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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Correlative Thinking, Recitation and the Realization of Desire in Early Han Fu

Vol. 36 No. 2   12/2006    


Correlative Thinking, Recitation and the Realization of Desire in Early Han Fu


Yu-yu Cheng









Key words

Han fu, Seven Stimuli, correlative thinking, recitation, experience of pleasure, nurturing the body


   This essay takes as its point of departure the curative powers of Mei Sheng's “Seven Stimuli"; goes on to discuss relevant passages from texts such as Han feizi, Lushi chunqiu, and Huai nanzi; and cites as points of comparison “ Zixu's Rhapsody," “Rhapsody on Shanglin," and “ Rhapsody on Wind Pipes." My discussion follows two lines of inquiry: (1) in what manner can the epideictic (fu) poet-who can cite the names of myriad things and recite history through verse-be likened to a philosopher or a medicine man in his role as caretaker of the ruler's health; at the same time, how do the curative techniques offered by the epideictic poet compare to inquiries into fundamental cosmic principles, ethical norms, and medical techniques? (2) how can pleasures-in particular, the pleasures of sight and sound-be experienced through language? The emphasis of my essay is on analyzing the epideictic poet's deployment of categories that organize experience and the effects of reduplicative binomials. Such binomials, by virtue of being able to take on multiple referents simultaneously, can create correspondences across categories. Through these two lines of discussion, I wish to reframe the epideictic verse of the early Han as a technique of nurturing the ruler's health, and understand how desires based in perception are understood as an accepted mode of narrating experience through a concrete analysis of the workings of fu language.



Author: Yu-yu Cheng
Genre: Article
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