Burma has made it on the news agenda again.
No, it is not about the call by Human Rights Watch for the EU to support an inquiry into war crimes in Burma, nor the complaint of a Burmese pro-democracy party about intimidation by security authorities, and don’t even think about the Burmese refugee girls being almost gang-raped in India.
A journalist has told me recently in an interview (in one of the rare occasions where the journalist is the one being interviewed) that stories are either interesting or important, and that it is the journalists’ job to make important stories interesting.
So, let’s have a look then at what is interesting and maybe even considered important about Burma these days.
The Jungle Book – white man meets wild men
Albeit the local scribbler’s quill did not yet fully penetrate to Burma’s Heart of Darkness, envisioning the scary Other beyond the borders of the known, he still obtains suchlike topics from international news agencies.
News reporting, not surprisingly, follows the same routes as other goods and contributes to a global nervous system where under a nifty network of peer-to-peer connections freshly facilitated by the Internet you still find an iron layer of colonial anatomy.
It would be interesting indeed to know if foreign correspondents tend to be based in former nodes of colonial control, while news agencies – their provenience has already been established on scientific grounds – supply the “First World” with affirmative images of the wilderness. Making a case for the Gatekeeper theory.
Searching the Web for news in Czech language I found two topics:
First, the new tiger preserve in Burma and, second, and a subject rehashed, the capturing of a white elephant for the dictators, which, tellingly, is only white in the eyes of those who believe in its “supernatural subtext” – if you forgive me this beautiful, yet disharmonious linguistic fusion.
In front of my mind’s eye I see Shere Khan, the tiger (with a disneyfied grin), and the elephant king Hathi majestically passing the scenery of our imagination. But something, I feel, is missing in these intimate jungle books of Burma. Man is not searching the desert, no, he seeks to encounter his inferior self, the evidence of one’s own surmounted primitive state and the key to cure from the burdens of civilization, of education, of self-control, of disunity with nature and community, the loss of prehistoric astral powers and mother nature’s sap.
Where is Bandar-log, the horde of monkeys?
I found them. Not in Burma, though, but in Avatar. It is not the whirling troupe of harlequins that we know from animated cartoons. It is in first place American natives on wild horses, America’s repressed childhood. And then it is the Western modernized idea of a native who is fully compatible with our virtual ports of culture, plug-and-play certified, a new blue product line, featuring a smooth surface and shapes that please the eye. Gummy Viagra on two legs.
You might as well call them blue monkeys. I think they are not actually blue except in our vision. They are pristine, untainted by civilization. They symbolize the blessing of our millennium: The umbilical cord is cut, but can be replugged when ever you need to immerse yourself into the native self. What we haven’t managed to achieve in real life, in thought or in fiction, you can now emulate in virtual nature: unio mystica on demand.
And what about Burma?
So can you see blue monkeys in Burma, the country of Buddha’s enlightenment?
It certainly depends. If you load the right software, you will see them.