Now poetry
buxiebuxing
The mighty Zhang Shaomin

Children of the Cancer Village

In the places they call cancer villages
I've seen children sustaining cancers
With their underdeveloped bodies
Their parents and relatives
Were also nurturing the devil of cancer with their own bodies
Who released the devil of cancer in the village
The devil is bathing in their water
The devil's evil polluted the water
And polluted the lives of the people
Three meals a day are cooked in water the devil bathed in
And the devil forces the water to lead him
Into people's blood, bones, spirit
Childhood in the village is growing up with the devil
The devil ate the parents of the children, of childhood
And our hearts are sliced open and our tears are like rain
Those people, the bosses of the devil
They released the devil, kept the devil like a pet
The factories produce devils
The owners of the devils use high-priced mineral water in their mansions
To irrigate themselves and their children
Why do they flood the children of the village with death
Are the children of other people not children

癌症村的孩子

在那些被称为癌症村的地方
见到那些孩子居然用幼小的身体
养活着身上的癌症
他们的父母亲人
都在用自己的身体养活癌症的魔鬼
谁在村庄里把癌症的魔鬼放出来
魔鬼在水里面洗澡
魔鬼的邪恶污染了水
也就污染了人们的生活
魔鬼的洗澡水灌溉一日三餐
魔鬼在水里强迫水带路
去灌溉人的血液骨头心灵
村庄的童年与魔鬼一起成长
魔鬼吃孩子吃童年的父母
不禁让人心如刀绞泪如雨下
那些人,魔鬼的老板
他们放出了魔鬼把魔鬼当成宠物养
工厂生产魔鬼
魔鬼生产钱撑破主人的腰包
魔鬼的主人在别墅里用高档矿泉水
灌溉自己灌溉自己的孩子
为什么用死亡灌溉村庄的孩子
难道别人家的孩子就不是孩子

Now poetry
buxiebuxing
I feel it in my fingers, feel it in my toes. Time for some contemporary poetry. First up a beatiful thing from Yaya

Variations: Fragment

In front of a huge bathroom mirror
I very carefully
Put on…
A stainless steel bra
Plastic tank top
Rosewood miniskirt
Glass coat
Rubber tights
Concrete tall boots
Lastly, don't forget
That cute little paper bow hat.

You stand behind the mirror
Silent
You take a clear screwdriver
And methodically
Part by part, bit by bit
Disassemble me…

Finally I am
Just dust


变奏:片段

巨大的浴镜前
我小心翼翼
穿上----
不锈钢内衣
塑料背心
红木短裙
玻璃外套
橡胶连裤袜
水泥长筒靴
最后不忘戴上
亲爱的纸花小礼帽

你站在镜子背面
一语不发
拿着透明螺丝刀
不慌不忙,将我
一件一件,一点一点
拆下来......

我终于成了
一堆废土

(no subject)
buxiebuxing
I've been complaining about the lack of good poetry/fiction to read & translate, but of course there is plenty of good stuff there in the classics. I picked up Xu Zhimo and found this rather funky little Edgar Allen Poe stylee rickshaw horror-ride.

I wanted the three-rhythm to get that Poe flavour, but the rhythm of the rickshaw runner's legs is very strikingly kengqiang, staggering, faltering. So where I could keep a rhythm, I alternated iambs and anapaests: de-dum-de-de-dum-de-dum-de-de-dum.


