Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Talking to Su Beng
For me there have always these little milestones, these breakthroughs that I remember having experienced along the way in my interviews and interactions with Su Beng. It has been nearly five years now since I began this project! In the beginning I saw the big picture, I felt the potential of it ALL- and that is what moved me to pursue his story. For me it was a "calling" of sorts.
I remember noticing how the trust that I had built with him over the years was starting to yield results. During my interviews with him, especially in the past two years, new details have resurfaced.
And it may seem strange, that even now, I am still amazed by how our relationship has become so collaborative.
Su Beng has contacted me a few times in the past week- the good old fashioned way- via telephone. He will be sending me more photos and written materials for the biography. He'd like to find someone to translate his book: The Ideology of Democracy（民主主義). So now I'll be on the lookout for a translator.
But what I've always hoped would eventually get translated more completely some day, is Su Beng's Chinese language version of "Taiwan's 400 Year of History", which is over 2000 pages! The only English language version of it in existence, which is out of print, is a mere 150-something pages long.
Today he told me that on June 29th he will be returning to Japan to finally reopen his noodle shop. I'm looking forward to hearing about the grand reopening and have already enlisted a friend in Tokyo to pay the noodle shop a visit and to report back with photos of course.
The top of the wooden case of Su Beng's three volume work depicts the now "legendary", but true account of Jan Huygen van Linschoten, a Dutch navigator on a Portuguese ship who cried out "Ilha Formosa" ("Beautiful Island") upon seeing Taiwan in the 1500's.