Chan Joon Yee’s Greatest Influencer
When I was in primary school, I enjoyed reading Hugh Lofting’s Dr Dolittle series. Those were stories about a vet who could talk to the animals. I started on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series in P6 and lower secondary. I was intrigued by Holmes’ powers of deduction and his ability to spot the significance of seemingly trivial things which others have missed. I also read Isaac Asimov avidly – not just his science fiction but his non-fiction works as well. I greatly admired Asimov’s ability to write hard science for the layman.
But of course, all that had little influence on my first novel Worlds Apart and my second novel Like a Dewdrop. You can call them “alternative romance” if you like – hardly the kind of stuff you find in the cold and analytical world of Asimov and Sherlock Holmes. Something was missing in that world. I found it in the realm of classics by Charles Dickens, DH Lawrence, Jane Austen and Emily Bronte as I matured emotionally. I also started finding some Chinese pop songs very meaningful. Luo Da You, a Taiwanese doctor who gave up medicine to pursue a career in music instantly inspired me.
What really gripped me were his attitude towards society and relationships. He refused to take a lazy and simplistic view of the progress around him. He rejected the rosy, dreamy kind of romance, fired by promises that no mortal can possibly keep. He dared to be different and his works turned out so beautifully unique in a world of shallow pop music that catered to an unthinking public. The depth and originality of Luo Da You’s songs resonated with my personality. I admire his talent. I admire his courage to give up a safe career and venture into the possible dead end in an artistic channel. As an adventurer, I would only dare to climb mountains. Give up something that pays the rent for the Arts? I wouldn’t dare.
In over 30 years, Luo Da You had influenced dozens of musicians. The fact that many Chinese songs today are a lot more meaningful and thought-provoking than those from my parents’ generation is testimony to the amazing power and influence of Luo’s compositions on later musicians.
The young Zhang Ai Jia came across as a bimbo on screen. I had trouble figuring out how doctor/songwriter Luo Da You could have been so madly in love with her. I figured that romance is always foolish and impulsive. When you mix intelligence with romance, you have a recipe for disaster. But in her later years, Zhang’s talents really showed, proving that my first impressions were wrong. She is actually a woman of substance and in the above video, you can see her sharing words of great wisdom. “我就是我，你就是你。我们不应该把我们所有的幸福都依赖在对方给你什么.”
So who influences our youths these days? One thing’s for sure, they are nothing like Luo Da You or Zhang Ai Jia.
Nobody can deny that money is important, but beyond what is needed to keep us happy, well-fed and comfortable, it’s foolish to worship idols for their extreme extravagance and hedonism. Think about it and you won’t be surprised why our soulless society is the way it is today.