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February 07, 2011

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Derek, That is only one of several reasons I love Japanese scholarship on Chinese history so much. Oh... and I wish I was in Hong Kong too!

I forgot about the commas.

Yes, there are two kinds of commas in modern Chinese. The 逗號(,)dou4 hao4, which is like the regular comma sans troublesome grammatical rules of when one should or should not use a comma, and the 頓號(、)dun4 hao4, which is used to separate items in a list.

Both of these, however, are relatively modern inventions. The ancients apparently did not consider punctuation necessary to daily life.

D> [to Bill’s point that given the rest of Red Pine’s translation, it remains obscure what two parties are meant or even could be meant.] "I see no need to criticise the [Red Pine] translation for not being specific; as I have said, I think a translator should not add to what is not overtly given in the original”

I see RP’s translation as aiming to interpret the text, not to give us what it says on its face. He leaves out two whole lines, lines that seem on their face to make big trouble for the reading he presents. So I don’t think he can be defended as letting the original speak for itself. Also, the problem isn’t just that his “both of them” isn’t specific as among the parties he’s mentioned. The problem is that unlike the original, his translation doesn’t even offer a likely candidate for what “both of them” might be.

B> "seemed designed to impede"

Oops -- I meant ‘seem’, not ‘seemed’; and right you are, not ‘were’. It’s as though, from a certain point of view.

If the writing were phonetic, learning it would for most involve learning a second language. I wonder how much easier that would have been than learning characters! Maybe it would have been harder in the first decades of the project, until critical masses of literate parties developed in different locations. Maybe it would have been way easier after that.

But I didn't think of the point that particles and other little spoken words might vary from place to place, so that writing would tend to shy away from grammatical signals. (Though my impression is that it's the small words that are most resistant to variation, over time at least. No, Mama, und.) I think when the Chinese logicians and sophists write about strings of characters they find the distinction between the logical structure of COW HORSE and the logical structure of WHITE HORSE way more puzzling than they would if they knew of speaking with an 'and'. Not sure.

That’s an interesting point about the Japanese and Koreans.

re: "有天鬼 → 鬼
亦有山水鬼神者  → 鬼神者
亦有人死而為鬼者 → 鬼者
Are these 3 different terms, like they look to my eyes"

Here's what I think based on my familiarity (or lack of) with pre-Han thought. I don't recall seeing Tiangui 天鬼 ever before. It might simply be synonymous with 天神, which were likely the spirits of deceased royalty, like Zhou King Wen. Shen and Gui were sometimes interchangeable. Guishen 鬼神 could mean either "ghosts and spirits" or just "spirits" in general. It's much more common for the spirits of the mountains and rivers to be referred to as Shen 神, however. Guizhe 鬼者 simply = 鬼.

I keep thinking that I have some book on my shelf that deals more with Shen and Gui. Mu-chou Poo's In Search for Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion is the one I keep looking through. Perhaps later I can look at Julia Childs-Johnson's paper in Early China 20.

Mencius 5A2:

昔者有饋生魚於鄭子產,子產使校人畜之池。校人烹之,反命曰:‘始舍之圉圉焉,少則洋洋焉,攸然而逝。’子產曰‘得其所哉!得其所哉!’校人出,曰:‘孰謂子產智?予既烹而食之,曰:得其所哉?得其所哉。’故君子可欺以其方,難罔以非其 道。彼以愛兄之道來,故誠信而喜之,奚偽焉?”
Once, someone made a present of a live fish to Zi Chan of Zhang. Zi Chan ordered his pond-keeper to keep it in the pond, but that officer cooked (烹) it, and reported the execution of his commission, saying, "When I first let it go, it was still sickly, but soon it became lively and then relaxed and passed away." Zi Chan observed, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!" The pond-keeper then went out and said, "Who calls Zi Chan a wise man? After I had cooked and eaten the fish, he says, "It had got into its element! It had got into its element!"

That's basically Legge's translation except for the words of the pond-keeper, which I've altered slightly. I think the pond-keeper is hiding behind a play on words. I seem to be the only who thinks this. If I'm wrong, then I don't understand the pond-keeper's concluding comment.

If it is a play on words, then the fish went into the pan alive.