Who knows
In the dark, late night, in a rickshaw home
With a tattered old fellow toiling
Not a star is seen in the sky
No lamps all along the way
The rickshaw’s little light
Spotlights the mud on the road
A jolt to the left, a jolt to the right
Stagger and stutter the old man’s steps
“I say, runner, why is the road so dark?”
“Not so, sir? This road is quite – quite dark!”
He pulls – pulls past a turning, pulls through an arch
Turns a corner, turns another, still sooty black
Not a star is seen in the sky
No lamps all along the way
The rickshaw’s little light
Picks out the mud on the road
A jolt to the left, a jolt to the right
Stagger and stutter the old man’s steps
“I say, runner, why is this road so still?”
“Not so, sir? This road is quite – quite still!”
He pulls – hard by a wall long as the Great Wall itself
Past a riverbank, turns into the dark, swaying countryside
Not a star is out in the sky
No lamps all along the way
The rickshaw’s little light
Swings on the muddy road
A jolt to the left, a jolt to the right
Stagger and stutter the old man’s steps
“I say, runner, why is there not a soul on this road?”
“That there are, sir, though you cannot see them so well!”
A chill spread in the marrow of my bones
Those bruises on darkness, ringing so near
Were they ghosts or were they alive?
Weeping and laughter seemed close by my ear
And there all around us graves!
Not a star alight in the sky
No lamps all along the way
The rickshaw’s little light
Ringing the muddy road
A jolt to the left, a jolt to the right
Stagger and stutter the old man’s steps
“I say – I say, runner, ho! This road, why…why is it so long?”
“Not so, sir? This road is quite – quite long!”
“But, you’re taking me home… Have you missed the way?”
“Who knows, sir! Who knows if we have lost our way or no!”
In the late, dark night, in a rickshaw home
Toiling before me are tatters just barely assembled
Not a star is bright in the sky
No lamps all along the way
The rickshaw’s little light
Lurches on the muddy road
A jolt to the left, a jolt to the right
Stutter and stagger the runner’s quick steps

谁知道

我在深夜里坐着车回家--
一个槛褛的老头他使着劲儿拉;
天上不见一个星,
街上没有一只灯:
那车灯的小火
冲着街心里的土——
左一个颠播,右一个颠播
拉车的走着他的踉跄步;
······
“我说拉车的,这道儿哪儿能这么的黑?”
“可不是先生?这道儿真——真黑!”
他拉——拉过了一条街,穿过了一座门,
转一个弯,转一个弯,一般的暗沉沉;---
天上不见一个星,
街上没有一个灯,
那车灯的小火
囊着街心里的土——
左一个颠播,右一个颠播。
拉车的走着他的踉跄步;
······
“我说拉车的,这道儿哪儿能这么的静?
“可不是先生?这道儿真--真静”
他拉——紧贴着一垛墙,长城似的长,
过一处河沿,转入了黑遥遥的旷野;---
天上不露一颗星,
道上没有一只灯:
那车灯的小火
晃着道儿上的土——
左一个颠播,右一个颠播,
拉车的走着他的踉跄步,
······
“我说拉车的,怎么这儿道上一个人都不见?”
“倒是有,先生,就是您不大瞧得见!”
我骨髓里一阵子的冷——
那边青缭缭的是鬼还是人?
仿佛听着呜咽与笑声——
啊,原来这遍地都是坟!
天上不亮一颗星, ;
道上没有一只灯:
那车灯的小火
缭着道儿上的土——
左一个颠播,右一个颠播
拉车的跨着他的踉跄步:
······
“我说——我说拉车的喂!这道儿哪……哪儿有这么的远?”
“可不是先生?这道儿真——真远!”
“可是……你拉我回家····你走错了道儿没有?”
“谁知道先生!谁知道走错了道儿没有!”
······
我在深夜里坐着车回家’,
一堆不相识的褴褛他,使着劲儿拉
天上不明一颗星,
道上不见一只灯:
只那车灯的小火
袅着道儿上的土---
左一个颠播,右一个颠播。
拉车的跨着他的蹒跚步。

Li Shangyin efforts
buxiebuxing
One of Larkin's meters is tetrameter quartets in an ABBA rhymescheme. Let's give that a go:

锦瑟无端五十弦,一弦一柱思华年。
庄生晓梦迷蝴蝶,望帝春心托杜鹃。
沧海月明珠有泪,蓝田日暖玉生烟。
此情可待万追忆,只是当时已惘然。

When she brings out the instrument, of course it's a Se zither. As she adjusts each of the 50 pegs to tune the fifty strings, it's like she is checking off the years of my life.
I was hit by a reversal powerful enough to give me whiplash, left spinning like that poor butterfly who woke up to find himself a grizzled philosopher. Who knows, maybe a metamorphosis is on the cards. Du Yu became a cuckoo after he lost his throne, the old lech.
The tears of the moon, pearls cast before catfish. From the other side of the ocean, the only taste of jade that we get is the heat haze that rises off it on warm days.
Who knows, perhaps one day all of these will acquire the sweetness of memory. But at the time, they are so very, very bitter.


