Salute to the Nobody

Life is a journey, and we rhyme it with a poem.

IMG_0937

Continue reading

Advertisements

BOOK REPORT: Winesburg, Ohio | Sherwood Anderson

     Winesburg, Ohio, great.

     Sherwood Anderson, great.

     Winesburg, Ohio, published in 1919, is defined a masterpiece of Sherwood Anderson and also world’s finest literature. This is not about boasting or following the suit. The tales and persons are vividly portrayed, imagined though, in a perfect way.

     There are 21 short stories totally. I would rather not say that it’s a collection of short stories concentrated on different people and different personalities, but a novel which is essentially made up of several short stories that are appeared independently while connected somehow.

     I was impressed, first of all, by his good command of English. The description of the appearance, characteristics, utterance of people is way to amazing which is the result of his keen observation. According to a letter Anderson wrote to his novelist friend, he had made “a serious of intensive studies of people in his hometown and there is a sad note running through them. One or two of them get pretty closely down to ugly things of life.”

     In Chapter II, Hands, Anderson exerted his efforts to portray the hands just like the way he did to a person. Wing Biddlebaum, the major character, was talked about, mocked, remembered for that pair of hands which like a signature of him that he hated and blamed. “The man was bald and his nervous little hands fiddles about the bare white forehead as though arranging a mass of tangled locks.” The story of Wing Biddlebaum is a story of hand. “The slender expressive fingers, forever active, forever striving to conceal themselves in his pockets or behind his back, came forth and became the piston rods of his machinery of expression.” More miserable, “their restless activity, like unto the beating of the wings of an imprisoned bird, had given him his name. Some obscure poet of the town had thought of it.” What a tragedy! Linguistically speaking, the power to name implies the power to control. I have read this several times and every time I read it a strong feeling of anxiety and grief strikes me. There is a deep fear in this man. It is the fear that made his life miserable and more. The tragedy did not linger. It spreads to his whole life and captured him like a nightmare. But there was a moment that for once he forgot the hands. “You must try to forget all you have learned. You must begin to dream. From this time on you must shut your ears to the roaring of the voices.” He is the one that shut the door to get relief for himself.

        “Upon the veranda of his house by the ravine, Wing Biddlebaum continued   to walk up and down until the sun had disappeared and the road beyond the field was lost in the grey shadows. Going into his house he cut slices of bread and spread honey upon them. When the rumble of the evening train that took away the express cars loaded with the day’s harvest of berries had passed and restored the silence of the summer night, he went again to walk upon veranda. In the darkness he could not see the hands and they become quiet. Although he still hungered for the presence of the boy, who was the medium through which he expressed his love of man, the hunger became again a part of his loneliness and his waiting. Lighting a lamp, Wing Biddlebaum washed the few dishes soiled by his simple meal and, setting up a folding cot by the screen door that led to the porch, prepared to undress for the night. A few stray white bread crumbs lay on the cleanly washed floor by the table; putting the lamp upon a low stool he began to pick up the crumbs, carring them to his mouth one by one with unbelievable rapidity. In the dense blotch of light beneath the table, the kneeling figure looked like a priest engaged in some service of his church. The nervous expressive fingers, flashing in and out of the light, might well have been mistaken for the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through decade after decade of his rosary.”

     “在靠近山涧的房屋前廊,飞翼手比德•鲍姆来回徘徊不停,直到夕阳消逝了,田野那边的道 路隐没在灰色的阴影里。走进屋子,他切了几片面包,涂上蜂蜜。晚间的火车载着全天收获的浆果,隆隆地驶去,夏天的夜晚恢复了宁静,他再一次走到游廊上。黑 暗中,他无法看见自己的手,它们也保持着安静。他依然渴望着少年的到来,通过这个中介他才能表达对人类的热爱,可是这盼望再一次成为他的孤独和期待的一部 分。点亮油灯,飞翼手比德•鲍姆清洗了简单的晚餐弄脏的几只盘子,然后把折叠床安放在通向走廊的纱门背后,准备脱衣就寝。桌子旁整洁的地板上撒着一些面包 屑,他把油灯移到一张矮凳上,检起面包屑,以让人难以相信的速度丢到自己嘴里。在桌子底下的一束束光斑中,他跪着的身体像极了教堂里正在祈祷的牧师。紧张 挥舞着的手指在光线中出没,极容易被人们误解为某个虔诚的人正迅速地一个个数着手中的念珠。”
     This is the very last paragraph of “Hands”, and I regard it as a sketch of the whole life of the character, Wing Biddlebaum.

