The Pacific Ocean is a great mirror, and all those who gaze across it see, not a true image of the other side, but an image mixed with their own reflections

To extend the analogy, many errant reflections from surrounding mirrors, objects, and other gazers in the field of view, intrude as well.

Is it then any wonder there are misunderstandings, confused perceptions, and bewildered gazers on both sides of the Pacific?

That’s my attempt at creating the best analogy to describe the situation of humans on Earth in our present age.

Complaints about the education of the youth from 1076 by Su Shi

I thought this was an amusing paragraph expressing the writer’s frustration at the mores and practices of the youth of 1076 in China.

I can recall meeting older scholars, long ago, who said that when they were young they had a hard time getting their hands on a copy of Shiji [Records of the Grand Historian] or Han shu [History of the Former Han]. If they were lucky enough to get one, they thought nothing of copying the entire text out by hand, so they could recite it day and night. In recent years merchants engrave and print all manner of books belonging to the hundred schools, and produce ten thousand pages a day. With books so readily available, you would think that students’ writing and scholarship would be many times better than what they were in earlier generations. Yet, to the contrary, young men and examination candidates leave their books tied shut and never look at them, preferring to amuse themselves with baseless chatter. Why is this?

Su Shi

The difference arose due to the proliferation of movable wood block printing in the 1000’s in Song dynasty China.

And curious indeed when comparing to our modern age.

Goethe’s Faust

RAPHAEL. The day-star, sonorous as of old,

Goes his predestined way along,

And round his path is thunder rolled,

While sister-spheres join rival song.

New strength have angels at the sight,

Though none may scan the infinitude,

And splendid, as in primal light,

The high works of the world are viewed.

Prologue in Heaven from Faust Part 1, By Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I recently picked up Penguin’s classic version of Faust. It inspired me to highlight the wonderful work to a broader audience. If the quote above intrigues you, there’s several hundred more pages of amazingly poetic verses.

GABRIEL. Swift, unimaginably swift

The glory of the earth rolls round,

And scenes of heavenly radiance shift

To fearfulness of night profound;

By floods of sea in foaming forces

Cliffs at their shuddering base are churned,

And flung in planetary courses

The seas and cliffs are ever turned.

MICHAEL. And storms contend in angry fuming

From sea to land, from land to sea,

A chain of raging force assuming,

In their tempestuous majesty.

The flame of brilliant devastation

Now lights the thunderbolt his way;

But angels, Lord, in adoration,

Hail the sweet progress of thy day.

THE THREE. Now strength have angels at the sight,

Amazed at thy infinitude,

And splendid as in primal light

Are all thy mighty works renewed.

Goethe