From:  timink 
Date:  Sun Aug 12, 2001  4:08 am
Subject:  Zheng Banqiao's saying   難得糊涂


Dear Ming & Friends

Can you help me with the full translation of a wise saying titled 難得糊涂 Nan de hu tu? This saying, written in funny slanting calligraphics by the Zheng Banqiao (Zheng Xie) 鄭 板 橋 ( 鄭 燮)AD 1693-1765, the famous bamboo painter, calligraphist and scholar, is found hanging in many Chinese homes and has a paradoxical meaning.

I am not sure if the title is appropriately translated as "The difficulty of being muddle-headed". The saying starts with 聰 明 ,糊涂 Cong ming nan, hu tu nan (It is difficult to be intelligent, it is difficult to be muddle-headed).

Tin-Kay ---------------------------------------------------- From: timink Date: Sun Aug 12, 2001 4:11 am Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao's saying 難得糊涂 Dear Ming & Friends

Can you help me with the full translation of a wise saying titled 得糊涂 Nan de hu tu? This saying, written in funny slanting calligraphics by the Zheng Banqiao (Zheng Xie) 板 ( 燮) AD 1693-1765, the famous bamboo painter, calligraphist and scholar, is found hanging in many Chinese homes and has a paradoxical meaning.

I am not sure if the title is appropriately translated as "The difficulty of being muddle-headed". The saying starts with 明 ,糊涂 Cong ming nan, hu tu nan (It is difficult to be intelligent, it is difficult to be muddle-headed).

Tin-Kay --------------------------------------------------------------- From: sllee19 Date: Sun Aug 12, 2001 6:30 am Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao's saying 難得糊涂 Dear Tin-Kay,

Hu-tu is not "stupid" as contrast to "intelligent". Hu-tu in Zheng Ban-qiao's mind is tolerance of incompetence of the less intelligent, and focus on relevance rather than being a perfecionist on all trivials.

Sometimes "hu-tu" is intentional. To be intentionally hu-tu and not to be noticed for a wise person is more difficult to show off his intelligence.

SL ----------------------------------------------------- From: sllee19 Date: Sun Aug 12, 2001 6:28 am Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao's saying 難得糊涂 Dear Tin-Kay,

(correction)

Hu-tu is not "stupid" as contrast to "intelligent". Hu-tu in Zheng Ban-qiao's mind is tolerance of incompetence of the less intelligent, and focus on relevance rather than being a perfectionist on all trivials.

Sometimes "hu-tu" is intentional. For a wise person, to be intentionally hu-tu and not to be noticed is more difficult than to show off his intelligence.

SL ---------------------------------------------- From: ChinaBeautiful Date: Sun Aug 12, 2001 3:56 pm Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao's saying 難得糊涂 Dear Tin-kay and SL:
I think the meaning may be better conveyed as
"smart" and "dumb".

He was not talking about whether a person is
really smart or dumb, but the proper behavior
of a person socially.

Even if you are smart, don't show off in the
public and act with a bit of humbleness.

In his view, humbleness is not dumb. -------------------------------------------- From: sllee19 Date: Tue Aug 14, 2001 8:03 am Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao 難得糊涂 - his persona Dear Ming,

I think hu-tu is better translated as fuzzy-minded, negligent, confused, absent-minded, ignorant of trivials. Tin-Kay's "muddled mind" is a good expression. Someone like Edison can be hu-tu in boiling his watch rather than the egg, but he is far from being dumb.

A hu-tu person is hu-tu because his mind is focused on something else. Zheng Ban-Qiao's hu-tu is really to disguise his wisdom.

Zheng Ban-Qiao was a little judge at Wei-Fang, Shandong, now the world's capital of kites. He often has to judge on some ridiculous cases, and was subject to bribery, threats. However, he was not moved at all in carrying out justice. While remembered as a painter and poet, few remember him as a person of ethics. I have a copy of his hand-written judegement case documents. I bought it to see his calligraphy. But I am amazed how it reflects his personality - humorous, unbiased, selfless. It would be a good textbook for law students and judges (hope Alfred is reading this:)).

I highly recommend reading his biography. The judgement document published in 1987 is probably out of print now. I am lucky to have a copy.

SL Lee ------------------------------------------------------ From: aolung Date: Tue Aug 14, 2001 1:41 pm Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao 難得糊涂 - his persona Dear Siu-Leung,

> I think hu-tu is better translated as fuzzy-minded, negligent,
confused, absent-minded, ignorant of trivials. Tin-Kay's "muddled
mind" is a good expression. <<

I share your opinion: 額 "muddled, stupidly, foolishly" I'd add: "absent-minded, distracted - zerstreut, geistesabwesend. (Also found: 柑額 )

> A hu-tu person is hu-tu because his mind is focused on something
else. <<

That's what my wife is calling me :(

> Someone like Edison can be hu-tu in boiling his watch rather than the egg

... or famous microbiologist Prof. Louis Pasteur telling his students during one of his lectures about the dangers of microbes and demonstrating how to wash grapes in a bowl with water before eating the fruits - and after a while gotten thirsty *hu-tu* drinking from the bowl...

< But I am amazed how it reflects his personality - humorous, unbiased, selfless. It would be a good textbook for law students and judges (hope Alfred is reading this:)) <<

Yes! I always have been trying to follow these maximes - maybe two more which are "love and curiosity".


A.W. Tueting - ----------------------------------------------------------- From: ChinaBeautiful Date: Wed Aug 15, 2001 10:41 am Subject: Re: Zheng Banqiao 得糊涂 - his persona The stories about Edison and Pasteur both illustrate episodes that are aptly described by the Chinese saying:
"smart all his life but momentarily dumb (hu-tu)"

The temporary lapses may be harmless and amusing, but can at times be more costly.

Again, what Su Shih described (and recommended) was for you "not to show how
smart you are in public" but to "play dumb" and be conserative in one's dealings with
other person. This is not the same as
carelessness or absent-mindedness. He
wants you to consciencely not to show
off to every one.

"You know you are smarter than others. But do you have behave that way in front of
everyone?"

"If you cannot suffer the fools, be silent
and leave the room."

"Yes you are smart. But play DUMB!"

This last approach was adopted by, for example, Monk Hanshan and Shide, who
hid in their mountain retreat, and laugh
at the world between themselves.

This calligraphy is displayed on the wall
of my favorite local restaurant, which I go
for good food and inspiration as well.

Ming -------------------------------------------------------