Follow

John Minford, 2:4 (and 5) "4-If men are tired, morale low, strength exhausted, treasure spent, 5-then the feudal lords will exploit the disarray and attack. This even the wisest will be powerless to mend."

I thought today we might begin by discussing a process - and I'm no expert, so this might be just my own term - that we might call "versification." For instance, they used no punctuation, let alone paragraphs, verses or even book names in the Old Testament of the Bible.

When you open up any modern version, all that structure and order has been superimposed on the ancient text by a long, long, and did I mention looonnng process? My guess is that our ancient Western texts are easier to lay such organization over than the ancient Chinese texts.

Without getting into any details at all, please believe me when I tell you it takes an extraordinary artist to convert ancient characters, on archeologically unearthed bamboo strips held loosely together (if we're lucky) by some form of binding. Think interpreting shredded paper.

Here's a photo of a modern American version you can buy, just to get the feeling for the way the text of The Art of War comes down to us.

So returning to today's text, we have to bring in yet another art form: poetry. And specifically, the visual use of text, the modern master of which was the incredible e.e. cummings. I think I got that spelling right. He'd have cared.

If you check out his work, and you should, you'll find that every placement of every word, punctuation, spelling and line, etc., essentially created a new form of poetry for the modern age. Of course, calligraphy reaching back into history, has always lived by that value.

I put forward that our translator, John Minford, ranks with e.e. cumings as a poet of the visual form. Over the decades, I have struggled with other translator's versification method. Once I found Minford, I breathed deeply with joy and gratitude. To me, his is simply right.

Which brings us to little Pasquale (me) and my commentary project. Iobviously couldn't use anyone else. But, go figure, Minford does not use numbers. So I had to add the numbers in, but how? With great insecurity, I chose his un-indented lines and their spaces.

I you go look at today's photo, you see that what I've numbered verses 4 & 5, have no space separating them. Boy did that throw me! Then, look, verse 4 is actually a repetition of the key points in verse 3. Then I noticed his punctuation for verse 4 did NOT end in a period. Aha!

In such tiny details, we find our comprehension. Verse 4 requires us to remember verse 3 while leading into verse 5. Drum roll, please. We MUST be onto a VERY important point. I propose that our teacher simply cannot be interpreted without attention to these details.

We're not done for today, yet. I'm about to take a break and make a second pot of coffee. So should you. But you can't imagine the relief I feel having been able to walk so carefully through our great translator's work, and my struggle to live up to it. Back soon...

We're not done for today, yet. I'm about to take a break and make a second pot of coffee. So should you. But you can't imagine the relief I feel having been able to walk so carefully through our great translator's work, and my struggle to live up to it. Back soon...

Trusting by now that you've reviewed verse 3, let's look at verse 4's text again:

If men are:
* tired
* morale low
* strength exhausted
* treasure spent

We applied this to America herself, yesterday, with our long war against terrorism, our questionable results, and our spent treasury. Today, let's put this into a bit longer frame historical analysis, but briefly, we'll go fast now...

Let's use + or - (plus or minus) to describe America's energy at certain points:

Pre-revolution to 1776 +
End of War through early 1780's -
New Constitution 1789 +
New Republic through War of 1812 and beyond both + and -, often...
Terrible run down to the Civil War -

Horrors of the Civil War -
Energy of Saving The Union and Freeing the Slaves +
Problem of Solving the Slave Problem in History, 1865 - 1955 -
Civil Rights Movement +

Obviously all this is a cartoon sketch of history, oversimplified almost to the point of being ridiculous. No serious historian would agree with it, and probably shouldn't. The purpose, however, is more to begin the process of entering back into the flow of history itself.

Cutting finally to the chase, we, America, we're exhausted to the point of cultural collapse. We have no patience with each other and couldn't debate our way out of a wet but respectful bag. We just fight, fight, fight, spending more and more of our limited energy.

Our movement too, is tired. We're both new and old at the same time. Consider the Tea Party which was our immediate forebear. How much energy did it have in 2010? And then, cycle after cycle, The Swamp ate up everyone we sent in, no matter how large our victory.

Show more
Sign in to participate in the conversation
mobile.co

Freedom of Speech based Social Network with emphasis on Mobile economic productivity.