The rationale for setting it up is to provide a more flexible, less structured format for expressing various thoughts and ideas than the two web sites, which by their nature impose a fairly rigid framework.
The blog will cover things that arouse my interest, mostly language and ethnicity in East Asian countries, especially those countries that I’ve lived in (Japan, China, Mongolia), but could include anything else that captures my fancy. Since I have a bad habit of constant revision, there are likely to be changes in content for at least a month after entries go up. Not good blogging behaviour, but I can’t really help myself
The name of the blog bears explaining. It ultimately derives from a line of poetry by the Tang-dynasty poet Li He (李贺 / 李賀), covered here:
chéng-tóu yuè qiān-lǐ
“On the Great Wall, a thousand miles of moonlight.”
(Translation by A. C. Graham)
Roger Waters of Pink Floyd picked the line up and used it in the song Cirrus Minor:
“On a trip to Cirrus Minor
Saw a crater in the sun
A thousand miles of moonlight later.”
This line is the origin of the blog’s title. However, given the Chinese preference for four-character compounds, I’ve back-translated the English title into Chinese as 月光千里 yuèguāng qiānlǐ ‘moonlight thousand leagues’. (The more common Chinese expression 皓月千里 hàoyuè qiānlǐ ‘bright moon thousand leagues’ has connotations that don’t quite fit the blog.)
The line can have as much or as little depth as desired. The moon is a universal theme in poetry, but here I have in mind the moon shining bright in the sky, equally visible from places thousands of miles apart. The moon’s is a soft brightness that gently illuminates but does not reveal all.
And so it is with this blog, which concerns itself with shining an uneven light on the vast lands and cultures of East Asia, selectively illuminating patches in the darkness that the author finds interesting.
Additionally, the image of moonlight running along the Great Wall for a thousand miles symbolises the long traditional boundary between the sedentary Chinese and the nomadic Mongols and other northern peoples. The author originally came to this wall from the south, but is privileged to have lived on the northern side as well.
The name khanbaliqist refers to the city of Khanbaliq, more commonly called 大都 dàdū, which was the name of Beijing when it was the Mongol capital of China.