I haven’t been in the website zone recently – trying as I am to get a solid foothold back into my Chinese studies and also as I am not feeling as enamoured with Xi’an as I once was – so Notes have been and may well continue to be fewer and farther between. Or they may, from time-to-time, just end up being a bit more random. Coincidently, this is one of those times. Here we have got a couple of night shots of the TV Tower in southern Xi’an, a quick link to Bing’s Chinese – English Dictionary, a cap doffed towards a new Chinese language learning Blog, named Fluent Flix, and a few words from spiritual thinker/ guru J. Krishnamurti.
I will begin by letting J. Krishnamurti offer a few simple words to help give the recent shenanigans in European and world affairs, and probably a few future happenings as well, some perspective. I came across his work back in London, read more at one of his retreat centres in Chennai, India and just recently picked up one of his books again. This is an extract from it (Freedom from the Known):
‘The question of whether or not there is a God or truth or reality, or whatever you like to call it, can never be answered by books, by priests, philosophers or saviours. Nobody and nothing can answer the question but you yourself and that is why you must know yourself. Immaturity lies only in total ignorance of self. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.
And what is yourself, the individual you? I think there is a difference between the human being and the individual. The individual is a local entity, living in a particular country, belonging to a particular culture, particular society, particular religion. The human being is not a local entity. He is everywhere. If the individual merely acts in a particular corner of the vast field of life, then his action is totally unrelated to the whole…
We human beings are what we have been for millions of years – colossally greedy, envious, aggressive, jealous, anxious and despairing with occasional flashes of joy and affection. We are a strange mixture of hate, fear and gentleness; we are both violence and peace. There has been outward progress from the bullock cart to the jet plane but psychologically the individual has not changed at all, and the structure of society throughout the world has been created by individuals.
The outward social structure is the result of the inward psychological structure of our human relationships, for the individual is the result of the total experience, knowledge and conduct of man. The individual is the human who is all mankind. The whole history of man is written in ourselves.
… All outward forms of change brought about by wars, revolutions, reformations, laws and ideologies have failed completely to change the basic nature of man and therefore of society. As human beings living in this monstrously ugly world, let us ask ourselves, can this society, based on competition, brutality and fear, come to an end? Not as an intellectual conception, not as a hope, but as an actual fact, so that the mind is made fresh, new and innocent and can bring about a different world altogether? It can only happen, I think, if each one of us recognizes the central fact that we, as individuals, as human beings, in whatever part of the world we happen to live or whatever culture we happen to belong to, are totally responsible for the whole state of the world.
We are each of us responsible for every war because of the aggressiveness of our own lives, because of our nationalism, our selfishness, our gods, our prejudices, our ideals, all of which divide us.’
I may well continue with Krishnamurti’s work another time, but for now I will just continue with a few pictures that were taken one cold Xi’an night, a week or so ago, crouched down by the southern edge of Chang’an Lu. I had my newly purchased and first ever tripod in hand, a thick scarf and coat keeping me warm, and a few buses thundering past to keep me company, not to mention m’ol mucker Mr. Blackett who was also out there getting in on the action. These night shots are definitely a work in progress but I’ll throw up a handful anyway. The buses that flashed passed added some interesting light to the mix.
Next up, Bing’s Chinese-English Dictionary. The site does refer to it as EN-CH dictionary but it probably works even better when you enter a Chinese character. Although, if you do put in the English the example sentences are good at helping you work out which particular Chinese translation is most appropriate for your needs. This dictionary is fast and comprehensive, giving the pinyin, a clear definition and very importantly a good selection of useful sentences. It is becoming my go-to online dictionary.
Finally, here is a link to the new and interesting Fluent Flix website, or as it says on the tin:
“… a blog on learning Chinese by FluentFlix, the best way to learn Chinese through movies and TV. We started this blog to provide a go-to resource for all intermediate-and-above Chinese language learners.”
A taste of what is on offer over Fluent Flix comes from their most recent post where they highlight the benefits of sentence mining, which is interesting. Again, from the horses mouth:
“The hardest part of Chinese is that it feels arbitrary. It has its own logic, but it takes trial and error to figure it out. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a shortcut? A way that you could almost learn from your mistakes before even making them? The good news is that you can. Have you heard of sentence mining?”