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Mead in China

The 2011 Mead world tour continues; in the last couple of months I’ve visited the UK, Russia, Israel and the West Bank.  Today I’m leaving for China, where I’ll be meeting with academics, participating in seminars and giving lectures on US foreign policy in cities ranging from Shenyang and Anshan in the north to Guangzhou and Chongqing farther south.  I try to get to China every couple of years or so; there is really no other way to get a sense of the most dramatic economic surge in the known history of the world.

This is going to affect posting; between the time difference and a tight schedule in China keeping up the blog is going to challenge the abilities of Team Via Meadia.  As readers can see by checking the new masthead, it takes a village to maintain a blog.  During the next couple of weeks our capacities will be stretched to the limit as we work to research and prep posts while I am busy in China.  This will by my longest trip abroad since we added short posts and daily posts to the blog last July; thanks to readers for bearing with the team as we wrestle with the challenges of putting out a regular blog in changing circumstances.

Via Meadia is still an experiment; perhaps it will always be one.  Readers make daily decisions whether or not to check in; periodically I have to sit back and think about whether this format still works for me.  So far, it seems to be working pretty well.  Traffic continues to climb, and I continue to be energized rather than crushed by the need to write every day.  How all that meshes with a trip to China remains to be seen.  I apologize in advance if we aren’t able to maintain a regular schedule of interesting posts.

One thing I’m looking forward to on this trip: observing the progress of China’s universities.  The transformation of China’s academic institutions and the increasing sophistication and free spirit of both teachers and students is genuinely awe inspiring.  With so many Chinese studying overseas, and more and more international students studying in China, the level of knowledge of the external world and the interest in events beyond China’s frontiers is higher than ever.  Each time I come to China the students are better read, more widely informed — and still on the whole more hardworking and determined than their peers in most of the rest of the world.  The last time I was in Shanghai, a student startled me with a very thoughtful question based on her extensive and thorough reading of St. Augustine’s City of God; I can’t wait to see what they are reading now.

I expect to get a lot of questions, and not a few comments, on topics like the Senate’s misguided and futile Chinese currency bill; there will also be lots of discussion about America’s economic difficulties and political gridlock.  These kind of exchanges with students, journalists and faculty give me at least some sense of how Chinese public opinion is responding to world trends.  It’s interesting to hear how different generations of Chinese students think about the political reform agenda their own country faces, and to follow the changing trends in how they evaluate their own government.

I’ll be back shortly before the end of the month, in time for a conference on Hannah Arendt and Family Weekend at Bard, and look forward to a relatively quiet final half of the semester.  In the meantime, I’ll do my best with the help of the team to continue to provide useful commentary on what look to me to be the most important developments remaking our world.

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  • WigWag

    Suggestion: Think about guest bloggers. Earlier on in the life of your blog I remember that you had Damir Marusic write some posts while you were away; he did a great job. Why not try it again? Perhaps you have a particularly talented graduate student or an unusually mature undergraduate student who could write some posts in your absence. Another idea; perhaps some of the very engaging young people who wrote the little noticed but very provocative section of the “American Interest” site entitled “Conflicts in the Corners” could write a post or two.

    Even better, surely there are people that you respect who hold different views than you do on the “blue state model,” the environmental movement or the state of the Middle East. Why not invite some of them to write posts critiquing your views while you are away?

    One last idea; in your absence, why not invite some guest posters to write about subjects that you rarely get to. Perhaps an opera critic could write a post. Perhaps you could get the President of Bard to write a post or two about classical music. Maybe it’s ridiculous, but you might be able to find a guest poster who had something interesting to say about the world of professional sports. Even better, how about some book reviews written by members of Team Meadia? Last month you had Tommy Meyerson write a review of “American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America.” You could try more of that. You might even try some open threads.

    I know that free advice is usually worth what you pay for it, but I hope that these suggestions will be seen as what they are; suggestions about how to make an already entertaining blog even more entertaining.

    Safe travels.

  • MW from Florida

    Don’t give up on your blog! It is excellent. I look forward to reading your insightful comments every day.

  • Robert Hagedorn

    Here’s another thoughtful question. Saint Augustine couldn’t do it, but can someone else explain what kind of fruit Adam and Eve ate in the story? After 6000+ years I think we are all due an intelligent explanation. No guesses, opinions, or beliefs, please. Just the facts that we know from the story. But first, do an Internet search: First Scandal.

  • Luke Lea

    @WigWag – Best possibility of all: let WigWag himself be the guest host. I wouldn’t mind this option myself, except WigWag already does a perfectly good job of getting his views across in his comments. He is a talented writer, that is for sure, turns out polished, professional quality prose on a regular basis (at least on domestic affairs 😉 ) and he deserves a perch.

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