DaveeyG Does Chinese
The ultimate conclusion of the Three Kingdoms saga boils down to a legendary rivalry between the two master strategists: Sima Yi and Zhuge Liang; a rivalry which will echo throughout the ages...
History became legend; legend became myth.
Liu Bei seeks revenge for the death of his brother Guan Yu, against Wu while an opportunistic Wei waits for the opportunity to strike. Whose downfall will it be?
Hey guys this is part 5 of this 6 part series on my re-telling of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms story. You might be asking, why should care about this old Chinese story?
In order to further broaden your knowledge of the depth of Chinese history in culture, you must be well acquainted with the it's foundational history and culture of the Three Kingdoms era and the more theatrical Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel; although I don't recommend you read the book (it sucks in English); I suggest watching this series instead.
In this part, we examine the psychological/spiritual consequences of Liu Bei perverting his moral compass - the once core aspect of our failed hero - in order to achieve his highest goal and what it does to his character. Remember the saying "you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain?". I see a correlation between the character arch of Liu Bei and Harvey Dent (aka Two Face) in the Dark Knight. Cao Cao (the Joker in this case), is seen by Liu Bei as the representation of chaos and by any measure necessary must be stopped. But in his quest to stop 'the chaos', he himself only ends up succumbing to it - ultimately redefining his character. And when a loved one is caught up in the drama and is killed (Harvey Dents girlfriend, Rachel and Liu Beis sworn brother, Guan Yu), the process of the destruction of their integrity becomes completed as they themselves become no different to the agents of evil they were originally fighting against.
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Can one maintain their ideals on their journey to greatness?
We pick up were we left off and examine the landscape that unfolds before the heroes in a post Battle of Red-cliffs China.
A vacuum of power is created with the slow disintegration of the massive Han realm which is slowly being dominated by various factions of elite generals, strategists and rulers. Each seek to connive and outsmart each other to achieve the ultimate goal of hegemony and win the race to re-unify China. These are there stories.
The story of the Romance of the The Kingdoms is a deep dive into Chinese philosophy, psychology, politics, history and religion. From this you will get a very deep perspective on a period of history that ultimately has shaped the face of China up until the modern era and into the future.
As Cao Cao was on a winning streak to ultimate hegemony by occupying up to almost half of northern China amongst the disunited, disorganised Warlords, Liu Bei, a landless "adventurer", a penniless scion of the royal house teams up with Sun Quan, a talented leader of the "Southlands", descended from a line of great warrior generals to defeat their common rival, Cao Cao.
Both believe Cao Cao to be the nemesis of the time and to forever be known in history as a 'traitor' of the Han. Despite this bold claim, when the duo are successful, they discover that perhaps it is not Cao Cao they should be worried, but perhaps each other...
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Introducing Zhuge Liang and Eastern Wu, we discuss Liu Beis precipitous escape from Jing Province as it's snatched up by Cao Cao. Cao Cao has pursues Liu Bei into the arms of the Eastern Wu leading up the Battle of Redcliffs; will this relationship last?
In this part we continue the deep dive by etching out the characters of Liu Bei and Cao Cao and what defines them. What make them the supposed 'good' and 'bad guy'. We also will discuss the battle Guandu and how it lays the foundation of Cao Wei.
The once historical characters of the Chinese Three Kingdom period have been catapulted into the realm of demi-god status by modern Chinese culture, regularly revivifying their status' as a staple in Chinese pop culture in the form of new movies, TV shows, manga and video games. These immortalized legends aren't going away anytime soon; so what's made them such legends?
Well of course there's the history aspect for one. The Han dynasty 2000 years ago of which Han people, Han language and Han culture originate from have their true root in this time period, so all events attaining to this time period are of special significance - especially in regard to the time of it's disintegration. So what separates the the tragic end of the Han from the collapse of other major civilisations? Perhaps not much. But one thing we can say about the time is the scale of the destruction wrought on by the collapse. From the period of the Yellow Turban Rebellion (184ad) to re-unifcation of China under the Jin Dynasty (280ad), up to 40 million people died at a time when the global population was only 205 million.
Ok so what else? There have been many depopulation events throughout history, what makes this special? This is where the story comes in...
Imagine there was an event in your history so traumatising that it echoed on in the form of folk tales passed from generation to generation. These folk stories spread throughout the villages and evolved in complexity over time, combining with the lore passed down in other villages and would further be buttressed by the actual scholarly accounts. After approximately 1200 years from the actual event, all these legends would coalesce in one meta narrative - the Romance of the Three Kingdoms written by Luo Guangzhong in 14th century Ming China.
Although the official account was written in the 3rd century ad, this 'meta narrative' would be the story that imprints itself on the DNA of Chinese culture. So what is it about the story that's so great?
Like any truly great story, the characters in the book are relatable and provide the reader an ideal to live up to. These ideals are based on the Confucian tradition and the characters journeys revolve essentially around their ability or inability to live up to these ideals.
Although not immediately obvious to a foreign audience upon first reading, the narrative explores many deep subjects through the formulation of its plot. One of them is free-will verse predetermination (or as it's called in the book, heavens will). Another is pragmatism verse idealism. The book isn't the kind that openly preaches what the authors ideas about the world are-- it's actually really just a story. But the story is rooted in the history and you could say the story has been made up to make sense of this traumatic period of history. Questions pertaining as to why fellow men would go out into the battle field to slaughter each other are pertinent to ask. It's important to know their motives and the psychology behind their actions, so this is where the story has it's place.
So if you've made it this far, I'm writing this post to gee you up on learning about the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I have spent the past 6 months deeply immersed in the study of this book and as of yesterday completed the final part of a video series about the subject. I would like you watch this series. If your interested in China, I can't highly recommend enough that you watch my series as this book is such an important staple in Chinese culture and is imperative for furthering your understanding about it.
Created 5 months, 4 weeks ago.
Hi I'm Dave and I do Chinese stuff.