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Introduction (g)—Impassioned Communities Introduction (h)—History, Language, and Culture, c.1985
|[a] Classical RF|
子曰學而詩習之不亦悅乎 有朋自遠方來不亦樂乎 人不知而不慍不亦君子乎
The Master said, 'Is it not a pleasure, having learned something, to try it
out at due intervals? Is it not a joy to have friends come from afar? Is it
not gentlemanly not to take offence when others fail to appreciate your
孟子見梁惠王 王曰叟不遠千里而來亦將有以利吾國乎 孟子對曰王何必曰利
Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang. 'Sir,' said the King. 'You have come
all this distance, thinking nothing of a thousand li. You must surely have
some way of profiting my state?' 'Your Majesty,' answered Mencius. 'What
is the point of mentioning the word "profit"? All that matters is that there
be benevolence and rightness.
I was entranced. As I went deeper and deeper into the texts, I felt that I was becoming a part of an educational tradition that stretched back for a millennium...and two, and three. I could not help but dabble a bit in the Daoist arts—or at least the classical texts—and I was powerfully intrigued by Zhuangzi's little treatise (I use the word with irony that a Daoist might appreciate) on the butterfly dream.
昔者莊周夢為蝴蝶 栩栩然蝴蝶也 自喻適志與 不知周也 俄然覺
則蘧蘧然周也 不知周之夢為蝴蝶與 蝴蝶之夢為周與 周與蝴蝶則必
|[b] 八八 RF|
It was hard not to miss the stacks of books in Taipei bookstores with "Business Chinese" in the titles. Just a quick perusal of their vocabulary lists told me that this approach was exactly what I wanted to avoid—a partial and ultimately flawed approach that privileged words like "equity" and "market," while ignoring "cognition," "comity," "enculturation"...and butterfly. I had even seen bits and pieces of this in the scholarly world. While overwhelmed with admiration for the depth of learning of some of the greats in Chinese studies (and I have used the translations of two of them here in homage to how much they shaped the field), I had already begun to suspect that some of that vast learning was shaped like a cheese wedge. It was thick and truly substantial regarding various historical, philosophical, or literary matters, but narrow and flecked in other areas—like lived experience and everyday life in the present. Sure, some of this is inevitable. I knew that even back then, when I hoped that I might be able to learn it all. Still, I wanted a more consistent hunk of the sinological world.
I thought, walked, and brooded. Where had all the butterflies gone?
|[c] New light RF|
"I'll bet they have butterflies," I mumbled to no one in particular.
The door creaked open, and I can still remember the thick, olfactory resonance of dust, humidity, and paper. I knew I had found a linguistic and cultural home, and that I would never look at elementary education the same way again. If anyone noticed the foreigner amidst the kids' books, I couldn't tell. Most of the work was taking place in the back rooms, where (I later learned) huge stacks of graded readers were being readied for shipment to schools all over the island. The next semester always beckoned, and staff members were far too busy to ask silly questions such as "may I help you?"
|[d] Stack RF|
"That's where you need to start," she repeated. Suddenly, it all started to make sense. My anthropological training, historical study, and language learning all converged. I knew that she was right. I gathered up all of the K-6 "language arts" books, added them to the 7-12 stack, and paid the bill—startled by how reasonable book prices could be when the future of the citizenry depended on it.
I hailed a cab, positioned three bags of books next to me, and thought about butterflies.
 D.C. Lau, Confucius: The Analects (New York: Penguin Classics, 1979), 59.
 D.C. Lau, Mencius (New York: Penguin Classics, 1970), 49.
 Burton Watson, Chuang-tzu (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), 68.
Lau, D.C. Confucius: The Analects. New York: Penguin Classics, 1979.
Lau, D.C. Mencius. New York: Penguin Classics, 1970.
Watson, Burton. Chuang-tzu. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.
|[e] Acculturation RF|
Home from the Ministry Education bookstore, I opened the package. My life would never be the same. The acculturation process had begun.