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Showing posts from March, 2014

March 29th #chinadiary

Carl is extremely busy now in preparing for the first meeting of the General Committee - there's a real sense of engagement and of fully being in the world on the pages here and following. Indeed, it's quite hard to follow the diary precisely at this point, as it skips around between days somewhat - the entry for 29th March talks about the dinner he had on 28th, for example, and the morning of the 29th March is reported on in the entry for April 3rd: "The General Committee met at 9.15 the morning of the 29th and has kept us almost on the run ever since."

He reports the meeting as the most enlightening he has ever attended, identifying "three high spots of the session":
the discussion of student representation  on the Executive Committee - Carl seems to have been pretty effective at lobbying support for his chosen course of actionwhat attitude the student Christian Movements should take toward followers of other faiths - Carl succinctly outlines the movements…

The indifference of children towards meat

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The indifference of children towards meat is one proof that the taste for meat is unnatural; their preference is for vegetable foods, such as milk, pastry, fruit, etc. Beware of changing this natural taste and making children flesh-eaters, if not for their health's sake, for the sake of their character; for how can one explain away the fact that great meat-eaters are usually fiercer and more cruel than other men; this has been recognised at all times and in all places. Emile: Or; On Education, Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  1762
More here from Infed (informal education):

March 28th #chinadiary

A very brief entry today, Carl having little time to say much about his visit to the Peking Union Medical College, part of "the famous Rockefeller Foundation", so here's a video taken just two years previously. There is a very big day tomorrow, the opening of the work of the General Committee of the World Student Christian Federation, which is, I think, the central activity of the whole trip. Anyway, the power of the Internet brings us that quite incredible video from just two years before Carl was here:

March 27th #chinadiary

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Carl visits the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven but is more taken up with the shocking "condition of the people" and their (work) animals, both of which he describes sharply and at length. He also sees his first camel: "Of all the haughty, supercilious faces, a camels is the most haughty. Even an Englishman can't beat him." (I think I would have laughed lots with Carl, he can be so funny!) - he suggests that the camels are better off than many of the people here.

The entry finishes with an early indication of Carl's lifelong interest in people: "...the Forbidden City was massive and most interesting in its historical connotations, but the people are the real thing after all."

March 26th #chinadiary

The devil hates to turn corners. This is why the Chinese build 'devil screens', walls built in front of gates. This is one of the things Carl reports on now he is in Peking. He writes also of the poverty and unemployment he finds there - and of his meeting with two Austrian former prisoners-of-war ("if you want to find some one who is set against war, talk to these fellows"). He listens to a talk by Dr Mott in the evening and writes of a great sense of expectation amongst the Chinese for the impending conference of the Worlds Student Christian Federation.

Ever intrepid, today's entry finishes: "Had a short walk home alone thru the darkest streets I ever care to travel thru at night."

March 25th #chinadiary

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Arrived very early at Mukden (In 1914, the city changed back to its old name Shenyang but continued to be known as Mukden in some English sources), Carl upset about the treatment of horses, as would I be, on the Peking carts (btw, the photo on the right here is from a fabulous collection of photos from 1920s China collected by YWCA missionaries, perhaps some of whom Carl met on his travels - here and here). Much of the rest of the day was spent travelling through "the plains of Manchuria, sometimes as sandy and arid looking as the Sahara desert". 

Here's another pretty amazing video from 1920s China:


March 24th #chinadiary

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A day's travel through Korea to China and Carl has reevaluated his earlier opinion about the 'barbaric' Koreans - and reading between the lines, it seems that even his use of the word 'barbaric' is to be given some latitude and he really seems to have objected to their "strange clothes, their long hair, and their scraggly, unkempt whiskers" - which might well be how a 1920s North American might describe 1960s North Americans...

Late evening arrival in Antung (Andong) in the Republic of China, and Carl meets "the Manchurians; great strapping Chinamen that would make three Japanese".