I blame you, Bill. You have resparked my interest in Classical Chinese grammar. I even found myself browsing Laozi commentary at a bookstore just now. Actually, I blame Peony too -- if not for her question to the list, I would not be here at all. So, injustice in general offends benevolent supernatural entities (the Heavens, ghosts of ancestors), who act because they are so moved? That's fascinating, and I am familiar with that idea too. Well, here's what I gleamed from my browsing. These are the views an unaffiliated scholar in Shandong (whose name, I am ashamed to report, I have forgotten) puts forth: 治大國、若烹小鮮: Not an analogy in the way a metaphor is. Thus, not "Governing a large kingdom is like cooking a live, small fish", but "Governing a large kingdom, cooking live, small fishes -- both are alike insofar as there is a Way (Tao) of Governing Large Kingdoms just as there is a Way of Cooking Live, Small Fishes". He justifies this by saying it is consistent with recurring themes in the text, namely, that there is an ineffable Way that applies to each and every existing thing (I could be failing in putting this across clearly). 以道莅天下: Interestingly, the text he quotes is 以道立天下。In an annotation, he notes that the 昂本 (one version of the text, I don't know which one) has 立 but the 通行本 (another version, ditto) has 莅。He also says that 莅 has the same meaning as 治 in this case. So Bill might actually be heading in the right direction with "administer/govern" -- at least, the author I read agrees with him. 其鬼不神: According to the author, the 辭海 (an authoritative Chinese dictionary) gives as one meaning of 鬼 "people who (would) do evil/wrong(悪)". He takes this as to be the meaning here, rather than actual supernatural phenomena, quoting similar usage from other classical texts (which I can't reproduce here because I didn't buy the book). I am starting to get interested in Lao Zi's views on the supernatural/superstition. Unless we find them in other sections of the 道徳経, I don't think we'll ever know which meaning of 鬼 he means. 神 is simply given as the 作用 (effects/acts/deeds) of these 鬼. So, hauntings or merely civil wrongs? That would depend on what kind of 鬼 these are. Side note: The practice of demonising wrong-doers is actually well alive in this day as well. Don't like someone? Think his morals are suspect? Call him a 鬼。There's even a special name for women with suspect morals: 妖。(Watch enough bad Chinese movies and you'll soon discover that "死妖精" approximates to "Bitch!") 其神不傷人: The author writes that 傷 has the same meaning as 妨碍 fang2 ai1 ("get in the way of", "obstruct", the archaic usage of "frustrate"). So, not "harm". (Remember my comment about 傷 vs. 害?) 非其神不傷人、聖人亦不傷人、夫兩不相傷: Bill's favourite line :) The author does not gloss over it. "Not only will the works-of-evil-doers(神)not get in the way of the people(不傷人), but enlightened/learned persons will also(亦)not get in the way of the people." Get in the way of their doing what? Why, returning to the Way(道)things were before people started *DOING things*(無為), of course. I think most of us have been reading 夫兩不相傷 as part of a pair with 故徳交歸焉, but this suggests that the three lines that make up the heading above form one complete coherent point. To whit, 神 does not get in the people's way, 聖人 do not get in the people's way, they *both* do not get in the people's way. (Yes, the author specifically annotates that 不相傷 has both 神 and 聖人 not applying 傷 to 人.) NB: I use "the people" here to mean "humanity" rather than "citizens" -- 人類 rather than 人民。 *** I like this reading because it is consistent with what I know of Lao Zi. Every historical person who has ever been called a great philosopher (except for the postmodernists) talks about this ineffable state of being (of course, they each have their own definition of what this exactly is) and how to go about attaining it, presumably with the assumption and the premise that we want to or should. Lao Zi preaches attainment of this through Inaction(無為): if we do nothing, things will return to the state of how they should be because the Way (i.e. that state of... etc) is present at the origin of everything -- in fact, manifests *in* everything -- and it is only our (unenlightened/imperfect) actions(為)that get in the way. Think of a Japanese zen stone garden. That is the Way. But we walk in and step around, messing the stones. That is the current state of the world. If we only just keep really, really still... not even breathe, then nothing will be "there" to get in the way of the Way -- ergo, we will return to the Way/Virtue. (Correct me if I am wrong, but by and large 道経 is a description of this ineffable state of being and 徳経 is a prescription of how to achieve it?) This reading is consistent with Lao Zi's philosophy. Govern the world (or "approach the task/problem of Administrating a Large State") with the Way -- i.e. through Inaction, which would translate into less interventionist policies, one presumes -- and naturally, through the mysteries of the Tao, evil-doers will not mess up pebbles, Sages will not mess up pebbles, and we will (although nobody really knows exactly why) all live happily ever after. And if common sense were to take over and make you ask: "But how exactly does this happen? If a ruler doesn't do anything, how can he make evil-doers not affect the people? How does he ensure that Sages don't affect the people? If he does nothing, how can he even be said to govern at all?" Lao Zi would probably smile and say: "If he is well versed in the Way, then this state of affairs will come to pass." To which you could protest: "But you talk about a start point and an end point... but it's logically impossible to play connect-the-dots with them! The middle is this big gaping hole I can't fathom!" But Lao Zi would probably give you an enigmatic smile and say: "Ah. That is the mystery of the Way." And he might or might not add: "If I could explain it to you, it would not be the true Way." Or he might very well just smile enigmatically and be very, very quiet. (And he could be thinking very smugly, "I can do this, because I know the Way and you don't" -- and we wouldn't be the wiser.) But that's Lao Zi for you. (ああ、すっきりしたー)

