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A Poem for Elee

It is two weeks since the death from cancer of Elee Kirk — who for so long has been my closest companion, wisest advisor and greatest friend. And so I find myself sitting here, watching the wheeling seagulls over the rooftops, looking up into the blue of the late summer sky, and thinking how much Elee loved evenings such as this one. And I find myself thinking how — had circumstances been different, were it not for some copyist’s error at …

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This is not the apocalypse

So, I woke up this morning to find that yesterday we voted leave in the EU referendum, that over the next few years here in the UK we will be going through the painful — and unspeakably boring — process of disentangling ourselves from European Union legislation. And it will be boring. Nobody in the Leave campaign bothered to mention how boring it will be. But now that it is happening, it’s probably time to admit that it won’t be the joyous …

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The Liu Xie and Wenxin Diaolong Memorial Hall, Nanjing

I’m back at Schipol airport, heading home after a hectic week and a half in China. I still have a few bits and pieces to write up, but I thought I’d post some images from Nanjing, where I visited the Liu Xie and Wenxin Diaolong Memorial Hall (刘勰与文心雕龙纪念馆). I’ve long been an admirer of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, Liu’s sixth century text on the nature and practice of writing, and as I’m writing about Liu at …

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Rituals and Changes

Just under a week ago, I arrived back in China for a short visit, to attend the Second Wuxi Yijing World Summit Forum (第二届世界易经高峰论坛) in Wuxi city, a large annual gathering for enthusiasts of the Book of Changes or Yijing (I Ching). After a few months away from China, it is good to be back. And it has been an extremely stimulating few days spent in the company of an eclectic mix of scholars, devotees, diviners, financial speculators, geomancers, Buddhists, …

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Life, despite everything

It is a beautiful, clear Easter morning, and I’m back here in the UK sitting on the sofa with the cat, drinking coffee, and taking it easy. If I’ve not been very active here on the blog for a while, it is in part because the last few weeks have been somewhat demanding. Back in January, just before I headed to Australia for the conference on cultivation and wisdom in Greek and Chinese philosophy, my partner Elee went into hospital …

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New Books in East Asian Studies

I’ve not had a chance to post much recently as I’ve been a bit geographically dispersed — somewhere between the UK, China and Australia. After a couple of weeks, things should settle down again, and I’ll be back to the UK as my main base. But until then, I thought I’d post this long and very generous-spirited interview on my Yijing-based book Sixty-Four Chance Pieces, thanks to Carla Nappi at the wonderful New Books in East Asian Studies podcast. It’s …

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The Flaws of Writers (according to Liu Xie)

I’m over in Sydney for a few days, escaping the smog of Chengdu, and attending the conference at the University of New South Wales on cultivation in Greek and Chinese philosophy. So far, it’s been an incredibly stimulating event. There’s at lot that, if I have the chance, I’m hoping to explore here on this blog in the next few weeks. As for my own paper, I’m still putting the finishing touches to it, as I’ll be presenting it on …

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Vacations: Reeling in the Mind

For the last few weeks, I’ve been wrestling with a couple of things. The first is a huge server failure that has led to me moving my various sites to a new host. And the second is the ghost of Liu Xie (劉勰), the Chinese writer who lived between the fifth and sixth centuries, and whose work straddles Buddhist, Confucian and Daoist traditions in fascinating ways. I’ve written here before about Liu’s most famous book, the Wenxin Diaolong (文心雕龍) or …

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Giving Thanks at Thirty Thousand Feet

My alarm went off at 4.30 this morning — criminally early. I staggered out of bed, stuffed a few things in a bag, double-checked I had the paperwork I needed, and caught a taxi to the airport. I was heading to Shenzhen, and from there to Hong Kong, where I am sorting out some visa issues before I return to Chengdu next week. I boarded the Chengdu Airlines flight at seven, and was surprised to see the cabin adorned with …

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The Hard Cross-Cultural Problem

Recently I’ve been thinking about the notion of cross-cultural philosophy. Despite Leibniz’s best efforts, philosophy as an academic discipline in Europe and America has only recently started to get to grips with non-Western traditions of thought. And whilst philosophers in the West are beginning to wake up to the existence of philosophical traditions from elsewhere, meanwhile—for the last century and a bit—East Asian scholars have been attempting to articulate the unique contributions of Chinese and Japanese traditions of thought to …