Changan Jie, or Long Peace Street, stretches across central Beijing. Along it are several critical historical sites, including Zhongnanhai, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City: all important to Beijing’s history as the center of Imperial, Republican and then Communist China.
In 1800, the Shogun’s chief minister wrote the following about the city of Edo:
Someone said that if Edo did not have frequent fires, then people would be more showy and flash. In the capital or in Osaka they do everything with lavish elegance: people hang up paintings in their homes or put out arrangements of flowers. But in Edo, even in the affluent areas, everything is restrained. People only display a single flower [in a bamboo tube or a simple pot]. The wealthy have fine chess sets, but the box will have paper fixed under the lid to double up as the board. Edo’s sense of conciseness comes from continual fires.
From its more mainstream, business-focused and business-friendly “Lean In” variants, to more radical, critical and intersectional understandings of feminism, the past decade has seen a flourishing of discussion from those proposing and critiquing different schools of thought for the way we think about gender in society.
“The Volga! There is a mystery, a charm in all mighty rivers, which has ever made us gaze upon them with an interest beyond that inspired by other great and glorious sights; but to look on the largest of the European rivers gave a thrill of joy surpassing all former pleasure of the kind.”
An old farmer, trying to build a plane in his village. A young man that gambles everything on the roaring stock market. A community transformed by a magical fruit that evokes vivid memories. A Chinese woman unable to understand her American partner. People stuck in a train station, waiting for a train that never comes.
Journey to the West, and especially the character of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, is beloved by readers across China, East Asia, and beyond. The story and its characters have been written and rewritten in books, comics, graphic novels, movies, television shows, and video games. In many ways, Journey to the West and Son Wukong have become archetypes: stories and characters that people refer to and recognize, without ever looking at the original source material.
The French philosopher Jacques Derrida once described his idea of absolute hospitality as follows:
Absolute hospitality requires that I open up my home and that I give not only the foreigner, but to the absolute, unknown, anonymous other, and that I give place to them, that I let them come, that I let them arrive, and take place in the place I offer them, without asking of them either reciprocity (entering in a pact) or even their names.