found wisdomness

055-cacfair-wisdom

Ponder the above photo, taken by the Evil whilst in China. Now picture the scene: Evil is wandering a vast, mysterious, ancient land . . . and at one point he turns, finds a closed door before him, and upon that door this sign.

Please take care of your belongingness. Sounds, like, Zen or something, doesn’t it? It certainly made the Evil pause and take stock of his life, his ambitions, his level of comfort within his own skin.

Then he figured out how to work the latch on the stall door and left the bathroom.

Later, after showing this picture to a particularly perceptive FOE, said friend remarked that maybe all the vaguely philosophical bon mots we’ve harvested from Eastern culture—you know, the ones you see stamped on handbags at Target, the ones celebrities quote when they’ve entered a “serious” phase—are really just mistranslations. Couple this with the plethora of websites devoted the hilarity of such mangled language (“Engrish Funny”, et al.), and you’ve really got an ontological quandary here:
Can you truly harvest nuggets of wisdom from a culture while simultaneously mining it for comedy? And if so, doesn’t that say more about your own culture than the one you’re raiding?

Is the ability to find both wisdom and humor in the same setting a sign of cultural flexibility rather than a rigid conformity to stifling norms? Or a signal that your culture has entered a decadent phase, unable to generate its own wisdom and desperately seeking hilarious distraction from its own long decline?

Heavy stuff, yep. Evil’s going to go the optimistic route and say that this phenomenon is a sign that Western culture is as limber as champion gymnast. Mostly because he doesn’t want to sully the raw beauty and power of words such as these:

088-pazhou-snoopyish

Enjoy the weekend. If possible, see how your heart heat tastes.

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2 thoughts on “found wisdomness”

  1. After spending many weeks now translating Lorca from scratch, I have to admit that true, honest, direct translation is absolutely impossible. The best anybody can manage is an interpretation of what they think somebody else is trying to express, and as such, it will always, always be colored and skewed.

    So maybe “thinking of you still makes my heart heat tastes” really sums up something important for a worker in a Chinese prison-camp somewhere. It is nothing if not poetic.

    I’d have to see the original.

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