Monday, May 16, 2011

Juan Chi / Ruan Ji (210-263): Chinese bohemian poet

Transmission of cultural and intellectual information across linguistic boundaries is far from perfect, and the notion that one will readily find everything one could possibly want in English is erroneous. I have blogged before on intellectual figures I could find almost no information on in English but learned about thanks to Esperanto, which has a history of serving as a bridge language between cultures. One such figure is the Chinese philosopher and freethinker Fan Zhen. Another is Ruan Ji, or Juan Chi in the older transliteration, whose life span was 210-263. All the relevant information in Esperanto can be accessed from my Esperanto blog:

Ĵŭan Ĝji, Saĝulo de la Bambu-Bosko

Works by and about Ruan Ji in English are difficult to find. Here's what there is:

Ruan Ji / Juan Chi: Selected Bibliography

"Speaking My Mind" by Juan Chi / Ruan Ji

Cultures all over the world have had their "holy fools": people who act eccentrically, in defiance of prevailing norms, whose extreme unconventional behavior—in complex civilizations, anyway—functions as a form of social critique. In the West, we have heard of Diogenes from ancient Greece. China, too, had many such persons. Here is an anecdote I have translated from Esperanto which I have not found in English:
He opposed feudal etiquette, acted strangely and unceremoniously; he took the space between heaven and earth as a chamber, his house as his trousers, remaining naked. When someone would enter his chamber, he would ask: "What are you doing in my pants?"

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