Politics

Truth, Goodness and Beauty…and What Really Happened When The Cure Sang About Tiananmen

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I need to make new memories

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary, riffing from a bootlegged tape my wife has somewhere in storage of a concert The Cure gave 20 years ago in which lead singer Robert Smith improvised a bunch of weird, emotional lyrics during the song "A Forest," culminating with the repeated line "We will never forget!" Which is a good enough story, except for how the song wasn't "A Forest," and Smith never said "We will never forget," and in fact ended on the more existentially ambiguous "This means nothing! Means nothing! There's nothing left but faith."

Perhaps demonstrating what Michael C. Moynihan noted earlier this evening about the Internet enabling ever-faster corrections of gross factual errors, my dear friends in Cure-freak nation have not only fact-checked my ass, they've provided a handy link that gives us the correct concert date (June 4, the actual day of the massacre), city (Rome), and even the full text of the still-haunting ad lib. Give 'er a read, and I swear some day I'll find the cassette and convert it into an audio file.

On a distantly related note, for those interested in totalitarianism and shoddy memory, I can heartily recommend Timothy Garton Ash's great book, The File.

Apologies for the error, and thanks to Emily Schuna for pointing it out.

UPDATE: Well, that was quick. Here's the audio link. He does say "And don't forget!" at the end, turns out.

NEXT: The Iranian Revolution Will Be Tweeted

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  1. It has been posted already. I don't care for this type of music at all, but this is a real, raw, beautiful protest.

    Pt 1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Noedj2ALV_s&feature=related

    Pt 2

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_kWY9NWGX0&feature=related

  2. Don't feel too bad about the false memories. I distinctly remember chilling out to a very mellow groove during a Helmet concert at a club after taking two hits of ecstasy. I remember the singer giving me a shout out.

    After the concert I asked my friend if he remembered the shout out to me. His memory was different. "I think he was pissed that you were smiling the entire time. He called you a 'fucking asshole', or he called Down Town Julie Brown a fucking asshole, or both of you. Probably both of you."

    Neither of us were in condition to vouch for anything.

  3. OMG dudes the Cure totally ROCKS!

    Jenny
    http://www.privacy-web.tk

  4. Memento rocked. I loved that movie almost as much as I hate the anonymity bot!

  5. I've had to be vary careful of the stories I share in my grad class. If I say anything remotely incorrect - dates, authors, universities involved, etc. - I'll get an email from a student with ten links to the real story.

  6. the Internet enabling ever-faster corrections of gross factual errors

    But the errors will never disappear in their original forms, and the correctors will never, ever be able to keep pace with the flood of misinformation (and disinformation). It will always be thus, as every Tom, Dick and Mohammed becomes a "journalist."

  7. Damn that concert must have rocked. Love the Cure.

  8. The real irony here is that the REASON contributors may have the wrong take on the Tianamen Square events.

    According to Justin Raimondo at http://www.antiwar.com, the protestors were actually REACTIONARY elements who were opposed to the Chinese government's market reforms.

    Interesting take. Can a debate be arranged?

  9. I don't know that a debate would do much good since even the people who were on the square had a view only of what was happening next to them, not what was going on at Zhong Nan Hai, for example. I have friends who were there and have read many of the accounts, and it is still not clear to me. Generally speaking, many of the Beijing students who were in at the start had left the square satisfied they had made their point. By the time of the shootings the participants were a mix of students and factions many from outside Beijing who were battling each other for control of the mob. Some of these leaders pictured themselves as defenders of liberty and others as replacements for Mao. Add to this the poorly trained countryside soldiers who started firing when confronted with isolated violent responses, and the disaster was complete.

  10. According to Justin Raimondo at http://www.antiwar.com, the protestors were actually REACTIONARY elements who were opposed to the Chinese government's market reforms.

    As a student movement, I have no doubt that a huge number of them were anti-market communists pissed that China was softening ever so slightly. I've never run across ANY student movement that wasn't fueled by old fashioned statist tendencies. Even our own sixties student movement was largely about socialism.

    But that said, the movements usually start out someone libertarian, before the statists smell protest in the winds and rushes to take it over. Our sixties movement started out as anti-war, but the socialists took it over. And China's student movement started out wanting freedom, but got taken over by anti-reformers.

  11. Brandybuck,

    That's an interesting pair of shades you are wearing.

    You might start your exploration of the topic in Hungary (say 1956 or so).

  12. Is there a Reason forum? I don't see one. I was looking for some book recommendations. I gave my dad a sub to Reason last year for Father's day and he renewed it himself, but he's still something of a traditional R. He listens to Rush Limbaugh still (although doesn't subscribe to Rush's monthly thankfully).

    Anyway, I'm drawing a blank here.

  13. Is there a Reason forum?

    You're there, homeslice, or as close as it gets. Anyway, welcome. Decoder rings are in a bowl by the door. Don't forget to pick up your complimentary "Shut the fuck up, LoneWacko" t-shirt before you leave (or before he shows up, whichever comes first).

  14. Is there a Reason forum? I don't see one.

    Look at your computer screen. Oh wait, you are.

    And shut the fuck up, Xeones. Everyone knows that the decoder rings are a Kochtopus plot to mark us for future liquidation.

  15. Neu Mejican is with blank lines between every sentence like Lonewacko is with CapitalsInsteadOfSpaces. Typesetting gimmicks are a sure sign that the content of your posts isn't anything special.

  16. Every government is totalitarian in its own way.

    Some just hide it better than others, compelling citizens to be the enforcers.

  17. The argument over why people were there or what they were protesting for is kind of secondary to the government slaughtering unarmed people. Kind of like arguing if someone was murdered for saying I like pie or I like cake. The problem doesn't lie with the victims it lies with the criminals.

    That isn't to say there is something to be gained from the who, what, and why of the situation. Just that recognizing the event for its own sake is more important in this case.

  18. I smuggled three rolls of negatives of Tian An Men out of the country in 1990, photos taken by a friend who visited the square from the start. The last photos before the crackdown show some protesters attacking armored cars and some violence by both sides. None of my sources there have made any mention of any anti Deng Xiaoping reform activities. At the end it seems it was just a lot of kids fighting each other for control of the movement. There were some reports I can't confirm about protesters getting violent and vandalizing at the gates of Zhong Nan Hai a few blocks west of the square on Chang An.

  19. Forgot to mention there were some protests against Deng Xiaoping as head of government. Students broke little bottles, a play on Deng's first name which can mean "little bottles" in different characters. As I recall these displays were directed more against Deng than his economic reforms. I do recall seeing video of student "leaders" meeting with government officials in the Great Hall. In my opinion the protesters were using the tactic of disrespect to show they were in charge, but I think they overplayed their hand.

  20. Don't feel too bad about the false memories. I distinctly remember chilling out to a very mellow groove during a Helmet concert at a club after taking two hits of ecstasy. I remember the singer giving me a shout out.

    After the concert I asked my friend if he remembered the shout out to me. His memory was different. "I think he was pissed that you were smiling the entire time. He called you a 'fucking asshole', or he called Down Town Julie Brown a fucking asshole, or both of you. Probably both of you."

    Neither of us were in condition to vouch for anything.

    I do vaguely remember Page making a reference to John Anderson's 1980 presidential campaign when Helmet opened for Faith No More in D.C. in the early '90s (I assume '92, since it was election-related).

  21. Tulpa,

    A more reliable sign that that the content of your posts isn't anything special is...the content of your (Tulpa's) posts.

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  24. I think they overplayed their hand.

  25. I remember when the massacre happened. Such a sad day for all of humanity.

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