It is now September 2008, nearly 13 years after my Author was first introduced to the Monkey book, which eventually, or inevitably, led to a literary outpouring of over 2 million characters, which translates into 350 thousand words, or approximately 1000 pages, which are packed into about 6 books. This is me – his China Papers.
What ignited this blaze – this creative frenzy? It all began with the Monkey book.
My Creator, a human of Western birth, was introduced to this branch of Alchemy through mysterious circumstances. He was rooting, waiting for his Tai Chi class to begin, when a stranger entered the room. This stranger asked some questions of the nearest student, who pointed at my Author. The stranger quickly approached and placed a book in his hands.
My Author called out, “Wait! What’s this all about? Who are you? Who sent you? What’s this book for?” However before he could even frame these questions the stranger had left - like a passing fragrance, leaving only a light scent behind. My Author then looked down at the book. It was simply called Monkey. Less than 200 pages he gobbled it down in less than a week. It electrified him. The episodes applied to all aspects of his life. He began referring to the stories contained therein.
Then in explication of some life experience he casually mentioned one of the episodes to one of his Tai Chi partners, who happened to be a professor of East Asian religions at the local university. The Professor did a double take.
Professor: “Where did that story come from?”
Author: “Oh just some book I received from a stranger. It’s called Monkey.”
Professor: “I suspected as much. It is excerpted from a larger work called Journey to the West. Your book probably contains about 50 episodes. The entire novel contains 100 episodes.”
Author: “Really? Where can I get a copy? I’ve really enjoyed this book. I would love to read more.”
Professor: “I’m actually teaching a class on the full version in the winter quarter. The book is only available to my students right now. But you are more than welcome to sit in on my class if you’d like. Then you could get the full version. And the class will help you understand the fuller meaning of the book by giving you a cultural context and an introduction to the philosophy behind it.”
Author: “I’m busy with my family - wife and two young children; one is 14, the other 9. I’m not sure I have the time.”
But his Inner Voice wouldn’t leave him alone. Despite his familial obligations he took the class. The Professor provided a reader for the class, which contained a poor copy of the first few pages of Four Hundred Words, a classic of Chinese Alchemy. Energy shot through all his channels, burning a whole in his Brain.
“Wu-k’ung, [Monkey] who was standing there to listen, was so pleased with the talk that he scratched his ear and rubbed his jaw. Grinning from ear to ear, he could not refrain from dancing on all fours! Suddenly the Patriarch saw this and called out to him. “Why are you madly jumping and dancing in the ranks and not listening to my lecture?” Wu-k’ung said. “Your pupil was devoutly listening to the lecture. But when I heard such wonderful things from my reverend master, I couldn’t contain myself for joy and started to leap and prance about quite unconsciously. May the master forgive my sins!” JW I, p84
Agitated and inspired by these teachings my Author had to have the entire book, but it wasn’t available yet - except in the library. Because he wasn’t officially enrolled in the University he got one of the students to check it out for him. He casually considered stealing it, but luckily a copy became available. Writing as one possessed he churned out his first article, Lead, Mercury and Earth: An Essential Construct of Chinese Alchemy (or True Intent & the Base, the original title). Like Chang Po Tuan and Liu I Ming before him he felt an obligation to share the simple wisdom that was contained in these ancient transmissions to enable the confused citizens of the West to achieve their Destiny rather than being thwarted by Fate. This is true Immortality.
He wrote his first word on January 25, 1996. Little did he know where this would lead him. Just as nothing is simple with China, nothing was simple with my creation – my birth and growth. Attuned with the wordless Tao my Author had no idea that he was going to write me.
Motivated and inspired by the class he was taking on Journey to the West he wrote another essay called 12 Principles of Taoism during the Ming Dynasty. His Professor assigned this topic so that his students could better understand the philosophy behind the Monkey book, which was written during this time period. His essay reveals a little about Taoism and a lot about my Author’s orientation. He begins by analyzing the Taoist ideas from his perspective and then follows by applying these principles to the fertility cult of the Goddess, which he claims he belongs to. This paper contains ideas that are necessary to the understanding of some of his oblique references made later on concerning both Taoism and my Author’s unique point of view. These initial two essays, written for the class, consisted of my first 20 pages.
For his final paper in the class, which was never turned in because he got too carried away and didn’t have time to edit it, my Author wrote an alchemical analysis of the first 22 chapters of the Monkey book. Included were some incomplete fragments dealing with specific episodes.
