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  • Writer's picturePeter K F Cheung SBS

Chinese Poetics

  1. FADE IN

  2. Act 1

  3. INT. BEDROOM - 10:30

  4. Checking a Quora question on his phone screen, PETER sees: Does Aristotle's Poetics have a counterpart in the east?

  5. PETER (V.O.): Recently, I've answered a Quora question on Aristotle's Poetics - the earliest Greek work on literary and dramatic theory..

  6. Pausing.

  7. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In his Poetics, Aristotle focuses on tragedy in arousing the audience's emotions.

  8. Pausing.

  9. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Aristotle divides tragedy into six parts. In order of importance, they're plot, character, thought, diction, melody and spectacle.

  10. Thinking.

  11. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Is there a Chinese Poetics?

  12. Act 2


  14. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I can think of Confucius' Book of Odes 詩經. But it's a collection of poems and not a theory on drama.

  15. Surfing the web, Peter researches on comparative literature.

  16. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Oh, yes, there's Liu Xie's The Literary Mind & the Carving of Dragons 文心雕龍. He gave a consistent account of literature.

  17. Recalling.

  18. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): When I was in my teens, I read that it was an important work. But I didn't know what it was about. I couldn't remember the name of the author.

  19. Reading.

  20. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Wow, the author Liu Xie thinks that affections are the medium of literature, and language merely the product.

  21. Pausing.

  22. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Yes, one should write with heart and express ideas like carving dragons.



  25. Headland. At a rock carving heritage site, Peter studies the geometric patterns carved on rocks and the caption nearby.

  26. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Do they mean good wind and water? Wow, the rock carvings were 3000 years old.


  28. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): The sculptors are the characters, they unfold the plot via the rock carvings.

  29. Pausing,

  30. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Do the expressions on humanity constitute a part of the ancient Chinese Poetics?

  31. Peter surfs the web and studies the small prints.

  32. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Aristotle's Poetics was written around 335 BC. Liu Xie's The Literary Mind & the Carving of Dragons from 501-502 AD.

  33. Recalling.

  34. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In the 1960s and early 1970s, I studied literature. The focus was on understanding the theme, style and use of language.

  35. Pausing.

  36. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): But I didn't know Liu Xie's concept and Aristotle's structure in analysing literature.

  37. Pausing.

  38. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): It's only now I understand how I could have learned literature better decades ago.

  39. Recalling.

  40. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Having designed and built Hong Kong's IP system good for 1997 and beyond, my work focus turned to promote creativity so that people can benefit from the IP system.

  41. Recalling.

  42. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): On one project in 2000s, the movie industry flew in Hollywood people to do the knowledge transfer. I officiated and stayed through to learn too.

  43. Recalling.

  44. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Having got cues from the professionals, I researched further on the foundation of screenwriting, in particular the 3-act structure.

  45. Recalling.

  46. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): To mark my retirement in 2014, I planned to write a 120-minute feature screenplay entitled "24 Hours Before and After (My Retirement)".

  47. Recalling.

  48. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): I knew my last official function was to join the Grand Finale of the International Trademark Association's first annual meeting in Asia at Hong Kong Disneyland.

  49. Recalling.

  50. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): In order to optimize its dramatic effect like melody and spectacle, I declined an offer to retire at a later date.

  51. Recalling.

  52. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): After retirement, I spent weeks to write my autobiography in the screenplay format. I submitted it to renowned screenplay competitions. I didn't win.

  53. Act 3


  55. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): Without conflicts, there's no plot,

  56. Pausing.

  57. PETER (V.O.) (Cont'd): Screenwriting is about what characters say or do. My writing about my thought process might not work on screen.

  58. Pausing.

  59. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): But my stuff are raw and real - my plots are about humanity and the main character is my true self.

  60. Pausing.

  61. PETER (V.O.)(Cont'd): I still have hope. As without it, there's no story.

  62. On Quora, Peter types his answer: Liu Xie's The Literary Mind & the Carving of Dragons 文心雕龍.

  63. THE END

  64. .

  65. FADE OUT

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