     It is always truly acknowledge for me that a good work is like a allegory. No matter how tiny a molecules, it is meantime a vast world.

     I think that “小镇畸人” is a very good translation for Winesburg, Ohio. Most characters in Winesburg, Ohio are portrayed in a moment of crisis. They are repeatedly driven by sudden impulses and overwhelmed by strange compulsions that can be neither mastered nor understood. The prevailing mood—expressed in a colloquial and lyrical style—is one of misunderstanding and loneliness, restlessness, dissatisfaction and disillusionment. Anderson boldly depicts the destructive passions that swirl beneath the apparently calm surface which is opposite to the traditionally idyllic portrayal of small-town life.

     “That in the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such a thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were the truths and they were all beautiful. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.”

     “起初,世界年轻的时候,有许许多多的思想,但没有真理这东西。人自己创造真理,而每一个真理都是许多模糊思想的混合物。全世界到处是真理,而真理通通是美 丽的。一个人一旦为自己掌握一个真理,称之为他的真理,并且努力依此真理过他的生活时,他便变成畸人,他拥抱的真理便变成虚妄。”

     The so-called “Grotesques” include everyone of us, I assume.

     And I dare not to read it too many times, for once is enough to ensure myself not forgetting.

 

A Story of my Reading

The title of a poem is usually where I start to build a basic interaction. When I encountered with “The Unknown Citizen”, I tried to make a reasonable guess about what the poem will say. The first hunch was that it tended to introduce a person and relate to a civilized society.With a supposition of the theme of the poem in mind, I read the poem through the first time. It was unexpected to have so much information while I was wondering how the citizen was“unknown”. Though there were some phrases unapprehended, I noticed that the poem had talked about a person from different and important aspects as a social member. After all these things that I have known about this “citizen”, I found the thing “unknown” at the end of the poem which corresponding to the title and apparently was the key to the understanding of the poem. The “citizen” in the poem appeared to be a perfect “citizen” rather than a real person. My first reading had proved my guess, but I felt that my interpretation still stayed on a superficial level. I needed more information and details to lead me to a deeper understanding.

During the second reading, I paid more attention to details and implied meanings while trying to answer questions on the work that were raised on my first reading. I examined those authorities mentioned in the poem and their importance for being chosen by the poet with my own experience and background knowledge about how the society worked. It seemed that this “citizen” was really a “saint in the modern sense” fulfilling every requirement of the society. He was obedient, hard-working and flowed with the tide. However, he was normal and average. I learned how the authorities and mechanisms think about him but nothing about the citizen himself: his thoughts, his feelings or his opinions on those authorities. I then further interpreted the information and found this citizen described as a record rather than an individual with distinctive characters. The comprehension of the known part of the citizen is essential to the understanding of the “unknown” part. I felt that I had been closer to the core of the work.

Based on what I had learned previously, I read the poem the third time straightening my thinking and trying to get a conclusion. The focus of the poem should be the contradiction of the known and unknown. On the first read, I had fixed the theme of the poem. Then I analyzed details for evidence proving my supposition and answers to questions remained before while reading the work the second time. So I was able to get a better comprehension of the work and complete my understanding. The poem appeared to describe a citizen with adequate information but failed in providing basic information to identify this citizen such as a name. The poet criticized the society treating a person as data and showing no respect to citizens with a sarcastic tone.

BOOK REPORT: My Country and My People | Lin yutang

     Lin Yutang, born in 1895, was a world-renowned novelist, essayist, philosopher, philologist and lexicographer. The New York Times said at the time of his death,” Lin Yutang had no peer as an interpreter to western minds of the customs, aspirations, fears and thought of his people.” My Country and My People was finished in 1935. In the book, he surveyed the mental and moral constitution and ideals of the Chinese people, as well as society, literature and the art of living.

     The book was divided into two large parts, Bases and Life. In each part, he further divided it into several categories which then were analysed explicitly with several aspects.

