From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project: http://magazine.beloit.edu/?story_id=240813&issue_id=240610

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Newsprint Nonpareil—Kleinen Eisbären

Click here for the "Newsprint Nonpareil" Resource Center—(all posts available) 
Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Newsprint Nonpareil"
This is a "small" (小) post—click here for an explanation of Round and Square post lengths.
***  *** 
One year ago on Round and Square (26 March 2013)—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 03-26
One year ago on Round and Square (26 March 2013)—Calendars and Almanacs (c)
Two years ago on Round and Square (26 March 2012)—La Pensée Cyclique: Real Ideals
Three years ago on Round and Square (26 March 2011)—Breaking the Vessel (6)
[a] Kleine Eisbären SZ
Even one of the world's truly great newspapers cannot resist pictures of baby animals in springtime. Spring is the season for birth, growth, and muddy little Eisbärbabys (as the online article at the venerable Süddeutsche Zeitung calls them). Not muddy, you say? Just click the link. I am not a big fan of zoos, but I am an absolute sucker for baby polar bears.
My "study" of the little ones goes further. There is a very popular, and now several decades-old, set of books that detail the adventures of a wee polar bear cub called Lars. I have read the books since they first came out, and even have a few of them on my German Kindle. 
And it's hard to beat the video, even though I am (mostly) a "print" guy.

China's Lunar Calendar 2014 02-28

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
LEFT February 28...........................................................................................February 21 RIGHT
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date
(top to bottom; right to left
廿

五期星
 Second Month, Twenty-eighth Day
Astral Period Five
Friday, February 28
———————————————— 

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
臨天民時
日馬日德
Temporal Virtue
People's Days
Heavenly Horse
Entered Days
—————————————————

Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left
申辰子
酉己丑
吉中吉 
戌午寅
吉吉
亥未卯
中吉中
23:00-01:00 Inauspicious
01:00-03:00 Auspicious
03:00-05:00 Auspicious
05:00-07:00 In-Between

07:00-09:00 In-Between
09:00-11:00 In-Between
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 Auspicious

15:00-17:00 Inauspicious
17:00-19:00 Auspicious
19:00-21:00 Inauspicious
21:00-23:00 In-Between

The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.
————————————————— 

Section Four 
Activities to Avoid  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 

除動塔結
服土厠綱
Binding Nets
Building Toilets
Moving Sails
Discarding Clothing
—————————————————  

 Section Five 
Cosmological Information 
廿






Twenty-ninth Day (First Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: gengwu (7/60)
Phase (element): Soil
Constellation: Ox (9/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Decide (5/12)
————————————————— 
Section Six
Appropriate Activities
(and Miscellaneous Information
(top-to-bottom; right to left)

安裁出祭
門衣行祀
開開訂祈
倉市婚福
納交納入
畜易采學
安上嫁會
葬樑娶友
囊地
陽死白復
將氣虎喪

Appropriate Activities
Venerating Ancestors
Inquiring-into Fortune
Entering Study
Meeting Friends
Going Out (and about)
Marriage Engagements
Grain Payments
Marriage Alliances
Cutting-out Clothing
Opening Markets
Trade and Commerce
Putting-up Beams
Positioning Doors
Opening Granaries
Livestock Payments
Positioning Graves

Earth Bag

Miscellaneous Information
 Repeat Mourning
White Tiger
Death Vapor
Yang General

Section Seven
Inauspicious Stars 
(right to left)
白 火
White, Fire
————

Section Eight
Miscellaneous Information 
(Top to bottom; right to left)
磨 碓 占
Mortar, Pestle, Divination

Thursday, February 27, 2014

China's Lunar Calendar 2014 02-27

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
LEFT February 28...........................................................................................February 21 RIGHT
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date
(top to bottom; right to left
廿

四期星
 Second Month, Twenty-seventh Day
Astral Period Four
Thursday, February 27
———————————————— 

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
合歲
日德
Generational Virtue
Linked Days
—————————————————

Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left
申辰子
酉己丑
中中
戌午寅
中吉吉
亥未卯
吉中
23:00-01:00 Inauspicious
01:00-03:00 Inauspicious
03:00-05:00 Auspicious
05:00-07:00 In-Between

07:00-09:00 In-Between
09:00-11:00 In-Between
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 Auspicious

15:00-17:00 Inauspicious
17:00-19:00 In-Between
19:00-21:00 In-Between
21:00-23:00 Inauspicious

The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.
————————————————— 

Section Four 
Activities to Avoid  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 

除遠
服行
Distant Journeys
Discarding Clothing
—————————————————  

 Section Five 
Cosmological Information 
廿






Twenty-eighth Day (First Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: jisi(6/60)
Phase (element): Wood
Constellation: Ladle (8/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Level (4/12)
————————————————— 
Section Six
Appropriate Activities
(and Miscellaneous Information
(top-to-bottom; right to left)









月上
刑兀
陰重
將日
Appropriate Activities
Leveling and Painting Roads
Repairing and Adorning Embankments and Walls

Miscellaneous Information
 Upper Amputee
Repeated Days
Lunar Punishment
Yin General

Section Seven
Inauspicious Stars 
(right to left)
白 神
White, Spirit
————

Section Eight
Miscellaneous Information 
(Top to bottom; right to left)
牀 門 
Divination
Bed, Gate

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

French Bulldog Puppy—Michel Foucault

Click here for the "Celebrity Commentary" Resource Center—(all posts available)
Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Celebrity Commentary" (coming soon)
This is a "small" (小) post—click here for an explanation of Round and Square post lengths.
***  *** 
One year ago on Round and Square (26 February 2012)—Just Do It Over: Oui, Oui, Mademoiselle

[a] French Musings PD
I don't know who you are, 
but I will find you...[1]

...and tell you that no month of French pondering can be complete without a philosophy-meets-history-meets-obscurantism shout-out to my countryman Michel Foucault.
[b] Sustained RF

His books are dizzying, strange, terrifying, and yet vaguely satisfying. What I like best, however, are the volumes of lectures. There, he expostulates, mulls, culls, and blends in ways that show a fine (though peculiar) mind at work.