The instrument has fifty strings
That count out my splendid life

The instrument has fifty strings
And pegs to tune their dissonance
She plays what should have been a dance
But seems to count me like tree rings

Fifty strings and fifty pegs
Unreasonably mock my age

Whiplashed like a butterfly
Who wakes to find he is a man
Was I lecherous enough
To be a cuckoo when I die?

A disappointed butterfly
Who ended a philosopher
But neither cad nor emperor
Enough to be a cuckoo when I die

A pearl cast into the sea
Like the teardrops of the moon
My gilded friend
The heat haze off sunny jade

The cruel sea in silver rays
That crystallize as tearful pearls
Above blue fields the precious curls
Are ghosts that dance in jade's heat haze

Perhaps
Memories
Is savour/flavour too obvious for the last verse?

Perhaps the zither's fifty strings
Will make memories to savour
But hard to credit when each flavour


Maybe, maybe... the length seems about right.

Coupla days later:
This is better for the first stanza:
The zither, when she brings it out
Has fifty strings, as if to say
Each tuning peg and note I play
Will count the years you've been alive
The butterfly was doomed to wake
A man. The failed king was doomed
To take his loving heart

The butterfly I dreamed was doomed
To wake as just a man. The boy
Who let his loving heart destroy
His throne, a cuckoo from the tomb

Li Shangyin
buxiebuxing
This is a work in progress, but here goes:

I started reading Li Shangyin in the San Bai Shou, and one of his particularly caught my eye. Of course, now I've gone and read around it, I find that it's caught everyone else's eye as well. One of his most famous and obscure poems, they say. Here it is:
锦瑟
锦瑟无端五十弦,一弦一柱思华年。
庄生晓梦迷蝴蝶,望帝春心托杜鹃。
沧海月明珠有泪,蓝田日暖玉生烟。
此情可待万追忆,只是当时已惘然。

It's a collection of allusions, thrown together in a way that can create an awful lot of different meanings. There's the standard confusion between politics and sex, for a start. But one thing I want to do is to work on its basic theme of disappointment. And where to turn for disappointment other than Philip Larkin? Here is Mr Bleaney:

This was Mr Bleaney's room. He stayed
The whole time he was at the Bodies, till
They moved him. Flowered curtains, thin and frayed,
Fall to within five inches of the sill,
Whose window shows a strip of building land?
Tussocky, littered. 'Mr Bleaney took
My bit of garden properly in hand'
Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook
Behind the door, no room for books or bags -
'I'll take  it.  So it happens that I lie
Where Mr Bleaney lay, and stub my fags
On the same saucer-souvenir, and try
Stuffing my ears with cotton-wool, to drown
The jabbering set jabbering set he egged her on to buy.
I know his habits - what time he came down,
His preference for sauce to gravy, why
He kept on plugging at the four aways -
Likewise their yearly frame: the Frinton folk
Who put him up for summer holidays,
And Christmas at his sister's house in Stoke.
But if he stood and watched the frigid wind
Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed
Telling himself that this was home, and grinned,
And shivered, without shaking off the dread
That how we live measures our own nature,
And at his age having no more to show
Than one hired box should make him pretty sure
He warranted no better, I don't know.

That sense of failure and resentment has a lot in common with the classical Chinese complaint poems, I think. Also, look at the respect for form. Larkin turned everyday language into perfect poetic form, in a way that many Tang poets were very interested in. And as for allusion: what is the Bodies? Where is Frinton? Larkin was no stranger to powerfully allusive language, though he was inclined more to modern references than to the archly classical.

So I see Larkin as a great model for translating complaint poetry, and 锦瑟 seems to be a rather good candidate. I haven't quite worked out how to do it yet - this particular Larkin form doesn't seem to be exactly the right shape: a pentameter couplet is too short to adequately hold a 7-character couplet, but a pentameter quatrain seems a bit padded. So I think I'll do a prose translation first, then try to work out some form later.

