井底之蛙

6/18/2008

Celebrity endorsements

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:10 am

For those of you who missed it, Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama. I’m not sure how much this matters. Very few Gore supporters were going to vote for McCain. Still, Americans tend to take these celebrity endorsements pretty seriously, or at least campaigns like to talk about them. Chinese emperors were also fond of celebrity endorsements, specifically from recluses. These were not quite celebrities in the modern sense as they would have avoided being on TV like the plague, but they were highly regarded. The most famous category of recluses were those who moved into the mountains or swamps to avoid polluting themselves with corrupt politics. Needless to say these were exactly the types emperors wanted to win the endorsement of. Fan Ye (398-446) wrote about this.1

The [Book of] Changes proclaims “Great indeed is the significance of the timeliness of (the hexagram) Dun (Withdrawal).” It also says (in the hexagram Gu [Bane]), “He does not serve a king or lord; he elevates in priority his [own] affairs.” For this reason, although Yao was praised as “modeling Heaven,” he could not humble the lofty integrity of [Xu You from] north of the Ying (who lived unencumbered in the mountains). And while King Wu was “utterly praiseworthy,” still the purity of the [Lords of] Guzhu forever remains intact (referring to Bo Yi and Shu Qi, who starved to death in the mountains rather than compromise their principles).

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  1. from Mair, Victor H., Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, and Paul Rakita Goldin. Hawaii Reader In Traditional Chinese Culture. University of Hawaii Press, 2004. []

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