Hi all, I'm coming into this from a thread in a different venue, and, in the interests of full disclosure (and by way of covering my ass in advance), I’ll say right now that I'm a Japanese translator, I don't speak any Chinese, and I don't know anything about Chinese philosophy.

In other words, reader, you have been warned. ;-)

To start with, I'll just quote the relevant part of my response to that other thread.

---quote---
From 中国の思想、第6巻 (徳間書店) --

Translator's note: <神霊>原文は「鬼」。死者の霊魂のこと。人間に禍福吉凶を下す力を持つものとして、根強く信仰されていた。So, according to this translation anyway, it's not evil spirits, but simply the spirits of the dead.

The phrase 其鬼不神 is rendered as 神霊も霊験を示さなくなる. This would accord the translation Peony quotes, in that the spirits will simply stay out of the picture altogether. In other words, the text isn't saying that they won't do bad things or haunt people. It's just saying that they won't do anything miraculous at all.

The translation continues: 神霊が霊験を示さなくなるばかりか、人間が神霊の存在を意識しなくなる. The use of the "not only will [...] not [...], but" construction here is an interesting divergence from the English ("it is not that ..."). I don't speak Chinese, so I can't say which one is right, or if indeed the truth might not lie somewhere in between.
---endquote---

For any non-Japanese speakers out there, what I'm talking about in that last part is that the Japanese translation of the whole section basically goes something like this:

"Ruling a large country is the same as boiling a small fish. Don't interfere, and just let it boil. If you rule inactively, in accordance with the Way, then spirits(*) will not perform miracles. Not only will spirits not perform miracles, but the people will stop noticing the presence of spirits. Not only the presence of spirits, but the people will also stop noticing the presence of sages. The people are not aware of spirits, and are not aware of sages. It is precisely in this manner that the benefits of the spirits and the virtues of the sages can be said to have reached the people."

Yes, this is a translation of a translation, which is like an international version of the telephone game (relevantly (to this case, at least) also sometimes known as "Chinese whispers"), but looking at the English translation that I have of this passage ("Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao Ching" (yes, you read the correctly--more below), Robert G. Henricks), and in particular the glaring divergence between my English of the Japanese (of the Chinese), and the English translation that I have here, makes me think that this is a very free translation. On the other hand, the translator does offer a kanbun translation, which is much more aligned with what I can figure out from the Chinese (by definition, almost), and also the English translations.

Here’s the original Japanese, for the sake of completeness:

大国を統治することは、あたかも小魚を煮るに等しい。手を加えずに、煮ることだ。「道」にのっとって、無為の政治を行えば、神霊も霊験を示さなくなる。神霊が霊験を示さぬばかりか、人民が神霊の存在を意識しなくなる。ひとり神霊の存在のみならず、人民は聖人の存在をも意識しなくなるのだ。人民が神霊の存在を意識せず、聖人の意識をもせぬ。かくてこそ、神霊の恩沢と聖人の徳とが、人民に及んだといえるのである。

Okay, so the footnote indicated by the asterisk after the word "spirits" is given at the beginning of my original message. Translated, it goes something like this: "'Spirits': Original has '鬼.' The spirits of the dead. Worshiped as beings capable of bringing fortune and ill-fortune to mortals." Either way, the point is they are not "evil" spirits.

There are two other translator's comments. The first one says that the "large" in the phrase "large country" is just a rhetorical device for drawing a contrast with the "small" in the phrase "small fish." The other, and more relevant, quote is about the phrase in question--about the 鬼 and the 神. I'll give the Japanese, and then my translation.

