From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project: http://magazine.beloit.edu/?story_id=240813&issue_id=240610

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Confucius and Social Theory Final Letter Assignment

On this date on Round and Square's History 
25 April 2016—China's Lunar Calendar 2016 04-25

[a] Text and illustration RF
Confucius and the World
History 150
Spring 2017

Final Writing Assignment 
History, Imagination, and Confucius's Analects: The Letter
By choosing the letter format for your final writing assignment, I am asking you to build upon the skills you have already developed this term in analyzing (and providing examples for) Confucian scholarship and key elements of Confucius's Analects. You have read six translations of the Analects, studied a wide range of books about the text and the Confucian tradition, discussed these matters extensively in class, and chosen fifty items in the text as you own "specialty." Your job now will be to explain it to an intelligent non-specialist.
[b] Reaching, teaching RF

Teach it, really (think of the New York Review).

Letters from “the field” (or our modified “archive” of books by and about Confucius and the Analects) are a good way to refine your own approach to historical rigor and imagination. The letter writing exercise is especially useful as a way to wrap-up your thinking at the end of a course that is entitled "Introduction to Historical Thinking."

The nonfiction writer John McPhee explains to his Princeton students that a letter is often precisely the solution to challenges of interpretation or clarity—when in doubt, write to mother, he says. In this case, it is not a plea of “send money” that the letter contains, but a reworking, rethinking, and contextualization of your work. You need not limit yourself to kinfolk, but you need to think about who the recipient will be (ideally someone who will welcome a letter about Confucius and historical thought).

You owe it to yourself to listen to this long interview with McPhee (but I know that you are pressed for time). At the very least, though, listen to the first few minutes. It is the very purpose that lies behind this assignment.

John McPhee NPR (1978) 22:40
Click on the second blue circle on the right side of the page (it is worth it)

Now start writing. Toward that end, you should pay attention to the following issues.

1. The letter needs to be “long enough” to get you deeply into several issues regarding Confucius, the Analects, and the Confucian tradition, including particular approaches and a few examples. There is no absolute upper limit, but I am going to make an absolute lower limit of 1,000 words (about three pages). Realistically, your letter should probably be somewhere in the 1,250 word range (about four pages). 1,000 words is the bare minimum. Do not turn in an assignment shorter than that. 1,500 words is more than enough.
2. I am asking you to connect with a very specific reader, and to explain “Confucius and historical thinking” in a level of detail that she (or he, or they) will find satisfying. You are the expert, and your “audience” is the person who will be reading your letter (think of my role as reading over a shoulder). I have found that this kind of assignment helps students to explain even abstruse and technical matters, because the personal relationship they already have with their readers demands an attention to patient explanation that is often lacking in more “academic” forms of writing, in which students often assume that a professor "already knows what they are writing about."

Your reader probably doesn't, and this letter really will be sent.

Make it make sense.

3. You may approach your materials from any angle that you like, but you will need to “cover” at least the following items, no matter what order you choose.

          a. You must discuss the “who was Confucius,” "what are the Analects," and "what is
               "historical thinking?" Provide your reader with at least a few ways of thinking 
               about them.

          b. Give your reader a sense of what you have learned in your various books about 
              Confucius and the Analects. Use examples from your studies.

          c. Give your reader some sense of what it is like to "think historically" while
              studying a classic text from China. What is it like? Explain. 

          d. Give your reader a sense of how a person or group might "live" the teachings of 
              Confucius. How is it a book that might go beyond the classroom, school, or test?

          e. You must have at least one illustration. Think about "the rhetorical role of 
               illustrations" in the New York Review of Books.
4. The best way to approach the writing process is in three parts (this is a friendly suggestion). First, jot down some notes for each of the “sections” of your letter. Second, using those notes as a guide, write a rough draft of the whole letter. Third, revise, polish, and refine.  

Voilà you will have something not unlike what Alexis de Tocqueville might have written about understanding a complex, foreign culture that baffled and enticed him 180 years ago. While your letter won’t be as long as Democracy in America, it is likely—if it is done well—to be much like Tocqueville’s rich and evocative letters back to his family about encountering people, texts, and institutions in a strange land called the United States. 

You get the idea. If you don't, just send me an e-mail message). I'll be happy to help.
***  ***
Letters are Due (as a hard copy outside my office door)
by 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3.

Add the word count and your box number to all papers!
[e] And then you may rest RF

Saturday, April 22, 2017

China's Lunar Calendar 2017 04-22

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
4/25..................................................................................................................4/19
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years.

