X Y N C H R O N I C I T Y

The Snake Beneath the Mountain

It's been some time since I was actively learning Chinese, but I will say this: although he blatantly misunderstood the mechanism behind economic mobility, Past Me certainly could intuit inertia. Learning Chinese "because it was hard" and "because it's important" may have been the single saving grace of my university experience, in that it remains today as a footstool to understanding some of the more arcane hints at the world's acceleration into its terminal intelligence.

Along with my general interest in China came a fascination with the concept of a hidden Internet, the massive inaccessible cyber-realm behind the Great Firewall that shapes the perceptions and lives of mil-- - sorry, billions of Chinese speakers. Alien enough to the English-speaking world that we don't even have a well-populated library of stereotypes to describe life and culture. (For a crash course, tune in. This documentary/retroactive manifesto/conspiracy theory is what impelled me to a far-more-visceral comprehension of the Dragon that wakes across the Pacific.) Curious, I took to searching for some of my interests (with search terms translated roughly) and poking around. The search didn't last very long, as my command of the old language was yet weak, but I did manage to find something well worth remarking on: an immense Lovecraftian story written entirely in Chinese. It had been posted in a small community, a sub-forum of a larger board not even dedicated to HPL. A diamond in the rough if ever there'd been. The piece in question boasted the highest reviews on the site, which was no small praise, given the community's obsession with linguistic craftsmanship.

Itching for a new project as always, I contacted the author and went about sketching a translation. Although the original document spanned a mere 70 pages, Chinese is no English - unlike our feeble graphophonemic writing system, the former's denser ideographs can pack far more meaning into far fewer lines. (This has its own drawbacks, too, but it wreaked havoc on me for the purposes of work-gauging. Should have remembered Hofstadter's Law....) Dimly cognizant of the beast's hidden immensity, I began the task, character by character... and eventually, despite the author's words of encouragement at the first signs of my flagging motivation, left their final cheerful email unanswered. I had moved on, defeated.

Or so it would seem. But today, I announce my intent not only to finish this project, but to reach further out into the void, and pull back ever greater gossamers from behind the occulted tapestry. (God knows I need the Chinese practice.) Insofar as the English-speaking web is concerned, there are better minds than I handling the content filtration, but I may yet hold a monopoly over the unique intersection of cosmic horror and the East. Or at least, a key to the intersection's gate.

In any case, this public announcement ought to serve as sufficient compulsion. Check back in on this channel for serial updates, potentially story excerpts. (Maybe a serial publication. Now there's an idea....)