Alo and De Difficult








Alo and De Difficult #43


Alo and De Difficult

(PD) Alo and De Lake on Land.

Larry Neal Gowdy

Copyright ©2018 October 19, 2018



Yan: This is crazy... only two sentences? But it is so difficult... and you do this for fun?

Alo: Ha! Yes... but the difficulties, are common for the ancient texts... I spent over a full day, searching words in dictionaries, writing definitions, then writing sentences in many different ways, thousands of words, attempting to make sense of the words... difficult.

Yan: First sentence, references a poem... the second sentence, obviously, is supposed to relate to the poem's topic... 'Poem say: "Appearance-reflect in you room, esteem not ashamed of room leak." Therefore junzi not move, yet respect, not explain, yet trust'. I have already tried numerous different ways of arranging synonyms... each sentence can be reasonable, but not both sentences together.

Alo: Yes... also common for the ancient texts...

Yan: But does the word 'move' imply a bodily movement, or to 'move from one residence to another'? The language of a different culture, they use the same word, but reference it to imply 'shaking', as in 'earthquake shaking building'... whichever interpretation we use, it changes the meaning entirely.

Alo: Yes, and why I wanted you to experience translating the ancient words... so that you will see firsthand how our language and the ancient language does not always have easy parallels. To come to better grasp the old words, it is us ourselves that must learn to think within different patterns... change our way of thinking, to be closer to the ancient culture.

Yan: I do understand your words now... my own firsthand experience is teaching me... hard lesson, but of value, and the puzzle is intriguing! I can now understand why this can be a lot of fun... ha! I cannot stop, I have to find the solution!

Alo: Ha! I laugh at myself now, because my first translation was actually the likely correct one, except, one of the words did not click... I then spent another day trying to force the unknown word to fit other possible meanings... I then tried changing other words' meanings to fit the unknown word... still not work... I made it hard for myself.

Yan: Puzzle to look closely at... the question is... is the thing seen, a small twig of a tree, or is the thing seen a walking-stick insect? As I now look at the words, the puzzle here, is similar... at first glance, unsure... give attention, study, look, accumulate information... the inwardly-felt intensities of focus and curiosity are similar... a question to be answered... life does not depend on the answer, but peace of mind would be so much more at ease knowing the answer.

Alo: Speak your thoughts out-loud, hear what they say, then reason what was heard.

Yan: Okay... the poem's first words appear to begin by speaking of self-reflection, of reciprocation of one's own appearance, which, to me, implies self-reflection, a self-study and critiquing of one's self. The second word seems to best fit our word 'in', as if pointing to a location. The third word appears to point to the person reading the poem, 'you'. The fourth word infers a location, a room or house. The fifth word appears to most reasonably point at 'esteem', 'value', and 'high reverence'. But here is where the words begin to contradict... the idea of 'self-esteem', or holding one's self with high reverence, does not exist for a quality man... a quality person does not hold a pompous opinion of himself... he does not have the thoughts nor the desire for veneration... and so already the sentence makes no sense to me.

Alo: Agreed... if the words were accepted as they were written, and as we interpreted, then the old writings would contradict themselves... the book's previous sentences spoke of a quality man being calm, gentle, centered... a quality man is not vain... no lofty self-esteem...

Yan: Precisely... and the sentence grows worse... 'not ashamed of house leak'... why would a quality man experience the emotion of being ashamed? And especially why would he be ashamed of a material thing? Even men who are merely with solid logic, they can have a leaking roof and yet not feel ashamed. Feeling ashamed for a little thing like that, is, just, irrational.

Alo: Ha! Agreed!

Yan: The second sentence only gets worse! The second sentence is supposed to somehow relate to the poem, but I can find no relationship, no parallel, not so much as a suitable metaphor of the poem's metaphor! 'Therefore junzi not act, yet respect'... the word 'respect' can also mean 'venerate', which, of course, cannot be what a junzi does, and this is driving me nuts! Either the book's text is a huge contradiction of itself, or I am simply not smart enough to see the obvious!

Alo: Ha! Ah, but you have already seen several other translations, given by men who are high priests of the words... allegedly the world's highest experts... were their words any better?



Yan: Ha! No! Worse!

Alo: My chuckles are of my already knowing the answers, but my having fun watching you asking similar questions that I had also struggled with and asked.