Watch this quite amazing video (courtesy www.travelfilmarchive.com) of Manchuria in the 1920s, which contains much of what Carl must have seen during his oddyssey:


March 23rd #chinadiary

A raging blizzard delays the planned departure for Peking (Beijing) but Carl and the group still manage to get out and about. The head of the Korean YM gave a talk in the evening, which convinces Carl that the Japanese-Korean situation is clearly "a pent up volcano" (in fact, it wasn't until Japan's surrender to Allied forces in 1945 that they relinquished control over Korean territory).

Carl is clearly moved by the plight of the Korean people and he makes a strong statement about his Christian belief and the challenge to authority that he then believed it represents: "Thank God Christianity is always a force to be feared by autocratic power. I hope it always will be a force to be feared by autocratic power..."

22nd March #chinadiary

The first 'official' day in Korea, beginning with a "very interesting boys school" - however, Carl and Lydia slip off unnoticed and go on a tour of the shops and houses of the city of Seoul instead...

The afternoon brings further contact with the school in the form of graduation exercises, followed by tea with the International Friendly Relations Association - with Carl noting that all is not well for the Korean people, who are "still very bitter against their oppressors", the Japanese. Still, he "had a very interesting time with all those high mucky-mucks."

March 21st #chinadiary

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Breakfast-time arrival in Fusan Harbour (I found a picture of the harbour purportedly from 1904, which is I guess how it probably looked in 1922 - it looks very different nowadays):


The harbour is not the only thing that's changed, either - his perception of "the Koreans" reads uncomfortably today: "They are certainly a crude looking people. I think that they are the least civilized in appearance of any we have seen." The rest of the entry describes the "typical Korean costume" and the apparent poverty visible from the train to Seoul.


Google Socialize

I'm sure I didn't give Twitterfeed long enough, but that's the Internet!

I googled 'alternatives to twitterfeed' and found this helpful post.

Which led me to Google's very own feed distribution service, 'Socialize', which I'm sure does lots more, but I've just set it up to send blog posts to Twitter - so consider THIS a test post...

More about Socialize

(it worked immediately btw, so I stick with this)

Twitterfeed

I've been using this lovely little service for a few years - basically it sends my every blog post to my twitter account. Except it hasn't for a while now (since March 5th) and I've only just noticed. Humph. Had a look at the twitterfeed dashboard (twitterfeed.com) and found that the service was disabled for this account. Perhaps a result of my changing the url to billymiller.eu, so mea culpa. Anyway, consider this a test post and if it works I like twitterfeed again :-)

20th March #chinadiary

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Up at 6.00, leave for Sheminoseki at 7.55 - and a day of spectacular, changing scenery from the train: "rice paddies, mountains, hills, fishing villages, great broad rivers, and the beautiful inland sea... the scenery along the coast is the best I have seen anywhere since I have started."

Then, the last of Japan and onto a passenger steamer for the trip to Korea (not 'South' or 'North' Korea, as the division would not take place for another 23 years). Carl's seemingly iron constitution again takes a turbulent trip in its stride and he slept like a log even though "the boat seemed to be doing its best to stand on its head."


19th March #chinadiary

"A very fine sermon" from "noted Quaker, Dr H.T. Hodgkin" which led over the course of the day to a long discussion as to whether was was ever justifiable and what the Christian attitude to war should be. I get the distinct impression that it is these very discussions that are making shifts in Carl's worldview and this particular one was "some discussion, and lasted until 12".

There is also a letter included in the diary, to Mr Wolfe, and dated 19th March. The letter mostly gives Carl's impressions of Japan's industrial progress, the character of its people, "the bugaboo of Japanese militarism", religious belief (opportunities for Christianity to replace "the old discarded forms")

March 18th #chinadiary

A considered meditation on imperialism and the coming industrialisation of Japan after riding to Kobe, which is "very much an industrial city, and of course with the bringing in of the American industrial system, comes the American greed for money, and the exploitation of the people."

March 17th #chinadiary

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A morning visit to a large Congregational school and college in Kyoto is followed by a train journey to Nara, the first permanent Japanese capital. Of particular note is Nara park with its deer and ancient temples.

For Carl, the most impressive thing at Nara is the great Daibutsu Buddha, which surely is impressive, and he encapsulates its significance thus: "With the placid, almost scornful look of the typical Buddha, it looks down on us as merely the fleeting creatures of the moment, while it belongs to the ages."