     Part I, Bases, was constituted by four chapters, namely, the Chinese People, the Chinese Character, the Chinese Mind and Ideals of Life.

     In the first Chapter, Lin Yutang mainly focused on five aspects of Chinese People. Firstly, apart from the cultural unity which bind the Chinese people as a nation, the southern Chinese differ probably as much from the northerners, in temperament, physique and habits, and happily, within orbit of the Chinese culture there has not been a rise of nationalism, but only of provincialism. Second, man in China has adapted himself to a social and cultural environment that demands stamina, resistance power and negative strength, and he has lost a great part of mental and physical powers of conquest and adventure which characterized his forebears in the primeval forests. Third, today the Chinese people possesses a large extent the racial vigor which can be explained as the infusion of new blood. Fourth, the racial stamina and racial vitality enables the Chinese people to survive political disasters and regenerate itself through foreign blood, is party constitutional and partly cultural. Among thecultural forces making for social stability must be counted first of all the Chinese family system and the complete absence of established classes be another. Fifth, the Chinese are culturally old but racially young.

     In Chapter II, the Chinese Characters are discussed. Firstly, Lin Yutang began withmellowness which suggest the qualities of a civilization built for strength and endurance rather than the qualities for progress and conquest. Then comes the three worst and most striking characteristics, patience, indifference and old roguery. The quality of patience is the result of racial adjustment to a condition where over population and economic pressure leave very little room for people to move about and is, in particular, a result of family system, which is a miniature of Chinese society. Indifference is largely due to the lack of legal protection and constitutional guarantee for personal liberty. Old roguery is due, for lack of a better word, to the Taoistic view of life. All these qualities are products of the same environment. Chinese pacificism is largely a matter of temperament as well as of human understanding. The spirit of cheerfulness and contentment is found in both the literature and illiterate classes, for such is penetration of the Chinese racial tradition. A strong determination to get the best of our life, a keen desire to enjoy what one has, and no regrets if one fails: this is the secret of the Chinese genius for contentment. Chinese humor is more in deeds than in words. No portrait of the Chinese character would be complete without a mention of its conservation.

     In Chapter III, Lin Yutang leads us to know things concerned the Chinese Mind. He suggested that Chinese suffer from an overdose of intelligence. And in many respects the Chinese mind is akin to the feminine mind. According to the author, the certain characteristics of Chinese thinking enables us to appreciate the cause of our failure to develop natural science. Chinese logic is based on the Chinese conception of truth, which according to the Chinese, can never be proved: it can only be suggested. The Chinese have resorted largely on intuition. The world of imagination in China is not confined to the illiterate. And to Lin Yutang, the most characteristic creatures of the Chinese imagination are the lovely female ghosts.

     In Chapter IV, Lin Yutang explored the ideal of life in China. To understand the Chinese ideal of life, he put, one must try to understand Chinese humanism, which implies, first a just conception of the end of human life; secondly, a complete devotion to these end; thirdly the attainment of these ends by the spirit of human reasonableness of the Doctrine of the Golden Mean, which may also be called the Religion of Common Sense. It has been pointed out that the Confusion outlook on life is positive, while the Taoistic outlook is negative. Taoism is the Great Negation, as Confucianism is the Great Affirmation. Confucianism, thought its doctrine of propriety and social status, stands for human culture and restriant , while Taoism, with its emphasis on going back to nature, disbelieves in human restraint and culture.Buddhism is the only important foreign influence that has become part and parcel of Chinese life.

     In Part II, Life, Lin Yutang also observed it through five directions, that is Woman’s Life, Social and Political Life, Literary Life, the Artistic Life and the Art of Living.

     In the discussion of Woman’s Life, Lin Yutang examined eight aspects including the subjection of woman, home and marriage, ideal of womanhood, education of daughters,love and courtship, the courtesan and concubinage, footbinding and emancipation. And it is from nine aspects that Lin Yutang looked into social and political life in China, absence of the social mind, the family system, nepotism, corruption and manners, privilege and equality, social classes, the male triad, the female triad, the village system, and “government by gentleman”. The literary life and artistic life also have very much details that reveal the true meaning of Chinese culture. Finally comes the particular Chinese art of living.