鬼も神ならず[=其鬼不神] 墨子は、人間に賞罰を下す神霊の存在を熱心に説き、政治を正す助けにしようとした。老子は神霊の存在を真正面から否定しようとはしないが、神霊を必要としなくなる政治を説くことによって、暗にその存在を否定するのである。

"Mo-Tzu passionately preached the existence of spirits which visit punishment on humans, and attempted to make them a corrective aid in rule. Lao-Tzu, while not explicitly denying the existence of spirits, preached a form of rule in which they are superfluous, and thereby implicitly denying their existence."

Now, about the English translation I have (the Te-Tao Ching). In his introduction, the translator (who is apparently a professor at Dartmouth College), bases his ordering of the two parts of the original Chinese on some texts called the Ma-Wang-Tui texts, which have the Te (徳) part before the Tao (道) part. The translation was published some 19 years ago, and a bit of googling around shows that this radical reordering doesn't seem to have caught on. A sign of intellectual inertia in the academic world? Simply a sign that he was wrong? I don't know, but more to the point, he renders the character 鬼 as "evil spirits," so, obviously, the jury is still out on whether these spirits are actually evil or not. Or is it? Either way, the translator of the Japanese version I have seems to think that they are simply spirits, and not evil. The translator's name, by the way, is 奥平卓 (Okuhira Taku).

I just looked up Shang 傷 in Axel Schuessler's Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese (2007). He gives the meanings "be pained, injure, hurt" (e.g., the Shijing) and "to mourn" (in the Guanzi). More interesting is that Shang is cognate to Yang 痒/瘍 "sick, suffering, ulcers" and Yang 恙 "sickness" (and Qiang "to hurt"). It has also been suggested it's cognate with Bing 病 "sickness." As I've already mentioned, many in ancient China believed that ghosts and evil spirits (demons, etc.) caused sickness. So, it seems likely that this was what the author had in mind.

Scott, that would make your question on Manyul's blog -- Who would expect the SAGE to shang 傷 people? -- more pressing indeed! It's one thing to advocate nonviolent or non-meddling govt; it's another and much weirder thing to advocate governing by not making people sick.

One word: Fugu.

Before I respond, could you kindly clarify whether you are referring to
1) A species of blowfish
2) The glorious fugu movement as propogated by my boyfriend Huizong
(I can only hope its the latter)

Conrad (not to mention Kierkegaard) has already led me to me "sheng unto insanity" about this issue here

Blowfish, Peony. I'll comment on your translation later.

傷 appears in one other place in the DDJ, in 74:

夫代大匠斲者,稀有不傷其手矣。
Ivanhoe’s translation:
Those who would do the work of the greatest carver among carpenters [i.e. death]
Rarely avoid wounding (傷) their own hands.

A couple of other texts:

Analects

3.20 “The Guan Ju is … sorrowful without being distraught 傷.
10.12 The stable burned. When the Master returned from court, he asked, “Were any people hurt (傷)?” He didn’t ask about the horses.
11.26 (Zengxi) Dian laid down his lute. While it was still sounding, he said, "My aspiration differs from that of the other three.” --"What harm (傷) is there in that?" said the Master.

1A7 The king laughed and said, “What really was my mind in the matter? I did not grudge the expense of [the ox], and changed it for a sheep! There was reason in the people's saying that I grudged it.” “'There is no harm (傷) in their saying so,' said Mencius.”

2A7 “Mencius said, 'Is the arrow-maker less benevolent than the maker of armour of defence? And yet, the arrow-maker's only fear is lest men should not be hurt (傷), and the armour-maker's only fear is lest men should be hurt (傷).”

4B23 Mencius said, “When it appears proper to take a thing, and afterwards not proper, to take it shangs 傷 moderation. When it appears proper to give a thing and afterwards not proper, to give shangs 傷 kindness. When it appears proper to sacrifice one's life, and afterwards not proper, to sacrifice it shangs 傷 bravery.”

4B31 [Zengzi on fleeing the city] said “Do not lodge any persons in my house, lest they destroy or injure (毀傷) the wood and trees.”

傷 If Derek was here, he would probably say and I would agree that this is "wound" (in modern Japanese, meaning emotional wound as well as physical-- indeed, perhaps the former is even more used than the latter as the latter is just as often 怪我する)

Blowfish, eh?

Hi Marc, this Japaneseless person thanks you for the interesting report!

M> “其鬼不神 … the spirits will simply stay out of the picture altogether. In other words, the text isn't saying that they won't do bad things or haunt people. It's just saying that they won't do anything miraculous at all.”

