Writing should be fun, should be a habit, not an art. 很多同学都一直在问，怎么才能提高自己的写作能力，怎么样才是有东西可以写的?写作是一种能力，其实只有唤起了你的兴趣和激情，我相信对你来说应该不成问题。美国的学习就是这样，更多的是培养和引导学生在某些领域的探索热情。下面，我们就来看看，某位老师在UC Berkeley的时候选修的一门特别有意思的课程，并为此写的essay，其实和GRE中热门话题女权主义还是蛮有一定联系的!
Unfortunately，很多同学现在多是填鸭式的备考，各种背单词和分析长难句，但去到美国上学后会发现写作才是关键，不管是本科还是研究生，写essay会占据academic life的很大一部分。但是现在的培训教育，基本上都是把写作这种能力的提升放到了最后，编者之前一直很鄙视这种饮鸩止渴的行为，可是后来一想，也许，有些人宁愿先被毒死也不愿意被渴死呢?然后编者就释怀了。 Argumentative essay其实并没有想象中的那么难，其实就是提出一个论点，然后说明并论证即可。
青梅煮酒论美人之牝鸡司晨----The Hen That Calls Morning
In most historical accounts about Daji (妲己),she appears in the late Shang (商) period as a princess of a smalltribe in the South. She is heavily portrayed to have charming appearance and physique. King Zhou (纣王), the last emperor of Shang,captured Daji after he conquered that tribe and accepted her as one of his concubinesdue to her irresistible beauty. From two thousand years ago to a few hundredyears, Daji’s background and life seemed to have an interesting change. She had been a calamity of the Shang Dynasty as the hen that crows at daybreak. She was also depicted as women such as Baosi and Xishi who ruined empires because oftheir impious attraction on the King. If that was not enough, Daji was one ofthe few women in history that has her status elevated into a divine sprite intexts such as the Fengshen Yanyi (封神演义).When we juxtapose versions of Daji’s stories, we are not looking at conflicting accounts based on the real life events because we have no evidence yet to prove whether her existence was certain. Instead, we have stories that developed out of the interests of people from following generations. Here, these different texts do give us some insights on what people think of her and her role as a woman in the society. There are studies done by modern scholars on Daji. In the Research on the Original Story of Daji (妲己本事考),Liu Shilin (刘士林) thinks that Daji is the central image of female poetic politicians in ancient China. Liang Guizhi (梁归智),in his Nü Wa, Daji and the Relationshipof Sexuality and Fear (女娲·妲己·性畏恋),states Daji as the revealer of our subconscious knowledge on the relationship between sexuality and fear in Chinese culture. The different accounts of her stories and their interpretations fabricate Daji as a noteworthy character in the patriarchy system in ancient China.
Physique: the size and shape of a person's body
Concubine: one having a recognized social status in a household belowthat of a wife
Calamity: an event that causes great harm and suffering
Impious: feeling or showing a lack of respect for God / not pious
Juxtapose: to place (different things) together in order to create aninteresting effect or to show how they are the same or different
Patriarchy: a family, group, or government controlled by a man or a groupof men
In the first chapter of Fengshen Yanyi, King Zhou is described as a noble ruler. The turning point of the plot is when he wrote a licentious poem in the temporary imperial residence of Nü Wa (女娲).Then, Nü Wa summoned Daji and two other sprites to lead Shang to its downfall. Fromthe readers’ point of view, Daji is a flawless spy of Nü Wa given that she efficaciously ruined King Zhou and his empire. Yet, Nü Wa turns her back on the three sprites and sends them to Jiang Ziya (姜子牙) for death penalties. In the story, Daji seems to be the innocent and tragic one to some extent despite her many devilish acts. And yet, all the blame is put onto her name. In reality, there is no Nü Wa, no sprites with divine power and definitely no shirtless boy flying on flaming wheels*(哈哈，哪吒!). We can confidently say that this supernatural account of Daji in this story is fictional although she might have done cruel things. Understandably,Xu Zhonglin (许仲琳) wrote this tale of Daji for reasons from which we can perceive his ideas on Daji as a character and as a woman.
Licentious: sexually immoral or offensive
Efficaciously: having the power to produce a desired result or effect
One of Xu Zhonglin’s reasons for portraying Daji as such can be influenced by Confucian thoughts, which are nearly inseparable from Chinese culture, especially in ancient history, historians and writers in the past tend to blame women for the downfall of empires. When rulers are muddle-headed, there are always charming females behind the scenes. Not only Daji, both Baosi and Yang Guifei are also decent examples as well. If the ruler is only befuddled and fails to rule because of his incompetence or cruelty, he does not seem to be immoral enough to be overthrown.If we add the fact that the ruler is made distracted and lustful because of women, he now seems to be rightfully overthrown by others due to his incapability to control his desire. Drowning in this kind of immorality will lead emperors to their loss of the Mandate of Heaven as the rightful ruler. As the famous Confucius saying goes, “only women and small-minded men are hard to deal with”. In Ming Dynasty society where women are much more inferior to men,women like Daji can possibly be the victim of history in Chinese literature.