锦瑟无端五十弦,一弦一柱思华年。
庄生晓梦迷蝴蝶,望帝春心托杜鹃。
沧海月明珠有泪,蓝田日暖玉生烟。
此情可待万追忆,只是当时已惘然。

When she brings out the instrument, of course it's a Se zither. As she adjusts each of the 50 pegs to tune the fifty strings, it's like she is checking off the years of my life.
I was hit by a reversal powerful enough to give me whiplash, left spinning like that poor butterfly who woke up to find himself a grizzled philosopher. Who knows, maybe a metamorphosis is on the cards. Du Yu became a cuckoo after he lost his throne, the old lech.
The tears of the moon, pearls cast before catfish. From the other side of the ocean, the only taste of jade that we get is the heat haze that rises off it on warm days.
Who knows, perhaps one day all of these will acquire the sweetness of memory. But at the time, they are so very, very bitter.

The challenge is to put enough into the allusions to support some readings, without overbalancing the poem, or making them too explicit. Li throws them together very lightly. Every copy of this poem has a critical apparatus stretching over pages, because each of these stories requires explanation. So it may be impossible, but I'm reasonably hopeful.

The disappointed butterfly who woke
A philosopher.

Another Du Fu poem
buxiebuxing
Alright, here’s another Du Fu poem which seems to be pretty cool, but factors conspire to make me worry that it’s not…
又发现了一首自己觉得很有创意的诗,又有各种原令我担心自己的理解有误:

白帝城中云出门,白帝城下雨翻盆。
高江急峡雷霆斗,翠木苍藤日月昏。
戎马不如归马逸,千家今有百家存。
哀哀寡妇诛求尽,恸哭秋原何处村。

When they brew up clouds in White Emperor city, the rain drenches everyone below
Up in the high river, they lob thunderbolts back and forth; it blocks out the sun for the poor old trees and vines
The returned horses are wilder than battle chargers now, because only a hundred out of every thousand families are still here
Widows are weeping everywhere, bitter crying on the autumn plain, from village after village…


The coolness comes from the weather metaphor. It just looks very obviously like a complaint about the gods – they have their petty disputes up on Olympus, and we Greeks end up at war for ten years. Up in Baidi the clouds come out, and down in the plain we get pissed on. Up in the high gorges they play with thunderbolts, and the sky is blacked out for the rest of us.
之所以说它有创意,是因为雨景的形象比喻。对我来说,明显有抱怨高人的含义——就像荷马伊利亚特中的希腊人所说,高高在上的神门吵个架,我们人类非得打十年战一样。高高在白帝城上出点云,被淋湿的无非是仅想安居平原的我们。他们在崎岖的高峡中玩雷电,我们平原上的平民就没阳光了。

And yet, I’m reading two exegeses of the poem which keep talking about the fucking weather. It’s not impossible, I guess. There is a lot of weather talk in Du Fu. But in this one he seems so clearly to succeed in transforming the weather talk into something else, something with more poetic power.
但同时呢,我看了两个人对这首诗的解析,都竟然用了大把的篇幅在仔细描述天气现象!既然杜甫诗中确实经常提及天气,只能说,这两位老师可能有自己的道理。但这首诗不是把天象转化成一种颇有诗意的大意境吗?

And it’s not like other critics don’t see it at all. The Chinese exegesis I’m reading at www.diyifanwen.com/sicijianshang/tangdai/dufushici/0673004195233285.htm says this:
毕竟,其中的比喻是大家所看到的,比如说www.diyifanwen.com/sicijianshang/tangdai/dufushici/0673004195233285.htm 的解析是这么说的:

"这两联先以云雨寄兴,暗写时代的动乱,实际上是为展现后面那个腥风血雨中的社会面貌造势、作铺垫。"
These two couplets establish the poems key images as cloud and rain, which here serve as a metaphor for the military turmoil of the time. In fact, these lines set the scene for the following description of a country wracked by death and violence.

