Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Masters in History from the University of Wikipedia

Its weaknesses aside, one of my favorite things to do is query wikipedia.org. I like to read about things (concepts, objects, etc) that are often used but rarely considered - the neglected patches of our mental or cultural landscapes, if you will. Like what's the difference between an assasination and a murder. We all know they're different, but how?

I also love how pages are linked to each other. Such a bother in book form, it's a breeze on the internet, and I often swing, Tarzan-like, from page to page, and end up learning something awesome about something I'd never even thought to examine when I opened my browser.

Like, when was the fairy tale Cinderella first told? I have no idea. Turns out it is a few hundred years old - IN ENGLISH. There is a Chinese tale, hundreds of years older, from which Cinderella's original teller seems to have borrowed liberally.

I strongly encourage you read about it. On wikipedia, of course!

Mice turning into footmen is strange enough, I suppose, but the olde-time Chinese take on the story is outright bizarre. The wicked stepmother eats Cinderella's mother, for example.

Wait, what?

You heard me. And the ending is breathtaking. To me the elevation of the heroine and the corresponding abasement of the wickeds is an edifying denoument. It wouldn't have struck me as karmically necessary to crush them with stones.