     What impresses me most is Lin Yutang’s good command of English, which is not his mother tongue. The language is accurate and beautiful indeed. Clear structure has been delivered. It is not hard for me to follow him all the way to the end of the book. And he has also examined this country and the people in very details. He provided us a general content of the whole country and people, then cut it into pieces and deeply analysed it and then show us the connection among them which in turn helped us to build the general conception in whole. In this way, we could better understand it.

     He wrote,” China is too big a country, and her national life has too many facets for her not to be open to the most diverse interpretations. I can lay bare her troubles because I have not lost hope.” To be put as a “her”, China becomes a mother-like figure which is correspond with my mind. China born and China nerd, I couldn’t love her more. “When one is in China, one is compelled to think about her, with compassion always, with despair sometimes, and with discrimination and understanding very rarely.” This sentence in his prologue of Part I suddenly striked me with realizing that no completely understanding of China-my country-is in my mind. Then I follow the organized details in this book step by step along with the increasing understanding of my country and my people.

     In the very last Chapter, Lin Yutang showed us a new perspective of life. The human spirit, according to him, is used to beautify life, to extract its essence, perhaps to help it overcome ugliness and pain inevitable in the world of our senses, but never to escape from it and find its meaning in a life hereafter.

      “In every aspect of knowledge and art of living, the test of life holds. It accounts for our pleasures and our antipathies. The test of life was with a racial thought, wordless and needing no definition or giving of reasons. It was that test of life which, instinctively I think, guided us to distrust civic civilization and uphold the rural ideal in art, life and letters, to dislike religion in our rational moments, to play with Buddhism but never quite accept its logical conclusions, and to hate mechanical ingenuity. It was that instinctive trust in life that gave us a robust common sense in looking at life’s kaleidoscopic changes and the myriad vexatious problems of the intellect which we rudely ignored. It enables us to see life steadily and see life whole, with no great distortions of values. It taught us some simple wisdom, like respect for old age and the joys of domestic life, acceptance of life, of sex and of sorrow. It made us lay emphasis on certain common virtues like endurance, industry, thrift, moderation and pacifism. It prevented the development of freakish extreme theories and the enslaving of man by products of his own intelligence. It gave us a sense of values, and taught us to accept the material as well as the spiritual goods of life. It taught us that, after all is said and done, human happiness is the end of all knowledge. And we arrange ourselves to make our lives happy on this planet, under whatever vicissitudes of fortune.”

I love the way he expresses the test of life. Yes. Life is precious that when we know something truly satisfied us, we hold on to it tight, as a mother hugs her baby close to her breast in dark, stormy night. So much of life is merely a farce. It is sometimes just as well to stand by and look at it and smile, better perhaps than to take part in it. Like a dreamer awakened, we see life, not with the romantic coloring of yesternight’s dream but with a saner vision. We are more ready to give up the dubious, the glamorous and the unattainable, but at the same time to hold on to the few things that we know will give us happiness.

     He then compared the national life and human life to the year with four seasons.

“For we are now in the autumn of our national life. There comes a time in our lives, as nations and as individuals, when we are pervaded by the spirit of early autumn, in which green is mixed with gold and sadness is mixed with joy, and hope is mixed with reminiscence. There comes a time in our lives when the innocence of spring is a memory and the exuberance of summer a song whose echoes remain faintly in the air, when as we look out on life, the problem is not how to grow but how to live truly, not how to strive and labor but how to enjoy the precious moments we have, not to squander our energy but how to conserve it in preparation for the coming winter. A sense of having arrived somewhere, of having settled and having found out what we want. A sense of having achieved something also, precious little compared with its past exuberance, but still something, like an autumn forest shorn of its summer glory but retaining such of it as will endure.

I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So i like best of autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tone mellower, its colors richer, and it is tinged a little with sorrow and a premonition of death. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and is content. From a knowledge of those limitations and its richness of experience emerges a symphony of colors, richer than all, its green speaking of life and strength, its orange speaking of golden content and its purple of resignation and death.

I never mean to use these long paragraphs to make my report look sufficient in length. When I typed these words by single letters, I try to permeate it into my heart and my philosophy of life. I want to remember these words deeply in my heart.