I agree that the word 神 doesn’t bring any value judgment. I haven’t been worrying about the negative aspect of ‘haunt’ because I’ve been assuming that in the context of DDJ-60 as a whole, 不神 is supposed to be a good thing, because I’ve been thinking we’re being offered benefits of government by the Way. But with such a hard passage, it’s always good to be reminded exactly where there’s wiggle room.

M> “The use of the ‘not only will [...] not [...], but’ construction here is an interesting divergence from the English (‘it is not that ...’). I don't speak Chinese, so I can't say which one is right, or if indeed the truth might not lie somewhere in between.”

My middling command of classical Chinese tells me that ‘It is not that’ is quite accurate, and the ‘not only’ construction is a serious departure from what the text permits, a departure that people take only in order to make sense of the whole. The most reputable English translations tend to favor the ‘not only’ construction.

The whole translation as you report it in English seems very free; internally coherent but quite far from the text. Here’s an effort to render the text into a kind of Chinglish to give a sense of the lay of the land. You probably know all this.

Govern 治 large 大 state 國,as/like 若 simmer/boil 烹 small 小 live fish 鮮。
By 以 the Way 道 oversee 莅 all-uner-heaven 天下,
Its/one’s 其 gui 鬼 not 不 come to life/active/spirit 神;
Not 非 its/one’s 其 gui 鬼 not 不 come to life/active/spirit 神;
Its/one’s 其 come to life/active/spirit 神 not 不 hurt 傷 people/others 人;
Not 非 its/one’s 其 come to life/active/spirit 神 not 不 hurt 傷 people/others 人;
Sage person 聖人 indeed/also 亦 not 不 hurt 傷 people/others 人。
This/thus 夫 both 兩 not 不 together/each other 相 hurt 傷,
Therefore/old 故 virtue/power 德 relations/each other 交 return/accrue 歸 there 焉。


M> "Mo-Tzu passionately preached the existence of spirits which visit punishment on humans, and attempted to make them a corrective aid in rule. Lao-Tzu, while not explicitly denying the existence of spirits, preached a form of rule in which they are superfluous, and thereby implicitly denying their existence."

That all seems right to me except maybe the last clause. The DDJ does say in chapter 39 that the One (I think this means the union of opposites, which might mean accord with the way) helps spirits 神 be animated 靈, which is interesting in light of chapter 60.

I think the reason the re-ordering of the DDJ halves hasn’t caught on is that (a) there isn’t much reason to think the Mawangdui text is more authoritative than the Wang Bi text we’ve always had, and (b) the division into two halves looks to most people like an arbitrary line drawn in a pile of miscellaneous sand anyway. The only value of any ordering is to make it easy for us to refer to chapters, and for that we have the conventional order.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for looking up those other occurrences of Shang 傷! Although these other examples don't prove that the author of DDJ 60 used the word in the same way, I think I will step back from the meaning "make sick."

Bao Pu

Peony, I’ve tried as hard as I can to find fault with your translation. Here’s what I’ve come up with. First, your translation, for reference.

1 The Sage governs a large kingdom as he cooks a small fish
2 Approaching the world by way of the Dao--
3 The spirits of our dead ancestors are not riled to fury
4 Even if these spirits are riled
5 Still, their presence will not harm
6 Even if they were to harm, however--
7 The Sage will not seek ever to harm the people
8 And, if neither sages nor spirits cause harm
9 Then so shall virtuous governing be achieved

1
If I were to say “A sage lives in winter as he does in summer,” you could take that either to mean that the sage lives in winter the way one normally lives in summer (wearing light clothes etc.) or simply that the sage does not change practices with the seasons. The latter reading is consistent with the sage’s wearing a heavy parka all year round. Your translation of line 1 allows the latter sort of reading, more than other translations I’ve seen.

2
OK

3
Seems way more specific than the original in various ways.

4
My sense is that the most natural way to read “its/their life/active/spirits not hurt” is that the ghosts aren’t hostile. They’re active but they’re not hurting anybody. And the most natural way to understand *that* is to envision the ghosts as not being hostile, hence not riled. Also I think “riled” tends to suggest “provoked,” and I think maybe we don’t want to suggest that under Daoey rule the ghosts might still be provoked.

5
Nice! But for consistency how about changing 3 and 4 to match, perhaps thus: “3 The spirits …do not come out in fury 4 Even if the spirits come out 5 Still, their presence will not harm”?

And why not drop ‘Still’?

