Metaphors

Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:40 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Audi:
<B>Greetings Louis,

I have recently been puzzled by the use of the word “bu” in the phrase “yong yi bu yong li” (“Use mind intent not use force”). Why is this not “bie2”? Without this particle, is it not more natural to interpret this phrase with conditional meaning, i.e., “if you use mind intent, you won’t be using force”?

I apologize if we touched on this before. If we did, I do not recall your response.

Take care,
Audi</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Audi,

In modern Mandarin, “bie” would make sense here, but in classical and literary Chinese, the word “bu” was a multipurpose negative particle. Also, the grammar in wenyan often is revealed in the underlying parallel structure of phrases. Here, the prescriptive “use” is contrasted with “do not use.”

That’s my take, anyway.

Take care,
Louis



[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 10-26-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 12:44 am

Greetings Louis,

The comments you provided on metaphors...(tempered steel jin?)... were insightful and helpful.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Oct 27, 2003 1:55 am

Hi Ps,

I can't take any credit for any insights here. I'm just relaying what Wu Tunan said. He was suggesting that a nominalized notion of "tempered steel jin" or "drawing silk jin" would be not be consistent with the metaphorical uses in the taiji classics.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Oct 27, 2003 6:44 am

In North American society, the word metaphor is not part of the cultural intellectual milieu. It has its place in hagiographical literature/arts etc. Most people tend to be direct in their approach to others so as to not be seen as lacking in purpose and direction.

What is present is the use of code words whether in the political or social sense where, when in use, people respond or, are taught to respond in a specific pavlovian manner. In short, North Americans will have to learn more about metaphor in conjunction with the variations of meaning and tone to get the actual expression, and this may be a problem in having faith (as Zheng Manqing once stated) in investing in loss or eating bitter, which is alien to the character of the society.

People want stuff right now without working for it, or being handed a thing. The new immigrants would quicker understand this concept.
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 8:36 am

Greetings Louis,

Please let me rephrase then...

Thanks for the presentation of facts you conveyed.

They are really insightful and helpful, to me.

Actually...the expression 'release the metal arrow',( which I equate with the 'tempered steel jin' concept) had crossed my path recently and I was considering the technical validity of such a thing.

These types of subtle points are not always clearly visible to the student.

Louis, just for clarity sake, could you humor me then, and supply your opinion on the matter...I am not sure who is saying this is laughable, and why that would be.

At first thought I believed that it was a valid idea, then I saw how it might be laughable,now I am back to wondering if this could be viable...

I really need an explanation on that subject to be able to comprehend further.

I find this metaphor interesting and would like to know more.

Best regards,
Psalchemist. Image



[This message has been edited by psalchemist (edited 10-27-2003).]
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:15 am

Louis,

Maybe I should simply ask the question directly...

What would "Release the metal arrow" connote for you, if mentioned among Taijiquan related matter?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon Oct 27, 2003 8:39 pm

Greetings Psalchemist,

I suppose I was mistaken in assuming that the Wu Tunan passage could stand on its own, and I apologize if I have assumed too much. Perhaps some deconstruction is in order, and a disclaimer. First, let me say that I personally do not know the details of the conference to which Wu was reacting, but I have the feeling that Wu’s account of these matters is rather politically charged. Not knowing enough of the background, I don’t have any particular stand on the historical issues of whether pao chui is taijiquan. My interest in the passage is specifically around the attention Wu draws to some terms I have myself thought about in similar fashion, and about which I have raised questions.

Wu recounts that he was invited to a conference, the subject of which was “chousijin” and “chansijin.” He objected to the conflation, or juxtaposition of these terms as a subject of discussion. His ground for objection is that there is evidently no tradition in taijiquan of something named “chousijin.” He points out that the known appearance of the characters “chou si” (drawing silk) in the taijiquan context is in the text “Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Postures.” (His attribution of this text to Wang Zongyue is itself in dispute; some think Wu Yuxiang wrote it.) Wu Tunan points out that the characters are used in a metaphorical sense: “mobilize jin AS THOUGH (ru) drawing silk (chou si).” This metaphorical usage is an entirely different matter than a term of designation, an alleged “chousijin” (drawing silk energy). Wu seems to be suggesting that by introducing the term “chousijin,” the unnamed conference organizers were trying to make it equivalent with the term “chansijin” (silk reeling energy), which indeed is a nominal designation. The terms “chansi” and “chansijin” are more closely associated with the Chen tradition. The specific term “chansijin” probably first appeared in print in the first book written on Chen Taijiquan, a book by Chen Xin titled _Chen shi taijiquan tushuo_, published in 1933. Chen Xin is likely the “someone from Chen village” that Wu refers to (Wu met and interviewed Chen Xin early in his research work), and he seems to be implying that Chen Xin invented the term “chansijin.” I have seen other assertions to this effect. I would just comment that while the term may have appeared in print for the first time in Chen Xin’s book, that fact would not necessarily mean he invented the term. I simply don’t know.

