Blog Introduction: Thematic Gravity

After finishing up a very rewarding work project which involved extensive blogging on topics related to learning Chinese, I’ve decided to keep up the momentum by starting this site.

This will be a personal project, starting with translating at least one article from Chinese into English per week.  I will choose from various topics and articles I happen to encounter in Chinese during the week, ranging from posts on spunky tech-startups to wooden political propaganda to love advice from my former employer.   I’ve done translation work before in various capacities, and when the topic is genuinely interesting to me, it is great fun.  A rewarding translation project combines two of my favorite intellectual activities: reading and deciphering Chinese, and distilling it into coherent and hopefully elegant English.

There are a wide array of sites which do great work translating entertaining, controversial, bizarre, and engaging content from the Chinese internet into English.  Tea Leaf Nation and ChinaSMACK are the two which immediately come to mind, but there is a very fun ecosystem of sites and blogs out there.

I’m doing this primarily to maintain my Chinese translation skills, giving a structured framework to the Chinese reading I do on a fairly regular basis.  However, I do hope that by having a regularly updated personal website, I am inspired to begin writing and sharing more personal essays.  Sure, I think that in this day and age anybody who hopes to make a living working in the online marketing space (me) needs to have a compelling ”online presence” to be taken seriously.  With such little friction to get a basic website up and running, there is no excuse to not spend 30 minutes a week jotting down ideas and thoughts for the world to see.  But what I found really inspirational was coming across this piece written by a friend of mine.

The entire post is well worth reading, but this in particular struck me.  Certainly couldn’t have phrased it better myself:

“That’s the promise: you will live more curiously if you write. You will become a scientist, if not of the natural world than of whatever world you care about. More of that world will pop alive. You will see more when you look at it.

It’s like what happens to a room during a game of “I Spy”: if your friend spies something red, the red stuff glows.

When I have a piece of writing in mind, what I have, in fact, is a mental bucket: an attractor for and generator of thought. It’s like a thematic gravity well, a magnet for what would otherwise be a mess of iron filings. I’ll read books differently and listen differently in conversations. In particular I’ll remember everything better; everything will mean more to me. That’s because everything I perceive will unconsciously engage on its way in with the substance of my preoccupation. A preoccupation, in that sense, is a hell of a useful thing for a mind.”

Thanks for reading.  Excited to get started.

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