CHINA – “An enigma within a riddle within a mystery”


When one is in China, one is compelled to think about her, with compassion always, with despair sometimes, and with discrimination and understanding rarely, for one either loves or hates China. Perhaps even when one does not live in China one sometimes thinks of her as an old, great, big country which remains aloof from the world and does not quite belong to it. The a1oofness has a certain fascination. But if one comes to China, one feels engulfed and soon stops thinking. One merely feels she is there, a tremendous existence somewhat too big for the human mind to encompass, a seemingly inconsequential chaos obeying its own laws of existence and enacting its own powerful life-drama, at times tragic, at times comical, but a1ways intensely and boisterously real; then after a while, one begins to think again, with wonder and amazement.

This time, the reaction will be temperamental; it merely indicates whether one is a romantic cosmopolitan individual or a conceited, self-satisfying prig. One either likes or dislikes China, and then proceeds to justify one’s likes or dislikes. That is just as well, for we must take some sort of attitude toward China to justify ourselves as intelligent beings.  We grope for reasons, and begin to tell one another little anecdotes, trifles of everyday life, escaped or casual words of conversation, things of tremendous importance that make us philosophers and enable us to become, with great equanimity, either her implacable critics, allowing nothing good for her, or else her ardent, romantic admirers. Of course, these generalizations are rather silly. But that is how human opinions are formed all over the world, and it is unavoidable.  Then we set about arguing with one another. Some always come out from the argument supremely satisfying their rightness, self-assured that they have an opinion of China and of the Chinese people. They are the happy people who rule the world and import merchandise from one part of it to another, and who are always in the right. Others found themselves beset with doubts and perplexities, with a feeling of awe and bewilderment, perhaps with awe or mystification and they end where they began. But all of us feel China is there, a great mystical Dasein£®

For China is the greatest mystifying and stupefying fact in the modern world, and that not only because of her age or her geographical greatness, She is the oldest living nation with a continuous culture; she gave the world some of its most important inventions; she has a literature, a philosophy, a wisdom of life entirely her own; and in the realm of art, she soared where others merely made an effort to flap their wings.


It surprised me when I learnt that this critique was written almost 80 years ago by Lin Yutang  Nothing much seems to have changed regarding how the World and China regard the images of each other. Perhaps Europe should lead the world in renewing the Entente Cordiale.



5 thoughts on “CHINA – “An enigma within a riddle within a mystery”

  1. Hello there… Just passing thru and thought that I would stop by and say hello to you.  You have quite the interesting blog here.  Original.  I like it!
                 Here\’s hoping that all is well with you and yours.  Take Care, I will be back!  ~Steph~
    By the way:  Sssshhhh, about the cup of water, my father read\’s my blog too!  Like how could I possibly say that I am a lush.  Anyways… this Canadian Girl was hung over!  Thus. The water!   Te-hehehehe!

  2. “If I take death into my life, acknowledge it, and face it squarely, I will free myself from the anxiety of death and the pettiness of life – and only then will I be free to become myself.”  "Dasein".    I like that.

  3. You poor thing … are you all pruney and waterlogged.  We could use a bit more rain in my little corner of the world but enough is enough already for you guys, eh?

  4. The situation has really changed twenty years ago.
    With the opening  revolution put into practise,more and more foreigners are coming here to invest or to learn chinese even someone live here .They come to know a lot of culture about China and understand us well.China now is not a lonely one in the world.
    Of course she has many aspects to be ameliorated which depends on our hardwork.
    As to the critique on others,I think,if we could do well enough,someone will change their mind some day.
    Thank you for your understanding on my country.

    While reading this, I never would have guessed it was written 80 years ago. But, Time Does Stand Still on occasion, doesn\’t it?
    I enjoyed your Occupation. lol @ Prodigal Spendthrift .. lol. I love it!

Comments are closed.