comic-genius.jpg

Comic Genius

Good students hear about Dao and work hard, but they follow it. Average students hear about Dao and sometimes stick with it, sometimes get lost. Bad students hear about Dao and laugh at it.

If it wasn't hilarious, it wouldn't be worth thinking of as Dao, so these are some of the jokes it plays.

Observing Dao obscures it, proving Dao refutes it, sorting Dao scatters it. Praising De degrades it and preaching defiles it. Developing De depletes it, supporting De demeans it and believing denies it. 退

A school with no lessons, a method too subtle to learn, a lecture too faint to hear, a metaphor with no meaning, Dao is a riddle with no answer, and Dao is only as convincing as it is a good sport.

Notes

This poem makes sense to me as bad puns to keep normals and nit-pickers on board.

The following Kroll vocabulary notes are meant to support my solution to what I take as two distinct puzzle grids.

In the expressions, joins a descriptive complement to an introductory verb phrase.

The and punchline expressions all describe Dao.

  • big method, technique has no niche, corner
  • big implement, vessel late to finish
  • big sound, voice faint message
  • unifying patterns that underlie variegated phenomena have no shape, structure
  • Dao is reticent, obscure, has no names
  • Dao is good at both absolving, forgiving and causing to conform, reconciling, accommodating

I'm not sure what to make of . It's a modern saying for something like, "Great talent takes time to mature," but that's out of sync with the irony of the other expressions. Cook's Guodian footnotes cover alternatives , , , , and , and summarize the use of in Lushi chunqiu as, "An analogy of how great men undertake great things only after a long period of preparation and observation, ... [and] that undertakings of great forethought are unappreciated until after their benefits are realized."

Vocabulary

shàng
一 1 + 2
top; superior, highest; go up, send up
shì
士 33 + 0
scholar, gentleman; soldier
wén
耳 128 + 8
hear; smell; make known; news
dào
辵 162 + 9
path, road, street; method, way
qín
力 19 + 11
industrious, diligent, attentive
ér
而 126 + 0
and; and then; and yet; but
xíng
行 144 + 0
go; walk; move, travel; circulate
zhī
丿 4 + 3
marks preceding phrase as modifier of following phrase; it, him her, them; go to
zhōng
丨 2 + 3
central; center, middle; in the midst of; hit (target); attain
ruò
艸 140 + 5
if, supposing, assuming; similar
cún
子 39 + 3
exist, live, be; survive; remain
wáng
亠 8 + 1
death, destroyed; lose, perish
xià
一 1 + 2
under, underneath, below; down; inferior; bring down
大 37 + 0
big, great, vast, large, high
xiào
竹 118 + 4
smile, laugh, giggle; snicker
一 1 + 3
no, not; un-; negative prefix
足 157 + 0
foot; attain, satisfy, enough
人 9 + 3
by means of; thereby, therefore; consider as; in order to
wèi
火 86 + 5
do, handle, govern, act; be
攴 66 + 5
ancient, old; reason, because
jiàn
廴 54 + 6
build, establish, erect, found
yán
言 149 + 0
words, speech; speak, say
yǒu
月 74 + 2
have, own, possess; exist
míng
日 72 + 4
bright, light, brilliant; clear
mèi
日 72 + 5
obscure, dark; darken
jìn
辵 162 + 8
advance, make progress, enter
退
tuì
辵 162 + 6
step back, retreat, withdraw
大 37 + 3
ancient barbarian tribes
lèi
糸 120 + 15
knot; blemish, flaw, wicked
彳 60 + 12
ethics, morality, virtue
谷 150 + 0
valley, gorge, ravine
tài
大 37 + 1
very, too, much; big; extreme
bái
白 106 + 0
white; pure, unblemished; bright
辰 161 + 3
humiliate, insult, abuse
guǎng
广 53 + 12
broad, wide, extensive
tōu
人 9 + 9
to steal, burglar, thief
zhì
貝 154 + 8
matter, material, substance
zhēn
目 109 + 5
real, actual, true, genuine
水 85 + 9
change; chongqing
fāng
方 70 + 0
a square, rectangle; a region; local
火 86 + 8
negative, no, not; lack, have no
阜 170 + 9
corner, nook, remote place
口 30 + 13
receptacle, vessel; instrument
wǎn
日 72 + 7
night, evening; late
chéng
戈 62 + 2
completed, finished, fixed
yīn
音 180 + 0
sound, tone, pitch, pronunciation
巾 50 + 4
rare; hope, expect, strive for
shēng
耳 128 + 11
sound, voice, noise; tone; music
xiàng
豕 152 + 5
elephant; ivory; figure, image
xíng
彡 59 + 4
form, shape, appearance
yǐn
阜 170 + 14
hide, conceal; hidden, secret
míng
口 30 + 3
name, rank, title, position
大 37 + 1
man, male adult, husband; those
wéi
口 30 + 8
only; yes
shàn
口 30 + 9
good, virtuous, charitable, kind
dài
貝 154 + 5
lend; borrow; pardon
qiě
一 1 + 4
moreover, also (post-subject); about to, will soon (pre-verb)
màn
曰 73 + 7
long, extended, vast; beautiful
miǎn
儿 10 + 5
spare; excuse from; evade
màn
心 61 + 11
slow(ly), leisurely, sluggish
màn
糸 120 + 11
plain silk; simple, plain
勹 20 + 2
must not, do not; without, never