Notes from a fascinating world.
The world is like a bazaar, full of interesting odds and ends, and I've been exiled into it. This is my all-over-the-map (literally and metaphorically) attempt at capturing some of the world's many wonders.
With Netflix’s no good, very bad, culturally appropriating “Iron Fist,” Hollywood is again dipping into the martial arts genre that comes out of China, known in Chinese as “wuxia.”
I assume that the makers of “Iron Fist” had no idea that the genre in which they were working arose from a 10th century short story. Indeed, I assume that hardly anyone knows this to be true. The wuxia genre, in its cinematic incarnation, especially in those old Hong Kong films with low budgets and visible wireworks and obvious fight choreography, can seem risibly silly. But the fact is that wuxia is a venerable literary tradition.
And just as, according to Dostoevsky, all of Russian fiction came out from under Gogol’s “Overcoat,” all of wuxia derives from a single story of under 2,000 words written in the late-9th or early-10th century by a Taoist priest.
As everyone knows, Sherlock Holmes, gentleman sleuth and mastermind, died in 1891 at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. In “The Final Problem,” Arthur Conan Doyle describes Holmes struggling with his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty, with both men plunging to their deaths in the end.
Except, as everyone also knows, he didn’t. Holmes returns in “The Adventure of the Empty House,” explaining that he’d been wandering the world for the past three years, traveling to such places as Italy, Iran, and Tibet. (Hmm, reminds me of someone… who can it be?)
And how did he survive his duel with Moriarty? How did he survive the long fall?
Writer, traveler, lawyer, dilettante. Failed student of physics. Not altogether distinguished graduate of two Ivy League institutions. Immigrant twice over. "The grand tour is just the inspired man's way of getting home."