So I personally do not have sufficient knowledge to understand or evaluate Wu Tunan’s views on the broader historical issues. I can, however, see the grounds for his specific objections to the conflation of terms, and for the nominalization of a proposed “chousijin.” I’ve remarked before about a sort of proliferation of “jins” as terms of designation for particular skill sets. When nominalized in this way, there is a tendency to mystify a given concept as some “secret” the practitioner acquires—a “something” that one either has or does not have in one’s bag of tricks. In the case of the traditional taiji concept of “drawing silk,” my feeling is that nominalizing it in this manner distracts from the powerful metaphorical usage: “mobilize jin as though drawing silk.” That imagery, in my opinion, is very useful indeed, and gives the practitioner a vivid insight into actual tactile sensations that one can emulate in practice.

Is this helping at all, or am I just digging myself deeper into a shadowy hole?

Finally, may I ask where you encountered the phrase, 'release the metal arrow'? I’ve never seen that anywhere, and I'm inclined to say it has nothing to do with taijiquan.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Wushuer » Mon Oct 27, 2003 9:41 pm

Louis,
I'll toss in two or three cents.
I have always worked under the impression that "draw jin as though drawing silk" was a metaphor for how to draw, or gather, jin, not that a type of "silk drawing jin" exists.
I only have the verbal accounts of this as I recall them while in WTCCA to go on, but from that basis alone I never felt that there was a "jin" known as "drawing silk jin" to be utilized or studied.
"Silk reeling" is something else I have always considered a metaphor. It was presented to me as a metaphorical approach to movement, not as a direct movement to copy slavishly. To "move as if reeling silk" has always, to me, meant to "move gracefully, purposefully, evenly, neither too fast or too slow, continuously without breaks or hollows", not that I should actually try to move in the exact patterns used by people who are actually drawing silk from a cocoon.
From the films I've seen of it, drawing or reeling silk was done by hand and the movements had to be precise, even and circular and the person had to be thinking of what they were doing at all times. Their mind had to be in the movement to keep it just the way it is supposed to be done so as not to break the precious silk thread. This type of thought driven movement was what we were to strive for, not this particular, exact movement.
The school I attended even showed us those movies of people drawing silk, so we could see how intent they were, yet how even, slow, purposeful and mindful they were of their movements.

No historical documents to base any of this on, just my recollections of the verbal teachings as passed on to me by my Sifu's.
So at least one modern school of TCC still verbally transmits those sayings as metaphors, not as actual things to do.
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Postby psalchemist » Mon Oct 27, 2003 10:15 pm

Greetings Wushuer,

That was a nice original twist on the subject of the metaphor of "silk reeling".

"Silk reeling" metaphor as referring to "Yi"!

That sheds new light on that metaphor for me.

Thank-you,
Best regards,
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Postby DavidJ » Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:06 pm

Hello dorshugla,

I don't know where you get your information, but I assure you that your view of "North American society" is false in several ways.

You wrote, > In North American society, the word metaphor is not part of the cultural intellectual milieu. It has its place in hagiographical literature/arts etc.<

This is a stereotype, and it is inaccurate. I grew up with hundreds, if not thousands, of metaphors and was often taught where they came from.

You wrote > Most people tend to be direct in their approach to others so as to not be seen as lacking in purpose and direction. <

This is only with strangers or those who might take something literally and be offended; or you could be talking about someone in business or in a hurry. If you don't get to know people and look down your nose at them, they probably won't open up to you.

> What is present is the use of code words whether in the political or social sense where, when in use, people respond or, are taught to respond in a specific pavlovian manner. <

Robots are we? Look again. I think you need to drop the stereotypes and see us as though through a child's eyes. We sometime use the term "beginner's mind."

> In short, North Americans will have to learn more about metaphor in conjunction with the variations of meaning and tone to get the actual expression, [snip]

This is so far from the truth that it's laughable.

> [unsnip] and this may be a problem in having faith (as Zheng Manqing once stated) in investing in loss or eating bitter, which is alien to the character of the society. <

If he said that he was ill informed.

If you think that trying things and being willing to fail, (we call that "trial and error") or sticking with something until you get it right, or that working hard is rare in North America I suggest that you go visit a psychiatrist. This is neither an insult nor a sarcasm. If you are that unaware of the realities of people in North America you seriously need help.

(Note: it's my opinion that "investing in loss" is rather lousy expression of a good idea.)

> People want stuff right now without working for it, or being handed a thing. The new immigrants would quicker understand this concept. <

Here we have another stereotype. This implies that we, in North American society, don't deserve what we have. People come here, make money, and badmouth the USA and/or Canada; this is a sport that is unworthy. Every society has lazy people, but that isn't the norm.

Regards,

David J

[This message has been edited by DavidJ (edited 10-27-2003).]
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Postby dorshugla » Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:57 pm

David J,

Thanks for responding and being direct. Regarding the topic of taiji theory in reference to metaphor, many times the single charatcter expression has many variations of meanings when compared to words in North American culture. That is just the way it is.
Though I am have to rely on Mandarin translation to understand words that when translated often do not fit their original meaning.

