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8/27/2014

Chiang Yee and understanding China

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 8:00 pm Print
I have been reading a bit about Chiang Yee lately. If any of our readers know him it is probably as the author of Chinese Calligraphy: An Introduction to Its Aesthetic and Technique  which he wrote as a professor at Columbia, which was his third or fourth life. He's one of those people where its hard to count how many careers he actually had. He was born in China in 1903 and worked as a soldier, journalist, teacher and government official.  At one point he was probably best known for his Silent Traveler series of books which he wrote/painted after moving to England in 1933. The combination of Chinese-style paintings of English sights fig4_umbrellas along with wry observations of the foibles of the foreigners proved to be very popular and he became one of the best-known interpreters of China in the West.  Yee is credited with the translation 可口可乐    for Coca-Cola (( Zheng Da p.78)) The Silent Traveller books are  written in a style that sometimes seems like interwar faux-oriental stuff and sometimes like a real Chinese literati writing about his travels.  The latter is not surprising, given that his first published work was an account of a trip to Hainan that he published in 东方杂志. Not surprisingly, what I found most interesting was Chiang's problematic relationship with modern Chinese nationalism. On the one hand he had a fairly rosy view of the Old China, and spent much of his life in self-imposed exile from Chinese corruption, working as a guide to China's timeless tradition to foreigners. On the other hand, he was a chemist, regretted his arranged marriage, served in the Northern Expedition, strongly supported China in the War of Resistance and returned to spend the last days of his life in China. He appears quite May-4th-y in Men of the Burma Road, (羅鐵民) a book he published in 1943 to tell the stirring story of the building of the Road by the Chinese masses. He of course did the illustrations, and while they are good. Burma1 Burma2 Burma3 I can't help but think that something more along the line of a woodcut might show the toil and suffering better.img2645vhd The story is quite interesting, since with only a very few changes it could be a Mao-period story about building communes or something. The main figure is Old Lo, a Chinese peasant who is attached to his land. That is in fact the only thing he cares about, like a stereotypical Chinese peasant. He sees no point in education for the likes of himself, and he objected to his son joining the army and to his neighbour’s children getting educated. Like a good Pearl Buck peasant he respects learning but thinks it is not for him. All this changes with the Japanese invasion. At first, he is unwilling to give up his land to allow the Burma Road to be built to help the war effort. His neighbours and family members, who are up to date and members of a rural co-0p urge him to change, but he is immovable as....well, an old Chinese peasant.  Even his best friend's daughter is is giving speeches in public to support the war effort as the society around him is transformed. The Japanese kill most of his family, however. His daughter "did not fall into the tiger's mouth and bring the black spot on our family" because she drowned herself rather than being raped by Japanese soldiers. ((p.40)) All this causes him to give up his land and work heroically to build the Road, which is, of course, made (and illustrated) with traditional Chinese methods. Chinese workers
Using only their hands, they erected 289 bridges, including two big suspension bridges with a load bearing capacity of 10 to 15 tons, and 1,959 culverts. The road-bed is sixteen feet wide, has a maximum grade of eight in a hundred and a minimum curve radius of fifty feet. ((p.85))
As if that's not enough, we also get pictures of Natives in Native dress and a scathing portrait of Mr. Wood and Mr. Coward, an English and American journalist who make up stories about Old Lo that will better fit the ideas westerners already have about China. The pictures of natives seem to be the author buying into stereotypes about minority nationalities, and the journalist parts seem like a sophisticated critique of just those sorts of stereotypes. I doubt there will ever be a critical edition of this book, but if it ever goes up on Google books, you could cover almost everything you need to cover in a Modern China class through this.    

6/4/2014

Orwell and China

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 3:44 pm Print
I have been meaning to blog about Ibisbill's post on George Orwell and China, but as I have not come up with anything to say, I suppose I should just toss the link out. As he points out, Orwell, talked a bit about China. This seems mostly (to me) to have been in reference to India. Orwell spent the war years broadcasting propaganda to India, trying to convince Indians that siding with the Japanese was a bad idea. He eventually became disgusted with what he was doing and quit, His final transmission to India ended with
Perhaps the best answer to the propaganda which the Japanese put out to India and other places is simple the three words LOOK AT CHINA. And since I am now bringing these weekly commentaries to an end I believe those three words LOOK AT CHINA are the best final message I can deliver to India.  (( W.J. West ed. Orwell: The War Commentaries New York: Pantheon, 1985 p.219))
The post also talks a bit about Orwell's enlightened ideas about the colonized as people. It is one of my regrets as a teacher that I can't really ask students to read "Not Counting Niggers" since they always give me a funny look when I suggest they read it. Ibisbill goes on to talk about Chinese translations of 1984, Despite what he says, I struggle to think about how this book might be relevant to China today.    