So it’s clear that everyone can see the rain as violence metaphor; the question is am I reading too much into the upstairs/downstairs metaphor? I dunno, maybe, but just look at that first couplet:
这位老师也看出,雨和动乱已经形成了比喻关系呢。那么问题在于,我说的这个抱怨高人的理解,是不是想太多了?这个不能确定,但我想重复看一下该诗的第一联:

白帝城中云出门,白帝城下雨翻盆。

Could it be any plainer? The clouds come out in Baidi, the rain falls on the plain. Cause and effect. Unstated, but clear enough, I think, is that the rain doesn’t fall on Baidi.
这还不够明显吗?白帝成出云,平原下雨——因果关系存在。虽然没说,但白帝城没淋到雨应该也是可成立的逻辑暗示。

The weird thing again is that the commentators don’t seem to be noticing anything different about this poem and this image. Why does the commentator at diyifanwen think that the parallelism in the second couplet is more interesting than the vital, majestic, deeply critical and subversive image that Du Fu has created here of a city up in the heavens, pouring rain and hell down on the people below? Not to mention that great horse image.
令人奇怪的是,评论人似虎没有觉得这首中的形象比喻与其他诗中的天然诗景有什么两样。与杜甫所创造的天高白帝城把血雨倒在平民头上的伟观妙境来比,第一范文的那位老师好像觉得第二联的平仄诗律更值得评论,他没注意到高城血雨意境的破坏性创意吗?还有马那句的形象写真。。。忽视重点而专攻一些无关紧要的诗律技术,真是令人怀疑这些老师在想什么。

About a poem
buxiebuxing
有意首杜甫的诗,我一直觉得非常好看:
So there's this Du Fu poem which I think is amazing. It goes like this:

两个黄鹂鸣翠柳,一行白鹭上青天。
窗含西岭千秋雪,门泊东吴万里船。

Two golden orioles sing in the green willows,
A row of white egrets against the blue sky.
My window holds western hills, white with snow a thousand years;
Ships tied up at my door have come a thousand miles from Wu.


He is sitting in his little room in Chengdu, and the birds outside draw his attention outwards. The poem starts with a frankly tedious image: two birds in a tree. What colour was the tree, Du Fu? Green? You don't say. Next, we get more birds. What are these ones doing? Flying? Thanks.
But in the second couplet, it all picks up. It helps if you know that Du Fu's smallness in the face of the world was a constant theme. So for him, the white-capped mountains are not for striding about in. But he has them, nonetheless. In his little rural cottage, his window contains them. To me, this reads like an amazing commentary on paintings: he looks at a window, just a few feet away, and it contains infinite depths and landscape, just as a painting can. And when he looks at his door, there's just a boat there, but it's not just a boat. It's a boat which connects to a place a thousand miles away. So I read this poem as being about the power of the mind, the artistic mind, and how it can hold and convey any scale of vision - as Du himself does in the poem.
杜甫坐在成都草堂里,外面的鸟鸣声把他的视线拉到外面去。说实话,该绝句的开头用了颇为乏味的景象:两只鸟在树上。杜老能告诉我们树的颜色吗?绿色,是吗?真有意思。接下来,又是鸟,这次鸟又做出一件太让人兴奋的事情:鸟飞。
还好第二对句突然产生了真正的诗意。首先要记得杜甫在很多诗中的姿态:把自己当作是面对宏大的世界是微小人员。比如,对他来说,雪山并不是他能游荡的家园,而是可怕的巨石。但不管如此,山还能被他掌握:做在小小的草堂中,窗户『含』了山脉。在我看来,他这么写就暗示了一种对山水画的评论,因为他的窗像画一样挂墙上,像画一样可含有无限的深度和景色。杜甫眼一看门口有船,这船不仅仅是船而已,而是连通万里外面的神秘远地。所以呢,我一看这首就觉得它说的是艺术的力量:无论多大的意境,艺术家都能领会,然后把它包装和表达出来,而杜甫在本诗中就做了示范。

But this poem is number three of a set of four jueju, and when you place it among its companions, I'm not so sure that my reading is right. Here they are, with very rough translations.
但是呢,该诗是四首绝句中的第三首,照理应该四首全一起看,才能看出真意。读完四首,我开始觉得以上的解读可能不对。四首绝句如下:

