In and out of Inter-Asia: a quick and painless procedure
To this day, I’m still at a loss as to why Professor Kuan-Hsing Chen (hereafter, KH) asked me nine years ago to help him edit and launch the now highly prestigious international academic journal Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. Sure, I knew him and Naifei back in Berkeley, but only barely. He knew of me, of course, but that was the extent of our acquaintance. So the answer to the opening question, my friends, is not blowing in the wind, but rather flowing in KH ever surging brain cells.
Frankly, looking back, I suspect I was either bewitched by his good look, which is quite unlikely, or just being bamboozled by his smooth talk. Yeah, I think that was it, ‘cause everybody knows how he can talk the talk, and walk the walk, now quite fashionably, too.
Seriously though, in that fateful summer of 1999, as I walked into the building of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsing Hua University with my pal Michael, anxious to meet his staffs at the Center for Asia-Pacific/Cultural Studies, I wasn’t without a certain degree of chagrin. For those who don’t know, that was the year after the devastating 921 earthquake that crumbled buildings, took lives and even altered landscapes in Taiwan, so that already infamous building was under major renovation during summer break. So we were walking into a dilapidated building and literally dodging debris falling left and right. (A good analogy would be walking into the belly of a humongous beast to help deliver a baby the like one had never seen before; now the baby is 10 years old and look how beautifully it had turned out to be!) And the so-called “Center” at the time was relocated to a smaller room (sadly, very much like the one we all saw until recently and won’t be seeing anymore in the future) rather than the much bigger, comfier, and prettier Center proper we all miss, with a bunch of student-like humanoids lights years younger than us. When we walked in, I instantly felt an awkward vibe in the room as we were greeted by the head honcho. Other than that, I don’t actually remember much of anything except a brief passing glimpse of a lanky boy shyly walking by. But by entering that magic door, I’ve officially become, you’ve guessed it, the outsider.
Mon WONG is a free-lance translator.