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Interesting Times

May you live in Interesting Times.

It is reported that this was the first of three ancient Chinese curses of increasing severity,
the other two being:
May you come to the attention of those in authority.
May you find what you are looking for.

Comments

geordie
Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
I tried to track this down before because it sounds too good to be true, too aligned with western ways of saying things.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_you_live_in_interesting_times
liveonearth
Jun. 4th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know. I also read the wikipedia and decided on what I would propagate out here in the morass of the web. Did you find anything more substantial about it?

Based on my personal experience of Chinese culture and thought, I think that these "curses" are very much in the spirit of how a wise Chinaman might enjoin a fool toward their fate. The fool of course would not understand the nature of the curse. At any rate, I do believe that we are living the first one, hence the title of my journal.

If ever any Chinese read this, please comment! I would like to know what a person born and raised in that culture thinks.

Edited at 2010-06-04 04:26 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous)
Jun. 4th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
No, I never did find a good source. And yes, they do sound very credible to the western way of thinking of Chinese culture. But my Chinese friends just don't talk like that, so even if it is originally a Chinese curse it will have been translated in to an English idiom and way of saying things, so the original would be very hard to identify.

Not that Google is a good translator, but I often feed my friend's Facebook posts through their Chinese-English translator and the results sound hilarious. But the really odd thing is that when we show these to the authors they aren't amused, they just say that whilst that is correct in English we would say ... So they do a lot more idiom translating, if I understand what is going on.
liveonearth
Jun. 4th, 2010 05:06 pm (UTC)
I get it, how language influences thinking. I also understand that there is a gigantic gulf between the western/Euro and Chinese/east Asian worldviews and values. I personally have never really bridged it; their ways are mysterious to me, and I am mindful to respond to the uncertainty with curiosity instead of defensiveness. If you ever get a chance to run this by any of your Chinese friends, I'd be very interested in their take---and the words they use to explain it!
geordie
Jun. 4th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
Oops. That was a not-logged-in me :(
liveonearth
Jun. 4th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
It's OK, I knew it was you. I changed my settings to allow anonymous commenters again. We shall see how long it takes for the riffraff to re-start spamming me.

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