Generally speaking, Heaven and Earth endow the generality of men with the same mediocre qualities, so that one is hardly distinguishable from the other. Not so, however, in the rare instances of the Exceptionally Good and the Exceptionally Evil that flash through the pages of history. The first embodies the Perfect Norm of Heaven and Earth; the second, its Horrid Deviations. The first comes into the world when Harmony is to prevail; the second, when Catastrophe impends. The first ushers in peace and order; the second brings war and strife. Examples of the first are the Emperors Yao, Shun, Yu, and T’ang, the Kings Wen and Wu, the sages Confucius and Mencius, and such philosophers as the Ch’eng brothers and Chu Hsi; examples of the second are the tyrants Ch’ih Yu and Kung Kung, Chieh and Chou and the First Emperor, and such usurpers and traitors as Wang Mang, Huan Wen, and Ch’in K’uai.
Today, under our divine Sovereign, peace and prosperity reign…which manifest itself in the form of sweet dew and gentle breeze. …there is no place under the clear sky and the bright sun for the Deviations from the Norm; these had to hide their ugly heads in the abysmal chasms in the bowels of the earth, where they lie inert and powerless. But occasionally, pressed upon by the clouds or wafted by the winds, traces of these evil elements find their way into the upper air and clash with the traces of the Norm, causing violence storms and thunder and lighting. (Trans: Chi-Chun Wang: Tsao Huueh-Chin, Dream of the Red Chamber, pp. 22-23)
I began the day with the intention to nourish myself by avoiding the Twitter Wars by engaging in literature; that is, Dream of the Red Chamber which was written sometime around 1742. Yet, as my eyes fell upon page 22 I stumbled out of historical China and into the present time, this time of Horrid Deviations.
This passage and image are submitted in response to the”traces of the past” challenge posed by Lost in Translation.