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Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Part One

My first impression of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress is that Dai SiJie wrote an extremely, for the lack of a better word, “fast paced”– The New York Times Book review called it “streamlined” – novel. However, that doesn’t mean it was hastily written or inadequately developed,  on the contrary, every scene was crafted slowly and delicately, giving the entire novel a tinge of poetic beauty. What I mean to say is that that the book seemed to me like a series of short stories, bound together by reoccurring characters and a swift central plot. The author compressed the better part of four or five years of his life into less than 200 pages.

The whole of Part One could be split into few (seven or eight) distinct scenes, each serving their own purpose and pushing forward the plot. Each section serves to either develop the context of the Chinese Cultural Revolution or to introduce a new character. I would say my favorite scene was probably the opening one in which the themes of old and new, of revolution and tradition, and of the clash between the East and West are explored through a simple, elegant story. These themes are explored throughout the entirety of Part One and continue to be developed in the later pages, and seems to be the reoccurring themes in any text on the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As a privileged kid living in Beijing, Luo’s story (being the son of a famous dentists) was the most personally engaging. If I had been alive during the Chinese Revolution, I would have been almost the same position as him: stripped of all former privilege and sent to “re-education.” I can’t even imagine that feeling.


Kicking off my Learner’s Portfolio!

The decision to display my learner’s portfolio in blog format in and of itself was a struggle for me.

At first, I was inclined to put the portfolio on Onenote. To me, it seemed the easiest place edit and revise my work. However, on further contemplation, I realized that Onenote also presented its own challenges: I had so many projects operating on the platform that it made crafting individuals posts quite challenging. One had to create a new section for each individual post, and it was really just a messy space to work in. Moreover, Onenote was also visually unappealing. Even though is this essentially a large brain-storm sheet, I still wanted it to look good. After much deliberation, I decided to finally put my school blog to good use and place my learner’s portfolio here. It seems like an eternity since I’ve been on here – 8th grade was the last time I posted something on this site.

I hope that through displaying my portfolio in blog format, I would be able to create a more coherent and fluid picture of my brainstorming processes ( ones only needs to scroll down to see the previous posts). In this way, I am able to draw inspiration from my past work and build off my own mistakes. On a more technical aspect, I am also able to insert all types of multimedia and, thereby, craft more creative posts than on Onenote.


My Passions:

I am captivated by political and historical events (which are often intertwined) and their respective impacts on modern societies. These events often fit into the larger picture of cultural relations and political history. More specifically, International conflicts and trans-national diplomatic ties are of particular interest to me because of their complex nature and infinite variety. These interactions between countries can include, literally, every single possible theme imaginable: political, cultural, economic … etc. Themes such as gender discrimination, racism, sexual orientation all influence the decisions countries make to advance their national interests. To this extent, the interplay in international relations is fascinating to me. I would say that it is my greatest academic interest.

On a more “casual” note, I also love to swim, play saxophone, and debate. These extracurriculars have all played major roles in forming me into the person I am today.

Overall, I’m pretty excited to start this learner’s portfolio! May my entries be creative and exciting!





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