Monday, January 23, 2012

Xin nian kuai le

The view of the new year today: wet, but bright and full of promise. For one, I hope the dragon brings me continued focus on the book, and the will and words to power through the last two-thirds.

Thanks to Yao Xiao Long for the fine characters.

Here's the text of the card I printed this year, from C.A.S. Williams's Outlines of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motives (Tuttle Co., 1941):

"The Eastern dragon is not the gruesome monster of mediaeval imagination, but the genius of strength and goodness. He is the spirit of change, therefore of life itself. ... Hidden in the caverns of inaccessible mountains, or coiled in the unfathomed depth of the sea, he awaits the time when he slowly rouses himself into activity. He unfolds himself in the storm clouds; he washes his mane in the blackness of the seething whirlpools. His claws are in the fork of lightning, his scales begin to glisten in the bark of the rain-swept pine trees. His voice is heard in the hurricane, which, scattering the withered leaves of the forest, quickens a new spring."

Happy dragon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Where has this book been all my life?

Every time I take a trip to Powell's City of Books, I pinch myself that I live in Portland and can visit this book Mecca anytime.

I always come home with a surprise, and this time it's Visible Traces, which highlights the greatest hits in the, as it's subtitled, "rare books and special collections from the National Library of China." I thrilled to see it there on the shelf, then kicked myself for not being aware of its publication some years ago. Geez, where was I? (I know, in the throes of Operation Boyfriend.)

For now, I tease you with the cover and this brief description. I hope to return with another post showing some of the treasures inside. I almost gasped seeing some books depicted that I was able to handle when I worked for a summer in the conservation department at the National Library of China. Only this time I was able—through English translation of the Chinese text—to really figure out the when, where, and how of the books, making them even more stunning than I thought.

I'll savor this book in the rainy season ahead.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's not all books in the bindery

We've got tango, too. The twice-monthly women's lead practica marked its two-year anniversary today. Tangueras Susan and Ursina give it a whirl.