堂西长笋别开门,堑北行椒却背村。
梅熟许同朱老吃,松高拟对阮生论。
欲作鱼梁云复湍,因惊四月雨声寒。
青溪先有蛟龙窟,竹石如山不敢安。
两个黄鹂鸣翠柳,一行白鹭上青天。
窗含西岭千秋雪,门泊东吴万里船。
药条药甲润青青,色过棕亭入草亭。
苗满空山惭取誉,根居隙地怯成形。
The bamboo grows so thick on the evening side of the cottage that the door won’t open any more
On the shady side, beyond the ditch, the line of pepper trees has completely blocked my view of the village
When the plums are ripe, I may share them with my old neighbour Zhu,
And when the pines grow tall, I'll talk to Mr Ruan under them.
I wanted to make a fishing weir, but the clouds descended on the river,
Then the rain fell, surprisingly cold for May.
There have long been dragons in our little river,
I've piled up bamboo and rocks, but now I don't dare make the dam.

Two golden orioles sing in the green willows,
A row of white egrets against the blue sky.
The window frames the western hills' snow of a thousand autumns,
At the door is moored, from eastern Wu, a boat of ten thousand li.

The medicinal herbs are green and lush now, they have swarmed all around the gazebo and are spilling into the house
But I can't celebrate their growth quite yet: the soil is all cracked, and I am worried that the roots won't form properly.

All of which is lovely, but not quite so inspiring. Thematically, it's a bit dull. Each quatrain starts with an observation of the scenery, and then tacks on a little interesting comment. There's nothing to support the reading of those big themes into the two lines that I like. So I dunno, they may be there, or I may just be over-reading it. Du Fu is a powerful writer, but it's not yet clear that he can really take on the big themes or the bold images that I like. Having said that, I'm definitely not imagining the art image. One of the authoritative commentators agrees with this reading, and in another poem, Du writes: 藩篱颇无限,恣意向江天。Unfortunately neither the text nor the reading of this line are clear, but it might mean: The fences run on unending, Untrammeled as they reach for the rivers and the skies.
每首都美,但并不伟观,甚至可以说,意境有点让人失望。每首绝句从山景开始,然后加以评论,但从另外三首的角度来看,并没涉及到重大的艺术议题,令人怀疑那第三首是不是我所解读的意思?有可能是我擅自扣在杜甫身上的想法呢。有可能杜甫没有针对我说喜欢的重大议题和惊人景象而动笔。
话说回来,那个“窗像画”的意象并不是我凭空捏造的,权威文学历史家跟我是同样看法的。而且另外一首诗中有“藩篱颇无限,恣意向江天。”
http://baike.baidu.com/view/155912.htm
http://baike.baidu.com/link?url=f61cQe_wKPJCUiw4KZ5-qD8mLSYsDFWXz03mwQr5dr-6dsLJ8NlRiQIy1YMYdypJvlZtb-8r8CXQucE6D4yaQ_
http://www.28non.com/shiji/article_48036.html

On the same day as reading those quatrains, I read a bit of Neruda for the first time. Here's what he says:

Through the dazing splendor,
through the night of stone, let me plunge my hand
and let there beat in me, like a bird a thousand years imprisoned,
the old forgotten human heart!
透过迷幻的庄城,
透过石块的黑夜,让我把手深深地伸入
让那颗心,像捆牢一千年的飞鸟,
让那颗被人遗弃的人心在我身内再次跳!

Perhaps because it's more modern, perhaps I just haven't yet got the Tang thing, but Neruda's images just seem much more vital, more powerful, less conventional. And his themes are human - he writes about landscape and physical textures, but his purpose is political. Just much more interesting than Du's rather anodyne landscape. I dunno. I'm still finding Tang poetry very bloodless.

Two objections to Bostrom things
buxiebuxing
1. AI. In Superintelligence, Bostrom keeps talking about the motivations of AIs, but I don't see why they would have motivations. Or rather, I don't see why they would turn the full fearsome force of their intellects on some specific goal (and harm humanity in the process). Who would tell them to do it? Who would give them the instincts that lead to such an eventuality? I mean, it's possible to imagine it happening, but it would have to be programmed in. I can't see why it would happen by accident.