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date
廿
六期星
Fourth Month, Twenty-Second Day
Saturday, April 22
————

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
天進
恩神
Entering Spirits
Heavenly Kindness
Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left
申辰
中中吉
酉己丑

戌午寅
吉吉
亥未卯
23:00-01:00 Auspicious
01:00-03:00 Inauspicious
03:00-05:00 Auspicious
05:00-07:00 Inauspicious

07:00-09:00 In-Between
9:00-11:00 In-Between
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 Auspicious

15:00-17:00 In-Between
17:00-19:00 Inauspicious
19:00-21:00 Inauspicious
21:00-23:00 Inauspicious

The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.
                             —————————————————

Section Four 
Activities to Avoid  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 

除穿
服井
Boring Wells
Discarding Clothing

Section Five 
Cosmological Information
廿






Twenty-Sixth Day (Third Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: jimao(16/60)
Phase (element): Earth
Constellation: Woman (10/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Closed (12/12)
————

Section Six
Appropriate Activities
and Miscellaneous Information  
(top-to-bottom; right to left)





水歲
痕破
重債
喪不
————
Appropriate Activities
Felling Timber
Sweeping Rooms

Baleful Astral Influences
Generational Destruction
Debt Not
Water Scar
Repeat Mourning
———— 

Section Seven
Inauspicious Stars
丫 山
Bifurcation, Mountain
———— 

Section Eight
Miscellaneous Activities

門 大
Divination
Gate, Great

Friday, April 21, 2017

China's Lunar Calendar 2017 04-21

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Calendars and Almanacs"  
⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦ From right to left: ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦
4/25..................................................................................................................4/19
This is one in a never-ending series—following the movements of the calendar—in Round and Square perpetuity. It is today's date in the Chinese lunar calendar, along with basic translation and minimal interpretation. Unless you have been studying lunar calendars (and Chinese culture) for many years, you will likely find yourself asking "what does that mean?" I would caution that "it" doesn't "mean" any one thing. There are clusters of meaning, and they require patience, reflection, careful reading, and, well, a little bit of ethnographic fieldwork. The best place to start is the introduction to "Calendars and Almanacs" on this blog. I teach a semester-long course on this topic and, trust me, it takes a little bit of time to get used to the lunar calendar. Some of the material is readily accessible; some of it is impenetrable, even after many years.

As time goes on, I will link all of the sections to lengthy background essays. This will take a while. In the meantime, take a look, read the introduction, and think about all of the questions that emerge from even a quick look at the calendar.
Section One
Solar Calendar Date
廿
期星
Fourth Month, Twenty-First Day
Friday, April 21
————

Section Two
Beneficent Stars 
(top to bottom, right to left)
生天德歲
氣赦日支
Generational Branch
Virtuous Days
Heavenly Amnesty
Engendered Vapor
Section Three
Auspicious Hours
(top to bottom, right to left
申辰
吉中
酉己丑
中吉吉
戌午寅

亥未卯
中吉
23:00-01:00 In-Between
01:00-03:00 Auspicious
03:00-05:00 Inauspicious
05:00-07:00 Inauspicious

07:00-09:00 Auspicious
9:00-11:00 Auspicious
11:00-13:00 Auspicious
13:00-15:00 Auspicious

15:00-17:00 Inauspicious
17:00-19:00 In-Between
19:00-21:00 Inauspicious
21:00-23:00 In-Between

The hours above are for Hong Kong. It is up to you if you want to recalibrate or to assume that the cyclicality of the calendar "covers" the rest of the world. This is a greater interpretive challenge than you might think.
                             —————————————————

Section Four 
Activities to Avoid  
(top-to-bottom; right to left) 

祈祭置買
福祀業田
Buying Land
Setting-up Industry
Venerating Ancestors
Inquiring-into Fortune

Section Five 
Cosmological Information
廿






Twenty-Fifth Day (Third Lunar Month)
Cyclical day: wuyin (15/60)
Phase (element): Earth
Constellation: Ox (9/28)
"Day Personality" Cycle: Open (11/12)
————

Section Six
Appropriate Activities
and Miscellaneous Information  
(top-to-bottom; right to left)

上開納入
梁市采學
安交嫁會
牀易娶友
作修移出
灶造徙行
納動醫訂
畜土病婚
日復
復血下虎
喪忌兀口
————
Appropriate Activities
Entering Study
Meeting Friends
Going Out (and about)
Marriage Engagements
Grain Payments
Marriage Alliances
Moving Residences
Treating Illness
Opening Markets
Trade and Commerce
Repairing and Building
Moving Soil
Raising Beams
Positioning Beds
Stove Work
Livestock Payments

Repeated Days

 Baleful Astral Influences
Tiger Mouth
Lower Amputee
Blood Taboo
Repeat Mourning
———— 

Section Seven
Inauspicious Stars
丫 火
Bifurcation, Fire
———— 

Section Eight
Miscellaneous Activities
爐 牀 房
Furnace, Bed, Edifice