Cook Ting put down his knife and said, 'What your servant loves best is the Tao, which is better than any art. When I started to(trans. Martin Palmer)
Cook Ting put down his knife and said, 'What your servant loves best is the Tao, which is better than any art. When I started to cut up oxen, hat I saw was just a complete ox. After three years I had learnt not to see the ox as whole. Now I practise with my mind, not with my eyes. I ignore my sense and follow my spirit. I see the natural lines and my knife slides through the great hollows, follows the great cavities, using that which is already there to my advantage. . . .' (23, ch3)
'We can point to the wood that has been burned, but when the fire has passed on, we cannot know where it has gone.' (24, ch3)
'This tree is certainly good for nothing,' said Tzu Chi. 'This is why it has grown so large. Ah-ha This is the sort of uselessness that sages live by. . . .' (34, ch4)
'If you look at things in terms of their difference,' replied Confucius, 'then the liver and gall are as different as the states of Chu and Yueh; howeer, study them from the perspective of their sameness, and all life is one. This is what this master does. Such a man is not guided by his eyes and ears, instead he lets his heart decide what is harmonious in its Virtue. He observes the unity and does not see that which is lost. He considers the loss of his foot as being like a lump of earth thrown away.' (38-9, ch5)
Small-minded people just cannot see that hiding smaller things in larger things does not mean they will not be stolen. If you take everything under Heaven and try to store it under Heaven, there is no space left for it to be lost in! This is the real truth about things. TO have a human form is a joyful thing. But in the universe of possible forms, there are others just as good. Isn't it a blessing to have these uncountable possibilities! The sage goes where nothing escapes him, and rests contented there with them. (50, ch6)
'I learned it through the medium of the spirit of writing; writing learned it from the offspring of continuous study; continuous study learned it from clarity of vision; clarity of vision heard it from quiet agreement; quiet agreement from being used; being used from great enjoyment; great enjoyment from deepest mystery; deepest mystery from absorption in mystery; absorption in mystery from the ultimate.' (52, ch6)
'They have truly become one with the Maker of All and now wander as the original breath of Heaven and Earth. They view life as a grotesque tumour, a swelling they inhabit. They view death as the removal of this growth.' (55, ch6)
Eccentric Chieh Yu said, 'That would ruin Virtue. If someone tries to govern everything below Heaven in this way, it's like trying to stride through the seas or cut a tunnel through the river or make a mosquito carry a mountain. When a great sage is in command, he doesn't try to take control of externals.' (61, ch7)
Change and Dramatic said, 'Everyone has seven orifices so they can see, hear, eat and breathe. Chaos does not have these. Let us bore some holes into him.' Each day they bored a hole into Chaos ... but on the seventh day Chaos died. (64, ch7)
In situations like this world-wide, if someone makes sacrifices for reasons of benevolence and righteousness, people call such a person a nobleman, a gentleman; if someone makes such sacrifices for wealth and power, then people call such a person a mean and petty man! The action of sacrifice is one and the same, yet we call one a gentleman and the other a petty man! In terms of sacrificing his life and harming his true nature, Robber Chih and Po Yi did the same. (69, ch8)
If the sage does not die, then great thieves will continue to arise. The more sages are brought forth to rule the world, the more this helps people like Robber Chih. Create weights and measures to judge by and people will steal by weight and measure; create balances and weights and people will steal by balances and weights; create contracts and legal agreements to inspire trust and people will steal by contracts and legal agreements; create benevolence and righteousness to ensure honesty and even in this instance benevolence and righteousness teach them to steal. (78, ch10)
'. . . If they tried to understand this, they would depart from this. Ask not for its name, seek not for its shape. So all life comes to birth through itself.' (88, ch11)
The Tao is perpetually One but needs to be modified. Heaven is spiritual but also practical.
