In my previous post, I argued that persimmons are a lousy way to decide who to vote for. From the depths of my memory, another reference to persimmons bubbled up. This is from Lu Hsun’s classic work, “The True Story of Ah Q.” I found the Chinese text on the internet; the English version is from the translation by Yang and Yang.
These last few days the only one to go to town was the Imitation Foreign Devil. The successful county candidate in the Chao family had thought of using the deposited cases as a pretext to call on the successful provincial candidate, but the danger that he might have his pigtail cut off had made him defer his visit. He had written an extremely formal letter, and asked the Imitation Foreign Devil to take it to town; he had also asked the latter to introduce him to the Liberty Party. When the Imitation Foreign Devil came back, he asked the successful county candidate for four dollars, after which the successful county candidate wore a silver peach on his chest. All the Weichuang villagers were overawed, and said that this was the badge of the Persimmon Oil Party equivalent to the rank of Han-Lin. As a result, Mr. Chao’s prestige suddenly increased, far more so than when his son first passed the official examination; consequently he started looking down on everyone else, and, when he saw Ah Q, tended to ignore him.
The translator explains in a footnote: The Liberty Party was called the Tzu Yu Tang. The villagers, not understanding the word Liberty, turned Tzu Yu into Shih Yu, which means persimmon oil.
The simple villagers in Weichuang could not understand an important idea and trivialized it as persimmons. The voters of Taiwan seem to think that something as trivial as the price of persimmons is extremely important.