诸葛亮的后代

03/27/2015

我开始学习中文的时候,我不知道我汉字姓是什么。我学了大概一年后才发现我姓诸,然后是跟诸葛亮一样的诸。从那天我中国朋友开玩笑说我可能是诸葛亮的后代。我当时觉得这个可能性微不足道。是为了开玩笑而已。不过我一直很欣赏诸葛亮。即使他不是我祖先,找个姓诸(或葛或诸葛)的人真的不容易,遇见这种人更不容易。我记得我在成都时去武侯祠然后跟诸葛亮的塑像拍了自拍。

前天我叔叔来首尔。我们一起聊了天后来刚巧一起看我家的世谱。那刹那我发现我真的是诸葛亮的后代。人生好奇怪。

我起初有疑心。我不知道这个世谱是不是靠谱,不知道我叔叔的话有没有道理。那个情况太突然了,我跟这个宏大的人物诸葛亮怎么有关系?我是一般人而已,而且是个一般韩国(加拿大)人。

因此叔叔去睡觉后我在网上搜查了来看一看这可能性多大。找到这个文章:http://learning.sohu.com/2004/…/24/85/article219578547.shtml。是有关一个韩国老人去武侯祠去给看专家韩国诸葛氏的世谱。他带了六本,后来专家的结论是“这种可能性非常大”。(如果我读错了,请告诉我)

其实我觉得发现我是诸葛亮的后代对我的生活没有大的影响力。我还有点不相信我的世谱(因为历史很糊涂)而且有点觉得无所谓。不过我觉得有关我祖先的知识非常有趣。我们加拿大人跟我们的家族背景不太熟。我们离开了我们祖国去找较好的存在,但是同时离开了我们的根本。跟我两千年多生存的祖先造成联系,我觉得这是一个非常大的光荣和幸运。

Nostalgia in terms of Being and Becoming

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(Bad picture of the Coliseum in Rome, “the Eternal City”)

Note: This post is a response to my other post Goodbye Nostalgia

After one month of insouciant summer days in Montreal I came back to Toronto, speeding at 100km/h in the highway by bus to the city I always eventually return to where my feet meet cold hard concrete. Every time I am banished from lofty idylls I feel an incredible nostalgia for days of eternal youth, where the daily rhythms of life set in gently, hinting at the possibility of happiness.

Departure came (speeding at 100km/h in the highway by bus) and exiled from Paradise, I likened memory as being pieces of myself, torn and imprinted externally in cityspaces and friends (people who “demand a greater piece, torn from a deeper place, a slab of vital flesh”). Faced with the eventual loss of memory, I felt “full of holes [feeling] a nostalgia for wholeness.”

What I wanted was to remain eternally in the past, a past outside the tick tocking of time wherein I could exist with fixed, unchanging dimensions. What I wanted was the unchanging state of being, not the dynamic state of becoming.

Nietzsche speaks of this dichotomy in the Gay Science, 370:

“Every art, every philosophy may be viewed as a remedy and an aid in the service of growing and struggling life; they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. But there are two kinds of sufferers: first, those who suffer from the over-fullness of life and then those who suffer from the impoverishment of life … the question whether the desire to fix, to immortalize, the desire for being prompted creation, or the desire for destruction, for change, for future, for becoming.”

While his insights may not have a direct implication to my situation, being a way to analyze romanticism in art, there are parallels that are fruitful and good to think with.

Being and Becoming. By desiring this idyllic past, while disregarding the future, all I did wish was an eternal fixation into these idylls, a product of my imaginations and reimaginations with perhaps no direct basis in reality. All I wanted was to keep dreaming these illusionary reveries repeating ceaselessly, put to a gentle sleep surrounded by white soft beddings and white cotton pillows. Possessed by an unending somnolence, as the boundaries between wake and sleep blur and reality is consumed by twilight, all that would remain is death* a permanent state of Being if there was one.

Life while I am alive is in movement towards Becoming, as the future opens up moment by moment in transformation and destruction before my eyes. While blissful deathly sleep of the past may tempt me in all its romantic sentimentality, standing before an endless blood red poppy field I cannot indulge in its deathly aromas.

As Nietzsche says:

“He that is richest in the fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man, cannot only afford the sight of the terrible and questionable but even the terrible deed and any luxury of destruction, decomposition, and negation. In his case, what is evil, absurd, and ugly seems, as it were, permissible, owing to an an excess of procreating, fertilizing energies that can still turn any desert into lush farmland. Conversely, those who suffer most and are poorest in life would need above all mildness, peacefulness, and goodness in thought as well as deed …”

Narcissus chose to die beautiful and young and in perfection, immortalized in beauty. I would like to explore the future beyond this first innocence with a resounding Yes to life.

 

 

*not in the same way I mentioned in the previous post

Pity for Man pt. II

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Part II of this post.

