Once, when Zhuangzi was fishing in the Pu River, the king of Chu sent two officials to go and announce to him: “I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm.”
Zhuangzi held on to the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, “I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Chu that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bone left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?”
“It would rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud,” said the two officials.
Zhuangzi said, “Go away! I’ll drag my tail in the mud!”
—John Minford and Joseph S. M. Lau, eds., Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations (Columbia University Press, 2000), 215.
Homework: Assignment #309
Wang Dongling, "Artwork (4)," The Asia Society. From The Asia Society: "Wang Dongling is widely recognized as one of the most celebrated living calligraphers from China. The artist’s experimental works, featuring his luanshu (chaos script), expand the venerated Chinese calligraphy tradition through a dynamic style that renders the texts almost completely indecipherable. Inspired by Laozi’s iconic text of Taoist philosophy, the artist created Laozi, Dao De Jing, Chapter I & II for Asia Society as part of a 2018 performance at the Museum. This exhibition serves as the first public presentation of the painting."
Please note the first three sections below are adapted from Bryan W. Van Norden, Classical Chinese for Everyone: A Guide for Absolute Beginners (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2019), 43, 51-53.
Questions for translators:
Extremes of practice:
Peter Boodberg’s (1903-1972) translation of chapter 1 of The Daodejing (excerpt):
Lodehead lodehead-brooking: no forewonted lodehead;
Namecall namecall-brooking: no forewonted namecall.
Having-naught namecalling: Heaven-Earth’s fetation.
Having-aught namecalling: Myriad Mottlings’ mother.
John Dryden (1631-1700) defending his loose translations of the Greek and Latin classics:
. . . I desire the false Criticks would not always think that those thoughts are wholly mine, but that either they are secretly in the Poet, or may be fairly deduc’d from him; or at least, if both those considerations should fail, that my own is a piece with his and that if he were living, and an Englishman, they are such as he wou’d probably have written.
Homework: Assignment #307
HS150 Global Thinking