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Prolegomena To The Great Asian War

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  • 1. Prolegomena to the Great Asian War
    Ptolemy's map, 150 CE
    Mappae Mundi
    (Its always better to have background knowledge for any happening on the world stage, past,present and future, especially a far-reaching impacting catastrophe like the second world war.For, without such knowledge, it is baseless and unfair to make snap judgements of anything or of anyone. that being said, this introduction to the Second World War is an eye-opening and interesting read,especially to those with political savvy and teachers of political and social sciences.
    Trinity)
    Prolegomena.........
    1. A preliminary discussion, especially a formal essay introducing a work of considerable length or complexity.
    2. prolegomena (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Prefatory remarks or observations.
    Mappae Mundi
    Mappa mundi [Latin /ˈmapːa ˈmʊndiː/] (plural = mappae mundi) is a general term used to describe Medieval European maps of the world. These maps ranged in size and complexity from simple schematic maps an inch or less across, to elaborate wall maps, the largest of which was 11 ft. (3.5 m.) in diameter. The term derives from the Medieval Latin words mappa (cloth or chart) and mundi (of the world). Approximately 1,100 mappae mundi are known to have survived from the Middle Ages. Of these, some 900 are found illustrating manuscripts and the remainder exist as stand-alone documents.
    Source:wikipedia
    World Map, 1150 AD Mappae Mundi

    If you view the Earth through the eyes of old cartographers as Ptolemy, the contours of the mapped area around the Mediterranean are similar to these captured by the lenses of the orbiting satellites, as the knowledge of ancients about the face of the earth was quite extensive.
    More than 2,000 years ago, Eratosthenes (c.276-195 BCE) a librarian at the museum of Alexandria, Egypt, calculated the correct size of the Earth. During one of his journeys up the Nile he stopped at Aswan. It was June 21, the day of the Summer Solstice, when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the celestial sphere. Around noon, Eratosthenes leaned over the rim of a well on one of the city squares of Aswan.
    To his surprise he saw a reflection of the Sun on the water surface deep down below. At this point of our narrative Eratosthenes knew, that at the time of Summer Solstice Aswan is on a direct line between the Sun and the center of the Earth. After Eratosthenes returned to Alexandria he waited for the next Summer Solstice.
    On noon of that day he measured length of the shadow cast by a vertical line. Later, he fastened each end of that line to a peg, drew one peg down to the ground and with the other drew a circle in the sand. This was his model of the Earth. Next, he repeatedly marked the length of the shadow along the perimeter of this circle.
    The shadow fitted the circle about fifty times.
    If the Earth is round and if the shadow of my vertical line is proportional to the distance between Alexandria and Aswan, than the circumference of the Earth must be 50 times the 500 miles separating these two cities, i.e., about 25,000 miles, reasoned Eratosthenes. The actual equatorial circumference of the Earth is 24,902 miles. After the fall of the Roman Empire, these contours begin to blur and by the time of Crusades cartographers, relying heavily on the Bible for information, showed the Earth as flat disks.
    One of these maps, from a manuscript produced thousand years after Ptolemy has drawn his maps, is shown above. These mappae mundi, depicted a flat Earth, punctuated by few mountains with Biblical names, had Jerusalem as its center. The rivers, not unlike spokes of the wheel, emptied to the ocean surrounding the circular landmass. This map reflects the spiritual world of crusaders as well as contemporary Evangelists.
    Ural Mountains and Novaya Zemlya

