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The Taoist Tradition; Monday, Wednesday 10:00 a.m.
Professor Lee
12/14/2012
Daodejing of Laozi, Chapter 38 (First chapter, due to a Chinese man’s inability to arrange bamboo sticks) Much of this text is contradictions, e.g. the virtuous thing to do is not to strive for virtue Confucians are the intended audience (scholars who read certain preconfucian classics); very few people are even literate Written by somewhat-countercultural beatnik equivalents

A dao which can be daoed is not a real dao
Text is not particularly long, but is quite dense
Broad feeling more important than specific words
Confusions think highest virtue is benevolence
Good life is simple and lacking in curiosity; scripted thought is not true thought Bring in images for next week
Child falling down well analogy; when we see child falling down well, decision to help is not based on want to make child happy, &c. childlike heard, which we must grow and develop The Daodejing is not a text in isolation; is a minimalistic text The Daodejing thinks that you needn’t grow; you, like unhewn wood, are fine the way you are Hsun Tzu thinks that human nature must be worked on furiously to improve itself Ch. 12- you needn’t indulge anything but your most basic desires (the chase in the hunt) The Daodajing believes in laissez faire approach to life & morals chief executioner analogy Book of Songs

Dealt with daily life, e.g. love, harvest, government, &c.
Interpretation very important because it’s a bit curious reading a Fifty Shades of Gray Precursor written by Confucius Southern religious practice and its reflections in Chu ci, The Lyrics of Chu

Seventeen Lyrics (meant to be sung)
All come from the State of Chu, C. 260 B.C. very sophisticated, albeit Southern, state
South of china lush landscape, verbose prose, references to goddesses, shamanism (差不多 medicine men), water goddesses, flowery language, &c.
Shamans kicked out of Zhou court by those who subscribed to Confucius’ philosophy, but still going strong in the South
Language of love comes roughly from shamans courting goddesses who have all the answers shamans usually either unsuccessful or only momentarily successful Qu Yuan (C. 340-278 B.C.)
Poet cultural icon (dragon boat festival meant to commemorate his suicide by drowning; symbolically rushing to save him)
His good advice is ignored by the ruler and he is exiled despair (political; sees his state fall into total chaos because king didn’t listen to him though he was right) tone for his lyrics
Represent dark side to Confucius’ light vis-à-vis politics
Song Yu (3rd century B.C., similar to Qu Yuan, some say was a nephew, also wrote poetry; first poet to write melancholy poems about autumn, falling leaves, &c. metaphorically universally represent death, the end of a dynasty, the end of an era, life having passed you by, &c.)

More than four characters per line more description, storytelling, adjectives Illustrated Lisao
Focus on 162-169 of Lisao for today’s comment; pick out imagery, voice of the speaker, what you think of Chu Yuan, and other characteristics of the poem we’ve discussed Nine Songs
Introduced new precedent in Chinese eroticism
Main influences == tristia (complaints of unhappiness) and itineraria (the wanderings of the poet through the heavens and across the earth Wang Bi version of the DaoDaJing provided commentary
226 to 249 A.D.
Different translations of the Daodajing differ significantly because original text lacked punctuation, &c.

Confucius say: man who make mistake in elevator wrong on many levels Li Sao fragrant plants and fair lady imagery have been integrated into modern Chinese culture veiled frustration thru political poetry Taoism believes that heaven mirrors earth; is a polytheistic, bureaucratic religion

Many female deities
Deities change with time and location
Ritualistic
Eight immortals
The yellow emperor (差不多 emperor of...
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