1/30/2014

Amoxicillin For Sale

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 5:44 am Print

Amoxicillin For Sale, Everybody on this blog is publishing stuff lately. The scholar formerly known as Gina Russo, japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, Canada, mexico, india, now known as Gina Russo Tam, has a nice review up on the archives of Guangzhou, where can i find Amoxicillin online. Amoxicillin results, So if you want to plan a trip, this would be helpful, generic Amoxicillin. No prescription Amoxicillin online, For what it is worth, this is one of the most valuable features of the very valuable Dissertation Reviews, get Amoxicillin. Amoxicillin australia, uk, us, usa, Chinese archives change constantly, and this sort of post is one of the best ways to find out what is up before you go, discount Amoxicillin. Real brand Amoxicillin online, With any luck Gina will post something soon on cool things she found in the archives.

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4/15/2013

Buy Celexa Without Prescription

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 4:31 pm Print

Via Cameron Campbell's Facebook feed I found a link to How Social Darwinism Made Modern China: A thousand years of meritocracy shaped the Middle Kingdom  from The American Conservative Buy Celexa Without Prescription, It is...odd.  The author (Ron Unz) is arguing that the Chinese have been becoming genetically more intelligent due to the long term effects of economic scarcity and competition. Unz claims that his type of thinking will automatically be rejected by the Soviet-style totalitarian system of intellectual conformity that dominates American life, banishing the racialist truths that would be self-evident to anyone but an American, comprar en línea Celexa, comprar Celexa baratos. He's actually right about that. Buy Celexa from canada, Every time I tried to think about his argument the chip that they implanted in my skull freshman year give me a little electrical shock.

A lot of the piece is just looney. We get a suggestion that "the socially conformist tendencies of most Chinese people might be due to the fact that for the past 2,000 years the Chinese government had regularly eliminated its more rebellious subjects." I'm pretty sure that if the Chinese people had been selected for non-rebelliousness from the Han Dynasty on we would be seeing some signs of this by, say 1850, Buy Celexa Without Prescription.

The thing that makes the piece interesting is that it is actually pretty good, Celexa natural. It's a re-written undergraduate paper, After Celexa, but Unz has read a lot of stuff since then. He is essentializing the Chinese, but in a way that shows a some engagement with the literature, Celexa blogs.

The cultural and ideological constraints of Chinese society posed major obstacles to mitigating this never-ending human calamity. Buy Celexa Without Prescription, Although impoverished Europeans of this era, male and female alike, often married late or not at all, early marriage and family were central pillars of Chinese life, with the sage Mencius stating that to have no children was the worst of unfilial acts; indeed, marriage and anticipated children were the mark of adulthood. No prescription Celexa online, Furthermore, only male heirs could continue the family name and ensure that oneself and one’s ancestors would be paid the proper ritual respect, and multiple sons were required to protect against the vagaries of fate, is Celexa safe. .... Purchase Celexa for sale, Nearly all peasant societies sanctify filial loyalty, marriage, family, kjøpe Celexa på nett, köpa Celexa online, and children, Japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, while elevating sons above daughters, but in traditional China these tendencies seem to have been especially strong. [emphasis mine]

See, canada, mexico, india. Chinese peasants are peasant-y, but then so are most peasants, Buy Celexa Without Prescription. China is different than other places, Celexa price, coupon, but not that different. He has read and thought about some stuff, and has even read, Celexa cost, or at least cited, Buy cheap Celexa no rx, some staggeringly dull stuff on Chinese historical demography. He suggests that the exam system may have led to increased competitiveness, but then concludes that not enough people participated for that to be the case, Celexa steet value. He suggests that culture may matter, My Celexa experience, and while he does not really follow up on this he does at least mention it. Buy Celexa Without Prescription, This is a cut above the Yellow Peril stuff you ordinarily get on the Internet.

