Taipei Hakka temple festival parade – This emerging Taiwanese national identity …. Goddesses and Gods. You go to the traditional market with mom (the sadly disappearing 古亭市場 Guting Market), you happen to run into a massive Hakka Temples Parade. And mom is now used to her American son, baseball cap in tow, running off like an idiot with his camera while all the local shoppers carried on.
The Goddesses and Gods from different temples are carried with traditional carriages and parishioners — interesting to compare the flags and clothing with ceremonies and rituals of the British monarchy. Taiwan being hilariously Taiwan, it had to include the Three Gods 三太子 wearing what looks to me like Minnie Mouse hands (?!) preceded by a pop-dance music sedan (I am too old to tell you what they are playing except to say I muttered something Grandpa Simpson would mutter about music ….) with maybe copyright infringing Minnie Mouse? And why Minnie and not Mickey?
I’ve written previously about the heterodoxies of Taiwan as a matter of facing reality, pragmatism, and national survival — contrary to the imperialist, Marxist-Leninist orthodoxies of the China CCP-KMT (both Leninist Chinese parties are also deeply addicted to faux ancient dynastic symbolisms and rituals ….), or the modern nation-states and progressivism/conservativism/liberalism of western imperialists. To have so many groups with so many languages and so many different historical memories survive relatively peacefully in a relatively small Taiwan, while facing a gigantic foreign enemy, Taiwan cannot afford western nor Chinese orthodoxy-perfectionism. I have never bought the half-hearted “celebrate diversity” slogan of the west — I think this emerging Taiwanese national identity is far more sophisticated and pragmatic. Don’t measure everything, don’t discuss everything, let things be whenever possible, and focus on the very few things that matter for survival. Much as Taipei architecture and urban planning make little sense, and much as Taiwanese political campaigns can be a real mishmash of styles, and much as Taiwanese music and cinema and particularly tee vee shows feels like a potluck or potpourri of mixtures that may or may not make any sense, it is this heritage of heterodoxy – being OK with things that are not coherent, or are even self-contradictory, that makes this peaceful democratization of Taiwan possible. And isn’t it revealing, that democratic sovereignty is such a core to this emerging Taiwanese national identity, and are the two words neither the China CCP-KMT, nor many western experts and journalists, are willing to face directly and earnestly?
I myself, while my non-Hakka vendor was trying to convince me of his anti-Hakka prejudices (I disagree, but politely ignored him because he held my lunch in his hand ….), appreciate the dissonance — same as I felt at the Taiwan National Day 2022, none of it makes any sense, and it is OK to let that be and resist the western-Chinese reflex to try to “fix” it. Wave, smile, and wish the Hakka Goddesses and Gods and the fellow Taiwanese citizens they protect the best. And be OK with this dynamic, incoherent, emerging Taiwanese national identity. 22.10.2022
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