Some months prior, I wrote a reflection comparing my previous experiences and hopes for (what I would call) an earthly communal paradise with Albert Camus’ The Fall, in which lawyer Jean Baptiste Clement confesses his selfish virtuousness in his unpaid work with orphans and widows – “the noble causes.” My encounters with the disabled and the poor in China left me not with a sense of deep sympathy, but a feeling of detachment, a complete 180 in comparison to my prior emotions of solidarity in my pre-China state of innocence, when I would watch the spectacle of the wretchedness of the Chinese poor behind electronic screens from the comfort of my airconditioned Canadian home. Justice spoke and I felt a vague wave of indignation, which I found to be empty once confronted in the flesh with dirty dismembered coal miners and rural sojourners who lacked refined and civilized urbanite mannerisms. My reflections led to a cynical conclusion as I realized that my solidarity and respect only extended to (wo)man in the abstract, not (wo)men in the concrete.

I thought of young university liberals full of moral righteousness and indignation as being unreflective and selfish unbeknownst to themselves, as they used the floating images of third world bodies as a way to clothe and brand themselves to gain status in a moral hierarchy and rise above so as to be able to look down on others from the elevated heights of ‘correct’ morality.

Jean Baptiste Clement confesses that he aimed for a moral highground that would let him become beyond reproach, setting him “above the judges whom I judged in turn, and above the defendant, whom I forced into gratitude.” While he may have provided his services gratuitously, with no strings apparently attached, even offering financial help to the family of the defendant in what appeared to be an action of pure kindness and benevolence, he did not leave them light and free but with the greater burden of existential debt.

Anthropologist David Graeber, writer of Debt: The First 5000 Years calls (in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnOqanbHZi4, 9:00 ~) debt a crucial aspect of human sociality. Debt cannot be reduced to control and slavery (a forcing into gratitude). Debt is the chain linking and creating a relationship between two social beings or groups, with mutual indebtedness being a sign of a social relationship. In fact, according to Graeber, the paying off of debt was an insult, a rejection of future social interactions.

In China in full contact with some of the impoverished Chinese, I felt repulsion. Forcing these people, who I could not begin to relate to, into gratitude (or debt) would have meant the formation of a relationship, one I was not adventurous enough to start. But my cynical conclusion does not necessarily extend to everyone else, who may be by constitution more willing to engage in a relationship with this ‘other’ a fruitful, longlasting dialogue between two equals both indebted to each other. For some, (wo)men in the concrete reaffirm their belief in (wo)man in the abstract.

Art and Democratic Production

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S. Eliot writes:

“No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead… what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new… the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past. And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.”

The artist is in dialogue with his predecessors, in dialogue with the whole cultural tradition, and each new work is not an isolated phenomenon but a piece that is connected to the whole and has the ability to transform the whole tradition with its emergence. Thus the artist to T. S. Eliot is a figure charged with a great responsibility in every single one of his creations, a responsibility not to himself but to his predecessors stretching back millennia of other great creators. With the advent of technology there has been a democratization in artistic creation. Whoever has an internet connection can now claim to be an artist and artistic creation becomes about a short-sighted expression of the self. Everyone is now a creator, an artist, but how many know the great responsibility they are charged with, while they chase their 15 minutes of fame?

Democratization through technology has not only affected production, but consumption as well. While works of art were initially like private conversations happening between the educated, wealthy elite, greater advancements in technology have allowed the ‘rabble’ to join in and listen. The printing press brought literature to the masses, $15 will allow the bored consumer to spend an evening at the cinema, and music has experienced democratization in consumption as well, as Kundera relates with the invention of the radio in L’ignorance:

“Already in 1930, he [Schönburg] wrote : “Radio is an enemy, an enemy without pity that avances irresistibly and against whom all resistance is without hope,” it “force-feeds us music, without wondering if we have a desire to listen to it, if we have the chance to receive it,” so that music became a simple noise, a noise among noises.)”

Music, which has become noise, is now a hodgepodge “where everything gets mixed without one knowing who the composer is (music-turned-noise is anonymous), without one distinguishing the beginning or the end (music-turned-noise does not know form) : the dirty water of music where music dies.”

What is art now but mere distractions for facile consumption and immediate forgottenness? No longer is it an extended conversation among distinguished luminaries lighting up the present to bring it forward into the future, the work of men and women who have vanquished Time and conquered death with their creations, which are the greatest achievements of a culture or a people. Now it is merely a commodity with a short shelf life, a hit of non-thought and momentary bliss into a fifty shaded world rooted in the groundless present, an isolated ephemeral manifestation of mediocrity.

While consumers and creators of the democratic arts drink to their inability, bathed in the drunkenness of the forgotten present, in an inebriated fiesta of mass consumption and gaudy glitter, the great wonders of cultural achievement lie forgotten a short distance away, accessible to any who are willing to sober up and walk to the public library…* (to be continued)

 

 

*a manifestation of the same mechanisms of technology and democratic production!

 

Translations from French:

“Déjà en 1930, il [Schönburg] écrivait: « La radio est un ennemi, un ennemi impitoyable qui irrésistiblement avance et contre qui toute résistance est sans espoir » ; elle « nous gave de musique […] sans se demander si on a envie de l’écouter, si on a la possibilité de la percevoir », de sorte que la musique est devenue un simple bruit, un bruit parmi des bruits…“

“où tout s’entremêle sans qu’on sache qui est le compositeur (la musique devenue bruit est anonyme), sans qu’on distingue le début ou la fin (la musique devenue bruit ne connaît pas de forme) : l’eau sale de la musique où la musique se meurt.“