Monday, March 28, 2016

北京麻雀 - Shanghai - 8

This was found in Scott Morgan's diary
2004

If you want to dream in China, first of all you must realize that the Yuan Dynasty was not a native a native – meaning Han – dynasty. They were Mongolian, which is quite different. It was not even part of the collection of languages that are referred to as 'Chinese'. Consequently all of the officials who did not want to work for them, 'retired', on to a lake by the city of WuShi. Imagine the cloths – with their ornate silken Hanfu. It is the dress of the Han people, documented by the Book of Han. Some ways are particularly held in this enduring culture, and they do not allow anyone to forget it. While we are very close to Nanjing, no one speaks of the horror – and no one even mentions the horrors except in low tones. Though they will admit they hate the Japanese, rather freely in fact. Though you can take the tin out of the outpouring mountain, you can still taste on people's tongues.”

But this is another world, and look south to Jiangsu along the eastern seaboard, to the densely populated province, which almost enigmatically contains a large natural outpouring of fresh water lake. And close your eyes, and imagine people who were different from who have come afterwards. They were dressed in silk, of course – but also a different kind of silk, which was woven the same way from time immemorial. The upper garment consisting 'yi', which is a broad open blouse-colored garment - and for both sexes a skirt called 'chang'. The collars were right over left, and the sleeves were long and loose. There were very few buttons, and hidden on the inside. The belt or the sash fitted around the waist, thus it was loose fitting around the outside and tight around the middle. The decorations of hats, or of hairpieces, had an innumerable designs, each one meaning different things on different occasions.”

There the men were drinking wine in small cups, and reciting poetry, either by themselves – or with groups of women who were too high for prostitutes, but too low for anything else. Both men and women stopped cutting their hair – known as Guan Li – somewhere between 15 and 20. It was a ritual. One million TV serials will depict this type of dress, particularly mimicking the putou – the informal dress hat of officials and academics, which would be discarded as the person realized that this was the life forever. He would be drifting along the barge with his companions.”

“Look out at the basin from the Dragon Light Pagoda in WuShi's XiHui Park, and then up at the sides. There is a peculiar feature of the southern Chinese landscape. In the center it is broad, and there are many roads; but it rapidly climbs upward to the hilltops, craggy with their features, and trees perched just so. And roads dwindled down to paths, with people moving out of the way for more quickly moving ascendance. One would never see trees on the hills in the city: only in the countryside. Away in the distance you can see the bright lights and acid glare of the city. But the city stops, though it creeps over time outwards. But then it is countryside – and while barely so, northern vegetation predominates. On the farther coast away from all of the cities, the coast is immediately driven in to a vast woodside climb in two various temples, which each recognizes some deity who gives forgiveness. The Communist Party has eased its grip, though just barely - and far from the cities, which are still commercial centers, and not religious powerhouses.”

For it is a long does pathways that one comes to a realization of what is important. The leaves brush each other and produce a low kind of rushing sensation. And you can feel flowers melting, but it is only when you enter the courtyard that you understand that they are being simmered down to a broad for hungry individuals, which, to your great surprise, includes you. So you munch on the flower which has been made into a soup and stare around at the beauty that has always been here. Also along the ground there are what are called 'Taihu stones' - which are particularly well known in Suzhou and WuShi, though they are used in all the surrounding villages. Each one in their native language is called gongshi, and is shaped by wind and water, penetrating through to the other side in myriad combinations. They are a delicate kind of limestone. Each form is different from all the others. Each form unique to itself, whether large or small, according to its nature.”

But there are now differences between the old, and the coming new - for example, the 'Star of TaiHu' is a ferrous wheel which is 115m tall on the shoreline of the lake, seeing both the city and the countryside at its peak. It stands boldly declaring that China is young again. If you listen to any Chinese person they will tell you about the sites which are larger than famous sights in the West, but if the new takes the form of a wheel, then underneath it is scoured with pollution. No one can look at this lake and not be aware of the manufacturing chemicals for everything from garments to wool that litter the shore, forming bubbles with cascades. Within each step forward, there are at least one step demarche; the locals grumble about this with vivid pictures and terse remarks. But very slowly, and with passion - or delight.”

The other invisible line is between the languages of Mandarin and Wu, with the latter being dominant in everything that relates to technology and industry. Realize that away from the city, or out of the site of tourists the natives from the countryside are thin and emaciated. The Mandarin, here, are the country folk – and dislike the Wu style inhabitants with a burning passion. This passion is not felt at the top of society, but in the dawn when Mandarin workers line up at the docks of the lake, one will hear mispronounced words of hatred from the lower classes. That is if one speaks the local dialect of Mandarin, which is often unintelligible even if it is the same nominal language as in the north.”

So, the admixture of old tales and young wheels - pollution, with inharmonious racism mixed with deep religion, is gnarled up in a bow which is tied with Zhangokfutou - this admixture is on the Nanjing coastline in the middle of the country that calls itself the Middle of the World.”


Duo for Flute and Clarinet #3, in Eb