By some lights, this episode is what Blood on Gold Mountain is all about. The Massacre.
This episode has been very difficult in every way. How do you make something good or beautiful out of a mass murder? How do you take the experience of being a perpetual foreigner, persecuted and exploited, mocked and belittled, and turn it into something redemptive?
This episode has taught me the answer: You don’t. You just do what you have to do.
This episode is about love, and loss. It’s about the people who have everything torn away by the casual cruelty of others, the people who step outside their own front door and find themselves at the end of a noose. Certainly, it’s about the victims of the 1871 massacre, but the fate of these characters is not unique. It’s about everyone who has suffered in the same or similar situations, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Who knows which of us will join that company? This episode is an ode to those who do, and to those they leave behind. It is an act of grieving, and of validation, through which we acknowledge that though their fate is hideous, these people are fundamentally no different from you or I.
It is also an act of sacrifice. I have chosen to put a significant amount of life energy, which we can call Qi, and spirit, which we can call Shen into this story. It has also cost me in fundamental essence, Jing, which I would have preferred to keep, and which cannot be recovered once lost. We must give of ourselves to those who came before us, because we are one with them. They and We belong to each other.
Our bond goes far beyond the scope of mere genetic kinship. We and They are different cells in the same creature, different nodes in a vast, four-or-more-dimensional network of interconnected consciousness. Our ways, which we take for granted, they established and invented. Our hopes and dreams would not be possible without their hopes and dreams, which were sometimes fulfilled, and sometimes perished with them in dust and despair. When Isaac Newton said he stood on the shoulders of giants, he was referring to a concrete (if technically metaphysical) reality, which is the underpinning principle of what the Gwailo call Ancestor Worship.
I love these characters. They are strangely real in their fictionalized incarnation, and I hope that those of you who have stuck with this story to the end feel the same way. They are historical figures, resurrected from the traces they left behind, but they are also people I know and love; spirits that used me as a stepping stone on their way to their new homes in this story. Some of them used some of you as stepping stones before they reached me.
The story is told, and will be told again and again. The energy, which has been pressurized under the weight of broadly enforced oblivion for 150 years has been released, at least in part. This is how we balance the scales that abide in our justice-loving hearts despite the injustice of reality. This is how we reckon the cost of human evil. By giving of ourselves, whatever it takes. With love.
Thank you all for being a part of this process. I hope it has done something for you, whatever that something may be. We have all given a long-awaited gift to these spirits, and they will not forget us. In our time of need, in our darkest hour, they will be there to help us, to hold us, and to guide us either back to safety, or onward to the other side.
They will be there for you. I have been with them, spoken to them, given to them what I had to give. You have given them your attention, your sympathy, and, hopefully, your love. They are with you now, waiting in the darkness, and they will be there for you when you call.
If you have questions, thoughts, your own family stories, or historical context to share, please send us a message at @bloodongoldmountain on Facebook or Instagram.
Blood on Gold Mountain is brought to you by The Holmes Performing Arts Fund of The Claremont Colleges, The Pacific Basin Institute of Pomona College, The Office of Public Events and Community Programs at Scripps College, The Scripps College Music Department, The Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department at The New England Conservatory, and our Patreon patrons.
Blood on Gold Mountain is written and produced by Yan-Jie Micah Huang, narrated by Hao Huang, introduced by Emma Gies, and features music composed by Micah Huang and performed by Micah Huang and Emma Gies. A special thanks to Hao Huang and Rachel Huang for their musical contributions, Kusuma Tri Saputro for the amazing artwork, Sheila Kolesaire for her critical PR guidance, Rachel Huang for her editing prowess, and Evo Terra from Simpler Media Productions for his immense expertise and support.
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