 

Rumors persist of HTC One with stock Android, despite the official denial

VIA: Phandroid
SOURCE: Geek
FROM: Engadget

Is Russell Holly a seer of the future, or did he just manage to get lucky? That’s the question we’re currently kicking around at Engadget. You see, when he first revealed that a Galaxy S 4 would be introduced at Google I/O with stock Android, we quickly dismissed it as something that’d never happen in a million years. Then it came true the very next day. Now, Holly is back with another mighty tall claim: “HTC is considering a stock Android variant of the One for release in theUS.” In fairness, rumors of such a phone began to circulate last week, but were quenched just as quickly by HTC. Contrary to the denial, however, Holly claims that multiple sources have informed him of an HTC One that’s in the works with stock Android 4.2.2. It’s tough to make heads or tails of Holly’s report, especially since he follows the assertion that HTC is “considering” such a phone with a claim that it’ll be announced within the next two weeks. Naturally, we’re taking this with more than the usual dose of skepticism, but like Fox Mulder, we want to believe.

The Best Anti-War Poem

War, like love, is always a popular theme of poetry. Of the three war poems, I find that “Grass” by Carl Sandburg best suits the situation of anti-war rally. I draw this conclusion after a careful examination considering three criteria: whether the poem can strike a chord in Americans and people of the world, whether the poem conveys the senselessness of the war to the reader appropriately and whether the poem is easy to understand.

To begin with, since the poem is chosen for the opening of an anti-war rally, it must be able to arouse sympathy of audiences including people of different colors, religions and ages. In order to achieve this effect, it should be capable of bringing audiences closertogether and gaining recognition of its hearers. The poem “Grass” by Carl Sandburg does a good work at this point by adopting first point of view and employing “nature” as the narrator to put all people in this big background and draw nearer the distance among audiences. In contrast, the poem “Facing It” by Yueself Komunyakaa, also in first point of view, builds an invisible wall between “I”, an African American veteran, and its hearers while it suggests others in the memorial couldn’t have the same deeper understanding and feeling toward the war. As for the poem “The War in the Air” by Howard Nemerov, it limits itself to the war in the air, which may weaken its effect of appealing to all kinds of audiences. As a result, these two poems fail to fulfill the requirement according to the first criterion.

Secondly, the poem for the rally is supposed to introduce the pain and damage that war has caused to the individual and human beings in an appropriate tone. Using and repeating the word “pile”, “Grass” presents the toll that the consequences of war take on humanity. Besides, it condemns that people cover it up and never learn from it by listing some famous battles in the history. “Austerlitz”, “Waterloo”, “Gettysburg” and the other two, no matter how much significance and glory they might bring, just like the one that is going on, they cost a lot more than that. And what’s shameful is that people try to cover it up and forget it. Although the tone of it appears to be impassive, it produces a sarcastic effect. The repetition pattern throughout the whole poem strengthens the sarcastic effect and resentful tone. Whereas, “Facing It” mainly focuses on the depiction of the feeling and imagination of the poetry as a veteran. It tends to emphasize the unbearable and ineradicable harm war had brought to those who experienced it while neglecting the pain that it caused to the whole community and to the humanity. However, “The War in the Air” does a good work in conveying the dark side of the war from a broader perspective. It takes both “we”who see the war as lookers-on and “our dead” who sacrificed in the war, both winners and losers into discussion implying that there is no winner in war and both sides share the loss. In light of this criterion, both “Grass” and “The War in the Air” could be good choice.

Finally, the poem should be easy to read and understand considering its educational goal and influences that the rally intends to gain. In respect of this criterion, “Grass” is evidently the best one not only due to its shortness but also its simple words and pattern. The poem is quite short and in a repetition pattern for emphasizing effect. There are no difficult words that need extra interpretation and audiences from different educational background can understand it with basic reading ability. Poetry deliberately chooses those most well-known battles thus audiences will feel no difficulty in comprehension. However,“Facing It” is more likely a stream of consciousness that hearers may find it hard to follow the thought of the poetry. “The War in the Air” creates a grief atmosphere and conveys a deep meaning but it may take hearers a while to think it through, let alone somesophisticated phrases the poetry uses such as “Per ardua” and “Per aspera”. Given the understandability, the favor should be on “Grass”.

Based on the analysis above, which considers closeness to the audience, depiction of the dark side of the war for the humanity and understandability, I can safely conclude that the poem “Grass” by Carl Sandburg is the best poem for the anti-war rally.