What is an Ulterior Scholar?
Dictionaries define ulterior as 'beyond what is written, that which is not revealed, covert; not obvious or evident'. Thus, an ulterior scholar is concerned with forgotten details, hidden motives, and truths ignored.
Only one written story existed about Pan Yuliang (1895-1977), a Chinese woman artist. It was in Chinese and full of ‘hidden motives and truths ignored’. It was meant to be a biography but lacking any factual information about Pan Yuliang’s life, the author wrote a novel, mixing bawdy fiction with the few known details about Pan Yuliang.
The search for Pan Yuliang took me on a journey to two continents in three languages. In 1988, when I first began to translate the novel Hua Hun, it was such a maudlin tale of woe that I found it difficult to think of it as a biographical story. It was about an unattractive, lower-class woman named Pan Yuliang who was orphaned at age eight and struggled through unspeakable abuse to become an award-winning post-impressionist painter in Paris. The pages of Hua Hun detailed brutality and sexual assault, abject fear, futile escape attempts, and awkward, outmoded dialogue.
As for women in the Marine Corps, they were certainly not obvious or evident. Few Americans realize that over 8,500 women serve as active Marines. Early in his career, my son, a combat infantry Marine, had only encountered women Marines on rare occasions; as motor pool drivers, clerical workers, an occasional armory NCO (non-commissioned officer). He jokingly called them 'pogues', which doesn't refer to the women, only the fact that these MOS (military occupational specialties) are not infantry and thus in support. That moniker reflected the stereotype that women were not on the front lines and certainly not in combat roles. Later he began to see them as air rescue pilots and field medical personnel and thus 'in the line of fire’.