Alo and De Pompous
(PD) Alo and De Lake on Land.
Copyright ©2018 October 13, 2018
De: My grin... Alo... he groans more, lately...
Yan: Oh? May I ask why?
Alo: Ah, I have returned to attempting to make sense of ancient words... the old words, as defined within today's new words, often make no sense. It is understandable and necessary that an ancient culture's use of words cannot be accurately translated into today's words, but, still, it should still be possible to glean a general concept of what the words likely pointed at. Some of the ancient sentences are so drastically different, that they cannot possess sense in today's language, regardless of how the words are arranged or translated.
Yan: Understandable... each generation of today, cannot grasp the meanings of words of the previous generation's, nor of the younger generation's... more-so would it be almost impossible to grasp what an ancient culture's words might have meant.
Alo: Agreed... and I laugh at myself for attempting the impossible, but, still, the attempt is interesting to me... fun... something new... a new way of expressing old thoughts. Take for example two common ancient words... jun and zi... jun was often used to refer to a gentleman, a lord, monarch, noble, a superior person, and zi was used to infer a child, seed, small thing, son... in west cultures, they often combine the two words into one... junzi... which has become as if a slang word that implies a noble prince, an ideal person, the type of person that is regarded as being of favorable inner qualities. To us, today, the word 'superior' is an offensive word... today, 'superior' is almost always associated with vanity, social class, and a not-smart manner of judging people's occupations to be the sole measure of a person's value. For a long time I have chosen instead to refer to 'junzi' as 'quality man'... the general concept remains reasonably close, but without my uncarefully using words that cannot be true, and of my not uncarefully accepting social status to be a mark of one's quality. Now, about a hundred years ago, a man to the east, in the ancient sentence that I am currently struggling with, the man translated 'junzi' to infer 'scholar', which, of course, is wrong in all ways. However, the man's own history helps to explain his purposeful error... the man himself was a scholar, the man himself believed that the memorizing of many words in an eastern school would make a person superior, and also, the man worshipped an eastern ideology... the man had no love for western ideologies. Also, the sentence's words include ideas of 'weighty knowledge', which the eastern man translated to imply 'grave', and the man then created his translated sentences to include the concept that a junzi ought to be pompous, high, mighty, superior, aloof, a master of a school topic because of a junzi memorizing many words.
Yan: Ah, yes, the normal way of outsiders'... but, that way is obviously incorrect.
Alo: Yes, precisely, but... the scholar-man himself proved that he had no knowledge of the things that he claimed to be truth... he himself was grossly ignorant of the topic that he wrote of... and too, the scholar not only presented the idea that a junzi, a quality man, ought to be pompous, the scholar, as well, wrote that a junzi ought not accept anyone to be his friend, nor be his companion, unless the other person was the junzi's equal.
Yan: Wow, yes, very pompous... self-glory... to not be a friend with a person that is not similar as one's self, that is, well, just ignorant... no one is the same, nor equal... and if the junzi had mastered a topic to a greater degree than anyone else, then, according to the east man, then it could not be possible for the junzi to have any friends... that makes no sense.
Alo: To me neither... and so, what I chose was to begin my translation by first establishing what the first words meant in the first sentence... 'junzi'... quality man... and then, all of the sentences' following words must harmonize with what 'junzi' means... chidao.
Yan: Sounds reasonable...
Jun: Junzi... fist fist to bosom... not change to fit place...
Alo: Yes, precisely, which that alone states that the junzi could not have behaved as the east man claimed... a junzi will not change his behavior just because he has learned a quantity of knowledge. The general sentences' words fall into a modern pattern of saying 'Quality man not weighty-serious, then not dominate topic, then not strong master loyal trustworthy, not-have companion as-if oneself in. Firsthand-experience, then do-not evade improve'. The original words hold within them phrases that are unknown today, but were relevant to the ancient era... but, the sentences appear reasonable if junzi is first permitted to be of good inner qualities... a modern way of speaking might say 'If a quality man is not serious in his way, then he will not encompass the topic of way, then not be a strong master who is loyal and trustworthy, nor have a companion of mastery like one's self. Live the firsthand experience, do not evade self-improvement'.
Yan: Sounds reasonable... to us, the interpretation makes sense, although, of course, the phrases are indeed not what we are accustomed to hearing today.
Alo: One eastern translation wrote 'Superior man not important, then not dominate-prestige, doctrine then not strong. Master, loyalty, trustworthy, not have companion as-good-as oneself in. Mistake then must-not shirk improve'. The eastern scholar-man wrote 'If the scholar be not grave, he will not call forth any veneration, and his learning will not be solid. Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. Have no friends not equal to yourself. When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them'.
Yan: Wow, the scholar was indeed pompous... full of himself... the scholar's words, like the use of 'grave', which implies a fake voice and fake mannerisms, not of a good heart... I know very little of the topic, but I can so very easily spot numerous contradictions within the scholar's words...
Alo: Yes, very easy... but look also... the eastern scholar wrote of himself, of how he believed that scholars should behave... grave, hunger for other people's veneration of himself, aloofness of not associating with anyone except those of similar arrogance as himself... pomposity, self-importance, pretentiousness, snobbiness, haughtiness, self-grandeur, grandiosity... of truly believing that he himself could have few faults...
De: Not what junzi do...
Alo: And right there, De and Jun know more of the topic than what any eastern scholar has ever known, and, also, De and Jun know more of the topic than what the ancient cultures permitted... the ancient cultures were prejudiced against females, only giving preference to males... and there, right there, is more understanding of the topic than what can be found within any school... the firsthand experience is always the dao of understanding... De, and Jun, they both make void and prove unlearned all eastern scholarly translations.
Yan: Interesting question... to me, it seems to place an answer of whom is pompous... the scholars, masters, teachers, businessmen, politicians, philosophers of all world ideologies... to whom would they venerate, or say of whom should be venerated? Themselves, or our wives?
Alo: Ha! Excellent observation! Themselves of course!
Jun: Same for me...
Alo: My laughter... here is firsthand proof... quality individuals do not and cannot accept veneration of themselves... the east scholar's translation is nonsense, invention, untruths, vainglory, pompous nonsense, unworthy of being read... the east scholar was among the least educated of all people, as well as among the least worthy of veneration.
Yan: And yet, I would expect, that many, many people have read and believed in the scholar's translation...
Alo: My sigh... yes... true...
Yan: But now, which is the better choice? Might the original sentences been what the scholars claim? If so, then what does that say about the sentences themselves? Of the people that I met to the west, they were very bright, aware, conscious, mindfully caring, and very much thinking... I have difficulty believing that the people would accept a writing if it so openly contradicted itself.
Alo: I share a similar opinion... no books of ideals would survive thousands of years, and be followed by billions of smart people, if the words were as contradictory as the east scholars wrote... and, so, my opinion, is that I know that my translation is poor... I know that the scholars' translations are destructive... I know that the ancient authors could not put all their thoughts into a few short sentences... and, so, I will leave the sentences to be unknowns for the moment, while also giving honor and respect to the original texts... not blame others for my own unknowing.
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Updated October 13, 2018
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