    Blue Earth and its Continents 
    After the Dark Ages, the real face of the Earth gradually emerged, like Botticelli's Venus from her shell. Just before the voyages of Columbus, cartographic maps again begun to resemble the true contours of the land. After the first space voyage Earth took on the likeness of colorful ball. During the night, the demarcation lines between the light and dark areas indicate the energy consumption and relative affluence of various regions. The northwestern areas of Europe, the great urban conglomerations on the Atlantic Coast of the United States and the urban area surrounding Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast are clearly visible.
    However, the most brilliant spot on the face of the Earth marks the Japanese islands with light radiating from Tokyo outwards. During the day, Asia, Africa, America, Australia, and Antarctica, but not Europe, are clearly defined as continents by the surrounding oceans.
    Europe is not a continent. Europe is a western region of Asia. The notion of Europe as a separate continent is just another facet of European self-aggrandizement. With respect to man-made boundaries, on the blue ball of the Earth, only one borderline is visible. The Great Wall of China, separating the civilization of the West from the civilization of the East.
    Earth with and without Borders The Earth as seen by the American Indians did not include borders. They believed that the Earth belonged to us, her children. The American Indians came from the northern provinces of the Chinese Empire and regions beyond its northern periphery. They crossed the Bering Straits and settled in the Americas. At that time, the oceans and the great deserts contained the Western civilization.
    The affluence of Western civilization became pronounced only after its 'discovery' of the 'New World.' There are several euphemisms for invasion of a country, the 'discovery of the New World' being foremost among them. The size of the accumulated wealth gained by Western people from the native people of Asia, Africa, Australia and Oceania by partitioning continents into privately owned real estate is astronomical. An often quoted native lament goes that 'Before the white people came, we had the land and they had the Bible. Now, we have the Bible and they have the land.’
    Over the centuries, the true purpose of majority of Western wars was obscured by the fact that, aside from looting other civilizations, Western nations also fought among themselves for the spoils. The principal struggle was between Spain, the leading invading power and the British Empire, her prime successor.
    Round the World Travels Paralleling the Westward expansion was the expansion aimed against the Confucian countries of the Far East. Within the context of this Eastward expansion, it is interesting to note that shortly after Marco Polo entered China by the land route, Islamic countries of the Middle East fortified their barriers erected to protect their commerce along the Silk Road. These barriers were more formidable than the natural barrier formed by the sea. The invasions of the Far East by European countries were primarily maritime invasions, following the circumnavigation of the Africa (1497-1499) by Vasco de Gama and the circumnavigation of the Earth by Ferdinand Magellan (1519-1522). Magellan himself did not survive that voyage, as did not 253 people from the 270 who on September 20, 1519 left the Seville. Among those who survived was Pigafeta, the chronicler of the voyage.
    To his amazement he noticed that, even though he carefully recorded each day of the voyage, one day was missing. The plot of Jules Verne's novel Around the Earth in 80 Days is based on reversal of this Pigafeta's finding as, upon circumnavigating the Earth in the eastward direction, one day will be gained.
    Prongs of the Trap  Western invasion of the Far East enveloped the Confucian countries in a two-pronged movement. The British spearheaded the maritime invasions of China. The Americans 'opened Japan' in 1853 when Commodore Perry moored his ships in the Tokyo Bay. The pretext of this display of the United States' naval power was the delivery of a letter from the 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, to the Tokugawa shogun of Japan.
    The same Fillmore who three years earlier signed the fugitive slave law that required Northerners to return escaped slaves to their Southern owners. Following the signing of a treaty with the Tokugawa shogunate in early spring of 1854, a series of even more disadvantageous treaties were forced upon Japan. Soon the slogan 'honor the emperor, expel the barbarians' was heard throughout Japan.
    In 1867 the Tokugawa shogun was forced to resign and the imperial government was restored under the Emperor Meiji (1868-1912). The invasions of Japan by the United States culminated in 1945 by outright military occupation of Japan.
    Nabobs of the East India Company
    Nabob Elihu Yale (1649-1721)
    Emperor Babur (r.1526-1530)
    The British invasions of the Far East were coined out under the pretext of trade. Foremost among the trading companies was the East India Company, chartered in 1600 by Queen Elizabeth. In 1639 the East India Company bought a strip of beach at Madras, in 1668 acquired a lease to the port of Bombay, and in 1690 built a settlement at the site of present Calcutta. At each of these three locations the company erected a fort from which the British conducted their trade.At the time, the East India Company started to penetrate India, India was ruled by the Mogul (Mongol) dynasty founded in 1526 by Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan. The Mogul emperors gradually became subordinate to the officials of the East India Company, known as 'nabobs.' Nabobs amassed huge fortunes. One of the nabobs, Elihu Yale, founded the Yale University. Another, Sir Thomas Raffles, known as Raffles of Singapore, founded the London Zoo, the largest Zoo of the western world up to the time the British government, on the onset of WWII, ordered its animals to be killed as a war economy measure.
    Bolan Pass from the time of theBritish Raj (1858-1947)

