GUSHI (故事) Story/Brief Introduction/Fable
Ancient China produced many Emperors, some Great, some Hopeless and sollie ma-ma-hu-hu (马马虎虎, horse-horse-tiger-tiger). During Great Dynasties, Peace prevailed and many Useful and Productive goods were Invented, such as Gunpowder and Paper, which are prominent Around the World even today. Also things of Surpassing Beauty appeared, Silk Cloth, for example, and Poetry Metaphor, apparently.
The Middle Kingdom’s history is so Vast and Wide, not all Emperors and their reigns are recorded, even after the Invention of Paper. Thus it was at some unrecorded stage of a murky period in history, an Invention which was to become Major in Modern Chinese Life made its entrance.
Legends portray the Emperor’s time as one of those Turbulent and Sorrowful eras, yet Ever Looking to a Bright Future. This is a well-known cycle in China, similar to that of the Indestructible Phoenix, a Chinese legend which is also known in countries Outside. (Still, the EXACT time is hard to pin down. This problem then and now is known as BU TAl QING CHU. Please see Chapter 12.)
Nevertheless, what transpired during this period of history profoundly influenced China Ever After. The Emperor’s name at birth and at ceremonies when he became a Son of Heaven, have never been found — an unfortunate but likely consequence of the Event during his rule.
People of the time, according to legend, found him Wise and Possessing Great Leadership while he occupied the Throne. Soon after he died, he became ma-ma-hu-hu, and then vanished rather like frost on roof tiles at sunrise.
During his reign, however, a Lowly but Diligent and Upright Yellow River Valley region Peasant, once watching the Moon’s Reflection on the (then) clean and clear River, was inspired to Subdue and Tame it (the river first). He studied, season after season, Flight of Cranes, Waxing and Waning of Moon, Springtime’s Green Growth, and All Manner of Natural, Mysterious Happenings, and reflecting on this over a Full Cup with a Friend from Afar, said:
“Destiny requires that I, a Lowly but Diligent and Upright Representative of the Ancient Working Class invent something which will be known Ever-After Around the World as A LOCK.”
And this he did, experimenting with metals and tools, exploiting the Rich Resources of the Great Motherland, taxing his Human Potential to the full. After many decades of Struggle, he produced a Lock.
This Masterpiece of Artistry and Practicality, although it was not designed to do so, included a couple of problems. First, the Lock did not Stop Rains on a certain schedule, Dominate Rivers or Change (for example) the course of Cranes Migrating and making Shadows on the Moon — all of which for some people then and now, are ‘Unacceptable events unless under Human Control.
Next, although the Lock was widely admired and increasingly employed, after some seasons passed, it was recognized that something significant was missing: The Key.
By that time, sadly, the Great Lockmaker’s descendants had, lacking proper Respect and seeking only their Security and Advantages, lost the Science and Technology involved.
A few generations passed, and then appeared during one of China’s Great Flowering Periods of Rich. Poetry, Expanding Commerce and Invention, another Representative of the Ancient Proletariat, who was, (although he did not know it at the time) Reactionary and Feudalistic.
He invented The Key. His descendants throughout the ages until The Current Situation — unlike the offspring of the discoverer of the Lock — have Vigorously preserved the Production, Distribution and Responsibility for Keys. Their numbers seem Vast as the Ocean: and High as the Loftiest Mountains, and there is only one problem: They are difficult if not impossible to find.
The Authors and Artist
Xiao Mao and Nan-tzu are the Chinese names for Karin Malmstrom and Nancy Nash, two American women who acquired considerable expertise concerning “keys” to working and traveling in China, starting with the country’s “opening to the outside world” in the late 1970’s.
Both women did what is called “pioneering” work there, in tourism, business promotion and international cooperation projects. They met on separate assignments in Yunnan Province in 1982, have enjoyed, suffered through and learned from many shared China experiences since then.
THE MAN WITH THE KEY IS NOT HERE was inspired by the art reproduced in this book which first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and the China Business Review in 1985, art and caption by Eugene Theroux, partner in the international law firm of Baker and McKenzie.
Theroux, whose brother Paul is the best-selling author of Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China and many other major books, developed his satirical art through personal experiences gained on more than 150 business trips to China, including extended visits to establish his firm’s offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
In this first volume, the co-authors have collaborated to share with the “outside world” some glimpses behind the Great Wall of language.