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2017 - Association for Asian Studies - Annual Conference Words: 234 words || 
1. Meyer, Dirk. "Patterning Meaning as "wen zhi bin bin" (Ornament and Substance are in Perfect Harmony) No Longer Matters: A Thick Description of "Tang zai Chi/Di men"" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies - Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Toronto, Canada, <Not Available>. 2019-08-20 <>
Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: This paper provides a ‘thick description’ (Geertz 1973) of “*Tang zai Chi/Di men”(Tang was at the ‘Chi/Di Gate’). Generally considered authentic, the manuscript-text is part of the Qinghua Manuscripts. Exploring its communicative dimensions, this paper contextualises “*Tang zai Chi/Di men” in the Warring States period. By analysing the interplay between text and performance, this paper reconstructs the social use of this and similar texts by different communities. The manuscript-text records an imagined dialogue held at the ‘Chi/Di Gate’ between King Cheng Tang and his famous official, Yi Yin, consistently introduced as ‘minor minister’. The text is highly patterned. The conversation about the ‘innately good doctrines of old and their actuality in the present’ unfolds through seven compact units of question and answer, framed by an introductory formula of the sort commonly seen in textualised “Shu” (Documents) traditions, as well as a final exclamation of approval by Cheng Tang, which concludes the text in ‘dramatic’ (Utzschneider 2007) terms. The text is rhymed throughout while the items under discussion are consistently presented in the form of catalogues, thus suggesting completeness. The well-balanced composition is oddly dis-balanced by the meagre content of the text, staging empty phrases that leave the modern reader rather puzzled. By analysing the obvious conflict between content and form, this paper reconstructs the strategies of certain communities to construct meaning through patterned text, thus addressing the performative dimensions of text by various communities.

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