Blog Archive

Blog, 7/22/11

I write this blog on the verge of flying to Berkeley for a few weeks, to spend time with my daughter Sarah and her family, to see other old friends and colleagues, to gather materials for my video-lectures there in my old library and in the departmental slide-room, to celebrate my birthday with family and friends (I will be 85 on August 13.)

Works goes forward on this website, done by Barry Magrill and the website designer he is working with. Very soon, my long essay on Pictorial Printing in China and Japan, available now as a text you can read, will become an illustrated text, in which you will be able to go from my references to pictures to the actual pictures. This has proven difficult, and I look forward very much to seeing its successful completion, because it can be a model for a series of “illustrated essays,” texts with pictures that seem better presented this way on my website than turned into video-lectures for that series.

About that series: Rand Chatterjee and I have nearly finished the long, three-part Lecture 9, on Southern Song Academy Painting, and he will post it, along with Lecture 10 on bird-and-flower painting up to the end of Song, on Youtube where you can access them and view them free through this website, the IEAS website in Berkeley, and (presumably) the Chinese website Tudou. Let me ask again: please tell your Chinese friends about the accessibility of the lectures there; the more people know about them, the better.

I am giving Barry two more Reminiscences today to post, one a series of memories from my childhood, about a remarkable hermit who lived near us (“down the hill from us”) in Fort Bragg, California, where I was born and spent most of my childhood. The other is about a really memorable, scarcely believable (but nonetheless true), experience that my son Nick and I had when he was a child, in discovering a blowhole--well, I won’t say more, just read it and imagine yourselves having such an experience. It is sill vivid in my memory, perhaps because I have recalled it so often.

At the end of the previous blog I printed one of the “Three Korean Street-scenes,” poems I wrote while I was a language officer in the Occupation in Seoul in 1947. Now I will copy another below. It needs be preceded with an explanation that is painful to write: American soldiers referred to Koreans at that time, somewhat contemptuously, as “gooks.” (Derived from the Koreans’ name for their own country, Hangook?) This was one of those repellent racial/ethnic names--think of wop, nigger, limey, jewboy, huns--that were common back then. Most of them have fallen into disuse, thank god--we have made a few advances in a generally downhill devolution.  So, here is the second of my verses:

II. Trio

Boy:            Daddy, look!

That dirty gook

Made a face at me just then!

Look, he's doing it again!

Shoot him, Daddy, shoot him dead!

Shoot him through the head!

Captain:      That there guy

With one eye?

He's just smilin' at you, son!

He ain't gonna hurt you none!

If he tried to, he's sure be an-

Other dead Korean!

Korean:       Sickly, pale,

Ugly, frail,

Well-fed child who calls me gook--

How repulsive you would look

If you stood by my boy's side

If he hadn't died.


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