I ranted for a long time on the lineage problem before, (no need for any poor wanderer to look for that) basically saying it’s sort of like saying “I learned basketball from Michael Jordan’s heir’s heir” and therefore I somehow know I learned good basketball.

Cross-training lineages may help the random student, but that’s a little like saying I learned this bit from the Jordan lineage and this bit from the Yao lineage. Can I put all the basketball bits back together as they existed with the original master? Probably not, lack of talent questions notwithstanding.

It occurs to me that lineage is like monarchism with “heirs” and so on. Now why would we reject monarchism in modern democratic societies but be so willing to buy into the lineage idea? Sure there is some validity. We want the king to just teach us something not rule over us. And I’m sure Michael Jordan’s great-grandkids could teach me great basketball one day, but much of it seems to do with the fact that IMA are perceived by Westerners to be “ancient” and “Chinese” and “mysterious” and so on. So some of the Confucian cultural context is accepted and maybe romanticized and exoticized by Sinophiles as part of the tradition. People get too into the cultural aspect (that I am not so into). The rest of us try to be understanding of the cultural aspects and difficulties in language and idea translation. There is a major difficulty with translating vocabulary that is imbued with cultural assumptions, sure. I think the community does make some progress in spite of these challenges. But the lineage method seems too reliant on the off-chance of getting a “good king” in any given generation. What are the solutions?…

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