The Ming Dynasty lasted 276 years. The Emperor Hongwu was a peasant and improved the peasant life. He felt agriculture was the country's source of wealth and developed strong military forces. During this period there is a revival of the traditional Han "Chinese" culture.
Great Wall was built
Novels developed by Chinese storytellers for the common people
Wood cut and block print art was popular
Two and three color porcelain procuction
See what is on Oprah's list! The top pick for 2010- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
The door to the mystical world is closed so Gao wanders through the deserted streets of the Qinghai-Tibetan highland route in the misty rain. It is the middle of spring and Gao feels freedom. He talks about the Opium and salt smugglers and how travelers had to buy passage through the single road. Again the theme of obedience and paying proper respect to those in power occurs. He writes " it would be a case of arriving and not returning. They would all be sent to meet the King of Hell."
He gives us a more descriptive image of the door as " two big heavy wooden gates," and once closed you are trapped like "turtles in a jar."
He mentions the bandit Song Guotai four times in this chapter. Ruthless and cunning, he alone can keep control of the compound of bandits. Gao tells the story of Song Guotai rise among bandits and during the bloody showdown, he disappears. One possibility: he got lost in the mountains and starved to death.
Two more stories of people who never returned from the mountain.
Again it is raining and "I am becoming obsessed with getting to the primeval forest at the back of the mountains and find myself drawn to it by some inexplicable force."
The roaring river continues to appear at the end of each chapter. "This river possesses an intimidating and violent energy not found in rivers flowing over the country."
The Song Dynasty in China lasted from 960-1279. In 1000CE the Song Dynasty was the most advanced place in the world. From Asian Topics on Asia for Educators at Columbia University:
Why the Song Dynasty Is So Significant
Many ways of living and acting that Westerners now see as most thoroughly “Chinese,” or even characteristically East Asian, did not appear before the Song.
The Chinese, we know, are rice eaters and tea drinkers; but most Chinese in the Tang and before at wheat and millet and drank wine, in that respect looking perhaps more “Western” than “Eastern”; rice and tea became dominant food and drink in the Song.
China’s population, we know, is huge, and tends to “explode”; its first explosion occurred in the Song.
The Chinese, we know, are “Confucians”; but the kind of Confucianism that served as government orthodoxy throughout late-imperial times was a Song reinvention.
Chinese women, we may know, bound their feet; but they did not bind them until the Song.
Even the “Chinese” roof with its turned-up corners is by origin a Song Chinese roof. (1)
Back to the "you" pronoun for Chapter 3. You are in Wuyizhen, a seemingly unchanged old town whose cobblestone streets are lined with shops squashed up against another except for the IMPOSING structure of the state-run department store.
Times have changed instead of one wheeled handcarts, bicycles have taken over the streets. A photography shop with photos of local beauties garishly dressed on display and a shop full of Hong Kong style clothing and stockings advertised by a western woman.
As you walk through the town you are lost in childhood memories: the old neighborhood, fox fairies from childhood storybooks, and the words to a ditty. You find a place to stay in a state-run inn. You get a cold stare when you ask about Lingshan. You gets a room mate and you discuss timber quotas. The room mate ignores your question about Lingshan. He recommends the pavilion by the river. At the pavilhe locals are talking in the language of the Song Dynasty. Two columns at the pavilion are inscribed with:
Tibetans live on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau. The plateau is bounded by the Himalayas in the southwest and the Kunlun and Aljin mountains in the northeast. "The roof of the world" towers over southwestern China at an average elevation of 4000 m above sea level. Covering more than 2.5 million km(2), the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau is the highest and largest plateau in the world. The plateau has a highland continental climate and a very complex topography with great variations. 90% of the people of Tibetan ethnic descent are engaged in farming and herding. Mining activities in the plateau have sustained a part of the population.
"Reality is myself, reality is only the perception of this instant and it can't be related to another person."
Chapter Two begins fire and the worship of fire as "I" (Our protagonist) travels in the Qinghai-Tibetan highlands where he meets a fun-loving old Qiang traditional song master and dancer. He tells him the songs were banned during the Cultural Revolution and not many of the young people can do them now. He knows black magic and uses it. A victim of mountain black magic won't be able to find his way out of the mountain. Demon walls appear in the form of a wall, a cliff or a deep river to keep the traveler from leaving.
You notice the change in pronoun from "you" to "I". Page 11, "While you search for the route to Lingshan, "I' is wandering along the Yangtze River looking for this sort of reality." This is when he introduces the concept of the shamanic journey. Gao had his near death experience or the "demon wall" and has "returned to nature to look for this authentic life." He describes himself as being "caught in a spider's web" as he tries to find his way back to his real self.
Talismans- 4 inch carved wood statue of a person doing a handstand with the word longevity written on the body. These old roots accompany the newborn from birth to death.At death, the talisman is buried in the wilderness so the soul can return to nature.
He is told the story of the hunter myth: an old hunter in a stone hut, with no descendants, no wife who is long dead but his corpse hasn't rotted and wild animals won't go near. His rifle is still intact hanging in the hut, that it never misses it target and no one dares take it.
This is how folk stories begin with a little bit of history and legend mixed together into a narrative.
What is the shamanic journey or soul flight?
In shamanic practice it is believed that part of the soul is free to leave the body. This free soul is believed to leave the body regularly during dreaming. It is thought that part of the soul will leave the body to protect the soul from trauma, see soul retrieval. When a shaman is initiated onto the shamanic path, they usually learn how to send their soul forth intentionally, on the soul flight which is commonly called a journey. In early shamanic societies, many shamans were initiated because of having a near death experience. Death being an experience when all of your soul leaves the body, the near death experience is thought to teach an individual to travel with the soul.
From Wikipedia: "Taoism refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions that have influenced Eastern Asia for more than two millennia, and have had a notable influence on the western world particularly since the 19th century. The word 道, Tao (or Dao, depending on the romanization scheme), roughly translates as, "path" or "way" (of life), although in Chinese folk religion and philosophy it carries more abstract meanings. Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (天人相应), health and longevity, and wu wei (action through inaction), which is thought to produce harmony with the Universe. The fundamentals of this belief lies within the Xiuzhen Tu."
Summer 2001 A Daoist Pilgrimage
Gao Xinjian's journey through time and tradition.
reviewed by Aaron Modiano
I'm an expert amateur or maybe an amateur expert.