Summer Waning Strawberry Moon
“if your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.”- Chinese Proverb
Ever have days that just happen, disappear with little trace? The last couple have been like that for me. The ear, the fuzz from the infection and a slow take on things. That’s the extent of it.
I’m now in the last quarter of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I’ve been at it since sometime early June, late May. Now, I’ve been a little slow, I admit, but it is 2,340 pages long in print. I’m reading it on the Kindle. It carries a slow, but steady course in Chinese logic, especially as related to war and politics, Confucian and Taoist influences on Chinese culture in general and the courts and military in particular and a careful rendering of the demise of one of Empire, the Han. The Han Empire, the Tang, the Song and the Ming have pride of place as golden ages of the Chinese people.
(this is the entry way to the tomb of Cao Cao, the arch villain of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Chinese archaeologists discovered it last year and opened it on Chinese television last month. this stuff is still very relevant.)
It’s interesting to consider that the Chinese have not one golden age, but four when culture flourished and the nation was at peace. I don’t know the whole well enough to say for sure, but one of the long lasting appeals of this 14th century (Song dynasty) novel may be the dissolution of the first of those.
My interest in China will never be more than that of a journeyman’s, perhaps no more than an apprentice, but it fascinates me. Part of that fascination is imagining what it would be like to live in a culture with that much depth, where a person in Shanghai today could read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and recognize not only names, but the culture of this ancient past.
In one view those of in the United States can look only as far back as 1776, in another 1602. If we stretch our gaze back further, we can cross into European history and follow it back into the world of ancient Rome and further back yet, ancient Greece, but there, for the most part, it stops. Yes, you can argue the history of the Jews and the Egyptians are also our history and they are in terms of influences intellectual and artistic, but I don’t have a personal bond even with the ancient Greeks.
The closest I can get in experience to that of the contemporary Chinese is to follow my Celtic line back into the mists of Celtic myth and legend.
Anyhow, it’s been an interesting read and I’ll be sorry when I’m finished. Not sorry enough, however, to pick up another Chinese classic for a few months.