Sunday, March 29, 2009


Reading the notes I made from some of the books I read between finishing my Masters and coming to China. Here are some quotes that jump out after two years.

From Alastair McIntosh's Soil and Soul:

The mainstream manufactures people as a monoculture. It turns people out
cloned rows of apple-trees on pesticide-manicured fields. The
"trains" people by pruning. It forces growth in standardised
ways. The song that
we sing from within the mainstream is therefore not our
own song. It does not
issue from the open gates of the soul.

In Memories, Dreams and Reflections in his Chapter on Freud, Jung points out that to be ignorant of nature is to be neurotic. For example to not understand paradoxes, like cabbage thrives in dung, is to be unaware of the delicate balance that we are part of, and that we are also organisms of the soil.

Also from Soil and Soul

No place is more sacred, no people more worthy of honour, than those who have
made beauty blossom anew out of desecration.

Prosperity has blossomed anew in China, but beauty?

Later on in Soil and Soul

A large company is, indeed, a mindless monster, unless people all the way
through the system devote themselves to making it otherwise. Then, and only
then, can it start to become something like a community with values, and maybe
even something of a soul.

Jung in the chapter entitled School Years on discovering Schopenhauer:

Here at last was a philosopher who had the courage to see that all was not for
the best in the fundaments of the universe. He spoke neither of the all-good and
all-wise providence of the Creator, nor of the harmony of the cosmos, but stated
bluntly that a fundamental flaw underlay the sorrowful course of human history
and the cruelty of nature.

Oh and, David Starkey in the Guardian article I'm reading right now: "Not to invent yourself is to be false. To follow preordained rules is a profound betrayal of what it means to be human" Take that Catholic Church and CCP!

1 comment:

Nick Herman said...

All wise passages. I've been enjoying your zhongwen songs. Keep it up! I'm doing a little translating now for an internship with a bike coalition. It's pretty good practice trying to translate lots of very colloquial expressions like, "Put your pedal to the medal and roll on over to an energizer station!"

I've become somewhat disenchanted by the way the organization seems to be run(underpaying people to work overtime, an obsession on the latest internet-linked-apps as a way of generating the maximal possible amount of PR and buzz), but it's been a good experience and I believe in the cause (making cities more bike/pedestrian friendly, cutting down on car-use).

In the process of translating posters to be read by both Mandarin and Cantonese speakers, the most useful thing I've learned is that 自行車 apparently makes no sense to the latter, so 單車 is used, even though I've always heard 自行車 in the context of Mandarin.