mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Resistance being futile, I respond

qwerty asks me five questions. I answer.

1. What is it about dragons that appeals to you, seemingly by default? It's like if there's a dragon you're there. XD

That's a very good question. I'd have said I wasn't into dragons before the Gaiden except there's the bookplates I bought at 23 with a bespectacled dragon reading a very large book. But still-- I did not squee over Haku in Sen to Chihiro, unlike (ahem) some people. I have no totemic animal thing going, no New Age mystic identification going, and I'm rather creeped by lizards, which is what Chinese dragons most remind me of. So-- why dragons?

Partly that they're cool in some unidentifiable way. Colloquial cool-- I probably think of the western variety as a hot water bottle that's finally big enough. Partly it's the difference between the concept of fearsome fire-breathing enemy-of-man-by-definition western dragons and fussy mandarin memorial-writing JTTW awesome majestic and symbol-of-the-Emperor Chinese dragons. Who are also part of the ungraspable umm 'not my kind of rationality'/ unrational Daoist thing, as also untameable forces of nature. Which is kind of a contradiction to me-- you can signify untamed nature or you can signify the pinnacle of human society, but you can't do both simultaneously.

There's also a kind of fannish fascination. Here we have Minekura's Goujun, there we have bulbous-eyed snub-nosed Chinese dragons causing devastating floods that kill hundreds of thousands of people (but he's *sorry* about it so it's OK.) It's not so much 'how did she get from here to there' because I know how she did-- JTTW; more, what was the unconscious mental background against which she read JTTW and created Goujun. What do dragons look like Over There, generally?

Is why I read so many Japanese manga about Chinese dragons.

2. What would constitute a perfect day for you?

In the realm of the possible? The weather is cool and dry. My knees do not hurt. There are a bunch of interesting entries on lj which I read over breakfast. I spend an hour or so writing briskly at the current story, then wander over to work to mooch lunch. Coupla hours playing with the babies for pay; out for dinner with a friend from work or elsewhere; home to discover my bk1 order has arrived; spend evening reading, then work at story some more, then hot bath with Ombra rose and green tea bubble bath.

3. I'm curious about your interest in Chinese stuff. What got you into it?

Unlike Japan, where I can remember exactly what did it and when, China is-- 'what did it?' I'd always had a mild side-interest in Chinese culture-- a little poetry, Red Chambers, JTTW, some history, a few art books. General knowledge. The Japanese *would* keep mentioning Zhuge Liang and Cao Cao, you know? But mostly it was this unknown and difficult and oh so complicated *thing* that, for decades, Japan was so much easier than. Fewer hanzi, shorter history, smaller country, and no tones.

I think it was the dragon brothers that first pushed me into at least *looking* at those OMG scary scary I'm so scaaaared Chinese hanzi. For the names, you know? And the rest is down to paleaswater. She kept talking about these marvellous bb BL stories 'in a perfect pastiche of Ming style', and kept recommending Chinese-themed manga to me, and of course once you start reading manga it's game over, you must start reading everything else.

4. What about the time you spent in Japan made the biggest impact on you?

Being a foreigner, and not a 'might be a cousin' type foreignness, as in Europe; but a 'different from us and outsider and *foreign*' foreigner. It wasn't at all uncomfortable, mind. What matters in Japan is having a category for people to put you in, and there was my category all ready-made; and westerners are top of the heap of foreigners so people were much pleasanter in general to me than to my Chinese or Singaporean or Thai friends. But being outside a system that in itself works quite differently from your own system-- not receiving implicit and unnoticed validation from everything around you every day-- makes you question the reality you live in and the assumptions you work on. I felt thin-- transparent over there, and always wondered at my returned sense of solidity whenever I came home for Christmas.

5. Your favourite supernatural creature/character, in folklore or manga.

I'm divorced from my own culture's supernatural folklore, that was all country-based (and British) when I was younger. The urban folktales didn't show up till I was grown. So I don't have an emotional bias towards anything much. But I do have a certain fondness for certain depictions of fox spirits, like the ones who meet on Musashi Moor at New Year's.
Tags: china, dragons, meme, rl_09

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