It seems the old archive link to David Hinton’s translation of the Tao Te Ching has finally been gobbled up. As I’ve indicated earlier, I think it is worth having a copy of this, for its lineaments of thinking that use a poetisized rendering of meanings to cut through to intensely formed spaces of abstraction – that bring those abstractions through next to simple gems of resonance and possibility.
While checking for the old online link, I found an interesting download site (ad supported) that quotes (and reminds) as to Hinton’s publisher blurb; a precision-tuned outline of his achievement in the translation.
If you follow the link, you will note precis of other versions of the Tao, a cornucopia of Dao de Ching versions. I have yet to read Ursula K. Leguin’s, but it is also there.
To quote: Having masterfully translated a wide range of ancient Chinese poets and philosophers, David Hinton is uniquely qualified to offer the definitive contemporary English version of Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Like all of his translations, Hinton’s translation of the Tao Te Ching is mind-opening, presenting startling new dimensions in this widely-influential text. He shows how Lao Tzu’s spirituality is structured around the generative life-force, for example, and that this system of thought weaves the human into natural process at the deepest levels of being, thereby revealing the Tao Te Ching as an originary text in deep feminist and ecological thought. Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching is not only the single most important text ever composed in China, it is probably the most influential spiritual text in human history. In the past, virtually all translations of this text have been produced either by sinologists having little poetic facility in English, or writers having no ability to read the original Chinese. Hinton’s fluency in ancient Chinese and his acclaimed poetic ability provide him the essential qualifications. Together, they allow a breathtaking new translation that reveals how remarkably current and even innovative this text is after 2500 years.
Nearly Side by side
As an aside, I also couldn’t help being struck something of the resonance between the image of this Dao translation’s cover and the cover the recent Fiction as Method anthology co-edited by Jon Shaw and featuring the excellent piece by Justin Barton (among many others) ‘Beyond Plato’s Cave: Escaping the cities of the interiority.’
I was partly fascinated by the way the dimension line on Fiction as Method, seemingly connects with the dimension depth of the natural world fissue rendered here similarly as a jag in the night, or the dark, a corner form of the line of the dragon wake(?).
I have been intending to return to reading Fiction As Method, which was derived from a superb 2015 day-long conference at Goldsmiths University where Jon works (and which was co-organised by Jon’s fellow editor on this work Theo Reeves-Evison).
It felt at the time that this is a profoundly important area of understanding that must be elucidated, fed, grown, intensified – and it still feels that way. That the incursions of the ‘fictional’ in our lives – and the myriad uncounted ways that this is happening and defined (or undefined) are profoundly different than we understand, are interlaced constantly and unstintingly with what we do not think of as fictional, or that fictions are in a way no different than the stories we tell ourselves of our lives, however real each may in fact be (or not).
Reading Jon and theo’s introduction alone was an absolute treasure of realisation as to how ideas of the fictional are necessarily couched and demarcated and yet effortly missing vital dimensions. As such and through work here by people like M John Harrison as well as the aforementioned Justin Barton piece, that we are not simply being dumped in a sea of re-contextualisation that places everything on the same, undifferentiated plane of immanence. There is a knowledge that navigations are necessary, even (or especially) in the changed and re-cast starscape of abstractions and that different callings upon of the fictional, with its differentialised locations and positionings are actually required.
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