Here’s the website that I’ve been looking for…it draws events together in articles that outline (the most we can hope for) how our intwined world has lurched into a frightening brew of churning events that largely eludes comprehension.
The poet Leonard Cohen, one of the originals who came out of the ’60s, is still writing and performing at 80 years old. A poem/song from his new album is linked here.
In 1968, Roger Waters of the rock band Pink Floyd borrowed lines from the poetry of Li Ho as lyrics for the song “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” from the band’s second album A Saucerful of Secrets. Li Ho died at 26. His mother said, “This boy will spit out his heart.” One of the “crazy poets” of the T’ang era, his poetry avoided the traditional Chinese metaphors, opting for lines which jumped from his tongue. More of his poems are here. For a good article on T’ang poetry, Li Ho, and others, see Eliot Weinberger’s article here.
The Southern hills, how mournful!
A ghostly rain sprinkles the empty grass.
In Ch’ang-an, on an autumn midnight,
How many men grow old before the wind?
Dim, dim, the path in the twilight,
Branches curl on the black oaks by the road.
The trees cast upright shadows and the moon at the zenith
Covers the hills with a white dawn.
Darkened torches welcome a new kinsman:
In the most secret tomb these fireflies swarm.
Anthony Bourdain has helped put much needed reality into the world of television, with his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown, while his books deliver good writing and interesting takes on life. Here’s a good interview with him on Blogs of War. Check it out here.
A quote from the interview:
“My crew has NEVER been treated so well – by total strangers everywhere. We had heard that Persians are nice. But nicEST? Didn’t see that coming. It’s very confusing. Total strangers thrilled to encounter Americans, just underneath the inevitable “Death To America” mural. The gulf between perception and reality, between government policy and what you see on the street and encounter in people’s homes, in restaurants – everywhere – it’s just incredible. There’s no way to be prepared for it.”
In a country well governed,
poverty is something to be ashamed of.
In a country badly governed,
wealth is something to be ashamed of.
“Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.”― Suetonius
Fear is not in the habit of speaking truth; when perfect sincerity is expected, perfect freedom must be allowed; nor has anyone who is apt to be angry when he hears the truth any cause to wonder that he does not hear it. – Tacitus
He was always before men’s eyes; a course of action which, by increasing our familiarity with great men, diminishes our respect for them. – Livy
The Sinosphere blog of The New York Times has published an interview with Bill Porter, who also publishes translations of Chinese texts under the pseudonym of Red Pine, upon the release of his Yellow River Odyssey, a travel journal written just prior to China’s emergence into the modern world. His extensive photographs of the trip capture a China that has largely disappeared. Many of Red Pine’s books are now bestsellers in China, after being translated from English into Chinese, including his translations and commentaries on Buddhist poems and sutras. The interview is by China correspondent Ian Johnson, and can be read here.
Yellow River Odyssey is published by Chin Music Press.