Tag Archives: Chinese culture

A New Generation Poem for the Tsangs?

中華曾氏祖根地 (vignette)

中華曾氏祖根地: the Chinese lineage’s ancestral rootland.

In many Chinese and Korean families, you see that the names of the sons of the same generation share a character, a generation name 班次. My ancestor of the Sòng dynasty, for example, Emperor Taìzōng, was named Zhào Kuāngyì 趙匡義; his older brother, Emperor Taìzŭ, was named Zhào Kuāngyìn 趙匡胤. Besides sharing the surname Zhào , they had in common the generation name Kuāng . Now, as Wikipedia explains,

The sequence of generation is typically prescribed and kept in record by a generation poem (bāncì lián 班次聯 or pàizì gē 派字歌 in Chinese) specific to each lineage. While it may have a mnemonic function, these poems can vary in length from around a dozen characters to hundreds of characters. Each successive character becomes the generation name for successive generations.

For the Sòng dynasty House of Zhào, the poem goes, 若夫,元德允克、令德宜崇、師古希孟、時順光宗、良友彥士、登汝必公、不惟世子、與善之從、伯仲叔季、承嗣由同。 The poem’s 42 characters were split into three groups of 14 for the offspring of Sòng Taìzŭ and his two brothers. As Emperor Taìzŭ set forth for the family (with older romanizations from the book quoted),

Together with the Prince of Chin, Kuang-i, and the Prince of Ch’in, Kuang-mei, we will constitute three branches. Each will establish fourteen characters [for generation names] in the Jade Register so as to distinguish the streams and give order to the [spirit] tablets. Although our posterity may be distant in time and in relationship, they will not lose their order.

According to this præscription, my grandfather had the character in his name, as did all of his brothers. So it has been, for my mother’s family, since the 10th century of our Lord Jesus Christ; but my own clan, despite its descent from the Xià king Shàokāng 少康, has not had such a long and constant usage.

zhao-genealogy-kuangyin-kuangyi

This record shows the ancestry of Zhào Kuāngyì 趙匡義.

zhao-genealogy-dun

The ancestry traces back through Zhào Dùn 趙盾.

Of the generation poems used by those of the ancient House of , there are so many (beware: Tripod page with popup adverts!), and of such diversity, that there clearly is nothing like a standard. What was once used by my branch of the family has been interrupted by the convulsions of the 20th century. Though we clearly maintain commonalities between brothers – my father’s generation having the character and mine having , even for my cousin – these generation names have not at all been drawn from the poem formerly used. Instead, my father’s generation received an accent on the nation, and mine on righteousness. In each, of course, is an ethical orientation. Herein I see the makings of a new generation poem that has yet to be written. Since my grandfather was the seniormost Christian in the family (though his conversion was not the first), his name should be the one that heads the poem, and the poem can mark a new beginning by expressly giving glory to Christ the Saviour of the nations.

炳國義, and the rest is unwritten. But even here, with just three characters, we can see some order. My grandfather’s character ‘bright, luminous’ has the radical for fire, ; my father’s character ‘territory, nation’ clearly suggests earth; my character ‘righteousness, justice’ is associated with metal. Thus we have gone from summer to the ripe season to autumn, and the next in the cycle of the five phases of matter and energy (wŭxíng) is winter and water. A cycle of five itself suggests lines of five characters each, whether four lines for 20 syllables or eight lines for 40. Numerologically, 40 can correspond to the days of rain and flooding in the time of Noah, or the years of Israel’s wandering until the faithless generation had died, or the days of Jesus’s fast in the wasteland to suffer the temptations of man; 20, however, is of no significance. But when the cycle of five has gone eight times, which makes an octave of a feast to the Lord, signifying the spiritual Eighth Day of the week, then shall we have the number of trigrams and the number of persons on Noah’s Ark and the number of the Beatitudes. Let the poem, the jìntĭshī 近體詩, be written thus.

炳國△△ 義某 某△○ ●
某某○○ 某某 某△△ ●

某某○○ 某某 某○△ △  parallelism
某某△△ 某某 某△○ ●

某某△△ 某某 某○○ △  parallelism
某某○○ 某某 某△△ ●

某某○○ 某某 某○△ △
某某△△ 某某 某△○ ●

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Mulan Complained to the Enemy

唧唧復唧唧,木蘭當戶織。不聞機杼聲,唯聞女歎息。問女何所思,問女何所憶。女亦無所思,女亦無所憶。

Apparently there is some ruckus about a live-action Mulan film being made by Disney and the titular character potentially being played by a White woman. This is the sort of thing, evidently, that fires up the American-born East Asians.