2. The simulation argument. It's nice, but I think it's quite simply solved by the problem of evil. Why would a (to us) super-entity create conscious beings with so much suffering? I think the idea would be squished by the ethics committee quick sharp.

Asymmetry in position-determined virtue?
buxiebuxing
I was arguing the other day that how virtuous one can be is in part determined by the position one find oneself in - in particular, the systems within which you work.

To take an easy example, if you're rich or powerful, you are in a position to do more good than if you're poor. So if you take a consequentialist view, then a rich and powerful person has the capacity to do much more good.

Even if you're not a consequentialist, this could hold. Imagine two people A and B, one of whom has children, while the other doesn't. They are similar in other respects. It seems that A could be virtuous in all aspects of her life, but would still not have displayed the same virtue as B, if B is virtuous in all of A's aspects plus child rearing. Now, one might argue that even though A did not display the child rearing virtues, she may well have possessed them; we should not "mark her down" simply because she didn't engage in that aspect of life. But that seems to me to be a weak argument. Andy Murray is not a top badminton player - he probably could be, but he didn't engage with badminton, and we don't know for sure. So I think that virtue at least can be dependent on circumstance.

Being rich and powerful therefore seems likely to open up more avenues for virtuousness - though of course those avenues could also lead to vice. Also worth noting that the additional opportunities for virtue/vice offered by being rich or powerful may be rather insignificant. Most of our virtue/vice judgments seem to be based on interpersonal relationships, and everyone has those. So the difference between the potential virtue of a poor person and the potential virtue of a billionaire or a US president may only be a marginal 1% or similar.

But what I really wanted to get to was this. It's not obvious that these effects work symmetrically. Think Nixon/Blair. Nixon did something wrong, but in comparison to Blair, his crime was very minor (assuming Blair's was a war crime). But if anything Nixon suffered more opprobrium. On the other side, I at least feel that Deng Xiaoping and Lee Teng-hui deserve credit approximately in proportion to their achievements. That opinion is a bit subjective and harder to measure... perhaps we could compare FDR and Clinton instead? FDR did something great, and is held in enormous respect; Clinton governed reasonably well, and is liked. It seems much more proportionate to me.

This is a spectacularly holey argument. It might be that there is something about the specific minor misdoings of certain leaders which inspire disgust; it might be that we draw clear distinctions between professional and personal misdeeds. I would have to try to tease these out. But it seems to me like this is another example of an asymmetry between positive and negative morality/moral judgments.

译者的“信”
buxiebuxing
在文学翻译培训班上,我们讨论到译者怎样读解原文的问题,我跟作家说,译者必须解读,她虽然要对原文“信”,但写出来的译文不得不是自己对原文的理解,她没办法变身成为作者的延伸。但后来我一直在想,那“信”有什么意义呢?译者得解读,没错,但作为译者,并不是任我怎么解读都行,解读有原则——那这些原则是什么呢?
其中一个,我觉得可以参考Harold Bloom。他说“a Shakespearean reading of Freud illuminates and overwhelms the text of Freud; a Freudian reading of Shakespeare reduces Shakespeare” 用莎翁去解读弗洛伊德是加亮的过程,最后弗洛伊德的原文淹没在莎士比亚的光泽下,而用弗洛伊德去解读莎翁只是让它缩小受限。
所以我是想,译者要尽量避免人为的缩小原文,虽然可以解读但在解读的同时不能堵截原文中其他的潜在意涵,必须照顾非我的读者。
At the CELT we talked about the issue of the translator's interpretation of the text. I said to one of the writers that translators have to interpret. Though we are faithful to the source text, the target we produce is inevitably our own interpretation. We cannot become an extension of the writer's brain. Later on, though, I was thinking about what kind of fidelity that leaves us with. The translator has to interpret, but as a translator I don't allow any interpretation. I judge among my interpretations. But how do I judge?
One way of thinking about it comes from Harold Bloom. He says, "a Shakespearean reading of Freud illuminates and overwhelms the text of Freud; a Freudian reading of Shakespeare reduces Shakespeare."
My view is that the translator should try to avoid reducing the text. Even though we have to interpret, we should avoid blocking off other interpretations that are potentially there in the text. We should accept the right of other readers to preserve their interpretations.

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