March 16th #chinadiary

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Carl surely enjoying the morning attentions of the "classiest Japanese maids that I have ever seen", waking him up and making a coal fire in the fireplace. The first excursion today was to the lacquer works - and Carl once more displays his great admiration for the patience and skill involved in craftwork by writing in great detail about the various processes that come together to create such things as the lacquer box shown here.

He also visits "a great bunch of old temples" in Kyoto, "a most delightful old city". He makes particular note of the Higashihonganji temple and a coil of rope made up from the hair of thousands of Japanese women - I don't know if the display was as 'organised' in 1922 as it is now, but people still find the rope noteworthy:


March 15th #chinadiary

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An excitable Carl begins with "New impressions! New impressions! Today has surely been full of them!"

So, on the train from Tokyo, impressed by the mountainous terrain in general, the particularly impressionable event was seeing Mount Fuji for the first time, "better than the best picture of it I have ever seen." Carl's farming background also helps him make good note of the agricultural sights he sees - and gives him an insider's appreciation of just how much care and labour goes into it.

Carl's overview at the end of this entry is worth quoting in full (including his excitable spelling):
I don't think that I can ever forget those terraced mountainsides, the flooded rice-paddies, the patient peasants with their primitive hoes, and their heavy two wheeled carts, and I am quite sure that I can never forget that grand old knig of mountains, Fujiyama

March 14th #chinadiary

In contrast to yesterday, the entry begins "Today was rather a prosaic day"... "we went to another Japanese restaurant and had another gunabi luncheon" - my italics - oh, the weary traveller!

He does say "I sure like them", but clearly he's getting over the strangeness of his new circumstances at one level, although not yet at the level of language, as "it is almost impossible to appreciate the language barrier between ourselves and the Japanese."

March 13th #chinadiary

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"This has been a memorable day" - so begins Carl's entry for today...

He describes the things he sees on the train journey to Nikko in Japan, especially the rural and probably ancient way of life in the countryside, tiny houses with thatched roofs, very few animals, most land cultivated for food and the incredible mountain views.

In particular, Carl was surely impressed by the Shinto shrines, which are "beautiful beyond description, and ornamented to a degree that is almost beyond belief". He surely appreciates the craft involved in these places and finds "a spirit of reverence and worship about them that is impossible to deny". I surely like the next section describing the inside of a shrine, so I'll quote it at length, as I'd not heard of this before:

There are no images in Shinto shrines, and the sole object that the people look up to during their worship is a round metal mirror hanging on the wall. The mirror is, as I understand it, suppo…

12th March #chinadiary

There are two entries for this date - the first being a catch-up from previously missed days.

Japan, new impressions and new sights. Admiral Togo received Baron Kato and the rest of the Japanese delegation. Carl and some of the men rode on rikshas, although Carl feels he could never get used to the feeling of riding behind a human draft animal, not pleasant at all for him. However, he does begin to feel the difference of 'the Orient' - one of those things being that much of the street traffic, and much else, is "done by man power" - "simply amazing to one from the West". Carl very much admires the Japanese women, who "surely make a picture" and enjoys his first Japanese guenabi luncheon, which "surely was good" (I wanted to find a picture of a guenabli luncheon, but couldn't even find a reference to it...).

Now, it is Sunday - and the largest church in Tokyo with a special service for Parliament and the government. Later, another chu…

March 8th #chinadiary

Carl's time over the last couple of days has been spent writing and publishing The Augur, as well as more deep discussion about religion, pacifism and war. He is still amazed to find himself on this odyssey and has "come nearer to being seasick than homesick."

March 5th #chinadiary

Carl is surprised at how quickly time has gone by - 5 or 6 days, although one day was 'lost' "somwhere in the mid Pacific"... He says that "it has been a rather uneventful period since I last wrote", however, his days do seem to have been full enough to exclude writing the diary! He reports on porpoises, flying fish and a costume ball where the delegation "cut up generally". And all the while, it seems, Carl and party are having "some great old discussions on all sorts of questions, mostly on religious lines". It seems to me that debate and reflection mostly on religious lines could well account for the previous week's absence from the diary.