Owledge

Opinions on Ron Hogan's "Tao Pamphlet"?

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This modern interpretation kinda grew on me, and I am wondering how it is perceived by various people who have read different versions of the DDJ.

Also wondering how known this one actually is by now, since it is many years old.

 

Tao Te Ching - a modern interpretation (by Ron Hogan, 2002, 2004)

http://www.beatrice.com/TAO-pamphlet.pdf

 

Apart from this one I only read the German Richard Wilhelm version, but that was long ago and I never really compared the two.

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Read thru it a littleand did not really appeal to me.

 

I think language and manner of expression is a generational thing. Words and idioms move in and out of our speech by ages. Being an old dog, the language does not appeal to me. It will probably be appealing to a younger set.

 

Language and idiom aside, I would be concerned that some of the original meaning is being lost. I have this concern about most modern versions of Laozi. The problem is where we cross the line from being a translation to being an interpretation. Original meaning, intent and practice may be getting lost in the interpretation.

 

Still, it can be personally instructive as an individual exercise for someone to go thru Laozi chapter by chapter and write down what they understand the passages to mean. That would be a perfectly valid way to approach Laozi. Many of us on TDB have done that mentally if not literally. We then often bring our understanding back to the forum to share and discuss. That way our understanding grows.

 

Good effort on your part. Especially in that the effort spanned such a long period of time.

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29 minutes ago, OldDog said:

The problem is where we cross the line from being a translation to being an interpretation.

As I understand the special nature of the Dao De Jing, things may be more prone to be lost in translation than in interpretation.

 

(I think that is what you hinted at with the rest of your comment: Taking things at face value would be completely missing the point.)

Edited by Owledge

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The very premise is odd:

"Anyway, I grabbed a couple other translations and started looking at the different ways they expressed the same sentiments--or, as I quickly discovered, how much poetic license Mitchell and other translators were willing to take with the original text. I don't think this necessarily matters all that much; many current English language versions are by people who don't know Chinese well, if at all, and I can't read or speak it myself. To that extent, then, we're *all* (unless we're fluent in Chinese, that is) at the mercy of, at best, a secondhand understanding of what Lao Tzu said."

This means two impediments are often there:

1. Not understanding Chinese, which is language this book is written in.

 

2. Not understanding Daoism.

 

 

So - not much going on.

 

Besides - why are people so interested in this DaoDeJing?

 

People in the West and modern people seem to think DaoDeJing is some kind of "manual" of "Daoist philosophy".

 

It's an assemblage. It's a manual for running a municipality that "features" some Daoist philosophy and some bits from an "Internal Training" text.

 

It is NOT a "manual" of Daoism.  Many concepts of Daoism do not even appear in it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-VonKrankenhaus

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2 hours ago, Owledge said:

... things may be more prone to be lost in translation than in interpretation.

 

I actually meant the opposite ... translation being more true to the tradition than interpretation. I guess the clarification is in what is meant by translation vs interpretation.

 

Translators are attempting to render the work from the original source Chinese into some other language. That would require knowledge of Chinese and its ancient usage, understanding of the cultural and historical context and the philosophical and religious traditions of the times. I think the likelihood of loss is lesser under this sort academic rigor.

 

Interpretation does not necessarily require the above. Interpretation can be done based on other sources and levels of academic effort. Interpretations are often influenced by poetic license and other belief systems. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it is clear that the rendering is of this type. It can be quite useful depending upon what the reader is looking for.

 

 

 

 

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thanks for sharing...  I found it an easy speak, plain language, street talk version...   I smiled through many chapter translations.  I get where he is coming from and if it attracts some to look deeper at the DDJ, then that's good.  

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