This made me think a bit about how this is different from the earlier Yellow Perils. He is arguing that Chinese have, buy cheap Celexa, for the last several centuries, Comprar en línea Celexa, comprar Celexa baratos, becoming smarter and more competitive. Is that what the original Yellow Peril was. For me that mostly means going back to Jack London, Celexa overnight. ((I'm not actually writing a monograph on western thought about Asia here, just thinking about stuff)) In The Unparallelled Invasion  London suggested that the Americans might have to exterminate the Chinese in self-defence, but the reason for this is not their intelligence but their industry, Buy Celexa Without Prescription. Mark Twain also agrees that the Chinese were hard workers. Buy no prescription Celexa online,

They are a harmless race when white men either let them alone or treat them no worse than dogs; in fact they are almost entirely harmless anyhow, for they seldom think of resenting the vilest insults or the cruelest injuries. They are quiet, buy Celexa online no prescription, peaceable, Celexa pictures, tractable, free from drunkenness, and they are as industrious as the day is long, purchase Celexa. A disorderly Chinaman is rare, Cheap Celexa, and a lazy one does not exist.
- Roughing It
Buy Celexa Without Prescription, London is, of course, a good Social Darwinist, who thinks that history is a constant process of racial competition.
The history of civilisation is a history of wandering, sword in hand, cheap Celexa no rx, in search of food.  In the misty younger world we catch glimpses of phantom races, About Celexa, rising, slaying, finding food, buy Celexa without a prescription, building rude civilisations, Where can i find Celexa online, decaying, falling under the swords of stronger hands, and passing utterly away.  Man, Celexa pharmacy, like any other animal, Celexa alternatives, has roved over the earth seeking what he might devour; and not romance and adventure, but the hunger-need, has urged him on his vast adventures.Whether a bankrupt gentleman sailing to colonise Virginia or a lean Cantonese contracting to labour on the sugar plantations of Hawaii, where to buy Celexa, in each case, Celexa long term, gentleman and coolie, it is a desperate attempt to get something to eat, to get more to eat than he can get at home, Celexa forum. ((from The Human Drift. Celexa schedule, I wish the people here http://www.jacklondons.net/jackLondonWritings.html would make a single Kindle edition of all his stuff . There are lots of Chinese in there))

So London has the proper old racialist ideas, and at least in one case he suggests that this is genetic, Celexa use. Check the bold bit (mine) below in The Tears of Ah Kim
Honourable, among labourers, had Ah Kim's rating been as a towing coolie, Buy Celexa Without Prescription. In Hawaii, Purchase Celexa online, receiving a hundred times more pay, he found himself looked down upon as the lowest of the low--a plantation coolie, than which could be nothing lower, Celexa maximum dosage. But a coolie whose ancestors had towed junks up the eleventh cataract of the Yangtse since before the birth of Christ inevitably inherits one character in large degree, Online buying Celexa, namely, the character of patience.

The Yangzi does not have 11  cataracts, or at least not before you get to the Three Gorges, order Celexa from mexican pharmacy, although Egypt of course had a lot of them. Order Celexa from United States pharmacy, Still there is at least a suggestion of improvement through breeding.

Ah Kim is actually pretty modern

Ah Kim himself, a generation younger than his mother, had been bitten by the acid of modernity. Buy Celexa Without Prescription, The old order held, in so far as he still felt in his subtlest crypts of being the dusty hand of the past resting on him, residing in him; yet he subscribed to heavy policies of fire and life insurance, acted as treasurer for the local Chinese revolutionises that were for turning the Celestial Empire into a republic, contributed to the funds of the Hawaii-born Chinese baseball nine that excelled the Yankee nines at their own game, talked theosophy with Katso Suguri, the Japanese Buddhist and silk importer, fell for police graft, played and paid his insidious share in the democratic politics of annexed Hawaii, and was thinking of buying an automobile. Ah Kim never dared bare himself to himself and thrash out and winnow out how much of the old he had ceased to believe in. His mother was of the old, yet he revered her and was happy under her bamboo stick. Li Faa, the Silvery Moon Blossom, was of the new, yet he could never be quite completely happy without her.

In general, (and I look forward to a real Londoner correcting me here) Jack does not seem to be saying that the Chinese have been selected to be genetically superior to others. They are hard-working, phlegmatic (( and I swear I saw Ah Choon grin at me with philosophic resignation as he cleared the rail and went under. (From The Heathen) )) but not all that bright. Like Fu Manchu you need to keep them away from the superior technology that the West has, but which does not seem to be really Western in the sense that it is the product of a more intelligent race that only they can use. Unz seems to be not taking the Chinese seriously and using them more as an attempt to convince Americans to get back to their racialist roots. Still, I think this 'The Chinese are genetically modified super-folk' might be an important meme going forward.

