Monday, January 2, 2017

The Spirit of Guan Gong

In my interview with Ken Liu, I asked him what audience he had in mind when writing. His answer was, "All my stories are intended for a reader exactly like me."

I have been reading his story, "All the Flavors, A Tale of Guan Yu, the Chinese God of War, in America."

And I really feel like this story will have to be cannonized as part of the Cheung Family Kung Fu curriculum.

I spent a good deal of Christmas talking about Guan Gung and recent days searching the internet for Statues of this Saint (when your Christian you call them Saints instead of Gods... and it has been a dream of mine to tie Guan Yu to St. James like they did for all the European Deities Odin= St. Nicholoas and St. Martin, Every Goddess ever = St. Mary .....and call it a day)

But this story just hits home in terms of something I want to read to my kids. It has stories that I had never heard before, because all My Guan Gung stories comes from Romance of the Three Kingdoms and that's it. But there are other operas and folk stories.

But more than that... Ken Liu actualy has the lyrics to Finnegan's Wake written out and Lao Guan (Logan) wants to learn them and play them on his Pipa. Dude... the story hits both sides of my heritage. I'm going to finally return the overdue library book, purchase the Paper Menagerie and put it on the altar.

I bow to Guan Gong but not in my house. I struggled with aspects of his story. And the household altar has Nike, the Goddess of Victory, at the center. It is not a traditional Chinese Altar. But now that I've sort of separated myself from certain superstitions... I did not have a Chinese style altar for a long time because it was believed that it could crash with my son's birth....

But recently I have felt the need to acquire a statue of Sun Wu Kong the Monkey king, who to me represents Chaos and creativity, and Guang Gung, who represents living by that traditional code of Justice and honor. It's like I keep talking about these stories... but I have become more free after reading Ken Liu's modern work of fiction and also buying a children's story version of Sun Wu Kong, which is completely changed from the original.

I didn't have the statues because I was superstitious about the rules of having the altar. But I realize now it is important to have the figurines or statues up, so that students will ask who they are.

In Philly, walking into Jade Harbor for a family dinner, after telling story after story of Guan Gung... I pointed him out, as he is in 95% of Chinese businesses.


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