A University Anthem that Speaks my Heart

I suddenly had this idea of listening to the the school song of my alma mater again 10 years after I graduated. I’ve gone to many schools but this one is dearest to my heart. Not only because I spent the best years of my life there, its campus is also one of the most beautiful places in the country.

水木清華眾秀鍾 The Garden of Tsinghua

水木清華眾秀鍾 The Garden of Tsinghua

I’ve always loved the melody of the song, even in my school days. But we were never really required to memorise the lyrics, and whenever it’s sung during ceremonies, we seldom go beyond the first stanza. Now that I studied the lyrics closely, I fell in love with it. So well it captures the spirit of the school, so elegantly it tells us the essence of learning that I found myself moved to tears, over and over again. Here’s the original in Chinese, written by 汪鵉翔 in Classical Chinese. In the brackets are my translation attempts, though the beauty of the language is inevitably lost.

西山蒼蒼 東海茫茫 (Lush hills on the west / vast seas on the east)
吾校莊嚴 巍然中央 (Our magisterial school / towering in the middle of the land)
東西文化 薈萃一堂 (Cultures from the East and the West / gather and fill the hall)
大同爰躋 祖國以光 (We’ve come to achieve a great society / to make our Motherland proud)
莘莘學子來遠方 (Hither come students from afar)
莘莘學子來遠方 (Hither come students from afar)
春風化雨樂未央 (Bathing in the joy of learning that knows no bound)
行健不息須自強 (Like the heavens that incessantly strives to prosper)
自強 自強 (Prosper! / Prosper!)
行健不息須自強 (Like the heavens that incessantly strives to prosper)
自強 自強 (Prosper! / Prosper!)
行健不息須自強 (Like the heavens that incessantly strives to prosper)

左圖右史 鄴架巍巍 (Rooms lined with books / towers of volume after volume)
致知窮理 學古探微 (Exhaust we knowledge / and perfect our study)
新舊合冶 殊途同歸 (Welding the new with the old / of diverse origins the same place they go)
殽核仁義 聞道日肥 (Feeding on kindness and righteousness / we walk on the right path and stronger by day grow)
服膺守善心無違 (Keep our heart virtuous and never against our conscience)
服膺守善心無違 (Keep our heart virtuous and never against our conscience)
海能就下眾水歸 (The sea receives many waters because it lays low)
學問篤實生光輝 (Thorough and honest study brings glory)
光輝 光輝 (Glory! / Glory!)
學問篤實生光輝 (Thorough and honest study brings glory)
光輝 光輝 (Glory! / Glory!)
學問篤實生光輝 (Thorough and honest study brings glory)

器識為先 文藝其從 (First, to form our character / followed by our crafts)
立德立言 無問西東 (Excel as man and scholar / whether in the East or the West)
孰介紹是 吾校之功 (Who gives us such wisdom? / ‘Tis the doing of our school)
同仁一視 泱泱大風 (All treated with equality / Such grace and nobility!)
水木清華眾秀鍾 (The Garden of Tsinghua, confluence of all beauties)
水木清華眾秀鍾 (The Garden of Tsinghua, confluence of all beauties)
萬悃如一矢以忠 (A thousand hearts of lasting loyalty)
赫赫吾校名無窮 (Illustrious our school’s name rings forever)
無窮 無窮 (Forever! / Forever!)
赫赫吾校名無窮 (Illustrious our school’s name rings forever)
無窮 無窮 (Forever! / Forever!)
赫赫吾校名無窮 (Illustrious our school’s name rings forever)

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I was strolling around Liulichang in Beijing in search of art supply and books, and this ink painting of Putin caught my attention. It’s an artist’s advertisement for his portraits. Above it the banner is promoting the house’s ink brushes.

Ideological Clean Slate – China and the New Generation

‘Cenozoic’ – a geological term referring to a new era where mammals prevail. It comes from Greek kainos + zōion, meaning ‘new animals’, because the extinction of many other organisms allowed mammals to greatly diversify and populate during that period.

Perhaps it was this annihilation of the old and the birth of the new that critic Yin Jinan had in mind when he coined the term xin sheng dai (the New Generation) to describe a group of Beijing-based artists born in the 1960s. Their departure from the then predominant mode of contemporary art was evidenced in the ‘China/Avant-Garde’ exhibition. Continue reading →

“We Are Ready” – For More Open Public Spaces

This piece was written in the summer of 2008 for a magazine in Beijing.

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Central Park looking towards The Place, Beijing, China

It was a surreal moment, strolling along the empty avenue on an autumn night in Beijing’s CBD. Not only for the fact that the five-lane wide road was car-less, nor for the symphony of light shimmering from the ultramodern surrounding buildings, but for perhaps a rare occasion that in this rapidly filled-in area I could see the full bright moon overhead, sprinkling silver dusts onto the dama who’s walking her dog, the daye who’s toying in one hand with his well-oiled walnuts while keeping an eye on his grandson who was at that moment racing like an Olympic athlete on his roller blades. There were also the moon-bathing expats, the photo-shooting tourists, and the squatting migrant workers who were having their hard-earned break before being herded back to more banging and hammering.

Continue reading →