Saturday, May 17, 2014
I want to share with everyone the fun experience that I had last night with some of my classmates and colleagues at Southwest University. I had the privilege of being invited to one of my South Korean classmate's birthday party last night. The venue was a Korean barbeque restaurant which ended up being a quite festive occasion.
All seemed to be in good moods throughout the evening as libations were being consumed, games were being played, and general merriment was encouraged by all.
One of the highlights of the meal was being able to meet both new and old friends. I always enjoy meeting new friends from around the world, and I feel quite enthusiastic whenever such an opportunity arises like the one I had last night. One of the fun things about meeting foreign friends now in China is that most of them have studied Chinese before and prefer to speak in Mandarin Chinese.
After dinner, the group headed out for a night on the town. Unfortunately, for some in our group the first stop would ultimately be there last. Some in our group drank too liberally at dinner which caused them greater difficulty as the evening's processions continued.
Being an experienced foreigner regarding the nature of drinking in China I was able to stay a little bit ahead of the game early on in the evening which always bodes well for you in the end. At around bar close the group moved to another part of town to continue the festivities.
Near by Southwest University's gate number five the remnants of the group assembled for one last bar push. After the final bar stop a few more courageous or intoxicated souls remained to consume Chinese barbeque outside of the bars.
After stuffing ourselves with delicious barbeque for the second time that night our group finally headed home; 3:00 am! Overall not a bad way to spend quality time with friends in China!
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I have been extremely busy lately with the addition of nine hours of teaching a week. In two week's time I will likely add an additional three-seven hours of teaching as well which means that I am probably going to have to fight hard to stave off insanity! haha
How this all came to be is quite interesting to me and it shows the great lengths that Chinese people will go to learn English. I sought two former employers and told them that I was interested in doing more part time work since a couple of my other jobs had recently ended. At the time, I was told that there were no current students looking for tutoring; however, in less than two days time I had already received too many job offers to be able to accept them all! On top of that, I had a faculty member contact me regarding tutoring their child as well as another company get in contact with me regarding their organization.
I know it is good to feel wanted and know that your work is appreciated; nonetheless, the outpouring of offers I received literally blew me away.
I also had the pleasure of being treated to a wonderful meal at a Chinese family's home the other evening. I meet this family through a mutual American friend whose Chinese girlfriend is the daughter of the family.
The meal itself was marvelous; however, as with everything in life there is no free lunch; thus, I was told that we would drink a bottle of baijiu for lunch with the meal. As I was the only foreigner at this meal I knew that I would certainly be the "bell" of this "ball"; thus, I was also likely to receive the vast majority of toasts.
After a loquacious hour of inebriated conversation I was graciously offered a room with a bed to go to for a "rest" along with several other family members who had also received more than their fair share of toasts. Two hours later I found myself awake and partial conscious as the rice liquor's venom still ran through my veins. The knowledge that baijiu would also be served at dinner time motivated me to hastily formulate an escape plan.
After half an hour of conversation I managed to leave with my dignity and the family's "face" both still intact.
I have found that these types of family gatherings are extremely common in China, and that they need to be enjoyed if you want to understand more about Chinese culture. In my opinion, it is all part of the journey and just something that one must learn to get used to if they want to enjoy living in China.
Monday, May 12, 2014
I read Nietzsche's "Antichrist" and I am currently finishing reading "Thus Spake Zarathustra". Both of these works are quite engrossing as their content covers several major themes. Primarily speaking, Nietzsche is writing about religion, the "Superman" (Ubermensch), human anthropology, society, time, sexual differentiation, psychology, and philosophy.
Nietzsche's work is still popular in western culture today; however, many of his views are distorted and put out of context in their current guise. To truly understand anything one must research carefully all necessary materials before trying to make presumptive statements regarding the validity of such claims.
After reading two of his more popular publications I have come to the conclusion that Nietzsche's work really extended human imagination at their time of publication. When thinking about the era in which his works were published; 1850-1900, it is important to remember that he followed great contemporaries such as Darwin and Marx who had also written on similar topics. His theories extended and pushed the limits of human awareness in their era and have continued to have an impact on culture today which means that their impact is timeless.
From the works that I have read, I believe that Nietzsche starts out on the right basis; as he would say, at the "bottom". In all honesty, Nietzsche's works are obviously not infallible. He is extremely chauvinistic, misogynistic, and over-bearing in his writing style; nonetheless, he did the world a service by calling us to carefully analyze human beings. I think that science and technology will continue to play a key role in the development of his theories; likewise, we still do not know enough about the human brain to adequately sweepingly prove or disprove his all of his theories.
What we do know is that Nietzsche lived life the way he wanted to, and he would certainly be happy today to be labeled as the "Antichrist". The pathos of his struggle in life literally flows through the pages of his works. His isolation, loss of friendship, misanthropy, and feeling of being different from everyone else are all feelings that I can relate to in my own life. Clearly, the path Nietzsche took in life propelled him down the road to philosophy; all philosophers need some type of motivation to get them started writing.
Clearly, Nietzsche feels that the "Holy Spirit" is a fancy doctrine which is not based in the evolution of our species until the last couple of centuries. In his mind, the whole of Christian philosophy poisons reality and tries to make good humans act like robots by denying our true instincts.
In some regards, Nietzsche seems to express remorse that evolution did not take humans down a different path, a path directly to his "Superman" or "Ubermensch". In his mind, today humans focus too much on sentimentalities and have foolishly forgotten how animalistic we truly are.
