26 June 2008

Pearl Buck

Pearl Buck was born on June 26, 1892 -- 106 years ago today.

She was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, and died a little more than 80 years later, in March 1973, in Danby, VT.

She's worth noting on this birthday because she illustrates the long (though of course not always friendly) relationship between the United States and China. Her parents were in West Virginia at the time of her birth only as a temporary matter -- they were on furlough from their missionary work in China. They soon returned, with their new baby Pearl as company.

As all expats raising children agree: in the conflict between the playmates' language and the parents' language, the former always triumphs. That's the "first" language. So that became Pearls' as she grew.

Pearl's masterpiece was The Good Earth (1931), about family life in China in the early twentieth century, and about the human condition. Its great popularity coincided with the first assertions of Japanese colonial rights in Manchuria, a fact in which you might find portentious geo-political significance if you like.

Anyway, this is the thought for the day. A pearl from Pearl Buck: "There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness."

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.