In the wake of a devastating attack on the Pentagon, ruins of the Great Wall are disinterred throughout the United States. Visiting restored sections of the Wall throughout the United States, a Chinese tourist meditates on the civilizational significance of this monument of engineering and human toil. Originally published in 2003, contemporary readers may find “The Great Wall” to be an eerily prophetic satire of contemporary American politics, where such a project is considered by some to be a national necessity, and by others to be economically unfeasible. Han Song’s story ties the discourse of the “end of history” into a Gordian knot, confounding questions of the origins of human civilization—Eastern and Western—and who its modern-day stewards are.
My first impression of the Great Wall at Washington, DC, is that it is little more than a stubby embankment of ochre earth, resembling the adobe walls of pigpens in Chinese villages.
Traveling back home, I have seen plenty of sections of the Great Wall like this. Segment upon segment, they lay silent and motionless on the frontier like the spinal column of a wild animal that has weathered eons of erosion and has invariably lost the power and grandeur of its time.Read More… about The Great Wall