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branchandroot: a lotus (lotus)
[personal profile] branchandroot
So, I've fallen into Nirvana in Fire, and my goodness but this is a fun one.

Of course, I know, like, five words of the language by ear, as yet, so I'm having to rely on fanposts to pick out the /really/ juicy stuff. This intro, despite being brief, gave me two nice points to dig into.

For one, I do believe that what they're all calling Mei Changsu, translated here as the "Qilin Genius", is, indeed, a reference to the qilin, better known to anime fandom as the kirin, herald or portent of a ruler or great sage. Which is delightful purely on the symbolic level, in that Mei Changsu is exactly that, narratively, and also that the ruler he choses is neither of the ones who are so hot to secure him. But I am also giggling helplessly, because, if I'm not mistaken, Mei Changsu himself is the one who composes the message in which both the crown prince and Yu are told to seek him. And can't you just picture his glinty little smirk over that? On the one hand: arrogant creature. On the other... well, talk about calling your fate to you.

The even juicier concept that post gave me, though, was jianghu. Because my goodness but this makes so much sense (in narrative and genre terms) of Mei Changsu's choice in the end.

Kfangurl suggests that the decision to be Lin Shu, in the end, to return to who he was, shows that Lin Shu was /always/ who he was. And I think that's mostly right but maybe not wholly. The whole literary convention of jianghu as a separate world, one with its own ethics and rules and society, tells us that Mei Changsu is quite literally a different person--Lin Shu descended to the underworld and reborn, cut off from his former life and self. And he makes that world his own, quite brilliantly, and makes it serve the needs of his former world and self. But it's still a different world he has to live in, and, at the very end, Mei Changsu has a chance to return, to return to the world of his family and friends, of his prince--for a price. Return from the underworld always has a price, yes? So, like others, he has to go and not look back. Or he can remain in the underworld, where Jingyan and Nihuang and the others of his old family will never join him, cannot ever join him, because they belong to, say it with me here, another world.

Between the two choices, of course he chooses to return, even if it means leaving them behind. Because at least now he's part of the same world as they are, and will remain part of it even in death.

Okay, that got rather lyrical, but it's wuxia after all, what do you expect?

September 2017

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