賣柑者言 – Discourse with the Mandarin Vendor

The wordplay in the translation works only in English, sadly

Mmm, mandarins. Wonder what they’re like inside.

Honestly, I’ve been feeling rather down lately. Weltschmerz, perhaps – though fortunate indeed is the person who is comfortable enough to be worrying about the world, also!

Anyway, while being mopey and idiotic, I came across this essay which I studied a decade ago and have not read since, until today. Liu Ji 劉基, better known by his courtesy name as Liu Bowen 劉伯溫 (1311 – 1375), was a strategist, scholar, geomancer and one of the key founding members of the Ming Dynasty which would rule China for nearly three centuries. Well, if I’m going to start translating prose pieces, this is as good a place as any.

Born in the late Yuan Dynasty as a southern Chinese, which was the lowest social rank under Mongolian rule due to their protracted resistance to conquest, it is perhaps no surprise that Liu Bowen would rouse himself to write this essay; besides being biased against the likes of him, Yuan rule by the time of his adulthood was already a shambles in general. Sometimes it’s scary how many parallels there are with our time.

We may be centuries ahead in so many things, but the ugly albatross around our neck that is idiocy – whether governmental, corporate, or personal – never gets dropped.

Okay, enough moping. Essay!

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