The cat’s tale – the difficulty of academia then and now

It seems to be relatively easy to deal with Schroedinger’s cat – the question is well known:


Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.[2]

The one way of dealing with it is to open the box in order to see if the cat is alive or not. However, it is a way of dealing with the problem by actually denying it as checking, giving ‘empirical evidence’ in actual fact changes the conditions to such an extent that, what had been the question at the outset is actually redefined: the conditions from which the question emerged are not anymore given.

The other way is to admit that there is no answer and that there cannot be any answer for ever. One could see this as a purely academic issue – though this is probably seen differently by the cat – being eternally in a situation of not knowing if her is dead or alive which must admittedly a hugely unpleasant state of existence. And both ‘easy answers’ prevail when we are looking at academia, in particular universities: researching, studying and teaching. One question may be asked though: what is if we simply look at the tale, not the entire cat but also not something that exists only as chimera?

Some reflections on the development of third level education today can be found here, impressions and reports, resulting from having worked in China for two years at a ‘joint venture’ between a EUropean and a Chinese university, and reflecting more general trends than really anything like ‘this is China’. And also reflecting on a general trend of supposed academic education where one learns not to agree with but to follow rules, where you have to like numbers but yu do nit have to like maths … – at the end where you should end with a major that makes sure that the cat is dead while the mice are dancing a bubble dance, appealingly majoring in accounting without understanding the economy of which it takes account.


[1]  ; 27/07/17

[2]            IFLScience – The lighter sight of science: Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained;ödinger’s-cat-explained/; 27/07/17


Ah well, of course
But how obvious is it?
  • We cannot change our core Roman, or were it Greek ? values, as we subdued them by European enlightenment,
  • Smith and Bentham triumphing over Kant and the French tricolore,
  • leveling the field for the yanks who returned with their reinterpretation to Europe and …
  • … and allow today Merkel’s Schäuble to squeeze the Greek like lemons
  • and “allow” Orban’s barbed wires to cut into the veins of migrants who leave war and starvation behind before they can enter Europe
The tricolore did not say that we share with everybody – it only said we have to share something with some — selected. Some – people and countries – have to pay, so said by the slogan of the time:
  • the inner and outer periphery on which the centre can establish its affluence …. –
  • reflecting these values of individual freedom = precarious jobs
  • and equality = not allowing anybody to sleep under the bridges of Paris … – don’t we remember:
La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.
Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894)
  • and fraternity = the soup kitchens that take the place of the rights that the universal declaration of human rights failed to guarantee ….; where fraternity means redefining sleeping rough by offering a “pillow” near to the churches, softening the hardship by the pretension of a better world, the other world – and for the time being through charity, still leaving space for the question: is there a link between the (name of) the train station Termini in Rome and “its offer of sleeping rough in its protection” – the termination of dignity?
Of course, it may be that these – few – examples also “tell of a political reality far removed from Mr Tao Zhang’s “Europe(an) Dream”, inspired by historical “visions” (let’s take Delors or let’s refer to the founding-FATHERS) and believing in claims that gain much of their positivity not from their inherent greatness but from the fact of a lack of today’s power holders that do not allow to even think outside the ideological and physical fortress of the single finance market.
And of course, all this is about the European Dream which people like Riffkin have, putting like Albert the “Rheinian Model” against the rest of the world – a world order that allows and evokes worries about possibilities to continue  selling the same number of Lamborghinis, Porsches and Mercs to the empire of the middle.
Sure, when it comes to education then, we may have to deal with the
difficulty Chinese students face, particularly in the arts and social sciences, is in adopting the critical thinking that the Quality Assurance Agency insists master’s level courses must inculcate
this does, of course, not exist for European students (and lecturers alike) – used to the censorship of peer-reviewed publications and ranking systems that, to a large extent controlled by quasi-monopolist publishing houses, are very much algorithm-ised like google: write what we know, quote what we and our peers stated for many times, contend what is publicly accepted … and redefine harsh principles by using softened and softening frameworks like social investment, knowledge management and the failure of implementation of strategies … – you may easily make a rocketing career as long as you do not question the strategies themselves.
There is a wider perspective, looking at the secular issues and developments – or a perspective that is very narrow: lookig the current debates – you may take it as you like:
It surely opens a field for debate when people call for
indirectly suggesting the possibility of a national democracy which in actual fact is one of the core breaking points: the contention of the principle of nationality and externalisation – this is how the core value of European democracy worked since the ancient city states until the Fortress EUrope.
And this is the core European and EUropean value that asks if
without considering that we will not have a legitimate parliament – national or EUropean – as long as we have an economic system that leads to the permanent
Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disiganno – the Triumph of Time and Truth
The critical attitude …. – sure, there is some space, though we should not forget that when Baudelaire first presented Les Fleurs du mal, he was condemned to put them aside, allowed to present them later in a revised version, leaving critique to the space of sympbolism, providing there the framework for talking about the Island of the Death (Boecklin) to where Europe seems to be moving, after facing L’angelo ferito (Hugo Simberg) – the disappointed carriers make look grimly but are not allowed to revive the hope they once have had … – not so much changed perhaps, today’s critics turning away from reality and hoping for the savour from Rome who rightly criticises that this economy kills, a critique that is turned down if and when it comes from others who ask for material changes that allow and enforce liberty, equality and fraternity.
.. stating all this does not mean not acknowledging some of the problems mentioned – it means, however, to say that they are much deeper and profound, not least reflecting the need of confronting issues that emerge from the
centre on China’s Confucian cultural tradition
with the issues that are emerging from a limited understanding of rationality that systematically crucifies its own claims and pretensions and sacrifices “Moral Sentiments” on the altar of the “Wealth of the Nations” …
No, we surely cannot change the values for anybody – not for the Chinese, not for anybody … they will pay anyway …
As long as any nation or region claims today that the specifically national or regional core values cannot be changed for those of anybody else we may easily end up as An Idiot Abroad – abroad being everywhere and anywhere, and we being everybody who is still believing in the old answers suitable for dealing with the new questions, questions that are not yet correctly formulated.