Yan: Cruel! Ha! But! I now must find the answer myself! This is fun! Now, the second sentence finishes by stating 'not discuss, yet, trust', or 'not discuss, yet 'believe', or 'yet venerate'. The last word could also mean 'evidence', as speaking about the roof leak. And here, both sentences fall apart... is the second sentence saying that a junzi is ashamed of a roof leak, yet he does not move from his room, and that the polite junzi does not discuss the roof leak with the room's owner, in spite of his having evidence? Is the room junzi's own? Is it a bedroom? A rented hotel room? A room at a friend's house? What room is being spoken of?!

Alo: Hahaha! Puzzles are difficult, when squares attempted to fit circles...

Yan: Ha! More cruel! But seriously, the other translations followed similar reasonings, of speaking about a junzi not being ashamed of his room if someone were to see inside his room... if the world's highest experts most all had similar interpretations, then surely the original words ought to at least be somewhat parallel... my unfamiliarity with the ancient language has left me unsure of my own thoughts... although, I am not unsure of what a junzi does... I know that a junzi does not feel the vain emotions that the sentences speak of.

Alo: And that is good... by holding firm the understanding of one's heart, the words then can become simple...

Yan: Ha! My thought is that the understanding made the words more difficult!

Alo: Begin again now... let the poem's words speak very simple... place yourself within the ancient culture... hear the words to be spoken by an ancient poem-writer... the ancient poem-writers were not junzies, the poem-writers were poem-writers... they did not know what junzi is... then add the sentence that knows what a junzi is...

Yan: Okay... then, keeping the words very simple... 'Image in your room, esteem not ashamed of room leak. So junzi not move, yet respect, not speak, but trust.' ... ... ... oh... really? Really? Can it really be that simple? The idea then is saying something like 'Painting of a venerated person, the painting in your room, the esteem of the venerated person is not ashamed nor lessened because of a room leak. So junzi painting not move, yet junzi respected, junzi painting not speak, but junzi trusted.' Ha! But that is now so obvious! And simple! I made it hard on myself for inserting ideas that the words never so much as hinted of!

Alo: Ha! I did similar! I devised numerous ways of presenting the sentences that made sense and were of harmony, but never did my words feel comfortable... 'dong', the word for 'move, act', it gnawed at me, it never permitted a comfortable harmony of any interpretation... but, when 'dong' is permitted to be precisely what it implies, then the other words become comfortable, at ease, of harmony... sensible to what is real within Nature.

Yan: And I also now understand why you have often said to study the original words for one's self first, before reading other people's translations. As I was trying to interpret the original words, my mind continued thinking of other people's translations, which caused me to unintentionally put the wrong meanings into my own words. The translation that harmed me most was the one that stated 'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "Looked at in your apartment, be there free from shame as being exposed to the light of Heaven." Therefore, the superior man, even when he is not moving, has a feeling of reverence, and while he speaks not, he has the feeling of truthfulness.' Another translation said something like 'The book of Poems said "If other people look in your room with the door open, there should be no disgrace." Junzi not act, yet he is respected by the people, junzi not speak, but the people trust him.' The other translations are similar... they speak of a literal house, and of people seeing inside of one's literal room... but, those translations never made any sense to me... why would the person speaking in the texts speak of a poem if the poem did not relate to the second sentence? But now I think I might better understand the two little sentences... just read the words as they were written... a poet wrote a poem, an ancient man used the poem's concept to be parallel to giving honor to a junzi... just that simple! And I made it so difficult on myself! Ha!

Alo: Ha! I am guilty also! But observe the other translations, of how the men made it difficult for themselves also... you have the advantage of knowing what a junzi is, and what a junzi does... the other translations were written by men who did not know... within their unknowing, they had to invent many fanciful ideas that appeared rational to the men, but none of the ideas were rational... the men could not grasp, that their words, and their own thoughts, made no sense.

Yan: If, on the wall of my room, I had a painting of Jun... as I gazed at the painting, my esteem for Jun would be huge... reverence, veneration, honor, respect... love... none of which would be lessened if there were a leak in the roof... Jun's painting, does not move, yet I honor her... Jun's painting, does not speak, yet I trust in her... real life, makes sense.

Alo: Yes... not difficult... Nature is real life... Nature is the standard of what is logical... experts' translations were formed upon the standards of the men's own unlearned imaginations, not judged by Nature's standard... not logical...