So the sages contemplate Heaven but do not assist it. They are concerned to perfect their Virtue but do not allow it to encumber them. . . . . . . . They make use of things and do not dismiss them lightly. True, things are worthless but they must be used. (90, ch11)
By nature he is superior to others, but he can exploit what heaven gives him. He would try to prevent flaws, but he does not understand where they spring from. Make him the equal of Heaven? Beware, for he would rely upon others rather than on Heaven, caring for his on self first, and having little regard to the lives of others. He would pursue knowledge, and his actions would be like swift fire. He would be in bondage to his own ideas, in thrall to them, constantly looking all around to see how things are going. He would be at the mercy of demands, changing as they change and having no dependability at all. How could he be the equal of Heaven? (95, ch12)
The gardener was furious, then laughed and said, 'I have heard from my teacher that where you have machines, then you get certain kinds of problems; where you get certain kinds of problems, then you find a heart warped by these problems. Where you get a heart warped, its purity and simplicity are disturbed. When purity and simplicity are disturbed, then the spirit is alarmed and an alarmed spirit is no place for the Tao to dwell. It isn't that I don't know of these machines, but I would be ashamed to use one.' (99, ch12)
Similarly, ise words do not rest in the hearts of the people. Perfect words do not stay, because vulgar words are in the ascendant. Two basic drums can drown out the sound of the bell and deny the pleasure it could give. These days the whole world is confused. Even if I wanted to go in a particular direction, what good would it do? Since I understand this, if I were to try and force people to go my way, that would just be to fall into a delusion of my own. It is better just to let things be and not force them. If I don't get into such struggles, I shan't have anything to worry about. A leper has a son born at night-time and he rushes to find a light to look at him. His eagerness to see is based on his fear that the child will look like him. (103-4, ch12)...more
Itaya's characters are wonderfully lifelike, given the oddly formal world in which they move--a world of grave and subtle courtships, fragile longingsItaya's characters are wonderfully lifelike, given the oddly formal world in which they move--a world of grave and subtle courtships, fragile longings, and whispered, apologetic mysticism. If they are all to some extent comic, like self-important, troubled children viewed by a wise and loving grandmother, they are comic because their universe is comic, that is, ever-threatening but secretly serene. (xxiv)
"I suspect that you are perhaps a renowned robber. The way of stealing and the way of music may have something in common. You seem not to realize it yourself, but from my observation you are better suited to be a musician than to be a robber. Listen. Wouldn't you like to become my disciple?" (8, "The Robber and the Flute")
"Your story is an extraordinary one," he said. "You may rely on me. I will do everything I can. To attempt an adventure into the world where no light reaches may also mean my own salvation." (108, "Chikubu Island") ...more
Language exists because nothing exists between those who express themselves. All language is therefore a language of prayer. Held in the dark, without sLanguage exists because nothing exists between those who express themselves. All language is therefore a language of prayer. Held in the dark, without sleep. Faith
is the confession that there exists that wherein one is faithless. Wherein faith isolates a position of value there exists two essential hells. The on you are in.
And so we distort the arts themselves to curry favor for them with the machines. The machines are the inventions of Westerners, and are, as we might eAnd so we distort the arts themselves to curry favor for them with the machines. The machines are the inventions of Westerners, and are, as we might expect, well sutied to the Western arts. (9)
I have written all this because I have thought that there might still be somewhere, possibly in literature or the arts, where something could be saved. I would call back at least for literature this world of shadows we are losing. In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them. (42)...more
It was not until I wrote "Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather" that I began to understand that in Chinese reality, memory and ifrom "Without Isms"
It was not until I wrote "Buying a Fishing Rod for My Grandfather" that I began to understand that in Chinese reality, memory and imagination are manifested in the eternal present, which transcends grammatical concepts and hence constitutes a time-transcending flow of language. For thoughts and perceptions, consciousness and the subsconscious, narration, dialogue and soliloquy, and even the alienated consciousness of the self, I turn to tranquil contemplation rather than adopting the psychological or semantic analysis of Western fiction, and unity is achieved through the linear flow of language. (69)
Rather than the starting point of modern literature, Nietzsche's Superman should more accurately be seen as the end point of romanticism. Kafka's self is a more accurate depiction of modern man. After him, a brilliant analysis of the self is to be found in some hundred thousand lines of posthumously published poetry by the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa. (75)
As a writer I strive to position myself between the East and the West, and as an individual I seek to live at the margins of society. In this era in which, to use Liu Xiaofeng's words, the physical body ridicules the spirit, this is a better choice for me. (77)
from "Cold Literature"
This sort of literature of course did not just come into being today. Yet whereas in the past it mainly had to fight oppressive political forces and social customs, today it also has to do battle with the subversive commercial values of consumerist society. Its existence depends on the writer's willingness to endure loneliness. (79)
Cold literature is possible only if the pressures of politics and society can be escaped and a livelihood guaranteed. This is why it has been difficult for modern Chinese literature to be cold. (81)
from "Literature and Metaphysics: About Soul Mountain"
It is my view that the only responsibility a writer has is to the language he writes in. He can reform his creations as much as he wants, talk endlessly, write about nothing and play with the language, but he must respect the rules inherent in the language, otherwise there will be no art of language. (84)
In Soul Mountain, what is related via the three changing pronouns in different perceptions by the same subject, and this encapsulates the linguistic structure of the book. The third-person pronoun "she" is best described as the male subject's experiences and thoughts regarding the other sex, with whom a direct link is impossible. In other words, the book is a long soliloquy in which the pronouns keep changing. I prefer to call this a flow of language.
