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Making TranscendentsAscetics and Social Memory in Early Medieval China$
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Robert Ford Campany

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833336

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833336.001.0001

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Verbal Self-Presentation and Audience Response

Verbal Self-Presentation and Audience Response

(p.130) Chapter 5 Verbal Self-Presentation and Audience Response
Making Transcendents

Robert Ford Campany

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter presents a story in Ge Hong’s Traditions of Divine Transcendents about Han Emperor Wu’s encounter with an adept, described as a mysterious old man. During their meeting, the old man told his story about his initial condition of decrepitude and near-mortality, discussed his all-important encounter with a teacher of life-prolonging arts, adumbrated the methods vouchsafed, and announced the results gained by their practice. The story’s overall structure exemplified a pattern of action or a cultural schema that was commonly deployed in early medieval texts describing how a person came to receive esoteric arts. Moreover, the passage emphasized the adept’s body: its imperfections, its signs of radiant health, and its degree of vigor and special capacities.

Keywords:   Ge Hong, Han Emperor Wu, decrepitude, life-prolonging arts, esoteric arts, cultural schema

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