trend of Thought Today- Excellent documentary essay in Beijing Literature
Recreational books of “Grassland Tribe”:
Alternative Fairy Tales - Edited by He Xiongfei
Snow Smelts on the Palm - Baoerji Yuanye
Homeless - Sha Bihong
At last, I want to specially mention Snow Smelts on the Palm by Baoerji Yuanye. I read one article before sleep every night for some time, as it includes family affection and tender feelings, humor and wit, opinions and taste about art like music, ideas of freedom and pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful, and what is called as noble flavor of the Mongol nationality.