The Murderer and the Victims

In particular in recent times remarks are concerning in particular the catholic church … . Though there is on the one hand the fear when it comes to religious fundamentalism, many initiatives taken by the current pope are celebrated – and indeed I joined a little bit in, asking in the title of a contribution for the Primavera vaticana?, i.e. Vatican Spring. Now there had been the one celebrated ‘Spring’ in the recent times which turned out to be the beginning of a hot autumn. And though there are the surely critical remarks and initiatives as not least in the Evangelli Gaudium and the Laudatio Sì and also the recent proposals in connection with abortion and divorce, one should not overlook that these can well be a threat: on the one hand a kind of Trojan horse; on the other hand a suicidal fuse, provoking fundamentalist catholics to start a palace coup. Well, in any case, much could be said and documented, also on the modern way inquisition – I found an article recently, and of course did not store it, post it …

With all this, I find another thing pretty interesting point: I received a hint on a BBC cast, specifically on China, even promising the unveiling of the Secrets of China. A young presenter. Indeed, she reveals some interesting stuff, gives some insight into real life of some people. I think she is much too positive in some way: on young people, the gambling addiction etc, youth issues – too positive and somewhat naïve. So I checked up on the presenter as I found it interesting to see such a young presenter being so …, well, in some instances ‘critical (which can be translated into conservative) about how young people live today’, the life of her own generation. The result – if this is her: she walked some … let’s say: ‘strange paths’, and if she would not have been as lucky as she has been, she would be at this stage in prison, undergo a drug detox treatment or already at the stage of addiction therapy – or worse: without it; in some way she is still behaving in the same way though she has now other ways with exactly the reputation these starlet producers provide and is now starting a career as ‘everything’: documentaries, fashion, activism …, as a veil and wrap of nothing else than the old habits, now ‘authorised’ by the Holy grail of BBC, fashion magazines and others ….

There is no reason to contest what is stated; and there are also some moments where one mentions the genuine approach and ‘empathy’ of the documentarist. The actually shocking about this is that it is not really about China: it is a ‘slow motion picture’ of many developments [including cosmetic surgeries, gaming and computer addiction, drugs, a lost youth, the pressure from careerism and (threat of) unemployment] which in western societies are now regretted, and faced with helpless despair, currently in part taken over in China, where inequality can easier be seen as ‘we’, the folks in the wild west are usually somewhat used to it, intoxicated by the Hello-press or to overlook it or are not able to see it easily as they happen in secret corners or where we cannot see them due to ‘commercial censorship’. We are somewhat used to it to such an extent that we often do not even hesitate when reading the paper like the Corriere della Sera: The edition of September 3rd showed on page 6 an article on Le tragedie in uno scatto, horrible photos, including the famous from the Vietnam war, showing the naked child, screaming and running away from the US-Napalm-bomb source of its pain and on page 7 we see an ad: Emporio Armani. – Yes, if reading the name it may sound a bit like the story about an armed empire, the arms being those of designer and finance capitalism – and we know that ‘this economy kills’ as Francis said. Sure, if you ‘join the wrong forces’ and are on the losers end, they will still gain, literally make profit after sending you to jail – saying all this in connection with a critique of the China-series is just saying this and has nothing to do with China, let alone the defence of any political past or presence. Still, it is worthwhile to read the ‘official critique‘ of the series … – there is surely some good reason for stating that


