It is said that China is not a country where one arrives. To be there at all is sufficient, for once you are there, the rest of the world does not exist. So, it is deduced that China is a pattern; and there the pattern belongs to its country more intimately than most other lands. The manifest impressions forming the word “China.” So, what could it be then, this ingrained Chinese-ness at its core?
Perhaps it is the way that the long civilization and the astronomical millions of people have profoundly modified their country. Three or four thousand years of intense detailed gardening is what they have done throughout China. Slowly, and inexorably, they have made the land their own and now it is special to them, like their faces, their language, their painting, and even their hobbies and toys.
It is a China of the Chinese. This quality seems to have passed down through Chinese time without radical alteration, absorbing and redefining everything that comes from without. Even though their system might seem alien to us, it is the undivided Chinese-ness of the manner of thought that appears most striking. There is a beauty of China that is, and always will remain, uniquely its own, a force of the past where stylization of technique can be completely emancipated, even revolutionary in ways outside the ken of Western imagination.
Below: Brian Brake photograph. He was accorded, surprisingly, a very deep access into Chinese society in the late 1950′s. Here is Burke’s take on literacy which is still pertinent. A man reading a notice posted of a visit from a basketball team affiliated with the National Locomotive Workers. In many respects, it appears the “new” China defers to the old, and appearances aside, is a reinvigorated, and better better packaged version of a long continuum of ancient tradition, that in sum is a wealth of culture more profound than America, as if ancient Egypt had not been disrupted and its leadership dispersed by Moses and the Exodus.
( see link at end) … I thought I’d take a look at the science and art behind Chinese astronomy. Calendars in China have always been of the utmost political, as well as practical, importance. As the Son of Heaven blessed with the Mandate of Heaven, the Emperor needed to be the first and last word on the heavens themselves. When the moon would be full, when an eclipse would occur, these were quite literally matters of life and death. Since China had a lunar calendar, errors were more common than on a solar calendar, and an error could lead to revolution. As Helmer Aslaksen puts it in his paper The Mathematics of the Chinese Calendar, “Every peasant would then on the first day of the month see either a waxing crescent or a waning crescent [instead of a new moon]. Why should they pay taxes and serve in the army if the emperor did not know the secrets of the heavens?” Even worse was if you were a scientist working for the Emperor, as Jesuit missionaries Adam Schall, Ferdinand Verbiest and their Chinese colleagues found out in the “Calendar Case” in the early Qing. Accused of screwing up their calculations (as well as casting a spell on the Emperors parents), they were thrown in jail. To try and defend themselves, they predicted an upcoming eclipse more accurately than the Chinese officials plotting to get them executed. But it wasn’t until an earthquake caused a fire in the Imperial Palace and a comet appeared that the Emperor thought maybe Heaven didn’t want them to die. Even then, the Jesuits Chinese colleagues were still put to death. Ed. – the laowai always get off easy, don’t they? Read More:http://www.mutantpalm.org/2007/02/27/art-of-chinese-astronomical-technology.html