Welcome to the World Wide Web Home page of Road to East Asia
Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
Vol.2, no. 1 November, 1996
Glasses presents himself as an intellectual with a vast expanse of knowledge at his disposal. He refers to Albert Einstein and briefly touches on existentialism in an attempt to impress upon those waiting at the bus stop just how much he knows. It is questionable whether or not he knows what he is talking about, especially when he randomly throws into his speech some simple English words which, considering their irrelevance, are clearly used for decoration. Glasses is a man who hides behind a pseudo-intellectual facade, afraid to seek understanding from the world, more comfortable sitting in his ignorant corner, reciting such English words as "dog" and "desk."
Liu Binyan, on the other hand, does not proclaim his great intelligence to world. Instead, he admits to not being very "sharp or overly cautious"(Liu, p. 279), without false pretenses, he is honest and humble in everything he says and believes. Self-effacement must be a virtue cherished by the Chinese.
Before his exile, Liu was twice purged because of his dedication to truth and justice, and it is those attributes that make him admirable. He has never pretended to change his controversial beliefs in order to avoid persecution from the government. He genuinely believes in the power of the Chinese people to change a repressive regime into a democracy.
As well, both men are different in their ability to put their words into action. Glasses, for example, analyzes intelligently the situation he is in and figures out a solution to the problem, but he fails to execute his strategy. He complains about the "meaningless torture" (Gao, p. 380) of waiting for the bus, but cannot muster up enough courage to leave.
Liu, on the other hand, is more than just a talker. Although he was unable to participate directly in the democracy movement in 1989, he did his part as a writer-in-exile by encouraging the people of China towards their goal and by making other people throughout North America aware of the momentous events in his books, articles, speechess and lectures.
There is also a clear distinction between Glasses and Liu in their outlook on the future. Glasses' pessimistic view grows progressively dim as the years pile up in front of his eyes. Even if they write letters of complaint to the government, he says, they will still be left standing at the bus stop waiting. All actions of protest seem futile to him. He gives in easily and breaks up the human barricade to stop the bus from driving past them.
Liu's vision differs greatly from the short-sighted Glasses. The dissident writer sees a new China emerging, with democracy at the helm of the ship, leading the people forward into freedom. He believes that the democracy movement of 1989 has initiated the Chinese people into "political maturity" (Liu, p. 283).
The only possible bond that could ever develop between Liu and Glasses as a result of their fictional rendezvous at the street corner would be that between a teacher and his student. Glasses has a lot to learn from Liu about using one's intellect for worthwhile purposes, gaining insight into the meaning of life, and taking the initiative in matters of importance. Should Glasses become Liu's disciple, then both men would work together, trying to realize the vision of a democratic China.
Gao, Xingjian. "The Bus Stop." Trans.
Geremie Barme. Trees on the Mountain. Ed. Stephen Soong
Liu, Binyan. A Higher Kind of Loyalty. Trans. Zhu Hong. New York: Random House, 1990.