Archive for March, 2010

12
Mar
10

Learning Chinese

So the summer long ago that I spent studying Chinese at Cheng Da, I indulged my nerdiness by enjoying the benefits of my library card.  (The library had a lovely sculpture of a swooping flutist in front of it at the time, too, which I’m kicking myself for not photographing).  With strong A/C, the library was a lovely modern space with some neat spaces to lounge about in the company of books.  I also had my first exciting experience with sliding stacks, which were quite cool.

Anyway, in addition to reading up on film criticism and helping my cousin with his research on Psycho and Gaslight (neither of which, I’m sorry to say, I was brave enough to watch on my own in the typhoon storminess of that summer…  What can I say, I’m a film-wuss, and too highly impressionable for my own good…  Where was I?  Oh, yes, in addition…), I looked up all the how-to-learn Chinese books there.  I already had a bit of a collection that I was studying on my own before going to Cheng Da and studying from the Shida book that is standard university Chinese fare in Taiwan (in spite of being kind of ancient).  However, being a bit of a research nerd, I came across this book:

It is probably out of print, and its phonetics are not hanyu pin-yin.  However, being a bo-po-mo-fo learner myself (which I think tends to make pronunciation better, though it has its confusing bits too), this wasn’t an impediment for me.  This is more of a character-writing book, with nice charts of radicals and their meanings as endpapers.  Also, I was delighted to discover that the author had a sense of humor, as evidenced by the entry for the character of “ghost,” which as evidenced by the blue dot, I was not the first reader to note:

Seriously speaking, I’m a fan of studying character etymology, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m an etymology language nerd.  I think the contextualization of why/how characters came to be is helpful in remembering them.  At Cheng-Da, there was a class with pretty pictures that showed the evolution of characters.  Back in the US, on a few rare occasions, my mom used to teach me calligraphy, though all I really remembered was fairly basic.  I practiced my characters with calligraphy in Taiwan too, just to make it a bit more fun and involve more gross-motor movement to try to remember them better.  Haven’t touched my calligraphy set for a while, and am not very confident that I remember all my characters that well.  Spent many an afternoon at my grandfather’s house that summer, practicing characters, which unfortunately tended to make me nod off a bit with all the repetition.  My piano teacher could probably vouch that I’m not so good with repetition.

However, I did have a fun experience at Cheng-Da in Tainan that summer, and was a huge fan of my teacher and our class.  It was a friendly department, and I would recommend it for other prospective students.

12
Mar
10

Lotus

Lotus is one of my favorite flowers.  My aunt was dear enough to buy one to stick in a bucket in our garden.  Unfortunately, I never got to see a lake full of them during the daytime while I was in Taiwan…  Maybe next time.

11
Mar
10

Bamboo in the garden

Bamboo in the familial garden.

11
Mar
10

More Sculpture at Cheng Da

Though this is an abstraction, something about it from this angle reminds me a little bit of the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”— a marble statue at the Louvre.  This sculpture (after a squinting look at the blurry zoomed-in tag) is called “Fleeting Cloud and Shadow Traces Marked by the Wind and Trees.”

I’ve never worked with marble before, but the texture of this “cloud” really intrigued me.

If I recall correctly, there were a series of these almost two-dimensional steel sculptures with cut-outs.  I liked this one because it reminded me of the moon with a cloud in front of it.

10
Mar
10

Sculpture around Cheng Da

Surfing Cheng Da’s site, I discovered that there is an art festival going on, and figured I should post my photos of art at Cheng Da.  Art on college campuses can be hit or miss (my sculpture prof. in college said she had to artfully dodge when asked what she thought of the sculptures decorating our campus after her initial interview), but there are some nice pieces at Cheng Da .

This is a doughnut-shaped abacus that is outside the business building (if my memory is correct and things haven’t changed).  Abaci are still used by kids in Taiwan and remind me of my experience trying to teach elementary students math with manipulatives– if we’d only used abaci, I could have avoided a veritable hail storm of pennies and base ten blocks…

This sculpture was a bit small in scale next to its surroundings, but I had fun with its reflections anyway…

This blog has more recent postings of art at NCKU.   While it is in Chinese, the pictures show some fun murals have been added to the landscape since I was there.

Sorry that I didn’t record titles and artist names to go along with the photographs.  If anyone can enlighten me on them, I’ll gladly add them to this post.




Free Rice

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