Tuesday, April 09, 2013

I am...The Cicada!

The other day, I received a piece of mail with the following bit of Chinese associated with the tagline: 杜凯希. I had no idea what it meant, so I asked Ming.  Which in retrospect was sort of silly, because I could have wandered over to Soon to ask the same question and he offers up a lot more backstory usually.  Ming said it was a cool name and I figured that meant something, but he said no, it was just some Caucasian Googling his own name and using the appropriate Chinese sounds.  In my case, this would be 斯科特, Si Ke Da.  Which sounds very much like Cicada.  Which has a pictograph of its own: 蟬, or chán. There's a pretty video here: http://characters.cultural-china.com/173.html. Which implies that if I adopt the character, I'm adopting the idea of being full of understanding and nobility.  Or full of something else.

It doesn't seem to be taken as a superhero name, so it looks like I can begin work on a costume.  Maybe I'd only come out to fight once every 17 years?  Like a poor man's King Arthur.  And there's already a maneuver I can claim as part of my superhero motiff, the Cicada block!  But I wont' be doing this...this is just gross... (very pretty site over there at Pink Tentacle, despite worries that I was on a tentacle porn site, check out the catfish/earthquake art and music - also, the slightly darkened Tokyo video).

In the oracle bone inscriptions, “chan” (“蝉”) is a pictographic character, with a cicada’s head on top, its abdomen at the bottom, and wings on both sides, displaying a vivid picture of a cicada on a tree in summer. In the small seal script, the shape is simplified, with a “dan” (“单”) radical added to the right, indicating its pronunciation. The character thus becomes a pictophonetic character and basically remains in the shape till now. In China, the cicada is also known as “zhiliao” (literally “know, understand”), because the songs of the insect sound like the phrase “zhiliao” in Chinese. In ancient China, there was a fabric named “cicada wing silk”, because it was as thin as cicada wings. And fans made of this fabric were called “cicada wing fans”. Ancient Chinese people regarded the cicada as a symbol for noble and unsullied qualities due to its exposure to the nature world. That's why an ancient scholar would express his noblility by comparing himself to a cicada.

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