About

On top of my existing sites, cjvlang.com and sibagu.com, this blog seems designed to ensure that I spend my dotage in a wheelchair in front of a computer.

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:

城頭月千里
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.

The photo in the header is from PD Photo, which is a free public-domain photo database. The photo location is here.

5 Responses to About

  1. Hi, I noticed my blog is on your blogroll.

    The tag says “Kind of laughable (including the lack of comments)…” As for the initial evaluation, he he… Regarding the parenthetical info, it’s not right to say the blog has a “lack of comments”. My intro page “About Sweet & Sour Socialism” alone has 16 comments; also the “Meta” sidebar has a “Comments” RSS where you’ll find plenty of feedbacks. I hope you can correct the apparent misrepresentation…

    Zuo Shou 左手

  2. khanbaliqist says:

    Dear Mr Zuoshou,

    I’ve been unable to access your site recently, presumably because the government is blocking WordPress sites. Hope you’re enjoying your break.

    • khanbaliqist,

      for the 2nd time you’ve made a false representation regarding my blog…hoping I’m enjoying my break from blogging because my WordPress blog is inaccessible to you. I blog daily.

      I understand certain blogs are unavailable under certain circumstances, but it’s wrong to jump to conclusions. It’s a fact that since establishing the blog some 18 months ago, barring travel and a few other hectic days, I’ve been posting at least one item per day both before and after your comment.

      Now, I recently got a comment on my blog from you asking how do I keep my blog updated…say what?? So as far as “enjoying the break”, give me a break.

      • khanbaliqist says:

        It is this kind of comment that made me hesitant about linking to Sweet and Sour Socialism. When China started cracking down on gmail in around March, Sweet and Sour Socialism had an entry denying that this was taking place. When I tried to comment (perhaps with less than appropriate language) that this was incorrect, my comment was deleted. When I tried to comment again using more appropriate language, my comment was again deleted. If you live in China it is glaringly obvious that gmail is being harassed and that wordpress blogs are more recently being blocked. Zuo Shou appears to be based in the Dongbei area of China, so it is possible that Internet censorship up there is slightly different from the capital, but short of having a VPN connection I can’t see how Zuo Shou can avoid the restrictions being placed by the government. If Sweet and Sour Socialism is willing to deny what is happening on the Chinese Internet (and delete unfavourable comments), then I’m not sure how much credence can be placed on the other material that is posted there. In this age of Occupy Wall Street there is much in this relatively hard-line leftist blog that strikes a chord. But denying reality (even if it is a low-level reality like censorship of the Internet) in order to push your own point of view doesn’t inspire confidence in the blog’s critical approach.

        At any rate, I don’t wish to pursue this issue any further. I regard protestations that ‘Sweet and Sour Socialism has lots of comments’ or ‘I’ve been blogging every day’ as something of a joke, and can only reiterate my stance that while the blog has lots of thought-provoking content, it really is too one-eyed to be taken completely seriously.