By this time in his writings about Journey my author realized he was in over his head. He sensed that he needed a deeper understanding of Taoism’s cultural context if he was going to really understand the coming episodes. He asked his professor friend: “Could you recommend a good book on the history of Taoism?”
At first the Professor smiled wryly without saying anything. Then he said: “Here’s a book, The Taoist Body. It will give you a good idea of the issues involved. Shipper, the author, is a Westerner who has been officially ordained as a Taoist priest in China. So he isn’t just studying the topic. He’s living it.”
My author: “So his perspective is more authentic?”
My author read the book and was startled by what he found out. It contradicted most of his preconceptions. To assimilate and sum up what he had learned he wrote a short piece on the History of Taoism, which was included in his Monkey paper. This initial writing episode took place from January to April of 1996, when the class ended and his momentum for the topic petered out. He had written about 80 pages - some more polished than others.
Then he got involved in other projects and basically forgot about these writings for over a year. Then he was doing Tai Chi with another of his partners, who also happened to be a Religious Studies Professor with a specialty in American religion, which included the New Age religions. He casually mentioned to her that Taoism was the only residual Goddess religion left.
She: “Why do you say that?”
He: “I discovered the link when I was writing a paper on the History of Taoism.”
She: “If you don’t mind I would like to read your paper.”
He: “Sure. But it needs a little editing.”
This opened the Door, or should I say floodgate, to my creation. He excerpted his short piece about Taoism from his Monkey writings and began editing it. Very quickly he realized that he had made many unsupported assertions. His paper was sadly deficient. He needed to do more research. This led him to dig deeper into Chinese history. This just scratched the surface. To understand the history he had to know more about China’s prehistory. This initiated his next exploration. He immediately discovered that China’s prehistory was intimately linked to Bronze Age developments in the Middle East. Because his background in this area was likewise lacking he extended his research into the Cultural Ages of humankind - from the Bronze back to the Neolithic, and then to the Paleolithic. And with this he had arrived at the origin at the beginning of your human species.
Once the foundation had been set he began formally writing me to consolidate his understanding of his extended research. This is when I got my name, the Tao of China. He began with the birth of the homo species and continued writing until he had reached modern times - i.e. the 20th century. This process began in July of 1997 and continued for over 1 and a half years – until January of 1999, nearly 19 months later. This literary outpouring yielded over a million characters - more than 700 pages of first draft, unedited and unprinted words. Note that even at this time he didn’t really know what he had written. Following his instincts and intuition rather than his intellect, he wrote what he had to write rather than what he wanted to write. It was an exploration rather than an exposition.
Burned out by this time from over a year of this obsessive writing my Author laid me down to rest and moved on to other projects. At the time of his cessation he had two sets of writings - one centered on the novel Journey to the West and the other centered on China.
Nearly 7 years later in December 2005 circumstances led him back to my words. His boundless curiosity drew him to read me to found out what he had written. He remembered that he had written some interesting things but couldn’t quite recall what they were. Plus due to several computer crashes he decided to print my words, which he had never printed.
“The palest print is more enduring than the most powerful computer after it has crashed.” Paraphrase of a Chinese proverb.
He decided to combine the two endeavors, printing and then reading what he had written so many years ago. Simultaneously he chapterized me for the first time. In the reread he realized that there was a lot of background material missing in the Tao of China. His 700 pages, which are my basis, included some of his earlier material, but not all. This was the problem.
It was immediately apparent that his prior writings on alchemy and Journey were essential background for the understanding of me, his greater work. Specifically: 1) his prehistoric section begins with a quote from Liu I-Ming with no introduction. Plus 2) there are many references to the Monkey book with no introduction. In short the earlier manuscripts were necessary to the understanding of the whole. He went back and read his 3 Journey files. These too were incomplete. To understand them it was necessary to read my Author’s 2 essays on Alchemy and Taoism, which preceded them.
Inspired by the editing of 2005-06, he extended his analysis of the Monkey book to Chapter 50 and did a general reorganization of me, his China Papers. This included separating me into 2 general works, which are connected, yet separate – like husband & wife – male & female – yin & yang.
Although I was written as a complete book, information and references contained in the earlier essays were essential to comprehend what I was all about. Although I contain many brilliant sections I am, at least presently, flawed in major ways. My order is fragmented due to missing and extracted files. Also my writing is uneven, at best. 'Wordy', 'ambiguous', 'repetitive', 'unclear', 'needs lots of work' are just a few of the suggestions used on a variety of sections by the Author in his first read through. In short I need lots of editing before I am readable by a more general audience. Maybe my Author will edit these scratches at a later date. Or maybe he won’t. Perhaps the treasures contained herein are meant to be mined rather than picked up off the well-worn trail.
