Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blog 12/25/10

Blog 12/25/10

This is the first blog I have posted in over a year, and that one was the first in eight months. I am a poor blogger—I’ve written and posted Reminiscences instead--and I’m sure that scarcely anybody bothers to look here any more. But for those few who do—Welcome, faithful few! I have a lot to tell you about today. And Merry Christmas.

First, as many of you know, my long delayed book Pictures for Use and Pleasure: Vernacular Painting in High Qing China was finally published. Haven’t seen any reviews yet, but have received a few enthusiastic responses from fast readers. If you have a serious interest in Chinese painting you should get it and read it—it tries to open up our field in important ways.

Next: the major project that has occupied most of my time and energies over the past two years is about to become accessible: the series of video-recorded lectures titled A Pure and Remote View: Visualizing Early Chinese Landscape Painting.
The twelve lectures that make up this series, some of them in several parts and mostly quite long, running to some 34 hours in all and showing maybe two thousand images, will be posted for free viewing on the website of the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, our sponsoring organization. It is: This website of my own will also be re-designed in the near future, and will incorporate a page featuring these lectures that will send you to the IEAS site. The lectures will also be made available (to be ordered) on disks, both regular and Blu-ray, at cost—this is an entirely non-profit educational project. A special session will be devoted to this project, and the scholarly potential opened by this new medium, at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Honolulu in late March and early April.

Finishing this first series won’t make me stop, however; I’m so persuaded of the visual effectiveness and wide appeal of these video-lectures that I mean to go on making them as long as I can. Three long Postludes are nearing completion: one titled Arguing the Aftermath, about how we should construct the history of Chinese painting after the Song ends; another on dating and authenticity; and a third that repeats, somewhat expanded, the Acceptance Address I gave last month at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. when I was awarded the Charles Lang Freer Medal. This medal has been given to distinguished scholars of Asian art history since 1956; I am the twelfth recipient—my predecessors in Chinese art are Siren, Sickman, Loehr, Soper, and Sherman Lee—all my teachers and heroes (except Siren, who was neither.)

Other news: I am still living in Vancouver, separately from my wife Hsingyuan; our twin boys Julian and Benedict, now fifteen and in tenth grade, come to see me sometimes, not as often as I would like. Our divorce doesn’t seem to go forward, for complicated reasons. I mean to continue for a while with a back-and-forth life between here and Berkeley, where my daughter Sarah is working to prepare my house there for the moving back. My health is still pretty good, considering my age and the heart attacks some years ago; but my mobility declines--I walk with a cane, and not for long distances.

There is more to write about, but that’s enough for now. I will try to be a more frequent blogger in future, so continue to watch this space—those few of you who do will be rewarded.

James Cahill, Christmas Day 2010