“Mongols do not talk of a single Gobi [Desert] but of many gobis. They list 33 different gobis, according to soil composition and colour.” (Claire Sermier’s Mongolia: Empire of the Steppes, 2002: 71)
This is a video from Russia Today of the dust storms from some months ago. I am currently writing a piece on sand, its imaginations, its movement and human’s historical relationship to it. The video is accompanied by an article with some interesting quotes on the experiences of Chinese internet users:
Chinese internet users were quick to label the weather phenomenon ‘Sand-ageddon,’ comparing it to the end of the world…. It’s very dirty, I feel like it is the end of the world”, “it feels like we are living in a desert. I wonder how we can survive such bad weather.”
Some thoughts on China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project and the representation of sand, camels and people
By Marijn Nieuwenhuis
Remember Michael Ende’s 1983 The Neverending Story? In the book (and the film adaptation that followed), “the land of Fantasia is destroyed, with only a single grain of sand remaining. But that single grain enables the rebirth of the world.” (Welland, Sand: The Never-ending Story, 2009).
Not having read the book, I remembered watching the film after reading about China’s plans to pump USDD 900 billion in its new “Silk Road” development project. The initiative officially follows a two-track logic consisting of a so-called “Silk Road Economic Belt” and a “Maritime Silk Road Belt” forming what has popularly been dubbed as a “One Belt, One Road” project. The idea behind the revival is the revitalising of the trade route between Western Europe to East Asia along the illustrious path once taken by Marco Polo.
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Remember Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story?
“In the Neverending story, the fantasy novel by Michael Ende, translated from the original German in 1983 and adopted into several films, the land of Fantasia is destroyed, with only a single grain of sand remaining. But that single grain enables the rebirth of the world” (Welland, Sand: The Never-ending Story, 2009).
Bastian: Why is it so dark?
Empress Moonchild: In the beginning it is always dark.
Bastian: What is that?
Empress Moonchild: One grain of sand. It is all that remains of my vast empire.
Bastian: Fantasia has totally disappeared?
Empress Moonchild: Yes.
Bastian: Then everything has been in vain.
Empress Moonchild: No, it hasn’t. Fantasia can arise in you . In your dreams and wishes Bastian.
Empress Moonchild: Open your hand.
Empress Moonchild: What are you going to wish for ?
Bastian: I don’t know.
Empress Moonchild: Then there will be no Fantasia any more.
Bastian: How many wishes do I get?
Empress Moonchild: As many as you want. And the more wishes you make, the more magnificent Fantasia will become.
Empress Moonchild: Try it.
Bastian: Then my first wish is…
Bastian: Falkor, it’s even more beautiful than I thought.
Falkor: Like it?
Bastian: Falkor, it’s wonderful! Falkor, it’s like the nothing never was.
Bastian: Atreyu! Artax!
Falkor: What would you like to wish for next?