Flowery Chinese Rhetoric and My Brother’s Mother-in-Law

It doesn’t surprise me that the Western culture has all but diminished not only Chinese rhetoric, but Indian as well, as either meaningless or non-existent.  For the past two weeks we have read about all of the false accusations about both cultures, only to learn that their rhetorical history goes back just as far (if not farther) than anyone else’s.  It’s funny to think that I have also thought that a big part of Aisan culture was to shy away from confrontation or debate.  This was pointed out as one of the Myth’s, that Chinese rhetoric equals harmony.  This would imply that there is a lack of confrontation in the history of Chinese rhetoric.  That didn’t make sense because if I think about the history of China, of which I am certainly a novice, I still think of wars that date back to thousands of years before Christ.  Sure enough, there is evidence of many wars and disputes during the history of China. 

Another thing that I was happy to learn was that there were indeed men in China who were rhetoricians.  Not only this, but they had vigourous debates and were looked at as popular figures in the eyes of the public.  It says in our reading that they had “great reputations” in society even though they were akin to debating issues with their fellow citizens.  It was interesting that the author pointed out that what the Chinese disliked in their rhetoric was “glib speakers” and “flowery speakers.”  I hate those types of people too, and perhaps that is why I have always been so turned off by politics.  I hate it when a politician paints a rosy picture of the world and I later find out that it was all crap. 

Maybe this is too personal, but oh well… my brother’s mother-in-law is one of these people who is flowery and glib.  She performs Uber-flattery upon me and my side of the family whenever she gets around us.  Perhaps this comes from a place of insecurity or a need to be accepted.  If that is the case, then I feel a bit of empathy for her.  But there have been times when the things she says are so flowery that I think she must be joking.  One time our cat jumped over the fence, which is a simple task that every cat in the world does.  We had a chuckle about it during a family get together, and then she leaned over to my dad and said, “You must be so proud of him.”  Of the cat?!? 

So I was reminded of that story when reading Liu Xie’s excerpt and came across this quote: “Flowery rhetoric, when lacking in genuine feeling, soon dulls our taste.”  How accurate this statement is in regards to my brother’s second mother.  I thought Xie’s thoughts on page 183 in regards to the musical notes verses speaking was profound.  The idea that because music is a mathematical equation, it can be more easily mastered.

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