zeppelin: (Default)
It would be difficult to name a subject that has puzzled the learned world so much and for so long, as the accurate delineation of the character of that wonderful and unchanging people, the Chinese.


HONESTLY IF THEY'RE UNCHANGING IT'S A STATIC ENTITY SO I DON'T SEE HOW THAT WOULD BE SO HARD

As the nineteenth century wore on, however, the model of knowledge as an encyclopedic whole dissolved and was replaced with one where knowledge was parsed into finer and finer disciplinary units. This only compounded the problem of where to fit Asians and their civilizations. As one writer put it, "In what category to place them must puzzle the psychologist."


(It's from 1838.)
zeppelin: (Default)
I found this while digging up stuff on the Faerie Queene, and I found an absolutely delicious primary source for you all! It of course has nothing to do with its supposed topic (it is not actually possible to defeat Britomart, and when you think of Paridell, think of this wimp) and everything to do with, well, things that are not English literature. All the formatting oddities stem from the fact I c&ped it from a PDF.

here! )

Nothing ever changes, does it? They have been making the exact same argument for the past eleven decades (though not much before that). It's the exact same rhetoric, the exact same intellectual dishonesty, and the exact same desire to piss all over everything--anything--that is good. Guy was a bloody English critic and he refuses to let himself read Spenser aright, just so he can have a crack at making a point.
zeppelin: (Default)
[This photograph] represented a boy from ‘the upper or most highly educated class, the son of a distinguished civil officer of Canton.' Although 'a fine, attractive-looking little fellow, his full hazel eyes beaming with kindliness and intelligence,' the boy’s face would, Thomson argued, gradually lose its attractions as it grows to maturity. "The softness of the eye is then frequently replaced by a cold, calculating expression, the result of their peculiar training, and the countenance assumes an air of apathetic indifference which is so necessary to veil the inner feelings of a polished Chinese gentleman." Thomson classified people visually, constructing knowledge of their physical and moral character. The latter was often evaluated in terms of usefulness for British commerce and the Western traveller.


more from the same. formatting wonky because it's copy and pasted from something with wonky format. )
zeppelin: (awkward)
In his account of his expedition, Galton referred to a Nama woman, the wife of one of his host’s servants, as a ‘Venus among Hottentots’. Being ‘perfectly aghast at her development’ and being a ‘scientific man’, Galton was ‘exceedingly anxious to obtain accurate measurements of her shape’. However, the circumstances were difficult and Galton reported that he ‘felt in a dilemma as I gazed at her form’. The solution, of which Galton was particularly proud, involved his taking a series of observations "upon her figure" with his sextant, making an outline drawing while she stood at a distance under a tree. Then he ‘boldly pulled out’ his measuring tape to calculate the distance and worked out the results using trigonometry and logarithms.


Noooo comment.

ETA: Although I guess this finally clarifies the meaning of "Hottentot" for me?

ETA 2: It occurs to me that the federal government pays me to read descriptions of (basically) 19th century porn. o.O

Alice

Jun. 13th, 2010 01:09 am
zeppelin: (Default)
"Come, there's no use in crying like that!" said Alice to herself rather sharply. "I advise you to leave off this minute!" She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes...

Crack!

Sep. 26th, 2009 06:28 am
zeppelin: (Default)
My Asian history class is covering the Silk Road next week. The first book was about a series of painted caves carved out of a cliff by Buddhists a bit away from one of the major stops on the silk road. I'm pretty sure that the professor used the book for the Neolithic to Song class I took freshman year, because it was basically a recap of that, only with pictures of buddhas. The second book, which I haven't finished, is about the foreign excavations of the caves.

...It reads like a steampunk novel.

You have the Intrepid British Explorer (the phrase India Office might also appear) who hacks his way through Lots of Peril to the Lost Cities at the edge of the Mysterious Taklamakan and who bonds with the Lonely Daoist Monk (never forget that Shangri-La was actually in the Tianshan, not the Himalayas) in the wind-swept sands of central Asia over a long-lost Chinese legend. He, of course, steals the Daoist monk's treasures and is duly knighted by HRM.

Then you have a few other white dudes--five or six?--who all do similar things, only the last one (an American, late to the race) is actually more or less kicked out of China because the Chinese for some reason (!) are pissed at foreigners stealing their history. The Intrepid British Explorer randomly drops dead in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, you have the "enigmatic" and "mysterious" Count (who by the way is handsome, in a delicate sort of way) who manipulates the same Daoist monk into selling him a lot of the choice picks. He goes back to Japan (cuz he's Japanese), hits mysterious financial difficulty, and the collection just disappears. Careful scholarship twenty-thirty years later finds one third of his collection in Japan, one third in Korea, and one third NOBODY KNOWS WHERE! The best part? He's also a SPY. We think. Or so, at least Colonel Shuttlecock (or something like that) of the India Office thinks.

Then 40% of the stuff stolen by the Intrepid German Explorer gets bombed by the Americans during World War Two. Some eight or nine crates of it also disappears entirely into the USSR when the Soviets take over Berlin...

THIS IS LIKE CRACK TO ME
zeppelin: (Default)
"If God had designed that his intelligent creatures should travel at the frightful speed of fifteen miles an hour by steam, he would have foretold it through his Holy Prophets. It is a device of Satan to lead immortal souls down to hell!"

HG Wells

Nov. 18th, 2007 11:16 pm
zeppelin: (Default)
When I was little, my mom bought me tons of abridged classics for $1 apiece. My favorites were The War of the Worlds; Robinson Crusoe; The Count of Monte Christo; A Journey to the Centre of the Earth; and The Time Machine. Of these, I read The War of the Worlds to shreds. When I started reading the adult versions of books, I went right to Wells. I loved The War of the Worlds and the Time Machine and The Invisible Man. I alternated Wells with Verne, but preferred Wells. I started to realize exactly what Wells was at about the time I read The Island of Dr Moreau, and finally had done with him after reading The First Men in the Moon two years ago.

I figured I would give him another shot when I bought the Food of the Gods. Just finished it a couple nights ago. I disliked it when I was reading it, but have had a couple days to digest it. I can't believe I used to like him! Of course, I liked him for the plots. Now I see the symbolism and petty jabs at humanity and his meaning and...Ugh!

It's kind of a betrayal, considering how important his anonymous narrators were to me in kindergarten and elementary. Nunc te cognovi!

Gaslight

Jun. 19th, 2007 02:14 am
zeppelin: (Default)
I have a book called Detection by Gaslight: 14 Victorian Stories. They're more Edwardian than not, but whatever.

"Now what's he done?"

"Nothing, he's only been murdered."


Said with the tongue pointedly avoiding all cheeks.

and

"About a week after that, one of the maids claimed a man had lept out at her from the same door. I took no notice of this...."


(Arthur said: "Those Maids! Always inventing fantastic tales of being grabbed by mysterious strangers and ravished in the scullery. I'm sure Doctor Freud could uncover the roots of this psychotic reaction.")

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Kate

September 2013

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