Filling Emptiness: On Reading Peter Hessler

By Lou Hsienhua (Tome Loulin) The title of River Town by Peter Hessler in Chinese translation could very naturally coincide with the nicknames of several cities—in southern China—alongside the Yangtze River such as Wuhan, and Chongqing, to name a few. It can also stir up complicated feelings among the readers familiar with the concept of Shan-shui in China’s cultural imagination. At first glance, it’s relatively easy for the book to be mistaken as a collection of travel writings written by someone native of China. But as we explore further inside the world portrayed by the author, it’s even easier for a reader … Continue reading “Filling Emptiness: On Reading Peter Hessler”

South and Central

“Photography itself is like a partially immortalized and visualized bit of time, which as a collective concept is itself hardly an accurate conceptualization; and if taken in the light of personal significance, it’s also an concept invented for the societal convenience as a whole in the use of reinforcing a socio-historical consciousness to us.”

-By Tome Loulin, “Myself These Years in Retrospect, A Notetaking, 2020.

The Latest

Letter from Wuhan: Life After Twenty, Some Words to Say

If, also, I say I started to care even less about news headlines, outraging geopolitical comments, editorials, apparent misinformation of almost everything crucial for our social stability, a lot of disbelief may come around because, as a man, no one would appear able to resist the attraction of politics, perhaps the source of all powers. But, indeed, seeing news outlets propagating that some country or group of people exposes a serious threat to the security of this and that isn’t really helpful to anyone sitting before that screen.

Traveling to Faraway Land, then, Farewell to It

Leafing through the pages of certain geography magazines full of picturesque attractions, I saw, in pictures, Tianshan mountain, Qilian mountains, and the Taklamakan Desert in the northwestern part of China.

Linguistic Imaginations

Summer days on which my dream continues

Extraordinary, Critical Seeings

There are many different ways of seeing and how others see us, as Lou Hsienhua puts it, impacts the way we deal with the world as we try hard to make sure there is no distorted image about us drawn by others. When coming to the problem of self-imagining, the way we see ourselves, Hsienhua thinks, should never be dictated by anyone else but us. Resistant youths nowadays who try to claim their independence may declare that they are not what you see, meaning what you see about them is inaccurate, distorted, and, most importantly, subjective. Seeing, overall, is a complicated matter.

Interpreting Life

Reading vivid recollections by Tome Lou Hsienhua whose artistic sensibility, as he puts it, shaped his relationship with those tolerant, supportive of what he imagines his specific cultural identity is.


走过回忆的街道 :南湖,武汉






More by Tome Loulin

This Tranquility, Long Missed

With years passing unnoticed, remembering what made us today becomes a necessity. As this unprecedented change that impacts the way we live ripples across almost every corner of the world, to live has become, it occurred, a specific way of realizing and remembering what we cannot live without.

Writing As Remembering

It is with the help of written language that our thoughts and ideas could be more widely disseminated, known, understood, critically examined or misinterpreted in the public so we won’t easily surrender our past to time.

Walking Along the Way Our Sun Goes

The sparrows that sometimes came to stay before my window were singing. Outside of the window, the trees whose names I was unable to utter were shining under the sun.

Radical Authenticity: Looking at Abdellatif Kechiche’s Films

This authentic way of telling and showing something that is too hard to be told and presented properly brought a sharper contrast between the romantic imagination and brutal everydayness in actuality, as the story presented by the film is already too tough to experience, let alone review it.

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