Monday 7 March 2011

The Tao

So much has happened since January:  Zen retreat - definitely no writing then - two issues of the Bulletin published, one visitor for ten days, another for one night, a book launch organised at Temple, two sermons written - there is something to show for the time spent, but I've not been writing here.

Am sporadically re-reading Per Pettersen's I curse the River of Time, third time round - I am sure that his book's message is clear to a literate Norwegian - as an outsider, I feel the need to research the hints that are there - the name of the ship, the films which impressed the main characters, the books they read. It is frustrating and satisfying at the same time - I'm spending a lot of time with it, contentedly. For some reason, the hopelessness of the main character, who drowns his gifts in alcohol, does not affect me. I am interested in how Pettersen manages to draw the reader into the book. It is a masterpiece.

Bought the Tao Te Ching in a swap of books at a 2nd hand bookstore; I'd lost the copy I'd bought in the 70s in Amsterdam, probably in that marvellous bookshop Au bout du monde...This not-so-new copy is ostensibly for P, who is discovering the Tao via his Chinese student, - they are discussing the Tao in English together, as an exercise in pronounciation, having finished Confucius' Analects during their first year. An interesting process.

I find this Tao Te Ching particularly beautiful, (translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, with lovely photographs, Vintage Books, Random House, 1972) though P reports that Jian Liang does not always agree with the translation. My friend Helen was interested, so searched out a copy for her on the Web and came to realise that it must have been a popular edition, because copies are available all over the place.

This edition includes the Chinese, written in calligraphy and I spent several peaceful hours one afternoon absorbed in working out what the ideograms meant...except that I should be working.

So in a guilty surge of energy, finished the translation I was working on and sent it off for feedback. End of Stage One, the longest part. Now I have to wait to hear back.

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