Jan 12Liked by Brendan O'Kane

You don't think the last two lines could be using 愚 and 贤 in the purely descriptive sense, rather than as quotes/mentions? Understanding the 他 as the subjects of the gossip themselves? I.e. saying something like, if they're dumb, that's their problem; if they're saints, that's their good fortune. I feel that reading would better reflect the heaven-made-them-that-way section at the beginning, and allows the Mencius quote to land better: the Way will have its mysterious effect, and it doesn't need your gossip to help it along.

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Could definitely be, and I think that reading would work well with a straight reading of the Mencius -- as you say, a bare reading would probably be something like "'Worthy' is a *him* problem; 'Dumb' is a *him* problem too."

I think I'm inclined to read a bit more acerbically here -- sanqu in the "X也Y, Z也Y" format don't always have a sting in the tail, but this one felt like it did. Mencius may be saying that time will wound all heels and that stupid is as stupid does, but I think Chen's last two lines are at least leaving open the possibility of a little blade-twist here, and maybe even an ironic reading of the Mencius: "Time will wound all heels, and how have *you* been doing lately?"

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In the second sentence of this post you lament the return of fascism. Really? Who? Whom? Why inject the grossest of stereotypes into a Substack devoted to some of the most subtle and sophisticated poetry ever written?

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