Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mo Tzu Lives !

2500 years ago -- coincident with Periclean Athens -- a cantankerous pacifist (aren't they all ?) lived in pre-China China -- beginning a school of philosophy that would eventually be exterminated in the Qin and early Han Dynasties.

He was against war -- against ritual -- against the arts -- and in favor of the practical necessities of life for the great masses of people.

In the early 20th C. he would have been a Communist -- but as soon as they started murdering people -- he would have moved to the West and become a scholar of -- what else ? -- geography: i.e. how humanity lives on planet earth.

And his name now is Yi-Fu Tuan

I think I disagree with just about everything he says on his blog -- and it's the kind of blog that doesn't invite comments -- it's strictly a monologue.

But I love to read it -- so have given him a position of honor among my other

"Blogs of a Profound and Speculative Nature"

Just look at how he compares Emperor K'ang H'si with George W. Bush -- a very questionable comparison, since K'ang H'si was a born autocrat and professional soldier -- while poor, incompetent George W. is just an elected political leader, and the son of same.

But K'ang H'si is so important to my imaginative life (he enfranchised the Cao family --whose wayward scion, Cao Xueqin, wrote "Dream of Red Chamber" when that franchise was revoked -- that I am automatically interested in everything about him.

And I look forward to his other cross-cultural perspectives as well.


Yi-Fu Tuan update: I had almost became convinced that I was far more attracted to the K'ang H'si emperor than I was to Yi-Fu Tuan -- until I read this essay on Bruce Lahn and the controversy surrounding the distribution of genes affecting human intelligence. Only an American-outsider could stand so far apart from our two most active moral centers: fundamentalist Christianity and liberal Academia.


Anonymous marly said...

Funny, but I was about to describe Chris Miller as "endlessly curious." And curious enough not to have to agree!

My favorite part: "He was a great hunter, having in his lifetime killed 135 tigers and 20 bear, 25 leopards, 20 lynx, 14 tailed mi deer, 96 wolves, 132 wild boar, as well as hundreds of ordinary stags and deer. (Compare this with Vice-President Cheney's girly-man record)."

January 06, 2007  
Blogger Gawain said...

have you red Jonathan D. Spence's book on K'ang Hsi? It is compiled from the personal references the emperor made in his edicts (he wrote them himself) and as a result a sort of memoir. A very beautiful work. I am a K'ang Hsi man himself. And what wonders he did for porcelain!

January 06, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have hard time posting comment lately due to switch to beta--Kang Hsi is one of my favoriate Emprores in Chinese history, although I generally think Qing Dynasty is very destrucitive for chinese social and cultural progress and persistencies...

January 10, 2007  

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