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5/9/2011

Buy Differin Without Prescription

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 5:07 am Print

I have been reading Francis Fukuyama's new book The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution Buy Differin Without Prescription, . It is, Differin forum, as the title suggests, the first of two volumes that will explain the development of human politics from the dawn of time to the present. As a big picture sort of guy, order Differin no prescription, Fukuyama claims that "human politics is subject to certain recurring patterns of behavior across time and across cultures" As a historian this type of talk tends to worry me, Buy Differin from canada, as I assume that any universals of human politics are either so vague as to be meaningless, or flat out wrong. Still, Differin maximum dosage, he is trying to present a theory of world political development that goes beyond Europe and gets as far as China, After Differin, if not New Guinea, and when a big picture book gives that much attention to China I have to buy it.

The book begins with some discussion of the creation of the first states, cheap Differin.

But in the end, there are too many interacting factors to be able to develop one strong, predictive theory of when and how states formed, Buy Differin Without Prescription. Some of the explanations for their presence or absence begin to sound like Kipling Just So stories.

So, Japan, craiglist, ebay, overseas, paypal, the Key To All Mythologies that we are looking for here is not the origins of the state, but a strong predictive theory of the origins of the modern stable, democratic, Differin overnight, peaceful, Differin duration, prosperous, inclusive and uncorrupt state. In order to create this one needs 1, order Differin from United States pharmacy. A state 2. Differin gel, ointment, cream, pill, spray, continuous-release, extended-release, The Rule of Law 3. Buy Differin Without Prescription, accountable government.  ((Do you have a Kindle. It's nice. You can carry it anywhere, purchase Differin online, and its always full of books, Is Differin addictive, so if you want to read recent scholarship, classic literature, or trashy novels they are all there right now, where can i find Differin online. Unfortunately it does not give page numbers. Differin canada, mexico, india, It claims this is from p. 15,  location 503 ))

Fukuyama posits Qin China as the world's first modern state.  This is somewhat problematic, since the main reason he calls Qin modern is that they had gotten away from patrimonialism and had established "a more impersonal form of administration." China scholars usually refer to the Qin/Han period, since Qin lasted only from 221 to 206 BCE, Buy Differin Without Prescription. How can you make a Huge Comparison or talk about Large Processes while resting everything on such a small sample. The Han of course built on the Qin model, low dose Differin, but Fukuyama's discussion will not help anyone trying to understand the relationship between Confucianism and Legalism or Modernism and Classicism in the Han, Differin steet value, a dynasty where bureaucratism and familism were both very important in a very complex sort of way.  Fukuyama's account of Qin/Han is based mostly on Harrison The Chinese Empire Harcourt Brace 1972 and Levenson and Schurman China: an Interpretive History. California 1969, although he does manage to cite Loewe a few times, Differin treatment. This is not the book to read if you are a China scholar hoping that a broader perspective will help you understand China-y stuff.  ((If you are a non-China person Lewis Writing and Authority in Early China is a good place to start.))

Well, Online buying Differin hcl, in any case eventually the Chinese fall behind, reverting to patrimonialism. Buy Differin Without Prescription, Lots of stuff happens. Why did China not develop, online buying Differin. A cocoon becomes a butterfly, Rx free Differin, a wad of dough placed in an oven becomes bread. Why did China not become Denmark.

The book is, Differin pics, among other things, Purchase Differin, Fukuyama's take on the Great Divergence debate, the arguments over why China fell behind after 1300 or 1500 or 1700 or whenever; why China failed to have an industrial revolution, or more generally failed to modernize properly despite such a promising beginning, where to buy Differin. A lot of very interesting stuff has been written on this issue in recent years, Buy Differin Without Prescription. Most other scholars who write on this topic focus on economics, Differin dose, and their books are full of complex discussions of comparative institutions.

How does Fukuyama explain China's manifest backwardness in the modern era. Well, ordering Differin online, the book includes the most serious discussion of Oriental Despotism to have been published in the last 50 years. Online buying Differin hcl, ((Since he  is not particularly interested in economics we don't get anything on the Asiatic Mode of Production.))

Oriental Despotism is nothing other than the precocious emergence of a politically modern state before other social actors could institutionalize themselves , actors like  a hereditary territorially based aristocracy, an organized peasantry, canada, mexico, india, cities based on a merchant class, Differin pics, churches, or other autonomous groups.

