« the wind whispers (立秋) | Main | Thinking of Mi fu »

August 20, 2010

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hello in there

孤雁

孤雁不飲啄
飛鳴聲念群
誰怜一片影
相失万重云
望盡似猶見
哀多如更聞
野鴨無意緒
鳴噪亦紛紛

"Labor" in the West originally meant suffering or pain rather than work, with men and women having different forms of labor. There's even a kind of labor called "backache labor" in certain conditions (if the baby is in the "posterior position", they say).

LABOR, c.1300, "exertion of the body," from O.Fr. labour (Fr. labeur), from L. laborem (nom. labor) "toil, pain, exertion, fatigue, work," perhaps originally "tottering under a burden," related to labere "to totter." The verb is c.1300, from M.Fr. labourer, from L. laborare, from labor. The verb in modern Fr., Sp., Port. means "to plow;" the wider sense being taken by the equivalent of Eng. travail. Meaning "body of laborers considered as a class" (usually contrasted to capitalists) is from 1839. Sense of "physical exertions of childbirth" is 1595, from Fr. en travail "in (childbirth) suffering" (see travail). Labor Day first marked 1882 in New York City.

Speaking of labor, the chinese in this one was too hard for me. I could not hammer down the meaning of 木桨打 with my limited abilities.... In Japanese 櫂? Same 木 but that is as close as I could get.

I love this poem, but I could not do it justice. Nor could I squeeze it into 4 lines

牡丹訳:

江南月夜 孔令军
蛙鸣刻入石街深处
木桨打捞着月芽的心事
小船摇荡着古巷的过往

A moonlit night in Jiangnan

The songs of singing frogs
Incised deeply into the cobblestone streets
The worries of the cresent moon swept away
By the oars of a small boat
Swaying gently
Along the waters of old memories

王訳:

Moonlit Night Down South" by Kong Lingjun
Croaking of frogs carved deep down cobblestone roads,
oars sweeping cares from the crescent moon's mind,
the little boat rocks memories down ancient lanes.

Hi John,

The idea of work as labor comes from Protestant thought, I think. It is a concept that only in modern times came into Japan: 労働 (labor) written sometimes as 苦労 (hard labor or suffering). After a hard day's work in Japan, bosses say to their workers: ご苦労様. (To acknowledge a person's "labour"). But this idea of associating labor with pain or suffering was not a native concept in Japan, which stressed vocation and craft. The Japanese wikipedia page, by the way, mentions that this Protestant concept led to concepts of Capitalism and then Marxism
http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%8A%B4%E5%83%8D

Wonderful to hear from you!!!! So glad you are back online :)

By the way, did you read the Soulcraft article? I have read it a dozen times, I think and keep wanting to read his book:
http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/shop-class-as-soulcraft

I suspect it's the opposite, Peony. Protestants were supposed to want to work and consider it a pious act. Aristocrats of every age regarded work as not only unpleasant but shameful -- by working you forfeited respect. With sin work and labor pains came into the world:

To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and (R)he will rule over you".....To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.... By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."

Per Weber, in the Catholic world people quit working when they had enough to get by, whereas Protestants (especially Calvinists) kept working regardless. Of course, the "punishment for sinfulness" idea was still in the background, but the idea that work was a godly activity was also there in a way it wasn't with Catholics.

Hi John,

My explanation was not sufficient--because this really is something I don't know much about. I think the basic idea behind the Japanese article is that the Protestants were the first to view work as a labor that was appreciated by God and therefore this labor was conceptualized as a unit that could be "rewarded" or placed value on and this is what led to the rise of Capitalism and then to Marx-Weber philosophy. It also says that with this concept of labor that is recognized by God and can therefore be valued, the Church also advicated working hard, saving money and reducing consuming. The Japanese article was really just tracing the roots of the concept called 労働 which doesn't even have the kanji 苦 in it but comes from the West...I tried to look up the english but there was not an easy to understand article on it... but yes, I suppose the idea of work as shameful labor comes from the Bible? In Japan and China, you know that merchants were thought lowly of-- anything to do with selling and money. But agriculture and craftsmanship was higher up in social status--not as high as scholars or artitocrats but I don't think labor was something thought of as low or shameful or painful....? I am not so sure though.

プロテスタントは労働そのものに価値を認める天職の概念を見出した。この立場では、節欲して消費を抑えて投資することが推奨される。このようなプロテスタンティズムの倫理こそが資本主義を可能にしたと考えた者にマックス・ウェーバーがいる。

Confucian ideology spoke highly of the small farmer (= peasant) though this did not mean that they weren't treated poorly in actual practice. I think that Japan's relatively more martial-aristocratic tradition was more disdainful of the peasantry.... at least, Sei Shonagon said some horrible things about them.

Absolutely. But the merchants or people who dealt in money directly were lower still. Agricture has more positive connotations in Japan even today then say here in the US, I think too. And Sei Shonagon said horrible things about almost everyone!!

As I remember, the mystique of the peasant in China was mostly used to validate literati landowners, who when not in official positions retired to country estates and in some cases were not realy rich, and as a defense against threats to the literati, especially from merchants, manufacturers, bankers, and other capitalist-like folk, but also against the military families and the politicized Buddhist and Taoist monasteries. It didn't really do the 90% of the population who were very poor peasants a lot of concrete good.

Good morning! Your comment reminded me that Moisi has a book out based on his essay in Foreign Affairs, The Clash of Emotions.. It's a book I'd like to maybe read someday. Thinking of this book with regard to your comment, I guess I think it is a terrible slippery slope to try and make a judgement whether social value and status has a concrete effect on a class of people or not. On the one hand, sure, they were still poor-- on the other hand, you seem to be going back to very early times in your statement about militarized families/Buddhists and at that time, European peasantry had it much much worse, I would argue... serfdom. And slaves in Tibet. In Japan as well, things were worse. Of course, a farmer's son could sit for the examinations just like almost anyone else in Chinese society so there was the real possibility of upward mobility, which is not a small thing either. Indeed, tha is a huge thing to consider.

The power of scholars and the literati themselves rose for the same reason: to offset the power of aritstocratic families and militarized Buddhists, but the veneration of agricutulture goes back way back to Confucius.

快乐的诗人" 三行书房
把繁体字译成简体字
把梦译成诗歌
把日子译成一山又一山枫红的秋

The Happy Poet
Translating traditional characters into simplified characters
Translating dreams into songs
Translating the days into mountain upon mountain of
Red maple autumns

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.