Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ma Liang and His Magic Brush; and The Red Shoes. Repetitive Motion. Western Darkness.

This is about a Chinese story child, and his magic writing implement that will not stop doing what it does, when it is taken by the wrong person. What happens next?  Compare to The Red Shoes, also about repetitive motion. Watch for the uses of involuntary repetitive motion, a result once highly desired and practiced for - the muscle memory.  But in some stories, the repetitive motion takes over. What occurs when the repetitive motion becomes uncontrollable. It becomes a as a punishment, a morality idea, but thereafter -- See how East is bright, and West is dark in what it means.
Ideas cross cultural boundaries to reach a human condition. But how the cultures treat the theme?  Night and Day.
I.  Ma Liang and His Magic Brush

Here is a little boy named Ma Liang who is artistic and observant, though he finds little time for his pastime because of all the work he must do to help support the family.  One day, he falls asleep and has a wonderful dream. He was drawing with a real brush, and paint.

And, more wonderful, when he woke, he found a marvelous brush in his own hand.  Ah, he says.  I will try.  And he draws this, and it comes to life.  And he draws that, and it also moves on its own.

Then, a cormorant of pen and sketch spreads its wings and flies out to sea. Such a wonder!

I will do good with this gift, thinks the boy, and he does.  He draws nets for fishermen whose nets are in tatters, and words of his good deeds spreads.

Unfortunately, the emperor hears, and wants the pen for himself.  So he imprisons the boy and takes the brush in his own hand..

But the bad emperor wants only to benefit himself, and soon --- and then --- and still he kept going, and then the brush would not leave his hand, and it would not stop, it went on and it drew and it drew and the things came to life, and the jewels he coudl not stop drawing amassed around him higher and higher and on and....


Find parts of it, a google book at ://

A child can understand.  Live it. See it. Feel it. Learn from it.  Do good, and good comes back to you, that sort of thing.  Want all the good for yourself, and watch out.

II.  The Red Shoes.

The tale.  Now, reread The Red Shoes, by Hans Christian Andersen, and see the dark side pushed so far that the tale itself becomes scary. 

In the Hans Christian Andersen tale, find a girl who is given a pair of red shoes, but when she is adopted, they are burned. 

She cannot resist another pair when they appear, and must have them, the temptation is go great.  And, having the red shoes, while the other little girls in their black and gray file into the church; for a time the shoes are so wonderful.  All good things!  More and more, they open up the world to her.  But -- then the more she enjoys it, the more she cannot stop. Chop off my feet! So I can repent! And on the story goes....

See the ballet:  Moira Shearer in 1948, at :// for Part I.  Click on Part II in the left hand vertical menu, and go seamlessly to Part II.  See it all happen.  Across the stage after her flights into the joys and cinders of the world, the people who turn to paper before her eyes, come the The Christian overlay of sin, repentance, vanity, all the things that keep a story from being a tale of common sense, help-others morality that all can understand; and it becomes instead a frightening, threatening ideology. Watch out, little girl.  See what happened to little Karen here....See The Red Shoes, at ://

Listen for the Dies Irae as a booming undercurrent just barely recognizable in the ballet, and hear it as chant at ://; and a simpler version at ://

Again, the clergy, cold, pale, and the people, worse. No warmth, just in lock-step.  Ah,the girl, who indulged her talent, went on her own, shone until she dropped. And she did.  And the shoes?

Coming to a mall near you....

Now:  Back