‘Professional media practice,’ the Xinhua commentary reads, ‘should be to interview sociologists… and education experts to give authoritative explanations; but the BBC has not done this.’ Instead, they say the programme ‘selectively uses non-mainstream phenomena to give subjective judgements the impression of objectivity.’

What we can learn from the series, though not necessarily outspoken, is that there is a China that is now kept out of the roundelay of the centre states in different ways. Andre Gunder Frank’s thesis, suggesting the Development of Underdevelopment has surely not completely lost its value also for analysing today’s (under)developments. And surely the series could have shown (it is stated in parenthesis) that it is exactly this fact leading to many of the problems: an over-stressed youth extreme inequality and so on: the attempt to build another armed empire or even to take over the existing one even if the arms are not the traditional ones but now those of brands and designs. But when it comes to talking about empires, it is still too often forgotten that the Most Violent Nation is indeed to be found in another corner of the world – and the violence there is really penetrating the entire society, coined by a high degree of feeling supremacy as ultimate characteristic of the state and the nation. This surely is somewhat different to what we read in the Diplomatic Words of Wisdom.

It may be far fetched, but interestingly: the UN-resolution on Debt Restructuring (I did not find it, only reports on it) had been adopted by a majority but against countries where the most important forces are referring to be servants of religious faith, in particular USNA and FRG. And it is a country where Christianity plays a major role, also in the reference of the relevant power holder (Hungary), now beginning to move military forces to the border to ‘solve’ the problem of migration. And …, well, it was also the Christians who did not allow critiques in West Germany of the 1970s entering state services, Christians who are again attempting to close Corvinus university in Budapest (or at least the relevant part of critical work there) while they are putting up barbed wire and engaging the army against migrants … and who make (with reference to god and the good will and hope) empty promises which let people end up on the street…

On change — and stability

i had been told the following:

Happy to have a daughter ….- you get a son in law – with it a house; so different to the olden times where you had been so happy to have a son, and with it a breadwinner….

Wondering myself if this fundamental change or change of labels… – and if this is just about China …?

My Story – A study of Chinese cultural identity in Australia

The book

My Story – A study of Chinese cultural identity in Australia


edited by Fan Hong and Liang Fen had been launched during an international event in Perth, Australia. The book had been published as volume 5 of the series Asia Studies – Within and Without – a book series edited by that is kindly supported also by The Magazine Rozenberg Quarterly.

The blurb of the book states

This research project is a part of the Cultural Identity Research led by the Confucius Institute at the University of Western Australia which focuses on the Chinese who have migrated to Australia since China opened up to the world in the 1980s. In this book we will tell the stories of these ordinary Chinese, their happiness and sorrows, inspirations and difficulties,, and through recorded oral histories we will analyse their cultural identity, and their experience of integration with, and contribution to, this vast far away land. Most of our interviewees, even if they have been living in Australia for many years, struggle to convey their cultural identity. This project is a precursor to further research on this fascinating universal issue for immigrants.

Actually it links into some ongoing research that investigates and discusses the processes of identity building amongst Chinese migrants in Australia, Ireland, Italy and South Africa. Part of the research is including the development of a social quality perspective in this framework.

Asia Global – A New Project

Being part of the Rozenberg Quarterly Advisory Board and, with Hong Fan and Daniele Massaccesi, the Asia Global Team, I guess that it is appropriate to announce this new section by reproducing here the “what it is about”.

This section is the result of a cooperation between the Confucius Institute at the University of Western Australia, Claremont; EHV Academicpress, Bremen, Germany, publisher of the Asia Studies – Within and Without series; and Rozenberg Quarterly.
The articles in this section aim to promote the knowledge gathered in Asia Studies, as well as the relations between Asia and other regions of the world, and give impulses in order to advance research in this field. This also means pushing boundaries forward and push them beyond the often prejudiced views from within and without.