6
Hm. The subjunctive suggests that 5 is not being retracted at all. That’s the difference using the subjunctive makes. For the first three paragraphs of this comment on 6, I’ll assume that’s what you mean. On this reading, under Daoey rule the spirits definitely don’t harm (we’re told so in 5); and furthermore even if they were to harm (which they won’t), the Sage wouldn’t then harm. I ask myself: On this reading, why is line 6 in the chapter? Why not just say that the Sage won’t harm? Why do we need to be told about the counterfactual case? What’s the author’s point? And the only answer I can think of is that the point is to stress that the Sage is deeply motivated not to harm. (This is the real novelty of your blue version, I think.)

“Sadie isn’t going to hit Sperling, and Sperling isn’t going to hit Sadie. Furthermore, even if Sperling were to hit Sadie she wouldn’t hit him.” That makes sense as saying that Sadie’s motivation is solid, and the reason it makes sense is that being hit by Sperling is the kind of thing that would tempt someone to hit Sperling. Only, it’s not very clear how the spirits’ harming people is the kind of thing that would tempt a governor to harm people. It would be, if we take the spirits-harming-people as either (a) metaphors for an unruly people, something that a ruler would want to suppress, as part of her conception of the task of governance; or (b) ancestors harming the ruler on behalf of their families and making sure the rulers understand and survive, so that the rulers might be tempted to strike back at the families, either in anger or in hopes of deterring the ancestors from further harming the ruler. Is one of those what what you have in mind?

There’s another problem with using the subjunctive in 6—especially if one really means it, i.e. one means 6 not to undercut 5 at all. The problem is that this breaks the parallel between 3-4 and 5-6. Written classical Chinese, which (as we’ve discussed) is in certain ways semantically impoverished, relies especially heavily on parallel structures to indicate how things are to be understood. Especially in poetry. Prima facie parallelism is supposed to be a pretty strong (though not absolute) signal of real parallelism.

But maybe you don’t really mean the subjunctive; that is, maybe you mean 6 to involve some kind of retraction of 5, as your 4 involves a kind of retraction of 3, so we have a real parallel. In that case the argument of the chapter seems to be something like this: “In Daoey government, the governor won’t hurt people, and [so] the spirits may be less likely to hurt people. If we’re lucky and the spirits don’t in fact hurt people, then virtuous governing is achieved.” Is that what you mean?

7
‘Seek’ is smart.

8
I think “Then so” is awkward and “shall” is wrong. Why not just drop all three words?

Thanks so much Bill! My response for your perusal:

1) This is un-commonsensical to me. Perhaps others will give their opinions and show me wrong. However, to me, “A sage lives in winter as he does in summer,” while if you stretched and stretched the meaning of the sentence you could perhaps get the parka understanding; in fact, or rather in practice I think “A sage lives in winter as he does in summer,” really just means that the sage wears his summer clothes in winter.

2)Ok

3) An uncharacteristic under-statement from you!! Yes, this is my interpretation, And, you may recall that both Derek and I have argued that this passage inherently demands interpretation if you are making a translation. If you are just aiming to understanding the original, it would be highly ambiguous to the point of very limited intelligeability.

The problem being with this of course is that that with the exception of the Gialbo and Red Pine-- the English translations we have seen were really way too out there for my taste. Agreed? This 3) is what makes this "my take"... Suggested reading on it being the Post (which I assume you read but hell, knowing you, you might have gone straight to the translation.


4)The Ghosts are like me on a good day. They are neutral. At the same time, they are aware and easily riled to fury...

5) I like it as is, I think. Still is essential...

6) Could you tell me how you would write 5?

8) I really have no idea what "shall" means-- let me get back on this after I look it up... Then so is important for "atmosphere"
(I'm big on atmosphere)...

My remaining issue is "shall"-- otherwise I am quite satistfied!

And to reiterate: the fish is only a metaphor (not really important except to get a basic idea of governing style) and the ghosts too are not the point, serving much like "signs" of misrule (like natural disasters of sigtings of auspicious or inauspicious natural phenemomena during reign/dynasty transitions.

And I repeat this is not a call for a Libertarian hands-of approach to. I love the passage and am unlikely to forget it. OK... more soon.

** Just heard from my expert: "shall" stays. He says:
Shall is better, purely on euphonic grounds.
http://www.bartleby.com/116/213.html

** Interestingly, my blue version reads very well with Manyul's I think; that is, I don't think either of us would contest the other's reading. My reading is going out more in a limb with #3, but I just went back and looked at Manyul's and was happily surprised that everything seemed to line up with his reading...