Nietzsche's ideas have captured the imagination of many people today who would probably confess to have not read a single of his works. In this way, I think that we have failed to even contend with Nietzsche in regards to debating his ideas. After reading his works, I can say for the first time that I can almost understand Nietzsche. His mind, his fury, and his desire all seep through the pages of his work expressing the passion of this great philosopher.
In sum, the endearing spirit of Nietzsche's work has in many ways left an indelible mark on philosophy; however, as any amateur photographer will tell you polarized lenses used incorrectly can blur the scene. Nietzsche is abhorred with the fact that humans will continue to believe in what he would say was a "terrible lie" as well as remain sentimental to others in need. Regardless, of what culture you are talking about human genetics and evolution have together carried these "lesser" traits with us to our present time which probably means there is a good reason for doing so. Nietzsche really seems to express frustration with this fact; furthermore, he rests all of his hopes with the next evolutionary change towards reaching his "Superman".
To me, if something exists there is a reason for its existence. Nietzsche did the world a great service for showing us how much we are still shackled by our evolutionary forbearers; however, he missed hitting a home run by not taking into account the endearing qualities that persist in our species today as well. In all reality, humans are extremely interesting, difficult, and strange creatures to fully-understand. Always convoluted in our personalities, humans actually take on an almost pitiful existence when one realizes that we still do not know the mystery of our own existence in the universe. The mysteries of the human brain and a myriad of other left un-answered questions will need to wait until science and technology can match the passion in which we desire to know the answers to the questions that have persisted in haunting us.
Personally, I feel that since every trait which evolution has selected for our species today parallels our development as humans; therefore, in a word there must be a "reason" why those traits are present. I would argue that these genes point towards a biologically innate tendency to want to work together in groups; however, Nietzsche might see it as an inevitable outcome of unwanted genes not being exterminated from the gene pool through a natural "weeding out" process. I would contend that our ability to develop useful technology has allowed humans to avoid that evolutionary struggle which seems manifest in all Nietzsche writes.
In closing, I like how Nietzsche pushes us to reflect more on our actions as well. The spirit of introspection permeates his works. As Socrates so famously coined, "The unexamined life is not worth living". I feel that Nietzsche adds another layer of complexity to our great body of knowledge on the human condition. I recommend his works to those curious who about the human condition. I hope this review of Nietzsche was entertaining; I know that writing it was for me!
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Last week I took several new work opportunities in an effort to increase my salary over the next couple of months before I go traveling this summer. I am also currently using most of my free time studying Chinese, reading, and writing which has had the cumulative effect of taking time away from writing my blog.
The two essays I am writing are actually quite different in nature; one is about American Democracy and the other is a reaction to reading several works by Nietzsche. In an effort to save time I will tell you that nothing too unbelievable has happened to me in the last couple of days; however, I did have a student stand up in the middle of a class period and tell me in front of everyone how much the class liked me which was a little awkward to take! haha
I hope everyone is doing well.
Friday, May 2, 2014
Hi Everyone! I have decided to add one more new twist into my blog. The beauty of writing a blog is that it is completely dependent on the intellectual style of its author. I was inspired by F Scott Fitzgerald's ability to write both meaningfully and elegantly prose. I now want to add in my own thoughts, poetry, and ideas regarding life in this blog.
Do not get me wrong the blog will still center on China related topics; however, I think it is time to start experimenting with different writing styles as well!
This will be even more fun I feel and make writing this even more interesting I think.
In China, workers celebrate the May 1st International Labor Day, so I was pretty enthusiastic when I learned that I would have a long weekend; Friday was also given as a vacation day. I was feeling extra wonderful since my convalescence seemed to have revived my industry. I spent Friday doing the things which I enjoy most; studying, reading, writing, and exercising.
I finished reading "This Side of Paradise" and was satisfied with the way it left me pondering life. I think that any book which made you think afterwards was a book worth reading. Regardless of Fitzgerald's ultimate opinions on Socialism I found the ending quite satisfying since the main character, Amory, was able to at least realize that he finally did "know" himself for who he truly was. The struggle in my own life is uncannily similar to that of the stories protagonist.
Since poetry is very prevalent throughout the works I want to try my hand at a couplet. If you find it obtuse then I am sorry. I have never attempted to write poetry before.
Alone in the forest the dense fog slowly distinguishes reality from myth. Awareness gains momentum with a dark tenacity both uncontrollable and swift. All ideas shall be taken nothing can be missed. For if one is to get out of this forest alive they must be cunning, honest, and equipped. To survive means to be both agile and quick. For all around this forest life is moving and it is time to find one's true nitch!
Since I am running behind schedule today I will unfortunately have time to translate this blog into Chinese!
Thursday, May 1, 2014
On the previous day, I caught a cold which definitely affected my overall energy level. I had not slept well the night before; therefore, I decided to take Nyquil that next night. On Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling tired and drowsy from a long night of sleep. On Tuesdays, I usually go to four periods of Chinese class at the Exchange students' dormitory; however, on this day I skipped these classes entirely.
Instead of going to class I read a couple of chapters in F Scott Fitzgerald's, "This Side of Paradise" which has been a great read. I really like the transition the main character, "Amory" has taken as his life experiences have changed. Fitzgerald does a great job of creating characters that come alive through their weakness, ambition, and failures in life. In many ways, I can relate to some the challenges that the young protagonist has faced in his short life.
After reading I spent a couple of hours studying Chinese. I am currently using a clever method to help me remember the different Chinese characters. The method is built around the idea of making the characters easier to remember by telling separate stories for each one. When I use this method I am not only remembering what the characters look like but also what their meaning is.
In the evening, I tried to get to sleep early in order to allow myself an opportunity for my body to heal itself. I have always heard that our bodies heal themselves the best while resting which is why I attempted to use this method.