Sunday, June 17, 2007

Untitled

Tompkins Square Park
East Village, Manhattan

The fish trap exists because of the fish.
Once you've got the fish, you can forget the trap.
The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit.
Once you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare.
Words exist because of meaning.
Once you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
Where can I find a man who has forgotten words
so I can have a word with him?
--Chuang Tse

2 comments:

Tom said...

"Where can I find a man who has forgotten words
so I can have a word with him?"

The above lines involve a pun that, I would think, would only work in English. Only in English, I would suppose, might "have a word" be an idiom for "talk to" or "hold a conversation."

So it makes me wonder how different the meaning of this quote is in Chinese. And does this suggest that words distort meaning rather than words provide meaning?

Or, in Chinese is the pun simply not there? How much better it seems with the pun, though I don't know why that is, exactly. I guess it just means I like wordplay.

Michael said...

Hi Tom,

The poem struck me as clever and perfect just as it is. I think the imperfection of meaning is what makes it perfect.