    Sepoys

    British Raj 
    The British occupation of India led to a widening economic gap between the British and their Indian subjects with affluent British settlements contrasting with increasingly squalid Indian slums. The growing resentment of the British rule lead to the Sepoy Rebellion (1857-1858). Sepoys were Indian troops serving in the British Army. A revolt was triggered when the British introduced new rifle cartridges rumored to be greased with oil made from the fat of cows, sacred in India. 
    The British press opened its atrocity campaign by describing Sepoys as rebels tossing British babies into the air and bayoneting them for sport. The British public viewed their military in India as gentleman warriors, imbued with the vigor of the Anglo-Saxon race, and defending dignity, Christian religion, and Britain's God's ordained mission. After suppressing the revolt, the British consolidated their rule and in 1877 Queen Victoria was crowned the Empress of India. The British continued their eastward expansion. They occupied Ceylon, then Singapore, and Burma and continued their expansion toward China. At this point, let us describe some aspects of the civilization they were about to encounter.

    Ferocious Warriors 
    Walking with a Japanese friend through one of Tokyo’s old districts, we entered a beautiful garden. Next to a small pond there was an old portal, guarded by ferocious-looking statues of warriors wielding enormous swords.
    At this sight I remembered an old European art book, which discussed Raphael's Madonnas - Madonna of the Goldfinch, Alba Madonna, the Sistine Madonna, and the Madonna of the Chair - and contrasted them with the ‘ugly’ religious art of the Orient. My Japanese friend mentioned that she was born in this district and that, as a little girl during the war years, she often walked with her mother through these gardens.
    I asked her whether she was afraid of these ferocious-looking warriors. She answered that, initially, she was, but after her mother explained to her that they looked so frightening to protect her from evil spirits, she was not afraid of them any more. This was my first lesson, and I have not stopped learning since.
    String of Pearls 
    The visualization of sound waves on screens of computer workstations provides insight into the inner quality of languages that could have been perhaps intuitively felt, but not directly perceived before the computer revolution.
    One way to classify the sound waves typical of different languages is alongside the rough-smooth continuum. Toward the jagged end of this continuum is Dutch. Some of its words, as the name of the impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, are surprisingly rough. Smoothed by English into a ‘go,’ it is pronounced by a native speaker of Dutch in a way a porcine might. At the smooth, undulating end of this continuum is Chinese. Chinese is a syllabic language.
    Most of its syllables start with a consonant and end with a vowel. Chinese is also a tonal language, which means that it is not spoken, but sung. When viewed on the screen of a computer terminal, Chinese resembles a string of pearls.
    Island of Fulfilled Desire, Pavilion of the Emerald Forest, Cave of Crystal Spires,Mountain of Silver Cloud, Tower of Distant Sails, Lake of Heavenly Peace,Path of Harmony, Road into the Spring, Garden of Eternal Delights
    The Tower of Distant Sails
     As with so many other things, it is not what is on the outside, but what is inside that really matters. To the untrained ear, the melody of tonal languages is concealed, as the inner beauty of Chinese names remains hidden to a person not familiar with the language. Thus, Shanghai is the 'City above the Sea' and Hong Kong is the 'Fragrant Harbor,' named after the smell of the santal wood used to build its barges and junks. Names are hidden behind groups of nonsense syllables, transliterating sound, but not meaning. The same is true of personal names. To a Westerner, the Chinese name 'Yi Wen' may not mean more but a name. But to a speaker of Chinese 'Yi' means 'mind,' with connotations of spirit, feelings, intentions, thoughts, gentle, refined. 'Wen' evokes associations pertaining to literature and fine arts. The first character, 'Yi,' consists of radicals depicting sun, rise, and heart. When the sun rises, the world awakens, and the sound of life begins. Together with the radical depicting the heart, this character means 'mind, the sound of the heart.' The character 'Wen' is used not only to denote belles-lettres, but also to depict the literature of the sky, astronomy. Thus, in combination, these two characters convey the message that to find the meaning of life, look into your heart and aspire for the stars. Chinese names often have rich associations, are pronounced in tonal cascades, and are capable of evoking abundant images, both visual and acoustical.

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