Just like the word kungfu which may have various expressions of hard work, excellent work, etc dependign on translation but in many place in North America (as a geofraphical location) kungfu means martial art generically speaking, which is a misnomer, but we accept it as that.
People think sifu refers to a martial arts teacher and they are for the most part right but the head cook, head waiter, taxi driver, is also called sifu.

SInce I am not a native Mandarin speaker, what I do understand is that people's views colour their perception and this is in all societies,as you stated.

SInce I made no reference to better a or b when talking about culture, which you implied, I am surprised that you were shocked at your own assertions. My only implication was that societies were different and nothing else. Perception does colour one's view.

If you were offended by what I didn't say or what you thought I said, I apologize.

Sharing is always good. It may be similar to tui hou where one can sense skill and smile to oneself.

I do believe in joy.
Thanks again
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Oct 28, 2003 12:36 am

Dorshugla,

From what I have observed, there does not seem to be a great linguistics problem...

DavidJ's posting clearly listed word for word your posting in quotations.

I understood those quotations in the same manner as David, and agree with his responses.

Your posting above addresses none of the issues David has presented...directly, and most of it not at all.

You speak of directness, yet you have avoided logical, direct answers yourself, often.

Psalchemist.
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Oct 28, 2003 12:55 am

Greetings Louis,

Thanks for the conscientious explanation.

No, no shadowy hole! Image

The phrase is nothing...you're absolutely right there...just a creative fancy with nothing pertaining to Taijiquan.

Thanks for providing your opinion of it though, I appreciate all the feedback.

Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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Postby Audi » Tue Oct 28, 2003 1:45 am

Hi Louis (and everyone else),

Louis, you said:

<<I’ve remarked before about a sort of proliferation of “jins” as terms of designation for particular skill sets. When nominalized in this way, there is a tendency to mystify a given concept as some “secret” the practitioner acquires—a “something” that one either has or does not have in one’s bag of tricks.>>

I think that this says most of what I would contribute. I feel that I have personally suffered from this kind of viewpoint and so have gone almost to the other extreme of purging the idea of “different jins” from my internal vocabulary. I know that my development in push hands has been hobbled by too much focus on how my own body is used and not enough focus on how my partner’s energy is configured. I now try to focus on the joint energy we share, rather than thinking about “energy emanations” or even external movements that are independent of my partner’s manifestation of energy.

In the specific case of Chansijin (“silk reeling energy”) and Chousijin (“drawing silk energy”), my problem is not so much treating one as a class of Jin and the other as a metaphor, but rather as seeing them either as the same thing or as the same class of thing. These two things now occupy completely different mental “boxes,” as far as my practice goes. They have little or nothing to do with each other.

A good part of my study of Taijiquan has been with teachers who have taught Chansijin in their version of Yang Style. My understanding of what the Yangs teach is, however, completely different. This discrepancy would seem to lead to the question of who is teaching Taijiquan “correctly,” but I believe such an inquiry to be a red herring and an unproductive line of discussion. What I do think is crucially important is that practitioners understand the implications of the theories that they are studying.

Let me make one of my analogies to the study of language. I think that talking about many “universal” principles of Taijiquan is like talking about the subjunctive as a universal facet of verbs. The reality is that there are crucial differences between the use of the subjunctive in such related languages as English, German, French, Spanish, and Latin. Talking about the subjunctive as an abstract concept independent of a specific language obscures these differences and leads to confusion.

One aspect of “drawing silk” that I have only discovered recently is that this is an aspect of the “smoothness” that is required for types of Taijiquan similar to what the Yangs teach. By “smoothness,” I am not talking about merely a desirable characteristic of one’s movements, but rather a quality that is a prerequisite to be able to execute some of the techniques. Since many (or all?) Taijiquan techniques require energy from the opponent, a lack of smoothness in one’s own movements tends to change the opponent’s energy in ways that frustrate execution of the Taijiquan technique. I am not talking about any conscious action on the part of the opponent, but rather the inherent ways in which the energy of the two parties will combine.

I can make an analogy with spinning a looped rope into a lasso. The right energy cannot be produced by jerky motion. Similarly, without drawing Jin like silk fibers from a cocoon, it becomes all but impossible to avoid using force and speed to compete with the opponent. Such techniques can, of course, work; but they are not part of the Taijiquan I understand the Yangs to be teaching.

Take care,
Audi
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Postby psalchemist » Tue Oct 28, 2003 2:52 am

Greetings Audi,

I was reading your discourse above concerning smoothness of movement.

For the sake of clarity may I ask more precisely what you are expressing?


In practicing the form...

The thought that comes to mind when I read your description is the example of the posture "LU"...upon arriving at extreme rt one must maintain a certain amount of smootness and fluidity in the movement when turning back towards the left or else that particular "sway" which seems to be generated from the continuity is lost...

Is this what you mean by smoothness?

Thank-you,
Best regards,
Psalchemist.
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