Scott, I think you're right that my citations don't prove anything about DDJ 60. Memory is hazy but I think I misread your comment at first to be suggesting that "make sick" is the leading meaning of shang. Now that I look at your comment more carefully I wonder whether your dictionary allows that shang can mean "make sick", or only allows "be sick."

Peony, I think your translation is a fine piece of poetry and it may get the meaning about right.

You ask what I’d do with 5. My earlier message proposed a way to rewrite it for your translation. As for myself, I haven’t decided what I think the chapter means. While sometimes intepretation and translation can be separate, in this case the problems of interpretation are bound up with how to understand the sentence structures, which is a point on which translation can’t easily be neutral—and shouldn't be neutral if one can figure out the right answer.

I know that you are sure the fish is dead, but please do tell me a few dozen more times! I can think of a problem or two with that idea (Gialbo #136f), but they call for further research into ancient discussions of cooking. Poeticallly I love Lau’s “Governing a large state is like cooking a small fish.” Adding ‘live’ ruins the poetry, partly because it leaves a modern reader scratching her head wondering what it’s supposed to be like to cook a small live fish. So if it matters that the fish is alive, and the ancients understood how it matters, then Lau’s line needs more radical reworking than just adding ‘live’ unless we’re going to rely on footnotes and illustrations.

Whether the fish is alive might make a difference to what the point of the whole chapter is supposed to be (depending on how one cooks a live fish), and so it may well make a difference to who I think the “two” in 8 are, and whether xiang 相 in 8 means “each other.” So my judgment is suspended on these points. Also I haven’t quite thought through the various rationales we’ve been thinking about recently (Mohists, Calpurnia, etc.) and what they’d imply for the hard lines. But if the understanding of the chapter is going to be roughly your understanding, which I think is pretty promising, then here’s how I’d put it this evening:

1 Governing a large state is like cooking a small fish.
2 When one attends to the world by the Way,
3 Its ghosts do not act.
4 It is not that they do not act;
5 It is that they do not harm anyone.
6 It is not that the ghosts do not harm anyone;
7 It is really that a sage does not harm anyone.
8 As these two do not partner in harming,
9 Their relations grow in moral strength.

I think the poetic quality of the DDJ is very stark and simple, as though William Blake had a tiny vocabulary. I love the way Lau’s translation of the DDJ brings that out. I don’t know how to begin lines 4-7 less clumsily while still fairly.

I agree that you and Manyul are well lined up in substance, except in the last line.

Does your ‘so’ the last line mean “consequently” (like ‘then’) or “in that way”?

‘So will’ is dysphonic, yes. But if I understand the Fowler you sent, it doesn’t permit your ‘shall’. Having spoken thus teasingly I now drop the matter into the grave.

Derek!

I think you may already have left this conversation for good. I blame myself – I thought I had already answered your big comment (which is more legible over in Two Bachelors)! In fact I had only skimmed it when too busy to answer right away. It’s a really wonderful contribution. In the end I’m skeptical of your Shandong scholar’s ideas, but a bunch of them were quite new and interesting. (Please forgive me if I repeat here things I might have said before; I’m losing track. I know you were reporting more than endorsing.)

“治大國、若烹小鮮 … both are alike [only] insofar as there is a Way (Tao) of [each].”
----That seems to trivialize the line pretty completely.

“I am starting to get interested in Lao Zi's views on the supernatural/superstition. Unless we find them in other sections of the 道徳経, I don't think we'll ever know which meaning of 鬼 he means.”
----The DDJ doesn’t use鬼 elsewhere, which sort of fits your idea that every claim this chapter makes about them it immediately withdraws.

“The author writes that 傷 has the same meaning as 妨碍 fang2 ai1 ("get in the way of", "obstruct", the archaic usage of "frustrate").”
----Interesting! He must mean in this chapter specifically, not in general.

“非其神不傷人、聖人亦不傷人、夫兩不相傷: Bill's favourite line :)”
----It haunts me!

“‘Not only will the works-of-evil-doers(神)not get in the way of the people(不傷人), but enlightened/learned persons will also(亦)not get in the way of the people.”
----I don’t see what in the text of the line allows us this ‘only’. Furthermore: the parallel between this line and line 4 is as conspicuous as any parallel ever was. To avoid inconsistency, the Shandong author would have to add an ‘only’ into line 4 too. But he probably didn’t, because that would yield this:

4 Not only do the ghosts not haunt,
5 Their haunting doesn't get in anyone’s way.

Thus the Shandong reading implies that the chapter was written both wrongly and badly. Wrongly because the words of 6 turn out to say approximately the opposite of what they mean, and badly because the hugely salient parallelism between 34 and 56 turns out to involve no parallel.

