Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Two-Minute Toy Story: Anna Karenina Meets War And Peace

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"And there, among the mountains, she appeared to his imagination as a Circassian slave, a fine figure with a long plait of hair and deep submissive eyes. He pictured a lonely hut in the mountains, and on the threshold she stands awaiting him when, tired and covered with dust, blood, and fame, he returns to her. He is conscious of her kisses, her shoulders, her sweet voice, and her submissiveness. She is enchanting, but uneducated, wild, and rough. In the long winter evenings he begins her education. She is clever and gifted and quickly acquires all the knowledge essential. Why not? She can quite easily learn foreign languages, read the French masterpieces and understand them: Notre Dame de Paris, for instance, is sure to please her. She can also speak French...."

Leo Tolstoy [tr. L. & A. Maude]

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Second Rule of Zen

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Master Lu said to the First Emperor, "I and the others have searched for zhi fungus, rare herbs, and the immortals, but we can never seem to encounter them. There would appear to be some entity that is blocking us. The magic arts teach that the ruler of men should at times move about in secret so as to avoid evil spirits. If evil 'spirits are avoided, one can reach the status of True Man. If the whereabouts of the ruler of men are known to his ministers, this hinders his spiritual power. A True Man can enter water without getting wet, enter fire without getting burned, soar over the clouds and air, and endure as long as heaven and earth. But now Your Majesty, though ruling the whole world, has not yet been able to attain calm and quietude...."

Sima Qian (tr. Burton Watson)