So this is yet another checklist book, with a roster of European traits one needs to be modern, purchase Differin online, and then you either check them off or don't. Buy Differin Without Prescription, He does talk a bit about the ability of the bureaucracy to constrain the Emperor, but for some reason this does not count.  For the most part he focuses on China's lack of The Rule of Law. Buy Differin no prescription,
"Early Chinese kings exercised tyrannical power of a sort that few monarchs in either feudal or early modern Europe attempted. They engaged in wholesale land reform, arbitrarily executed the administrators serving them, Differin street price, deported entire populations, Low dose Differin, and engaged in mad purges of aristocratic rivals. ...European state development had to take place against a well-developed background of law that limited state power. European monarchs tried to bend, Differin description, break, Differin trusted pharmacy reviews, or go around the law. But the choices they made were structured and checked by the preexisting body of law that was developed in medieval times."

This seems wrong, but at least in a way that might potentially be productive, Buy Differin Without Prescription. China -was- institutionally different from "Europe' ((just as Italy was different from England)) and a comparison could be enlightening, but looking at Europe as possessing a system of law that was 'preexisting' does not seem accurate, where can i buy Differin online. It does make it easy to explain China's backwardness, Comprar en línea Differin, comprar Differin baratos, since although there is a lot of scholarship on Chinese law none of it describes the creation of a legal system which was distinct from existing systems of power and could constrain rulers by its mere legality. In fact if you look at that way you can ignore pretty much everything written about China in the last 30 years.  (( I also find his use of dates frustrating. What is an Early Chinese King, buy Differin from canada. Buy Differin Without Prescription, Where are these examples coming from. Or are they just taken at random from the Shang-Qing period?))

Having explained China's failure to create a Rule of Law ((Has anyone played Civilization 5 yet. Differin images, Is it any good?)) Fukuyama then goes on to explain the failure of economic development. One aspect of Great Divergence debates is that there are disagreements about when China fell behind. I guess failure to create the Rule of Law is in the Tang or something, buy Differin online cod, but he also gives a Ming date for China's economic failure.

What China did not have is the spirit of maximization that economists assume is a universal human trait, Buy Differin Without Prescription. An enormous complacency pervaded Ming China in all walks of life. It was not just emperors who didn't feel it necessary to extract as much as they could in taxes; other forms of innovation and change simply didn't seem to be worth the effort.

His examples here are the old chestnuts of the end of Zheng He's voyages and Su Sung's mechanical clock, which somehow did not lead to an industrial revolution. For some reason he leaves out the Chinese abandonment of movable type. In any case this  spirit of what I guess you can call Oriental passivity is his explanation of the "binding constraints that prevented rapid economic growth from taking off in Ming-Qing China." ((Fortunately these constraints no longer exist. Buy Differin Without Prescription, This timeless aspect of Chinese culture is now Gone with the Wind, leaving behind only 'an emphasis on education and personal achievement' Apparently the May Fourth Movement was a big success.))

This seems to be so wrong as to be silly and embarrassing. There is no footnote for this enormous complacency. ((Maybe he got this from reading Tim Brook. Craig Clunas. It's a mystery.)) It must be easier to make a big argument when trans-historical cultural factors can just fly in and then just as mysteriously fly out again.

So, all in all I would say the book was not worth the money, despite all the promises of China discussions in the Table of Contents, Buy Differin Without Prescription. Reading this book will not help you understand China better. I'm pretty sure it will not help you understand Europe better. If you are looking for something that can explain everything in general but nothing in specific, this may be the book for you.

It does have the benefit  that each chapter begins with a little summaries of what is to come. Thus chapter 21 Stationary Bandits...

Whether all states are predatory, and whether the Chinese state in Ming times deserves to be called that; examples of arbitrary rule drawn from later periods in Chinese history; whether good government can be maintained in a state without checks on executive authority.

These little snippets are not very common nowadays, and it gives the agreeable feel that one is reading a work of scholarship that has somehow fallen through a time warp from the 19th century.


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4/12/2011

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3/12/2010

Lotrisone For Sale

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 3:13 am Print

Lotrisone For Sale, As we are at mid-semester I thought it would be a nice time to think about Education, with a little help from Feng Zikai, Republican China's best-known cartoonist.