“Get in the way of their doing what? Why, returning to the Way(道)things were before people started *DOING things*(無為), of course.”
----Here I grunt and snort unreasoningly.

“I think most of us have been reading 夫兩不相傷 as part of a pair with 故徳交歸焉, but this suggests that the three lines that make up the heading above form one complete coherent point. To whit, 神 does not get in the people's way, 聖人 do not get in the people's way, they *both* do not get in the people's way.”

-----I think actually the Shandong reading of 8 has been the most popular in our little group. It’s hard to reconcile with 6 though. If we don’t cram an ‘only’ into 6, then one possibility is that 8’s point is that the sage and the people don’t harm each other. This reading fits the words of the text, which should count for something.

“According to the author, the 辭海 (an authoritative Chinese dictionary) gives as one meaning of 鬼 ‘people who (would) do evil/wrong(悪)’.”
----I suspect that’s not an ancient meaning but rather a more recent metaphor, as in ‘yang guizi’ (foreign devils). But I’m not sure. It opens up the possibility that 678 means “It’s not that the rascals don’t harm others. But a sage surely doesn’t harm others. So these two don’t harm each other.” There was a while when I was keen on the idea that the chapter was making this point kinda metaphorically, the ghosts standing for Dangerous Social Elements. I called them “bogeymen” and Peony took to drink. I’ve been drifting away from thinking that this idea is close enough to the surface that “these two” in 8 can really be the sage-govt and the people.

“Every historical person who has ever been called a great philosopher (except for the postmodernists) talks about this ineffable state of being (of course, they each have their own definition of what this exactly is)”
-----I respectfully disagree … :p

“If we only just keep really, really still... not even breathe”

PEONY WINS

Alas! I can find no evidence in ancient texts that 逝 meant or even suggested “die” in early times. Rather, it’s used for “go” in places where one might hesitate to use it if it could suggest “die”. I think that kills the play-on-words theory of the passage from the Mencius. Perhaps the idea was just that the pond-keeper was (imprudently) proud of his elaborate deception.

And I can’t find any other evidence in ancient texts of cooking fish alive. (I can find reference to chopping up live fish (zu sheng yu 俎生魚) at rituals. At least those fish weren’t boiled alive.) In my opinion this kills the idea that the DDJ might contemplate that the fish went alive into the pan or pot.

But I don’t think it kills every whiff of an association between the fact that cooking a fish involves treating a dead thing delicately (a thing one has presumably killed) and the idea of ghosts (or perhaps rather, the dead) not being very much provoked.

Fish may not have been cooked alive, but there’s an awful lot of ancient talk of boiling people. Mostly about boiling one’s enemies or unsatisfactory advisers, rather than criminals. One fellow failed to die after three days of boiling. “Put the lid on,” he suggested. That worked.

5 dings indicate a high official. I'm not sure what the line means. Maybe "If you're unwilling to keep me at a 5-ding pay grade [i.e. listen to me and respect me], then [chop off my limbs and] boil me in 5 dings."

The Han Shu 漢書 puts the line in a slightly different context:
尊立衛皇后及發燕王定國陰事,偃有功焉。大臣皆畏其口,賂遺累千金。或說偃曰:“大橫!”偃曰:“臣結髮游學四十餘年,身不得遂,親不以為子,昆弟不收,賓客棄我,我阨日久矣。丈夫生不五鼎食,死則五鼎亨耳!吾日暮,故倒行逆施之。”

Bill, I decided to respond over at Gialbo's place-- since that is where all this began. Everything is in the final 2 comments there-- including the Fable of the Rat!

Be sure to see my last notes dated 10/30 in the Rokujo Post above. They appear after my final "Blue Version" of the Passage. I am extremely fond of the 5 dings quote-- as of course, I'm crazy about dings in general!

I will be giving this poem one final shot later. So stay tuned for the final dark khaki version!

Over and out, Peony

Ruling a realm?
Like frying a fish:
Do it by the Dao.
Goblins won’t trouble,
Hobgoblins won’t gobble.
If they gobble or hobble,
Don’t make it double!
Leave it alone,
They’ll go home.

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