Thursday, June 14, 2007


Do you know what scares me? China. I think I will take my minor in Asian Studies because someday I would like to understand it. When I try to think about China I can't get a coherent, self contained picture, it just spreads out like infinity. Eras, pronunciation, ethnic groups, major cities, industry, landmarks, geography, laws, religion, history, education, language... it feels like trying to collect the ocean in, you know, any receptacle.

China reminds me of infinity, but unlike infinity people want to talk to me about it pretty often. The world feels much smaller to me than China does. The world has 7 continents, 250 (ish) countries, 2 poles, things fall at 9.8 meters per second each second. There are 4 oceans, 6 billion (ish) people, and one moon. You see?

China... China is old. So old. So well documented. They invented writing in the most intuitive and least practical way imaginable, and that's almost what it's like today. It is the 3rd largest country in area and the very largest country by population. And that's the end of my coherent China Knowledge.

After that it devolves: China has all of the pandas, except you can lease pandas for 10 years and..... Taiwan.... something something Massacre.... more carnage ... than WWII... dynasties.... mongolia cantonese mandarin tonal language... Gobi Desert Olympics are going to be in Beijing... pearl tower... communism... puyi was last emporer of china in 1911... FOOTBINDING... so, consorts, fililial piety confucianism buddhism taoism tao te ching.... farming, rice swamps, bridges dams flooding adoption poverty, Yang Tze and Huang He... population control, martial arts, acrobats, zodiac in 4 cycles of twelve animals... paper, gunpowder, dragons, printing, compass, going blind from sweatshop work, domesticated silkworms, 1421, silk road, opium, immigration to US for railroads and goldrush, .... fighting with Japan and Korea (colonizing Japan and Korea?), tea in bricks, trade with Europe in the ....

Does that seem like an appropriate comprehension level for 18 years of accumulated trivia and facts? Did you know that I've even studied Asia twice in school, in grades 8 and 10, and that today I am graduating from high school?

I don't think I'm equipped to understand China. I like my history and my culture bite sized. A person can name every battle ever fought in my country, I'm pretty sure. That kind of thing.

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