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Blog 9/11


Blog 9/11

Since writing the previous blog I have spent nearly two months in Berkeley and in Inverness, across the Bay in Marin County, where my daughter Sarah and her family rent an old house for a time every summer--a great place high up among the trees, with easy access to beaches and all the other glories of that great Point Reyes peninsula. I had a few physical and health problems, but am pretty much OK now, and back in Vancouver working away again at the video-lecture series, seeing my boys Julian and Benedict sometimes (we spent one of our evenings together a few nights ago), working on various projects in my old study.

Before going on to other matters, let me list publications of my writings, or writings about me, that have appeared or will soon appear, for those interested:

- An old article that has somehow gone unpublished, “Xieyi in the Zhe School? Some Thoughts on the Huai-an Tomb Paintings,” will appear in the next issue of Archives of Asian Art. This is through the kindness of Jerome Silbergeld, who arranged for its publication. It addresses big issues in Chinese painting studies that have not much occupied recent scholarship, but which I think are still important, mainly the relationship between the artist’s socio-economic position and the kinds of paintings he did. (My first volley about that, directed at disbelieving colleagues at a symposium in 1976, was the paper on “Tang Yin and Wen Zhengming as Artist Types.”)

- An article on the “Train Scroll” that Bill Lewis and I produced as a birthday present for Max Loehr in 1952, is in the latest (September 2011) issue of Orientations. It was written by J. P. Park, with some help from me. I think you will find this one amusing, both the article and (even more) the pictures. (The News page also offers a photo of Howard Rogers and myself, as white-haired old people, sitting on the outside deck of the Inverness house, along with a congratulatory note for my 85th birthday.)

- The Acceptance Speech that I gave at the Freer Gallery last November when I was presented with the Freer Medal will appear in the forthcoming issue of Ars Orientalis. I mean also to issue this as one of my video-lectures, as a Postlude to the present Pure and Remote series. But in that, besides having all the images I used in my speech, there will be an Added Note with somewhat sensational revelations.

- Sanlian Book Co. in Beijing, which publishes Chinese editions of four of my books (Hills, Parting, Distant Mts., Compelling Image) and sells these in big numbers, is about to publish a Chinese edition of Painter’s Practice, which I hope will have a similarly large sale among my surprisingly big Chinese following. They also mean to publish my recent Pictures for Use and Pleasure in Chinese translation, and a picture-book on Chinese garden paintings that I have co-authored with two young Chinese--my part of the book is mostly old writings newly translated, theirs is entirely new.

- An anthology of my shorter writings in Chinese translation, long in preparation, is finally nearing publication by the China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou, with new Prefaces by three of their professors: Fan Jingzhong, Cao Yiqiang, and Hong Zaixin. (These three prefaces have just been published also in the 2011/2 issue of their journal Xin Meishu.)

- My article on "Visual, Verbal, and Global (?): Some Observations on Chinese Painting Studies,” which appears as CLP 176 on my website, will appear in Chinese translation in the forthcoming issue of Renmin University’s journal World Sinology. This is, for me, a particularly welcome event, because I want my ideas about the value of a visual approach to works of art, in addition to the “verbal” approach more commonly taught and practiced in China, to be more widely understood and more influential.

- My video-lectures on early Chinese painting, A Pure and Remote View, have been posted online only through Lecture 8B, on Literati Painting of Late Northern Song. But Lectures 9ABC on Southern Song Academy painting, and 10AB on bird-and-flower painting through Song, have long been finished and should go up soon, to be followed before long with the 11s (on Ma Yuan, Xia Gui, Ma Lin, and Liang Kai) and the 12s (on Jin painting and Chan painting). And before too long, d.v., a new series titled Gazing Into the Past will begin to appear--quite a few lectures in it are already planned, and several are more or less finished. Tell your Chinese friends: since Youtube is not accessible in China, the lectures can be viewed on a website called Tudou (Potato): go to

Other websites in China and Taiwan are devoted to these lectures and to commentary on my writings etc.--in effect, Gao Juhan fan clubs. How gratifying this is for an old scholar-teacher!

Finally: at the end of two previous blogs I printed old poems, written while I was a language officer in Korea in the 1940s, titled “Three Korean Street Scenes.” Here is the third of them:

III. Untitled

All along the streets of Seoul

Youths with twisted faces loll

Glaring at the passers-by

With bitter hatred in their eye

(So this is Korea, thinks Mrs. J.

Who got off the boat just yesterday

Beside the Bon Chung, on the ground

A boy in tattered clothing sits

Selling tubes of ointment found

In Army prophylactic kits

(How terribly sordid, thinks Major B.

As he walks with his wife and progeny)

Into his cart an old man bails

Brown liquid out of wooden pails

The smells of human ordure rise

Attracting myriads of flies

(How can they stand it? says Mr. L.

Crossing the street to avoid the smell)

Beside his towering firewood pack

A withered man rests on the street,

Then lifts the burden to his back

And staggers wearily to his feet

(What do they live for? asks Colonel R.

Driving by in his motor car)

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