[caption id="attachment_1697" align="aligncenter" width="302" caption="Feng obviously did not think much of education in general "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1699" align="aligncenter" width="260" caption="Education is the process of changing raw materials into something else"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1700" align="aligncenter" width="295" caption="But it does not seem to be much fun for those who experience it. "][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1704" align="aligncenter" width="331" caption="To some extent schools are just part of a larger social process, my Lotrisone experience. Buy cheap Lotrisone no rx, Here the fists are labeled Parents and Teachers"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1715" align="aligncenter" width="278" caption="Society creates social difference. Here are two sons looking at their fathers"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1708" align="aligncenter" width="334" caption="But schools are a big part of it, Lotrisone from canada, Online buy Lotrisone without a prescription, as Elementary, Middle and College (in the center) teachers"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1709" align="aligncenter" width="313" caption="Change their students into copies of themselves"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1705" align="aligncenter" width="479" caption="Schools as intstituions were part of the problem, comprar en línea Lotrisone, comprar Lotrisone baratos. Lotrisone cost, The monkey on top of the pole is the teacher, the administrators are playing a tune, Lotrisone used for, Where can i order Lotrisone without prescription, students are watching, and of course someone is collecting money, buying Lotrisone online over the counter. Lotrisone schedule, I may have to put this on my office door."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1706" align="aligncenter" width="358" caption="Teachers might try to destroy student's minds with endless drill and repetition"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1698" align="aligncenter" width="333" caption="But the human spirit will always find ways to resist"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1701" align="aligncenter" width="340" caption="Even in the days before Facebook and texting, students could find better things to do in class that whatever they were supposed to, Lotrisone price, coupon. Where can i buy cheapest Lotrisone online, Here we see a student in English class reading something in Chinese, (hopefully a Wuxia novel)"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_1702" align="aligncenter" width="336" caption="a student in an economics lecture doing something of practical economic use."][/caption]

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7/13/2009

Transvestite chickens late at night

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 1:07 am Print
I've been reading Cao Naiqian's There's Nothing I Can Do When I Think of You Late at Night. It's an odd sort of book, and you can see why an academic press published it rather than commercial press. The stories are quite short, usually only a few pages, and the author is someone who does not really fit the model of the modern western writer, since he still works as a cop in the city of Datong, rather than chucking his job and writing full-time. He also does not write about being a policeman, but rather about life in the Wen Clan Caves. Although it is possible to criticize Mao's Cultural Revolution for lots of things, sending city youth down to the countryside does seem to have an effect on Cao, giving him a window into how the other 90% lives that he is still looking through all these years later. ((According the the Introduction he was sent to supervise sent-down youth rather than being sent down himself)) The  Wen Family Caves is a fictionalized version of  the area he was sent down to, (a Chinese Yoknapatawpha County) and describing the lives of its inhabitants is his main purpose. The Chinese version is apparently written in a heavy Shanxi dialect, but pretty much all that comes through in the English translation is frequent use of the word fuck. This is rather appropriate, since food, work and sex seem to be about all the people in these stories are interested in. Building the revolution, getting ahead in society or even moving to the big city are goals that are so remote as to be non-existent. I find the stuff about work interesting, just cause I always do, and because one of the things that makes peasants peasants is that their lives revolve around physical labor the way mine doesn't. The food is mostly pretty gross, a bowl of oatmeal with wild garlic is about a fancy as these representatives of the world's greatest cuisine get. There is an awful lot of sex, however.  In fact, just as people in the book don't have dreams of attending Beida, or meals consisting of 6 dishes for five people they also don't have much for "regular" human relationships. Mostly people are struggling to survive (they live in holes in the ground) and only the most stripped down forms of courtship or family formation are going on, (marriage costs money) and lots of violations of propriety. One of the longer stories is Heinu and her Andi. Heinu was an old woman who had been something of the town prostitute (although it's not clear if she was ever paid).
Poverty was one thing that had been handed down over generations in the village. Some men were so poor they could never take a wife. Heinu thought that chickens and dogs all mated. As a woman she couldn't bear to see the men as less then chickens and dogs.
This led her to let Zhaozhao have sex with her after seeing him try to mount a ewe, and later having sex with most of the unmarried men. The men take care of her, and she burns spirit money to them after they are dead, since they have no family.  When the story opens Heinu is rather old, and she has been given a chick by a traveling salesman who has been unable to sell his "Australian" (a word that means nothing to the villagers) chicks. She raises it (She never had any children) and it grows into an enormous black bird that is the envy of the village. At first it lays eggs and makes her "rich" but after an illness it stops laying eggs and starts mounting all the local hens (hence the name Andi). The roosters are not happy about this and gang up on Andi, but are defeated, leaving Andi with all the females (just as Heinu had been left with all the males years before.) Eventually Andi's rebellion becomes too much for the villagers (Andi leads all the roosters and all the hens to crow not only at dawn but all day and night) and it ends badly. ((My students often complain that Chinese stories always end badly.)) Like most of the stories this one is very sparse in its narration, and presents a human relationship stripped down to its absolute minimum. Of course another thing that makes the book great is that they sent it to me just because of this blog. Normally all I get is American History textbooks. Other publishers looking to have their books introduced to our tens of readers should take note.

