Sunday, October 31, 2010
The Shu consists of 58 chapters (including eight subsections), of which 33 are generally considered authentic works from the Warring States or earlier. The first five chapters of the book purport to preserve the sayings and recall the deeds of such illustrious emperors as Yao and Shun, who reigned during legendary age; the next 4 are devoted to the Xia Dynasty, the historicity of which has not been definitively established; the next 17 chapters deal with the Shang Dynasty and its collapse. The blame for this is placed on the last Shang ruler, who is described as oppressive, murderous, extravagant, and lustful. The final 32 chapters cover the Zhou Dynasty until the reign of Duke Mu of Qin.
The Classic of History contains some of the earliest examples of Chinese prose, and is considered one of the Five Classics. Many citations of the Shangshu can be found in the bamboo slips texts from the tombs of Guodian, in Hubei, dated to the 300 BC. The language is archaic and differs in grammar and vocabulary from that typical of prose from the classical age of Chinese literature (e.g., The Analects or The Mencius). This reflects an early date of composition in some chapters or deliberate use of archaism in others. The five announcements (誥) in the Documents of Zhou closely resemble inscriptions found on Western Zhou bronzes and are generally regarded as authentic products of that period (11th c. - 770 BCE). On the other hand, chapters that are purported to date from high antiquity (e.g., the Canons of Yao and Shun) likely date from the Spring and Autumn or Warring States periods.
In July 2008, Zhao Weiguo, an alumnus of Tsinghua University donated a collection of 2100 bamboo slips to his alma mater after obtaining them through auction in Hong Kong. The previous owner and the slips' whereabouts have not been revealed. In the collection, the Shangshu is one of the historical books. According to expert Li Xueqin, the collection dates to the Warring States Period from Hubei, the homeland of Chu.
Friday, October 29, 2010
It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. It is the tale of the disparate people—a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic—who become the rebel movement's leaders. And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolution's ultimate success.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is one of the high points of modern science fiction, a novel bursting with politics, humanity, passion, innovative technical speculation, and a firm belief in the pursuit of human freedom.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
by Michael Balter
ÇATALHÖYÜK, TURKEY--This 9000-year-old settlement in Anatolia was once hailed as the earliest city, with a population of 10,000, shared institutions, a division of labor, and a reliance on agriculture. But a meticulous new excavation of the site, being conducted by a team including on-site specialists in human and animal remains, fossil plants, pottery, and stone tools, is challenging the long-held assumption that the first settlements and the transition to agriculture were part of a single process dubbed the "Neolithic Revolution". By using the techniques of a relatively new field called micromorphology, which puts archaeological remains under the microscope to provide the maximum amount of information about how people lived and died, it now appears that the people of this high-density settlement, and other early communities, still depended heavily on hunting and gathering and may have settled down for some still-mysterious cultural purpose.
Read the full article here.
See Michael Balter's website here.
The important aspect of symbols in this definition is that symbols are models – and importantly, both models of and models for (Geertz 1973d:93). Systems of symbols function similarly; that is, systems of symbols act as models of reality and models for reality.
Religion also must establish something. What this “something” is differs from culture to culture, but in each culture this “something” must make sense of the lives people are leading. In addition, this something must be perceived as “uniquely realistic”; i.e., this feeling should be the ground-level interpretation of a culture. A man may not be religious, but when a man needs to find meaning at its deepest level, religion will be the system of symbols he uses.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
by Mario Vargas Llosa
Ricardo Somocurcio is in love with a bad girl. He loves her as a teenager known as “Lily” in Lima in 1950, when she arrives one summer out of the blue, claiming to be from Chile but vanishing the moment her claim is exposed as fiction. He loves her next in Paris, where she appears as the enchanting “Comrade Arlette,” an activist en route to Cuba, and becomes his lover, albeit n icy, remote one who denies knowing anything about the ily of years gone by. Whoever the bad girl turns up as—whether it’s Madame Robert Arnoux, the wife of a high-ranking UNESCO fficial, or Kuriko, the mistress of a sinister Japanese businessman—and however poorly she treats him, Ricardo is doomed to worship her.
The protean Lily, gifted liar and irresistible, maddening muse—does Ricardo ever know who she really is? The answer is as unclear as what has become of Ricardo himself, a lifelong expatriate shadowed by the sense that he is only ever drifting. In Mario Vargas Llosa’s beguiling new novel, the strange bedfellows of good and bad turn out not to be what they appear.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Brian Doherty is a senior editor at Reason magazine. His articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers, and books, including the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, and The Weekly Standard. He is also the author of This is Burning Man: The Rise of a New American Underground. He lives in Los Angeles.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
The latter part of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's distressed reaction to Enkidu's death, which takes the form of a quest for immortality. Gilgamesh attempts to learn the secret of eternal life by undertaking a long and perilous journey to meet the immortal flood hero, Utnapishtim. Ultimately the poignant words addressed to Gilgamesh in the midst of his quest foreshadow the end result: "The life that you are seeking you will never find. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping." Gilgamesh, however, was celebrated by posterity for his building achievements, and for bringing back long-lost cultic knowledge to Uruk as a result of his meeting with Utnapishtim. The story is widely read in translation, and the protagonist, Gilgamesh, has become an icon of popular culture.
Williams's classic play begins with Blanche DuBois's arrival in New Orleans to stay with her sister and brother-in-law, Stella and Stanley Kowalski. The determinedly genteel Blanche is shocked by their lower-class lifestyle-and by Stanley's frequently aggressive behavior. As Blanche's secrets catch up with her, a seedy reality trumps her love for romance.
Tennessee Williams, born Thomas Lanier Williams in 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi won Pulitzer Prizes for his dramas, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Other plays include The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, The Rose Tattoo, Camino Real, Suddenly Last Summer, Sweet Bird of Youth and Night of the Iguana. He also wrote a number of one-act plays, short stories, poems and two novels, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Moishe and the Age of Reason. He died in 1983 at the age of 72.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993), was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an important libertarian publication. Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal text on free market economics, in 1946, bringing his ideas and those of the so-called Austrian School to the American scene. His work has influenced the likes of economist Ludwig von Mises, novelist and essayist Ayn Rand, and 2008 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee and congressman, Ron Paul. Hazlitt has been cited as one of the most influential literary critics and economic writers of his time.