Monday, April 4, 2016

Tao. A long poem. Transforming a transcreation.

In the summer of 2009 I started transcreating the Tao Te Ching, reading different translations (Ellen M. Chen, David Hinton, Stephen Mitchell, Red Pine and several others), pondering each word of each verse as translated in a word-by-word grid created by Jonathan Star, and abridging each and every verse into a 140 character tweet. I ended up publishing it in book form:

I am now transforming the transcreations into short sections of a long poem as a new project, making minor revisions along the way, and no longer holding to the 140 character limit, although not necessarily adding or subtracting or revising either, except in the lineation added to the original. I am trying to stay true to the initial transcreation, which attempted to stay true to the original as viewed through translations—this is not a project revisiting those translations or that amazing grid, for that was an extensive project in and of itself.

The first three transformations are included in this post, with more to follow in future posts. I am considering it a long poem based directly on the Tao Te Ching—

the latest transformation
of an original transcreation
of several unique translations
of the nameless...



No words
for Tao—

words are for things.

To know Tao
no desire—

desires are for things.

Both are sourced
in darkness—

doorway to no-thing.


Knowing good
creates bad—

as ordinary opposites
relying on each other.

So the sage does
without doing—

claims nothing as
deeds are never lost.


Don’t praise persons and things—
people will distort.

Lead by clarifying desire—
fulfilling essentials.

If nothing is doing—
all is done.

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