It's been a lull in blogging for me. Part of it is i've become a comics maniac binging on comics since last month. I've never read so many comic books in my life & 3 kingdoms is just the start.
Stumbled upon the comic series from the library's online catalogue. There's a company in China publishing the classics in color. However the names of the characters are all inverted during the translation which sucks. eg. Yu Zhou(wrong) instead of Zhou Yu(correct).
In order to read them in sequence, i've to go to 3 libraries to get them. This is my 3rd comic series reading on the 3 kingdoms. I borrowed the bulk of it at Queenstown library - isolated library helps a lot.
I have never read the 3 kingdoms novel. I just find the voluminous text too overwhelming. All I did was reading 2 different comic series, watching 2 drama series, its cartoon & playing the games. With these one can grasp around 90% of it.
The Romance of the 3 Kingdoms offer many lessons although it happened close to 2 thousand years ago. I've used several of its cutscenes from the drama to make my point in blogposts when necessary.
I find the themes in the last 2 volumes interesting as i related it to the founding prime minister(dead) of SG's hybrid regime.
The Solitude of Zhuge Liang - Volume 19
It is common & accepted wisdom that Liu Bei would not have achieved what he did were it not for the unshakeable trust he had in Zhuge Liang. This trust was established because Zhuge Liang filled a very specific gap in Liu Bei's abilities as a leader: Where Liu Bei was a man of passion, committed to a dream, Zhuge Liang was a man of logic & shrewdness, committed to victory. Once they had formed a partnership, Liu Bei's fortunes in the ongoing war for the throne of China took a dramatic turn for the better. As was apparent to anyone who witness this startling turn of fortune, passion alone was not enough to achieve Liu Bei's dreams.
But now that Liu Bei is gone, a very unexpected truth reveals itself, that as much as Liu Bei's passionate dream depended on Zhuge Liang's shrewd tactics, those tactics alone cannot achieve the dream unless paired with a similar passion. Only after it's too late does Zhuge Liang realize that he needed Liu Bei as much as Liu Bei needed him.
A individual cannot achieve much without help from others. There's way overdose of credit splashed out regarding the old man who passed away 2 months ago. He hasn't reach the highest 5th level of leadership as i've blogged about in 5 Levels of Leadership. Where Does Lee Kuan Yew Stand?
The problems are apparent soon after Liu Bei dies. Where once he could call upon advisors & generals who shared Liu Bei's dream, Zhuge Liang now finds himself surrounded by a new generation of men, most of whom have no memory of the Han Dynasty that Liu Bei fought so hard to restore. These men are far less likely to put a selfless cause before their own interests, particularly when they have no appreciation of the cause. This makes it very difficult for them to comprehend some of Zhuge Liang's strategies which have always been carried out by men for whom the goal of restoring the Han Dynasty was worth being confounded by Zhuge's plans.
The issue with the passing of the old guards. Connecting the dots back to SG, we can similarly relate to the decline when the old guard ministers are gone or 'retired early' by the old man in order to consolidate his family power and/or hoard the glory.
With independence from Malaysia, the cause among the old guards was to create better lives for the populace......
Wei Yan & Ma Su are examples of this. Both men are eager to wage war on behalf of Shu Kingdom, but neither acts with the focus or clarity or purpose that Liu Bei & his brothers did. They may have sworn an oath to figth for Shu, but their greatest fidelity is to themselves. This is why Wei Yan cannot understand Zhuge Liang's hesitation to launch an attack that would cost innnocent lives. This is also what seals Ma Su's doom. Zhuge Liang's execution order seems quite severe - he pardoned Guan Yu when he spared Cao Cao's life but the truth is that Zhuge Liang had no choice. When he pardoned Guan Yu, he knew that the legendary soldier would never betray Liu Bei's cause again. There are no such assurances with Ma Su.
with the old guards gone & replaced, we are seeing a bunch of people whose greatest fidelity is to themselves -self serving greedy ministers.
