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"Posted by admin [of the Purdue Chinese Calligraphy Club] on Wednesday, January 31
this word is quite visually poetic. the left radical is "water" and the right side is "birth" and "river". refer to zhongwen.com
"birth" is a picture of a plant rising from the ground."
[extract from an earlier post by the same admin]
APPEARANCE OF EARLY CHINESE SCRIPT
时间：2010-08-11 来源：文通网 作者：
Still thinking about the migrations between oral and textual language and literature.
Beyond English and French in the ear, I received a lot of Latin as well, then Polish, via the churches attended, and through the eyes via the writing on iconography and signs and hymnals. Given the way that both Europe and European languages developed, very exclusive and powered along by conflictive churches, makers and hoarders of textual language and literacy, destructive bouts of decimation of local and original culture and controlling interpretations down to the present day, of what really is and what really is not, across the Americas and around the world, even in the realms of enforced literacy it is an ongoing hobble of the mind, to greater and lesser degrees, for all participants.*
So, it was my pleasure in the mid-1980s, to spend some time at my local Taoist tan, as awkward there as anywhere else, absorbent of the languages of community and worship, of new production of spirit writing and the group sessions of translation, where we as a group of fellow travellers interacted very intimately at the interface of languages and realities.
Whether or not I learned more than a word or two or a phrase or two in Chinese, classical poetic or pass the soup, I was immersed in a languaging experience that was a major life learning. It begins with a boyfriend who spends his spare time practising calligraphy, then follows the immersion in a community of worship and collaboration. Then follows a year or two of study of tai chi and kung fu under Peter Chau, and collaborations with him (and Henry) on the Four Sisters Housing bilingual newsletter, a chance to understand differently, to begin to embody some of the poetic forms and scientific principles through mimicry, and through relatedness.
Immediately after my first book was published, I went to stay in Taipei, a six month further immersion where i learned important words like "shiao liao" [小鸟], said of a crow-like bird, and seeing for myself the altars in the tire shops, the fête-ing of deity, tortoise shell words and the inked notes, the ancient boney plates taken from the bodies of horses, way way way back in the day. The vast history of books from the bone to the fan and the scroll, the calligraphic arts and the printing presses, on down to the modern multi-lingual publishing industry and the Taipei Book Fair.
Becoming literate is only one way to relate to any given language. We can love our languages however we come to know and meet them. The burden of cultural intervention and the vanquishing of languages, that has left a shard in the heart of so many non-European language speakers of the world, or at least of the Americas, and the ongoing missionary impulse to surge in with Christianity and Capitalism wherever a community becomes extremely vulnerable due to natural forces of the world, and shows it's belly~ all these are perhaps viewed most benignly in terms of the flow of energy, life force, qi. The answer to stagnation is stimulation, activity, nourishment, leading again to flourishing.
I once heard a friend express discomfort, a belief that indigenous people of the Americas are the only people not mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps there is some advantage to my coming to love language in a sensual and friendly way, rather than becoming a polyglot. I might have mentioned to her how cool it was, to see ads in the paper for Native Speakers of English-- imagine! But she has travelled to China, too, and so our conversations have always taken a different turn. It does seem to be important for me, however, to point again and again to the breadth of the world, and the depth of time flowing through us. To say, with complete conviction, there is no shame in that.
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sources + notes:
*This riff is not meant as the whole story of Europe, by any means. Following a thread of truth means not following other threads for the moment. Given that the source of so much of cultural "West" is also called "Middle East," I settled on the bit that was a reasonable starting place for me.
I am not suggesting that Chinese historical evolutions are somehow magically free of the conflictive and controlling, the colonizations and the decimations of local cultures. Obviously not.
At the time I was visiting, Taiwan's opposition parties were only beginning to be allowed to protest in public, all language speakers had to learn Mandarin as the imposed language of choice, and below the settler class and the ruling class there are and were indigenous people, and a memory of Japanese occupation, fresh in the minds, visible in the social conventions and the shapes of the houses.
The country had (and has) a landbase the size of Vancouver Island, with a then-population the same as Canada's, and a looming powerful fellow country, cousins in the same way Canada and the US are cousins, very nearby.
In the second Purdue practise sheet above, "birth," I love the way another character is hinted at and almost seen, through the thinness of the page. That is a part of what I find so endearing. Everyone has ancestors and every community, every family has it's story, and whether or not these are known~ and how they are known~ nonetheless we embody the past in the present, and carry it into the future as we go.