Muddle-headed: mentally confused
Mandate: an authorization to act given to a representative
As mentioned above, Nü Wa turns her back on Daji in the Fengshen Yanyi after the Shang was overthrown by King Wu. One can interpret it as Nü Wa has changed her mind, or she let Jiang Ziya to silence Daji so others will not know that she was the true mastermind. If Nü Wa is indeed the Mother of all human beings, she should have the breath of mind to forgive King Zhou’s poem on her wall. The interpretation that Nü Wa is being narrow-minded again resonates with the idea that women are inferior to men in the old Chineseculture. After a close read, the logic in Nü Wa’s action can be analyzed in greater detail. Since King Zhou was against Heaven, in this case Nü Wa, Heaven then brings the disaster onto Shang. The disaster is Daji and the other sprites. In the tale, by conquering Shang, King Wu achieved an interregnum between dynasties, during which Nü Wa should be on his side and help him to get rid ofthe disaster since he has the Mandate of Heaven. Thus, Nü Wa has no reason to stop any law of the Zhou Dynasty being carried out by Jiang Ziya. Here, Daji and the other sprites are used as political tools, which fit the role of women in that period since most girls’ marriages in healthy families are not based on love, but rather on political motivations. Even the death scene of Daji is so vividly described by Xu Zhonglin that one can infer women were so low in social status, and they deserved their cruel death even after being used as political tools.
Interregnum: the time during which a throne is vacant between twosuccessive reigns or regimes
In the Mu Shi (牧誓), King Wu stressed his officers with King Zhou’s crimes, whichincludes the well-known quote:
‘The ancients have said, “The hen does not announce the morning. The crowing of a hen in themorning (indicates) the subversion of the family.” Now Zhou, the king of Shang,follows only the words of his wife.’
Directly after he talked about the hen, he mentioned Daji indirectly as the wife of Zhou. The point of this analogy by King Wu is not to say that Daji is as worthless as a hen, but to parallel the role of Daji in the dynasty with the role of hen infamilies. If we assume that The Speech at Mu is a somewhat accurate account of what King Wu said, then it would reflect what the Zhou people think of the role of women. If this quote was later added by others, it would imply that this is what they think, or what they think the Zhou people thought. Either way, it still demonstrates the submissive social status of women in the Zhou or later dynasties. During Shang,women involved in politics and even warfare were common. According to this part of Mu Shi, even King Zhou, being a masculine figure, did not mind his wife to be involved in political matters. However,it seems from Mu Shi that King Wu and the people of Zhou see women in power as dangerous. In The Book of Songs (诗经) by Zhan Ang (瞻昂),it says that intelligent men can venture enough money for a city, while talented women can ruin the national politics of that land (哲夫成城，哲妇倾城). This poem is said to be written sometime in early Qin period, during which we can still see the fear for the potential danger of talentedwomen.
Subversion: a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a governmentor political system by persons working secretly from within
Venture: to start to do something new or different that usuallyinvolves risk
As a recurring theme throughout the historical texts, stories and this essay of Daji, patriarchy was prevailing inthe society. In those periods, the Chinese society was in patriarchy where it mimics the formation of families. The King is like the father in the family,the ministers and the people are like children and grandchildren who treat and serve the King like a father. This system then ensures the hierarchy and order in this huge family. The state governors and the central ruler also have a father and son relationship where the state governors are obligated to respectthe central ruler in a fatherly manner. To maintain the position of the father,one would need to have the virtue of a respectable ruler. If the virtue islost, then the other members in the family will try to take it over. Thus, the family is continued. Although rulers argue that they have the Mandate of Heaven and other do not, they are simply the continuum of an orderly society. This is where the danger of females kicks in. If a man is enchanted by a woman, he can do things that are out of bond in the rule of the family. The emotions triggered by women in men can often be destructive and even act as challenges to the orderly society. Furthermore, if women gain power of any sort, it will symbolize the growth of matriarchy in a patriarchal society, and clearly these two do not mix well. Thus, women are depicted as dangerous, devilish,unintelligent, unimportant and inferior in the patriarchal periods of history. By doing so, the new rulers will also seem to have more legitimacy. This explains why Daji’s depictions vary from the disastrous source of downfall tothe evil nine-tailed fox sprite. As one of the leading female evildoers, she does bring interesting stories and legends for our amusement while readingChinese literature.
Recurring:to happen or appear again
Continuum: a range or series of things that are slightly different fromeach other and that exist between two different possibilities
Legitimacy: the quality or state of being legitimate
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