When Zhao Yun tells Zhuge Liang of his mortal wound, the latter weeps for several reasons. For one thing, he's losing the last connection he has to Liu Bei's generation, the last person who can recall what it was they fought so hard to preserve. But he also weeps because he understands that once Zhao Yun is gone, he will be well & truly alone. Zhuge Liang was never vain enough to believe he could carry on Liu Bei's dream by himself. However, once the last of the 5 Tiger Generals has passed away, he realizes that he relied on others for more than most will ever know.
US$9.99 per volume.
Saved US$199.80 through library.
Not to mention shelf space at home.
A Matter of Time – Volume 20
During the century-long contest for supremacy that was the era of the 3 kingdoms, an epic array of characters have come & gone, a tyrannical despot, two devious kings, 3 sworn brothers, several puppet emperors, dozens of noble bloodlines, hundreds of battle-tested generals & scheming advisors, thousands of soldiers & countless innocent civilians. All have endured a seemingly endless conflict marked by the constant rearrangement of battle lines & alliances, most have fallen at precisely the moment when they believed they had transcended the conflict & became invincible. Ultimately, only 2 opponents are left to determine how history will remember Liu Bei's efforts to restore the Han Dynasty.
But they are not Zhuge Liang & Sima Yi.
Zhuge Liang is one of the adversaries, certainly, but his true opponent at the end of the story is not Sima Yi. It's time itself. From the moment Liu Bei died, Zhuge Liang was struggling to impress upon a new generation of citizens & warriors why it is important to continue the selfless work of restoring the Han Dynasty. This task is hard enough when there are still people in the world who can remember the Han Dynasty. But as time drags on, fewer & fewer people are left who can remember the ideal Liu Bei strove to restore. Thus the final conflict is Zhuge Liang versus time. The longer the battle drags on, the less likely he is to honor his pledge to carry out Liu Bei's dream. Zhuge Liang's sense of urgency increases with each failed campaign to conquer the northern territories, but not because he fears that Sima Yi will become stronger than him: he knows that Sima Yi will never deafeat him. But that doesn't matter, because Sima Yi needs only to outlast him to emerge victorious. Thus Sima Yi is but an accomplice, the beneficiary of decades of stalemate, a few sudden moments of tremendous fortune, & time's unceasing ability to replace the old with the new.
As time drags on, fewer & fewer of the pioneer generation are alive. The hybrid regime recognizes this crucial vote bank which is why this week we have the announcement of free entry to zoo, night safari, bird park, gardens by the bay for 2-3 months this year, $50 transport vouchers.
Thus the final conflict is PAP vs time. The new citizens while enamored during their early years would turn against the regime at the polls after suffering the same policies inflicted on the natives. I supposed the dead old man saw this point too as he said the coming election is the last time his party would win.
There is much to learn from this, As time marches on, many struggles to maintain lifestyles & ideas that have fallen by the wayside because of progress. For those children who have ever sat on a grandparent's lap & heard them speak about their childhood, the events & places & people they describe can seem as strange & distant as ancient myths. Ultimately, this was Zhuge Liang's greatest challenge: ensuring the restoration of something long past while the true opponent, time, moved relentlessly forward, evermore obscuring the necessity of what he was fighting for, & clearing a path for an altogether different order to be built.
Ultimately, it was only a matter of time.
As the pioneer generation are dwindling, tales of struggle during the country's formative years are disappearing as well. Children & grandchldren are concerned with crushing levels of housing debt, stagnating real income levels, overcrowding & job insecurity.
Ultimately, it was only a matter of time(for PAP).
Pros & Cons of this Comic Series:
- In color.
- Offers theme thoughts at end of each volume (which I used in this blogpost)
- Brief summary of characters at start of each volume as introduction for 1st timers.
- Book binding is kinda poor.
- Inverted names in translation.
- Many parts of novel left out in order to condense to 20 volumes