Dave asked recently where the name 花崗齋之愚公 (Hua Gang Zhai zhi Yu Gong) comes from. In the old days, it was not uncommon for scholars to name their studio or office where they wrote. Usually the name had some connection with the location or had a classical allusion. I chose Hua Gang (Granite) Zhai (Studio) for two reasons. One, I’m a native of New Hampshire. Two, the term granite (hua gang yan 花岗岩) also can mean stubborness or obstinacy to the point of stupidity (ahem).
Yu Gong (愚公) is an allusion to the story of a foolish old man who moved a mountain that was blocking the path from his home…one rock at a time. His children told him that he would be dead before he moved it. The old man instructed them to continue his work after he was gone, replying, “My line will go on and on, but the mountain can never get taller or bigger–what do I have to worry about?” If you’ve ever worked on a dissertation, there’s something about this guy you love. There just is.
The chengyu 愚公移山 (yu gong yi shan) is a rough equivalent to the English saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” or the French “vouloir, c’est pouvoir.” I thought it was a nice allusion. It’s not the most profound name, but it serves the purpose.