Language is inherently not concerned with logic. As an expression of the psychological activities of humankind, it simply follows a linear process as it seeks actualisation. Moreover, it does not obey the objective concepts of time and space that belong to the physical world. When the discussion of time and space is imported into linguistic art from scientific aims and research methods, that linguistic art is entirely reduced to trifling pseudo-philosophical issues.
By not indicating tense, the Chinese language better reflects the basic nature of language. Actualized in language, present, past and future are identical and indistinguishable, and are not emphasised by inflecting the verb; only the psychological processes of the narrator and the listener or reader are involved. Moreover, reality and imagination, memory and thought have (90) no strict demarcations but are integrated within the process of the narration, which acknowledges only this actualisation in language and is not concerned with the real world. (91)
My relationship with myself has nothing to do with self-worship. The almighty heroes who have replaced God with the self and those who have tragically expunged the self disgust me equally. Apart from myself, I am nothing.
What I experience are merely viewpoints or, one could say, narrative angles. I am a linguistic subject from whom perceptions arise. So my existence consists of narrating these perceptions. (92)
The importation of modern Western culture does not mean that contemporary Chinese literary creation will cut ties with its own cultural traditions. I am not anti-culture, but I reject the "searching for roots" label, because my roots have been under my feet from the time of my birth. It is simply a matter of how I understand these roots, including how I understand myself. (103)
from "The Modern Chinese Language and Literary Creation"
Does the Chinese language, past or present, have a stable grammatical structure? In Chinese, words are made up of single characters, and the gender, number and case inflections found in Western languages do not exist. Nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives can automatically function as different parts of speech. Verbs do not conjugate: there are no distinctions of time, voice or mood, so there are no morphological changes to indicate the past, present or future, direct or indirect speech, condition or supposition. Subject and predicate are not always determined by word order, so there can be considerable freedom. The subject is often dispensed with, and it can be difficult to distinguish between a sentence without a subject and a sentence without a pronoun. Active and passive voice, and present and past participles do not exist. Relative clauses do not require conjunctions, and compound sentences have no time or voice restrictions. The relationship between words or between sentences does not require grammatical collocation, and is often concealed by implication and by the tone of words or sentences. (107)
Literary creation is also a way of life. Through writing, an author gets closer to the truth of his own life and to an understanding of himself and the world. What every writer searches for, it should be said, is simply a unique language that he can use to express his own feelings. It is quite normal to find differences in literary language among the large numbers of writers who write in the same language; the only thing they have in common is that they are all bound by the grammatical rules of that language. (120) . . . . In fact, during the process of writing there is much that is not written into a work. Language can only articulate a minute portion of a person's feelings; a huge part is lost. For this reason, I believe what I write is still far removed from what I actually feel, but I can only try to use language to get as close as possible to this truth. (122)
from "The Necessity of Loneliness"
It is only when a child is alone that he starts to become an adult, and it is only when a person is alone that he can achieve maturity. . . . . To an ever greater extent, loneliness is a prerequisite for freedom. Freedom depends on the ability to reflect, and reflection can only begin when one is alone. . . . . When ideologies, trends in thinking, fashions or crazes are all-embracing, it is being lonely that affirms the individual's freedom. (165)...more
Deploy your heart past its range. That sound is not the heart beating. It stammers. The goal of love is to be unmfrom "Long Distance Love--Can It Work?"
Deploy your heart past its range. That sound is not the heart beating. It stammers. The goal of love is to be unmastered.
This meat is still alive!
from "The Invisible Memoir"
Against authenticity. If the exotic is the sensuous enigma, no sensuousness. Zero lyricism of food, night markets, Chinese customs, nature. No use of the appositive, the clause that annotates a noun (e.g., "the clause that annotates a noun").
. . .
When translator Herbert Giles compares this "to the German notion that the spirit of the dead mother, coming back at night to suckle the child she has left behind, makes an impress on the bed alongside the baby," we may argue that he divulges an appositive desire--the desire to contextualize. While Giles aims only to renovate the scope of the sentence, widening his focus from a Chinese romance to a nursing mother in Germany, it seems also accurate to say that he describes the weight of the past as it hangs behind each object, thick and transparent. The appositive is the noun's ghost.
. . .
I think we become adults when we cannot explain our life to anyone without using appositives.
. . .
All I want is to tell you stories about my life.
For each new friend we make, the past becomes an unintended secret. An invisible hallway unfolds behind each friend's body, hidden from view by that friend's newness. It makes me lonely....more