Thursday, January 23

text

A GPLed English interpolation of the Tao Te Ching.

Thirty spokes meet at a nave;
Because of the hole we may use the wheel.
Clay is moulded into a vessel;
Because of the hollow we may use the cup.
Walls are built around a hearth;
Because of the doors we may use the house.
Thus tools come from what exists,
But use from what does not.

There must be a hundred English versions of this thing. No one of them that I have read catches quite the same meanings, or contains all of the things that make me keep coming back to it. The idea of cobbling together my own interpolation, fundamentally ridiculous as it is, has been drifting through my brain for a while.

I don't read the language. I don't know the culture, the context, the history. I don't even claim to grok all those translated versions.

And yet, why not?

well, almost 24 hours

Wikipedia is indeed pretty excellent. It's been one of my default references for months now; it's amazing how often it will contain a concise, low-BS breakdown of something I've only just discovered.

Today, frex: The Gospel of Thomas, which leads to Gnosticism, which loops back into the PK Dick stuff I've been reading lately, which is often awkward and brilliant and doesn't have much in common with my perception of reality, except when it does, which is a little scary.

Wikis fascinate me because, contrary to most of my expectations about human nature, they seem to work. They're based on a simple idea - anyone can edit any page - that appeals to me on a gut level. It appeals in a way I've come to associate with things that are just too good-natured to work in the real world.

I think this is pessimism on my part. Probably there is an intersection between good-natured and realistic which both triggers those specific warm fuzzy feeling receptors and is built to cope with the way things really are. Probably this intersection is where really worthwhile technology arises.