Michel Foucault—he's not just for sustained narrative...anymore.

           [1] I like Liam's opening, and he gave me a year's supply of biscuits to use it for the rest of the month.
[c] Searching RF
[Originally posted on May 26, 2014]

Erlangen 91052 (6)—Konfuzius Institut New Year's Gala

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square Series "Erlangen 91052"
Click here to access the Resource Center (for all other "Erlangen 91052" posts).
One year ago on Round and Square (15 February 2013)—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 02-15
Two years ago on Round and Square (15 February 2012)—Seinfeld Ethnography: Newman's Rage
[a] Learnin' RF
Well, I just arrived on the return train from Nuremberg (Nürnberg). Now, back at my apartment in Erlangen 91052, I can ponder the big event that just took place at the Deutsche Bahn (DB) Museum, in its spacious second floor hall and adjacent lobby. Hundreds of people were there, and it was clear that a little slice of globalization (with a dollop of commodification) was being placed on my ethnographic plate. And, as opportunities for intersubjective reflection go, it schmeckt...pretty gut.
[b] Concatenation RF

It was the annual New Year's Gala at the Konfuzius Institut, and it was my first.

I had afternoon errands to run at the bank, and then the post office, but I arrived at the Erlangen Bahnhoff in plenty of time to purchase my ticket to Nuremberg. I made it up to Platform 3 before the 17:14 departure. From there, it was a smooth, twenty-four minute trip to the heart of big-city south-central Germany—the town with a lock on the area's museums, of which the German Railway Museum (this one) is hardly the biggest attraction.

For one shining night in February, though (and on that calendrical concatenation of Valentine's Day and Lantern Festival), the DB Museum brought China and Germany together in one frenzied, speechified, musical spectacle of drinking (Coca Cola), holding hands, and singing we are the world. The only difference was that the musical quality was several notches higher, with vocals from Turandot and an erhu performance that teased more power from a pair of strings than I have ever heard in my life. And how can you beat a lively string quartet (streichquartet) finishing it all up with Ouvertüre zum Frühlingsfest (春節序曲—Spring Festival Overture)?
[c] Instruments of power

Now that's "cultural contact."

So far, I have left out the biggest part of the program, however. The speeches packed a powerful Germanic punch, and I learned a thing or two about the qualities that make a speech fit the occasion. They were good. The challenge lay in their being seven of them. Count 'em: eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben...and then music (and only after that, food and drinks). Seven speeches, all in German (with the exception of the General Counsel of the PRC in Munich, who had a few lines of Mandarin)...had whole swaths of the audience thinking about other things.

I saw it as an opportunity to see how much my linguistic net could catch at this early transitional stage from my college German (and a little reading in my field of study over the years). The experiment was a success; I learned that I have...a lot to learn. Still, it goes further. Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which you know the linguistic expectations are going to bury you—that you are about to be at the bottom of a dump truck pile of foreign verbiage? Well, I have (and was there again tonight). Seven speeches (by a combination of government officials, academic administrators, and mayors). Seven.
[d] Instrumentation RF

And yet (and yet)...I have learned to get what I can from these "opportunities." 

Moreover, they were quite good, and I say that with sincerity. 

But back to the dump truck of language. I often joke (but I am only partly "joking") that linguistically superior people are, in almost every case, better at tolerating a staggering level of incomprehension than are "normal" people. Over the years, they have learned to be patient and to soak in scores of utterances as completely as possible, getting what they can out of every clear word, social cue, or chance detail that they understand.

It reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon of a woman talking to her dog. This is how I remember it: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Rover, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, good doggy! Here is a Gary Larson version of the theme that makes the same point.

In many ways, this has been the story of my foreign-study life (strings of "blahs" and an occasional "Rover," "Ginger" or "good doggy").
[e] Listening...learning RF

Let me go further, by telling a little story of a day when I was sitting in the busy office of the "Japan Study" program at Waseda University in Tokyo. American students in the program came and went, picking up their mail, stopping to chat, and so forth. The office was a part of a much larger office center, with busy workers doing the administrative legwork of the university's international studies bureaucracy. 

In walked a Japanese office assistant. She began speaking to me in Japanese (this often happens...in Japan). I began to listen (this is what I have learned to do, and I only emphasize that because of what came next). Before a full sentence had been uttered, one of the American students waved her hands in the air and fairly yelled "WE DON'T UNDERSTAND!"

I have thought about that a good deal over the years, and it has become a lesson in reverse for me. Now I try to throw myself into situations where I have to hang on for dear life, as we say back home. This is not hard to do when one's language skills are as poor as my German ones. Still, I have learned a good deal about language as a total communicative act rather than just phonemes and syntax. This happens when you can't rely on only words and grammar to carry you. I have also (and this is the point of today's post) found that I can understand a whole lot more if I just relax and throw open wide the doors of full listening. 

I wonder what would happen if we all started to do just that, even in our native languages?

I might even buy the world a Coke...nfucian classic.
[f] No "blahs" here RF
Next
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D
I'm in love with three virtuosos, and have a newfound respect for this piece. What does that have to do with Germany? A lot. You'll see.