9/17/2008

Pearl Buck’s Intriguing Staying Power: Imperial Woman

Filed under: — C. W. Hayford @ 1:40 pm Print
Parade Magazine (September 14, 2008) asked Laura Bush what she's been reading: "The Imperial Woman, by Pearl S. Buck. I picked up this book after returning from the Olympics in Beijing. The story of the last empress of Manchu China is fascinating; I can hardly put it down." Now from my point of view, the novel's interest is for the history of American ideas about China, but Buck's take on "Old Buddha" is not to be taken lightly and her appeal to the public should be respected as a "teachable moment," not merely scoffed at. Over the years, Buck's staying power has intrigued me. Since I have a contrarian streak, I've challenged myself to respect her accomplishments (considerable) while keeping in sight her shortcomings (ditto) and to distinguish the two. (( Charles W. Hayford, "What's So Bad About The Good Earth?," Education About Asia 3.3 (December 1998): 4-7. )) Moyer Bell Publishers has a number of her books in print, including Imperial Woman. They are nicely printed and reasonably priced, including Buck's translation of Shuihuzhuan (titled All Men Are Brothers), which is listed at $16.95. The translation is heavy going at first, as you have to get used to the labored diction she developed to reflect Chinese style, but hey, the price is right. They offer other of her novels which are of topical interest: Dragon Seed (1939), for instance, describes the opening of the Second Sino-Japanese War with gruesome details of the 1937 invasion and occupation of the Yangzi valley. It's not the first thing to read on the subject, but holds its own as an historical novel. Peony (1948) is set in 19th century Kaifeng and interweaves a reasonably accurate history of the Jewish community there. (( The Moyer Bell catalogue descriptions of Dragon Seed and Peony, however, are switched with the write ups for other novels. They also quote Kenneth Rexroth praising her "renerding" of Shuihu, which I actually prefer to the perhaps correct but less colorful "rendering." ))

8/20/2008

Lin Yutang and Chinese literature

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 9:25 am Print
One of my neighbors was doing some spring cleaning and brought me this.

Lin was a notable if somewhat minor intellectual figure in China but his real fame came as an interpreter of China to the outside world. In China he was known as a humorous critic of the warlord governments which got him in trouble with both Left and Right, since they felt warlordism was no joke and his emphasis on the continued value of Eastern Wisdom made him sound more like Tagore than anyone Chinese intelectuals of the period were likely to respect. He became an important figure in the West after Pearl Buck convinced him to write My Country, My People (1935) which launched his career as and interpreter of the West.

He is somewhat unique in that his reputation has vanished almost entirely. His books are still in print, but I don't think I've ever seen one in a bookstore (Although I tend not to haunt the 'don't worry be happy section') and he is never assigned in courses. Even during his life he was dismissed as being someone who wrote English very well. (He was a third-generation Fujian Christian) but was not all that knowledgeable about China. You can see how he worked with these two excerpts from the story Curly-Beard

 [wpcol_1half id="" class="" style=""]Lin Yutang:

IT WAS a world of chivalry, adventure, and romance, of plucky battles and faraway conquests, of strange doings of strange men which filled the founding of the great Tang dynasty. Somehow the men of that great period had more stature; their imagination was keener, their hearts were bigger, and their activities more peculiar. Naturally, since the Sui Empire was crumbling, the country was as full of soldiers of fortune as a forest is full of woodchucks. In those days, men gambled their fortunes on high stakes; they matched cunning with cunning and wit against wit. They had their pet beliefs and superstitions, their virulent hatreds and intense loyalties, and once in a while, there was a man of steel with a heart of gold.

It was nine o'clock in the evening. Li Tsing, a young man in his thirties, had finished his supper and was lying in bed, bored, puzzled, and angry at something. He was tall and muscular, with a head of tousled hair set on a handsome neck and shoulders. Lazily he jerked his biceps, for he had a peculiar ability to make these muscles leap up without flexing his arms. He was ambitious, with plenty of energy, and nothing in particular to do.

