Friday, April 3, 2020

A Message From Chengdu


My friend Renne, who works for Science Fiction World in Chengdu, China, gave me permission to share the above video. It was made by the science fiction community in Chengdu.  Here's what he says about it:

My friends and I made a little something for those we know around the world, and who are forced to stay home for the most part of day. Now that it’s clear that virus knows no borders, we feel like we should do something to counter its move. Of course, this is far from enough, we can never do what doctors and nurses did round the clock. Just maybe this little video would make things a tiny bit cheerful in these strange days.

I hope you have fun with this! 

And as long as I'm talking about China . . .

Like pretty much everyone else who has ever gone to China, I fell in love with the country and its people. The people are admirable (the science fiction community particularly so) and the country has sites of stunning beauty. Few who have stood on the Great Wall will ever forget the experience.

But my favorite spot in all of China is the Thatched Hut of Du Fu. Fifteen hundred years ago, the great poet, wrote a poem about it and as a result, tourists have been visiting the site for over a millennium. The grounds are as beautifully landscaped as the Chinese can manage, which is saying a lot, and the hut itself has been reconstructed, rebuilt, torn down, and raised back up repeatedly over the years. At one point it was as large as a palace. Now it's a simple hut again. I've visited it several times.

Du Fu knew more than his share of sorrow. He lived in a time of war. But he also wrote a poem that contains some of my favorite lines ever:

Since water still flows, though we cut it with swords,
And sorrow returns, though we drown it with wine,
Since the world can in no way conform to our desires,
Tomorrow I will let down my hair and go fishing.

Which is, I think, profound.


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