I simply have no preference. If we knew our own value, we would not need it affirmed by Disney (!). Have we sunk so low, have we so fallen in our own estimation, as to wait around for the White media to affirm our dignity, taking umbrage when they fail to do so? Are we not masters of our own fate, not needing the White man to tell us what we are worth? As I see it, demanding that the White masters throw us this bone is a distraction from the actual reins of power. Therefore, I will not play the game.

Will we for once step out of the capitalist framework? The very fact that our families are eating this stuff up already means we are acknowledging such masters. There are higher powers than the Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic (WEIRD) oligarchy. There are ways of greater humanity, and greater dignity, than bringing our complaints before those who need not be our masters. There is a God, and in his natural order the family has real authority, authority that cannot be taken away by big money. I trust that, given power from on high, we can do what God wills, and we need fear no opposition from the oligarchs. Their power is an excuse, and their system a deception, and by the power of God they need not be paid any honour. Gods? They will fall like Dagon before the face of the living God.

So pass down to our children the virtues and the values of our Chinese fathers. Without Disney, how many Chinese Americans are even hearing about 木蘭 (Mulan)? How many know even a single line of the 木蘭辭 (Ballad of Mulan)? I see no reason that we have to depend on the so-called mainstream media to form our children, for whose formation we have a God-given trust. Aye, Disney is popular, but no one has to go with it simply because it sells with other folk. I imagine a day when Chinese children are able to say to other children, ‘Let me tell you the original story of Mulan.’ This requires no great expenditure of money to rival that of Disney, but it does require effort and learning. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will the control of the international oligarchs be broken in a day. Nevertheless, I trust you can see that there are things ordinary folk can do even with their limited funds. The Black folk began to resist their oppression when at least some of them saw their own value in the eyes of God and needed no White man to tell them what they had heard from God. As weak as our spirits are today, were we in the Blacks’ position then, we would never have started.

Trying to harness the propaganda machine for our own interests, in response to its perceived injustice, is a fool’s errand. Such effort to ‘work within the system’ may seem practical, but the propaganda machine is not subject to good uses. No, far better to reject it entirely and take responsibility for our own lives than to accept masters who have no right. Those Asians who do the latter, their vision is too small, and they do not see that too small a vision here is doomed to fail for lack of resistance to the institutions by which the oligarchs maintain themselves. Noise does not make up for timidity; being coöpted into the mainstream achieves nothing of consequence.

Of course, we must not neglect that we have more than a century and a half of shame, shame that we bring with us when we immigrate to America. We feel that we must assimilate. We feel that we must do – and do well – what the White folk do. That this is true to some extent I cannot deny: I myself took pains to master English grammar and become at least passingly familiar with Latin. But there it is. We do not see, or we feign an inability to see, that today’s prevailing culture in America is degenerate. Even as we urge our sons and daughters not to fall to the level of matching the Whites in learning and in sexual morals, we acquiesce to the voices of those who would teach our children to do just that. But why should we listen to the voices that have taught America to become decadent? Have we not enough shame in our own condition, that we must also bring upon our names the shame that marks the ungodly?

Virtue is more than conformity. It is like the lotus rising out of a pool of filth, pure in the midst of defilement. In a midst of a decadent people, will we gain any strength worth having by taking up the most debased customs and relying on the most corrupt institutions? To think so is not prudent, nor is it wise to entrust ourselves to those who serve these gods. They have their day today, and then their time will come tomorrow. It does us no favours to join our destinies to that of the wicked. To throw in our lot with them is a gamble that a sense of caution will have us recoil from.

If there be any stigma for the non-White, look at the stigmata of Jesus Christ; behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow; yet by the will of God, and in spite of the will of man, he was raised from the dead on the third day. See how meek he was, how he submitted to the perfect will of God, to suffer and die and be buried and descend to the place of the dead; and yet how strong he was in the face of the ungodly, that he did not stint to say, when asked whether he was the Christ, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Or see how his Church, after this example, and with his Holy Spirit, also bled for his holy Name – how, after his resurrection, all of the Apostles but one gave up his life for the sake of the gospel. It is not a want of power but a want of conviction that makes Chinese Americans fear stigma. The complaints they make to the powers that be are only a game of make-believe that those powers have set up themselves. If Chinese Americans believed their own words, they would join themselves to Christ and fear nothing, and no fear of man would keep them from using critical judgement against the devices of the unjust; for in the gospel is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith.

Having eyes to see, we are able to judge what is degenerate and reject what is decadent. We see that the proper centre of the home is not the television but the altar. We see that the proper executive authority of the home is not the state or the corporations but the father. We see that the proper use of the home is not the mere consumption of goods but the training of human persons in industry and, more than that, in righteousness. It is here, and not with the instruments of propaganda, that formation begins. It was with the slaves, and not with the White masters, that beliefs and practices were passed down to affirm the worth and dignity of the Black man. It is through the work of fathers and mothers, not the choices of Disney, that Chinese Americans will find again their humanity from the Most High God.