He had had an interview with General. Yang Su that morning, in which he had presented a plan to save the empire. He was convinced that the fat, old general was not going to read it and regretted having taken the trouble to see him at all. The general, who was in charge of the Western Capital while the Emperor was sporting with women at Nanking, had sat, bland and self-satisfied, on his couch. His face was a mass of pork, with blubbery lips, heavy pouches under his eyes, fat hanging down under his chin and lumpy, distended nostrils, from which sniffs and grunts issued regularly. Twenty pretty young women were lined up on both sides of him, holding cups and saucers, sweetmeats, spittoons, and dusters. The dusters, which were made of hair from horsetails, over a foot long, and fixed with a jade or red- painted wooden handle, were more decorative than useful.

The silky, white horsetails swung gracefully, though idly. There could not be a more convincing picture of a misfit in high office, or a neater contrast between the luxurious setting and the debased sensuality which was no longer capable of enjoying it.

[/wpcol_1half] [wpcol_1half_end id="" class="" style=""] From Cyril Birch Anthology of Chinese Literature

When the Emperor Yang-ti of the Sui dynasty visited Yangchow he left his Western capital, Ch'ang-an, in the charge of Councillor Yang Su. This was a man whom high birth had made arrogant, and in the troubled state of the times he had begun to regard his own power and prestige as unrivalled in the land. He maintained a lavish court and departed from the mode of conduct appropriate to a subject. Whether it was a high officer requesting interview or a private guest paying his respects, Yang would receive his visitor seated on a couch; when he rose to leave his hall it would be to walk, supported on either side by a beautiful girl, down between rows of attendant maidens. In these and other ways he arrogated to himself the imperial prerogatives. With age his behaviour grew more extreme, until he no longer seemed aware of the responsibility he owed to sustain the realm against peril.

One day Li Ching, later to be ennobled as Duke of Wei but at that time still a commoner, requested interview with Yang Su in order to present certain policies to which he had given much thought. As with everyone else, Yang Su remained seated to receive him. But Li Ching came forward, bowed and said, "The whole empire is now in turmoil, as would-be leaders strive for mastery.

Your highness is supreme in the service of our imperial house. Your first concern should be to win the respect of men of heroic mettle, and this you are hindering by remaining seated to receive those who seek audience."

Yang Su composed his features to an expression of more fitting gravity, rose to his feet and apologized. He derived great pleasure from the discussion which followed, and Li Ching, when the time came for him to withdraw was assured of their acceptance.

[/wpcol_1half_end] The differences here are pretty stark, and it is easy to see why Lin is not read as much as he used to be. The book is called short stories re-told, so he does not have to stick to the text very closely and there are several versions of the story, but he has changed quite a lot here. The first paragraph of Lin's version is an introduction to the period and the milieu of dynastic decline in general, which of course would not be needed for a Chinese audience. (I would also not want it in a reading I was assigning, since the whole point is to try to read things the way Chinese would.) Throughout the story Lin adds a lot more dialog and much more detailed descriptions of what people are doing, making his version seem much more like a modern character-driven short story.

The treatment of Yang Su is also interesting. For Chinese readers the minister who exceeds his authority is a well-known enough trope that the Birch version sees no need to dress it up. Lin makes him into an orientalist caricature of the decadent Chinese. (Which may help to explain why Lin was less popular in China.) The whole point of this first story is also changes in Lin's version. In the Birch version the point of the first encounter is to show our hero, Li Ching, is in fact a hero capable of making others behave better by his own influence. He gets Yang Su to show him proper respect and even manages to get him to agee to his plans (not that anything comes of it). In the Lin version there is not much point to the episode, other than to point out how decadent the Chinese are.

Lin's story also ends up not having much of a moral. The Birch story rotates around Li Ching and his friend Curly Beard deciding that a Li of Taiyuan is the One Man and rightful next emperor. Li Ching decides to serve him, and Curly Beard, not being that type, decides to go carve himself out a kingdom outside China. This makes it not work so well as a short-story (which it's not, its a piece of Chinese prose that is short enough to be called one) and so Lin focuses more on Curly-Beard and his friendship with Li Ching. He also gives Li Ching's wife a much larger role and in general makes the story much more modern. I assume that one of his purposes in doing the translations was to show Western audiences that the Chinese really did have a literary history that paralleled their own. Since editing the Chinese to make them look civilized is not one of the main purposes of translating Chinese literature today, it is not too surprising that Lin is little read.

See also Lin Yutang, Critic and Interpreter Chan Wing-Tsit College English, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Jan., 1947), pp. 163-169

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