From David Cain’s Wild Wild West persona Kwang Chai Cain, the peripatetic peace-loving Shaolin monk to Disney’s Mulan, Kung Fu Panda and upcoming Moana to the Karate Kid, the allure of Eastern Thought has held a certain popular appeal. Here we listen to noted Chinese novelist, philosopher, translator and inventor (a Chinese typewriter plus a toothpaste-dispensing toothbrush) Lin Yutang as he reconciles his upbringing as the son of a Chinese Pastor with his learning in Chinese Classics and later return to Christianity.
The power of music has been lauded as essential not just to man but to the cosmos by diverse figures ranging from Plato to Martin Luther, who declared “next to the word of God, music deserves the highest praise.” Pythagoras first spoke of the “music of the spheres” in an astronomical sense, as the same geometry found in humming strings could be found in the spacing of the planets; Aristotle argued against such “music of the spheres” (since no one could actually hear it), though two millennia (1619) later Johannes Kepler published De Harmonice Mundi (Harmony of the Spheres) arguing for just such a connection.
“I have often had a fancy for writing a romance about an English yachtsman who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that it was a new island in the South Seas… There will probably be an impression that the man who landed (armed to the teeth and talking by signs) to plant the British flag on that barbaric temple which turned out to be the Pavilion at Brighton, felt rather a fool… What could be more glorious than to brace one’s self up to discover New South Wales and then realize, with a gush of happy tears, that it really was old South Wales. How can we contrive to be at once astonished at the world and yet at home in it? … how can this world give us at once the fascination of a strange town, and the comfort and honour of being our own town? … I wish to set forth my faith as particularly answering this double spiritual need, the need for that mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar which Christianity has rightly named romance.”
“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom. I am not, as will be seen, in any sense attacking logic: I only say that this danger does lie in logic, not in imagination.”
“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist…” but before we get to this classic, lets build up to it a little bit:
“The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old CHristian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their care is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”
“The peril is that the human intellect is free to destroy itself. Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought”
The modern world as I found it was solid for Calvinism, for the necessity of things being as they are … All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately on one assumption; false assumption. It is supposed that a if thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive, it would dance … Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising.
I have always liked “capture the flag” and even more, the board version, Stratego. It is probably good to put like a #7/Sergeant inside your bombs surrounding your flag, once the #8/Miner breaks through, he will need a friend to gain the ultimate prize.
But, once again, CS Lewis comes to the rescue, here is a good quote ok a few, regarding flags and military operations:
no material yet, but I have found this a paradox: why do some of these characters look even more like each other than one might otherwise suspect?
again, for this chapter “I’ve got nothin” so far. Eternal Revolution,
a little bit like Chairman Mao’s “continuous revolution” (an analog improvement on the USSR’s 5 year plans for world revolution and domination). Too bad Bill and Ted did not take him on their Excellent Adventure(s)
There are certainly plenty of keen insights as to how an otherwise stultifying, byzantine term like “Orthodoxy” can have Romantic (at lest in the classical sense) overtures and undertones and at the same time, but I have not dug up any such as of yet.
Until we get to Chapter VIII, I leave a few random thoughts and images
Hallmark captures the earthy Venusian essence of Romance
Andrei Rublev’s Trinity (1411 – OR – 1425-1427)
Currently resides in Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow