Any course can be taken
as the right course to take,
but no course like that
can be the course taken always.

Any name can be named
to determine what is or should be,
but no name like that
can be what determines them always

Those are the opening lines of one of the oldest pieces of literature known, the Tao Te Ching. Aside from the Bible, it is also probably the most translated piece of literature known, written in about 400BC. Now, in a new translation by Brook Ziporyn transliterated as the Daodejing, English readers can get some new insight into this provocative and ambiguous classic, which I’ll be reading from.

If you’ve never encountered the Daodejing, you may be startled by its startling modern dialectical approach to life. This new translation with be published this January by Liveright Publishing; you can find more info here.

Click on the triangle or the mp3 link above to hear the reading as heard today on the Arts Express radio show broadcast today on WBAI FM NY and Pacifica affiliates across the nation.

And for our NY friends–we’re on at a new time on WBAI FM: Wednesdays, 9pm.

4 thoughts on “Daodejing

  1. Funny story Jack.
    ….NOT the Tao te Ching(!).

    As a book, it was,..kind of ‘still is’,
    a bit of a ‘classic’, here in Germany.
    Mr. Goethe played around with translating it.
    I have a ‘somewhat popular’ English/American version,
    from Lin Yutang.
    I think it was ‘the standard’, in the U.S., in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.

    With a large influx of Chinesse students, here in Germany,
    for the past 30 years;
    I asked many, about…’the original’,…in Chinesse.

    “Boring. Dry….Lifeless.”
    ..i was surprised!

    When sharing Lin Yutang,..or ‘european versions’,
    the Chinesse students always commented:
    “We’ve NEVER read this sö….’poetic’!”

    It would be interesting Brook Ziporyn’s take, on this.

    • I agree–I’ve read much more poetic English translations; I think this one is probably closer to the original. Ziporyn explicitly says that he doesn’t try to smooth over discrepancies or inconsistencies, trying to make it the work of one author. Wish I read Chinese.

Leave a Reply