FINDING THE ROOT (or Back to the Future)
This book, by its mere existence, isn't the first of its kind. Yet, within the ancient of days, there's never been anything like it. It's never been before, and will never be again. Of course, a book can be copied and reproduced--a reprint. Science delves into this arena by producing clones. People may be duplicated by means of a DNA blueprint. Some faiths believe in the resurrection of the human body. Perhaps it's true. People have been raised up from earth to soar into the Heavens. Belief in immortal beings is nothing new. Maybe it's more than speculation or wishful thinking. Li Chao is told to "lean on the fantastical." Some are encouraged to just take a leap. Suspend reason for a while.
Speculations aside, what separates a work of historical fiction is the split between the two. If done right, the line blurs. A story can be told over and over. A book can be reprinted. A clone my look like its original. Nevertheless, a "first edition" can appear only once.
We don't know what came before Stirring Li Chao. What the author does know (as in looking through a glass darkly) is what follows Li Chao's initial appearance. (Which brings up a question: If one could choose, which would be most interesting to know ... what came before, or what comes after?)
Even by knowing what comes after, Stirring Li Chao can't be considered a prequel. Only a priori condition would grant this label. A prior existence gives a prequel its right to be. Lacking these supports, as a piece of historical fiction, Stirring Li Chao (as an isolated being) must stand alone. That said, we can rightly theorize an a priori condition to just about anything that shows up in the cosmos. We'd be totally within our natural inclination to do so. It stands to reason. Science follows that track in the search for ultimate truth. What exists must have a cause that came before it. Cause and effect.
A reader of Stirring Li Chao will encounter "Old Illustrious, a Master of the Yi Jing (I Ching). Even he is a proponent of cause and effect.
Thinking along these lines, Stirring Li Chao can be seen as the cause of something else. That would be its sequel. Technically, that's correct. In this case, however, an odd thing happened. What comes next (which isn't evident yet) birthed what's already here. Stirring Li Chao is the first in its line, but in the fantastical world of fiction and life, Stirring Li Chao was birthed by its sequel.
The here and now, one might say, comes by way of the future.
The successor birthed its predecessor. What caused it to be resides in its future.
Inspiration must come before creation, of course. In this case, the "stirring" inside Li Chao, (thus the title, Stirring Li Chao), skipped ahead and rabbited off the beaten path. Then, to accommodate human logic, it felt compelled to turn around and create a backdrop for itself. Even if we're convinced that all generational stories can follow a thread back to an original source, not all backgrounds will be within our realm of understanding. Some prequels, like the future, will remain a mystery.
There's something about the concept of the future working on the present that grabs the author's attention. Some might call it predestination. Others may deem it destiny. A few might say it's fate. With implications that might rest on a grander scale, perhaps its not for us to know, but what S.E. Brandenburg hopes to discover in completing the sequel to Stirring Li Chao, is to help answer the question . . .
What evokes this stirring in the first place?
PS: A similar experience happened to a man who lived in the 17th century. It's recorded as a preface to his book, Pilgrim's Progress. It can also be viewed by turning to the Epilogue that accompanies the book,
We really couldn't let this go without making a comment. Taking a screenshot from their page after doing a search for the title, here's Amazon's thought process:
Search engines offer suggestions when they can't quite reconcile the term that the searcher is seeking. In this case, Amazon's engine thought "steering" might have been the object of the search. A person can be steered or guided in a direction, but "stirred?" This happens beyond the reach of an external observer. It can be subtle, or in some cases, extreme. A person can be shaken internally until it's impossible to ignore. The more obvious event, the "steering" -- follows the "stirring."
Maybe a stirring will happen here, and things will become more obvious.
IS THERE A "MEDIATOR" BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH?
There was a time when many Chinese believed that man, by being virtuous, can be the mediator.
Why not? It seems reasonable enough.
Another concept, maybe more ancient, certainly less renown, is the idea of "xian ling," the rooster that stands on the border of night and day. It becomes the symbol, the mediator between order and disorder.
A Daoist understands that yin and yang must be held in balance to avoid chaos. Confucius taught that the middle way is a place of harmony.
In the book, Stirring Li Chao, Li Chao meets Reverend Young J. Allen (a historical character). A dialogue ensues between the two men about China's place in the world (in written form, the word for middle, or center, represents China). Li Chao is a little embarrassed to say that some ancient people thought China was the "center of everything -- even middle of stars." The good reverend counters with a similar sentiment when he says,
"… not long ago, some Christian leaders insisted that the earth was the center of the entire universe."
Two commonalities stand out: People crave Heaven's recognition. They want to believe that they're part of something special. Naturally ethnocentric, there's a strong desire to feel blessed, unique.
"The apple of God's eye," says the reverend.
The same people who desire to feel blessed, also acknowledge the need for a "mediator."
What, or who, then, is up to the task?