Who wants to research Achilles Fang?

A few days ago it struck me that too little is known about Achilles Fang, aka 方志浵, the man on the far left above, who wrote the introductions to several of Ezra Pound’s more important works, incl. Confucius, the Confucian Odes, and others. Turns out he was a brilliant, eccentric polyglot Chinese scholar at Harvard who taught famed sinologists like Arthur Wright, Francis Woodman Cleaves, and others how to read and interpret classical Chinese. Moreover, he was one of Qian Zhongshu’s (錢鐘書) few friends at Tsinghua University in the 1930s, so it’s really a pity so little has been written about him, especially considering he held major influence across a number of fields and intellectual undertakings in both China and the US during the 1950s. Plus, he’s just a fascinating personality who is central to American and Chinese Modernism. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but the story goes that he was hired by Harvard’s East Asian studies program to work on their Chinese-English dictionary but got sacked for making too many cryptic references to James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. He didn’t publish very much, but Fang’s papers and letters, archived at Yale Univ. in Connecticut, would probably reveal a dissertation’s-worth of important cross-cultural material.

“The Young Companion” and modern China

First published the same year Hugo Gernsback came out with his legendary science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories, in 1926, The Young Companion《良友》catered to the tastes of young middle class people, but it was also a force for social change. This fascinating article (in Big5) talks about 《良友》the “natural breast movement” 「天乳運動」 among young women in the 1920s-30s, and this sohu article (GB) discusses the fashion sense displayed in the pages of the magazine. In this pic you can see that the bobbed, flapper hairstyle we associate with the West was popular in China of the 20s also. The Young Companion is often thought of as product of Shanghai’s hybrid culture, but this article talks about its founding by a Guangdong native, Wu Lian-de (伍聯德).

 

 

 

Villains, Outlaws, and Antiheroes workshop

It was again a fun event, and I got to hear a lot of interesting talks. I was worried that 7 presenters might be too many, that folks would become tired, but it wasn’t too bad. (At least not for me). At the November workshop we only had four talks and that seemed to work out pretty well, though we only started in the afternoon. The after-dinner was fun too, although only 5 people were able to attend and the restaurant kicked us out after 2 hours. Nice to sit in the hole and consume Japanese food with friends, have a few beers, and talk about old times. Not sure if I want the responsibility to continue doing these events, but I do enjoy them and think that they could lead to better scholarship. As I told one participant, what I value in them is the scholarly community, the ability to talk with openly and freely about work we care about. In the US, starting my career, I imagined it would always be like this, but unfortunately I never found it in Taiwan.

Oobmab and other Weirdnesses

So I found a clean version of Oobmab’s “The Flock of Ba-hui” in (GB) Chinese (「巴虺的牧群」2013). The source is a very interesting Fantasy dojinshi and translation discussion forum called “The Ring of Wonder” (which looks completely different in its mobile format btw). There are many other works of HPL-inspired horror available on their Cthulhu board and, interestingly, the “Cthulhu” board is only one of three subforums of “the  Mirror of Obscurity – 幽暗之镜” category–which also includes subforums “Surreal Lullaby: General Subcultures 异夜咏谣” and “SCP Foundation.” A lot of translations from “CopyPasta” and things like Charles Stross’s Lovecraft-inspired SF “The Laundry Files.” Cha has a detailed review of “Flock,” and this site has a brief one.

Identity politics, artistic autonomy, and a disappearing SF Story

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It all began with a silly, transphobic meme [image right]…Then came the story, “I sexually identify as an Attack Helicopter,” which first appeared in Clarkesworld (Jan 2020 issue), but caused a huff among certain hypersensitive readers who claimed it was insincere, … Continue reading

Article from Tor by Tochi Onyebuchi

“At some point on the night of November 24, 2015, the Foodtown grocery at 148th and St. Nicholas caught fire.

In the spring of that year, I had graduated from Columbia Law School and was, that fall, living in Harlem and working as a Volunteer Assistant Attorney General and Civil Rights Fellow with the Office of the New York State Attorney General. Twice-daily, five days a week, I would pass that Foodtown grocery store, heading to and from a job where I and fewer than a dozen others were tasked with enforcing federal and local civil rights laws for the State of New York. By the time I had passed that intersection the morning after the fire, the front window was gone and inside was nothing but bitumen….”

COVID19 and the post-human era

“In the mid-1970s, Professor Fereidoun M. Esfandiary decided to change his name. From then on he would be legally called “FM-2030.”

Conventional names define a person’s past: ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, religion. I am not who I was ten years ago … The name 2030 reflects my conviction that the years around 2030 will be a magical time. In 2030 we will be ageless and everyone will have an excellent chance to live forever. 2030 is a dream and a goal,” he offered in explanation.

It didn’t hurt that by 2030 he would be 100 years old, an age he was sure he would reach.”

Let’s hear it for the post-human era!