The Great Wall of China

I’m curious about the Great Wall of China. Besides becoming a major tourist attraction in recent years did it ever serve any other purpose? Curious too whether such a mamoth undertaking costing the lives of millions of people would have been undertaken in a democracy.

There is something or other in there about the wall helping to defend somebody or other from something or other but I have my doubts. All it would take would be a ladder and you could pop over the great wall in no time. They had ladders back then I assume.

As always I look forward to whatever insight the scholars here at forumosa might be able to provide.

The New Yorker had an excellent article on the subject last year. Unfortunately, only an abstract of it seems to be available on line. I don’t have time to go into it now, as it’s time to go home for dinner, but according to that article, there’s an American guy who is pretty much the world’s leading authority on the subject, having lived in China for a decade and researched it extensively in written documents as well as hiking every foot of hte remaining wall, which is apparently quite an awesome feat. Here’s more on that guy and the Wall. Anyway, my recollection is it did help slow the Mongol hordes from raping and pillaging locals.

Thanks MT. I am not really that interested in the Great Wall though. I just popped this in as a poke in the ribs to the “planned economy” champs over in the Dalai Lama thread and somebody moved it here.

My understanding is that millions died and millions others wasted their lives building a structure that never served much purpose. Lessons of history and all that.

I often wondered if the wall’s real purpose was not to keep the Mongols out, but to keep the Chinese in…

Are they sure it’s a wall? Maybe it’s just a long pile of extra bricks.

If the Mongols had availability of trees (which they obviously did, since they had bows…which were comprised of wood, I just checked), why couldn’t the build ladders…although they would have to leave their horses behind, and I think they were pretty crappy at melee combat.

I wondered about the horses too. Probably they would have just catapulted them over, I mean if they actually “wanted” to attack China, which as far as I can see they didn’t that much.

No, I figure some guy had a good contract with the local government to make bricks for buildings and roads and such and when they realized they had too many they started piling them up in a long pile so that people couldn’t see how long the pile was and how much of their tax money was being wasted. It’s a revisionist view I realize but one that I hope will be well, well, welcomed, by the China scholars etc.

No need for ladders…just bribe the guards.

Someone who knows Chinese well wrote: [quote]No need for ladders…just bribe the guards.[/quote]
During China’s long history, the battle between greed and patriotism was rather one-sided. :laughing:

Great Wall trivia bit:

One of the secrets to its physical longevity - They used rice powder mixed into the mortar. Greatly increased its strength and lessened it porosity.

The “rabbit proof fence” of Australia is ‘proof’ people just never bloody learn. The great wall didn’t keep the Mongols out and the rabbit proof fence failed to stop the bunnies. The only constant is stupidity.

Now based on the Australian experience, i would have to say that big bloody walls and fences are not a bad local job creation scheme.

Mind you, they were a little more succesful with the dog proof fence:

Assorted fence and wall leaping vermin:


I thought it was supposed to keep the Mexicans out.

Oh wait, that’s a yet-to-be unified chainlink fence with volunteer militia on deck chairs with guns.

Is the Great Wall hollow? It looks as though it might be hollow. Perhaps “The Great Wall” is a good metaphor for something.

For years now I have been trying to write like Richard Brautigan, but so far the book deals have been slow in coming. I’m inclined to wander off somewhere, in the gobi desert perhaps, far from the pork dim duck restaurants, far from the olive direct that haunts me still. I would do a search to discover what Richard Brautigan actually looked like but am afraid he was tall and slender and wore a goatee. That really would be too much.

Brautigan liked to drink this horrible rotgut named Calvados. A type of brandy…terrible stuff.
The guy who found his body after he offed himself, Brautigan that is, was a semi-regular at the bar I used to frequent in San Francisco. His name was Lynch or Wench…something like that…it was a long time ago.

The Mongolians sent bunnies to attack China? That is stupid.

I rather like Calvados.

Traditional forms of linear narrative are re-ordered, and cast into a slowly shifting near stasis. It is as if the author decided to utilise as narration, a collage whose forms were imbued with a sort of viscous motion. These images are gradually strung together, through various idiosyncratic allusions, and permutations of language. The first fragment of the literary Aggregate which Brautigan brings to rest before our eyes, depicts the lives of two residents of San Francisco.

Their ability to exist within American society has begun to degenerate; it is the fault of genital warts, or rather it is the fault of a societal reaction towards sex, sexually transmitted disease, and all of the connotations that have become associated with them. Bob is de-habilitated by the massive force of cultural disdain which is attached to this particular, relatively harmless disease.

“It had never dawned on him to look inside of his penis, down into the urethra. The warts were like an evil little island of pink mucous roses…He stood there staring at the warts in his penis. He thought he was going to throw up. Long after he had finished peeing, he was still standing there above the toilet bowl, staring at his penis.” (Pp13)It is this sense of alienation from modern culture, and more specifically American Society which is called into question throughout the novel.

Bowling trophies whose symbolic merit leads to the degeneration of the Logan Brothers; three brothers who before the loss of the trophies could have been poster children for the American utopian vision of the 1950’s. Even one half of the pronouncedly ‘normal’ couple, who are seemingly immune to the marginalization which abounds, is denigrated; exposed for a cruel latent sexism. The work continually points to the brutally cruel inconsistency / hypocrisy of the normalizing social standards which are in place in modern society. In fact the only character who is depicted in a light which gives him any hope for survival within this culture is Willard, a papier-mâché bird.

Whether these entrenched cultural views have a marginalizing effect, thus driving individuals who do not fit the mold into an illusory inadequacy, or whether they work to supplant them with values which the author sees as being inadequate themselves, society is definitely on a horrific path. This path is illustrated by the anguished cry of one Logan brother, and the analogy which Brautigan uses to punctuate it, “‘SOMEBODY STOLE OUR BOWLING TROPHIES!!!’ finally broke the silence like a locomotive leaping its tracks and crashing into an ice covered lake to sink instantly out of sight, leaving a giant steaming hole in its wake.”

This gaping hole appears to be the watery void which society is bound for if it continues to attribute maximum value to bowling, and minimum value to the individual. It may have been that Richard Brautigan was finally overwhelmed by a strong feeling that the society in which he had chosen to live was one whose major tenets provided no place for him.

In the early 1970’s Brautigan moved to Pine Creek Montana refusing to give interviews or lecture for approximately the next eight years. He was found dead of a gunshot wound on October 25 1984.

  • Tavis Eachan Triance

I always thought it was a stupid idea. But when I saw it, I thought there might be sumthin in it. It’s on really point hills. You can see for miles. See 'em coming, y’know?

Hang on, I’ll pop a couple of Zolidem, maybe have an epiphany.

I’ll have a ‘p’, please bob.