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27 October 2013
Great music is lost on the ears of country folk, but play them “Felling the Willow” or “Bright Flowers” and they break into a grin. In the same way, lofty words make no impressions on the minds of the common people. A high-fallutin’ message will not get through to them. It will be drowned out by coarse talk.
This is an extract from the concluding section of Chapter 12 (“Heaven and Earth” 《天地》) of the Chinese Taoist classic “Chuang Tzu” (《莊子》, which is also transliterated as “Zhuangzi”).
The translation owes a little to “The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu” translated by Burton Watson and published by Columbia University Press in 1968.
The philosopher Chuang Tzu is traditionally said to have lived from 369 to 286 BC, but the work cited dates in something like its present form from the beginning of the Han dynasty in 206 BC. In the passage quoted Chuang Tzu was having a dig at the po-faced moralistic teachings of his arch-rival, the earlier sage Confucius, whose pontifications, according to Chuang Tzu, went over the heads of most of those who listened to him. Confucius 《孔子 》(also transliterated as “Kongzi”) is said to have lived from 551 to 479 BC.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.