Faced with attempting to consolidate all of these writing under a single heading, my author initially chose Chinese Alchemy as the common thread. But this would have been forcing the issue. (For a period of time my Author even attempted to call me Chinese Alchemy and the Quest for Immortality.) Then he began rewriting from the beginning, but quickly realized that what he was working with was too fragmented, disorganized, and poorly written to be dealt with easily. The endeavor would take months. And then the topic of China and Alchemy is not of general interest. He decided to just be as honest as he could. After all, whom is he trying to fool? In this greater work, which is me, he included all the essays in their proper order so that I, this entire work, would make some kind of sense, even in my present state of fragmentation and disarray. Note that this disclaimer is not self-effacing, but a call to eventual action.
After this four-month reorganization and extension frenzy he burned out – moved onto a new project – and forgot all about me.
Then a little over a year later in June of 2007 my Author set up his very own website with the assistance of his daughter and her boyfriend (potential son-in-law). This eventually, or inevitably, revolutionized his thinking about me (and his other creations, as well.) However this reorientation in his thinking was closer to the speed of a surging glacier than an explosive wildfire.
Initially he merely turned me into PDF files, which were linked to his website via a Table of Contents. (He accomplished this in a few weeks – the end of August and beginning of September ’07.) This process itself was a type of consolidation – in the sense that my Author was required to do some minor editing and organization in order to put it up on the site in an accessible fashion. However this was minor compared to what is happening now – one year later, September ’08.
Due to the miracle of the Google search engine combined with their Analytics site, my Author discovered that search engines only see the titles of the PDF files, not the content, while they see and find the content in any html documents. Experimenting with this feature he began chapterizing his creations. This means breaking a larger work encoded as a PDF file into smaller accessible sections – ideally less than 10 pages – encoded a html files. The PDF files normally contained from 50 to 100 pages. He began with his Southeast Asia papers and was rewarded with immediate, extended and continuing hits on this part of his site. Flush with his success he followed by chapterizing his Science and is now chapterizing me – all for the glory of his website – (actually just to attract interest to it as he is an egomaniac).
This chapterizing had secondary benefits. Reorganization was required to break the larger work into smaller parts. Breakthroughs occurred in both his SEA papers and his Science Notebooks. Due to chapterization my Author realized that his SEA papers were basically two works – travelogue and history, while previously they had been awkwardly blended. Further his Science was consolidated into 3 distinct books, while previously it had been separated into about 15 isolated Notebooks. In each of these cases, including me, my Author hadn’t really understood the underlying structure of what he had created, even though it was he that had supposedly written them. Makes you wonder who’s really in charge.
Anyway as he was chapterizing me he immediately encountered the same difficulties he had been faced with many years before. Basically the difficulties were centered on order. As a book is normally meant to be read from beginning to end, it is conceptualized and created in a linear fashion. – Chapter 1 to Chapter 30. So it is an ordered sequence.
In contrast a website & the Internet is organized spatially. This became immediately apparent from the data and graphs of Google Analytics. . Web surfers were hitting my Author’s site from any page - rarely the beginning page. Rarely did they read an entire work – mostly just snippets of this and that. Consequently introductions and the like are secondary to links as a form of elucidation and explication.
Allowing the chapterizing to simmer like a stew rather than cooking it quickly in the sauté pan, my real organization gradually emerged to my Author’s consciousness just as had his Science and SEA papers. Bingo, the articles and essays which had no place, when I was organized linearly as two distinct works, could now be separated out completely from the rest with just an electronic link at the appropriate place to connect with the main body as a form of explanation and clarification. Further these essays can be referenced countless times in myriad ways, rather than just once in the linear sequence. So you can see that I, the collection of letters, words, paragraphs, and chapters that the Author called his China papers, now have 3 distinct parts – Articles, Tao of China, and the Alchemical Monkey. So I am 3 in 1. The synergy of the three is me. I am more than the sum of my parts – just as your Person is more than Body and Mind and you are more than your Person.
Now that you know how I was written, it is time to tell you a little about myself – what I am all about. But that’s the next section. However, as Gödel proved, if something is logically consistent it is incomplete – the same with me. Any attempt my Author makes to summarize my content is doomed to be incomplete. No matter how comprehensive he is he will miss some of me. Although the synergy, which is me, must contain the inexplicable paradox, my Author will still make the tragic attempt to tell you a few broad things about myself in the following pages.