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What makes a classic?

?什么作品算得上是經典作品?



First, the work must focus on matters of great importance, identifying fundamental human problems and providing some sort of guidance for dealing with them. Second, it must address these fundamental issues in “beautiful, moving, and memorable ways,” with “stimulating and inviting images.” Third, it must be complex, nuanced, comprehensive, and profound, requiring careful and repeated study in order to yield its deepest secrets and greatest wisdom.

第一,經典作品研究的是最重要的事情,探討關于人類生存的根本問題,并為人們提供處理這類問題的方法。第二,經典作品須以“優美、動人、永恒”的結論、以吸引讀者興趣、喚起讀者研究欲望的方法解決這些問題。 第三,經典作品必須內容深奧、微妙,隱晦,博大 ,需要仔細地、反復地研讀才有可能理解其最深層次的秘密和最寬偉的智慧。

One might add that precisely because of these characteristics, a classic has great staying power across bothspace and time. By these criteria and by most other measures as well, the Yijing certainly fits the bill. And yet it seems so different from other “classics” that instantly come to mind, whether literary works such as the Odyssey, the Republic, the Divine Comedy, and The Pilgrim’s Progress or sacred scxtures like the Jewish and Christian Bibles, the Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas and the Buddhist sutras. Structurally it lacks any sort of systematic or sustained narrative, and from the standpoint of spirituality, it offers no vision of religious salvation, much less the promise of an afterlife or even the idea of rebirth.

就是因為有了這些特征標準,還有一條也許應當加上去;一部經典作品應當有橫跨空間與時間概念持久的魅力。不管是從上述標準還是以其它標準評價,易經都是一部名符其實的經典著作。然而,易經好象又與我們頭腦中的其它經典著作存在巨大的差異。如荷馬史詩、理想國、神曲、天路歷程,希伯來圣經、基督教圣經、古蘭經、吠陀經、佛經等。從結構上講,易經缺少系統的、前后連貫的講述。從精神立場上講,易經沒有提出宗教拯救的啟示,根本不提人死后的報應也沒有提及再生的觀點。



For those who think of themselves as secular, rational, and scientific, the Yijing seems to be a work of “awesome obscurity,” full of unfamiliar symbols and cryptic sayings, and reflecting a worldview sometimes described as “mystical” or “prelogical.” And for those of a more religious disposition, the lack of a cosmology based on the willful actions of a god or gods seems equally puzzling.

那些認為自己傾向世俗、理性、具有科學頭腦的人來說,易經就是一部“不可思議的混亂”的作品,完全是一些異樣的符號、艱澀難懂的文字堆砌,表現為“秘密主義”和“前邏輯”的世界觀。
那些認為自己更具宗教觀點的人來講,易經缺少完整的宇宙觀,臆想中的神的所作所為同樣是令人難切要領。

In either case the Changes appears to be little more than a series of briefly annotated broken and solid lines that have no meanings except for those arbitrarily imposed on them by centuries of often-conflicting Chinese commentaries.

這兩類人都認為易經僅是一些帶有注釋的、簡短的意思片斷,字里行間沒有確切的意思,只是幾百年來中國的評注家們強加上去的,充滿矛盾的注解還能讓人看出點東西。

Yet there is logic to the work, which, for at least three thousand years, China’s greatest minds have sought to fathom and articulate. Into the twentieth century, the Yijing occupied a central place in Chinese culture, from the realms of philosophy, religion, art, and literature to those of politics and social life. Thinkers of every intellectual persuasion found inspiration in the language, symbolism, and imagery of the Changes. The work also inspired many impressive artistic and literary achievements, and it provided an analytical vocabulary that proved extraordinarily serviceable in virtually every area of elite and popular culture, including science and technology.

然而易經不是沒有邏輯,至少在過去3000年歷史中,中國最偉大的思想家都在致力于理解其深刻的含意并加以注解。到了20世紀,易經主導了中國文化的各個領域,包括哲學、宗教、藝術、文學以及政治與社會生活的各個方面。各個學士流派都能在其語言、符號、圖象中發現靈感和啟示,由此創造出許多偉大的藝術和文學作品。此外,易經也提供了一種解析性的思維方式,這種思維方式不管是在高雅文化還是大人文化領域都被證明是非常有用的,甚至在科學與技術領域也不例外。

In premodern times, Chinese scientists used Yijing-derived symbolism, numerology, and mathematics to explain a wide range of natural processes and phenomena in the fields of knowledge that we now call physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, medicine, meteorology, and geology. And even today many devotees of the Changes see in the mathematical symbolism of the document the seeds of modern scientific theories, from the binary logic of computers to the structure of DNA. In short, to understand much of Chinese history and culture, we need to understand the Changes.

在前現代時期,中國科學家利用易經基礎上建立的符號系統、數秘術、數學解釋大量的自然過程和自然現象。這些自然過程和自然現象包括現代科學中的物理學、天文學、化學、生物學、藥學、氣象學、地質學等。即使在今天,一些熱衷于易經的人仍然把易經中的數學符號當作現代科學的源頭---從計算機的二進制到DNA的結構。簡言之,要理解更多的中國歷史文化,必須首先理解易經。

From the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) through the Qing (1644–1912 CE), the Yijing remained a work of enormous and unchallenged scxtural authority; everyone in Chinese society esteemed it and employed it in some way, from emperors and officials to artisans and peasants. Commoners used pages from the book as a charm to ward off evil, and scholars gave it pride of place as “first among the [Confucian] classics.” Although the document contains few explicit references to supernatural beings or supernatural forces, it has always had a profoundly spiritual dimension. Indeed, the Changes describes itself as “the most spiritual thing in the world.” By virtue of its spiritual power, we are told, the Yijing “lets one know what is going to come, and by virtue of its wisdom, it becomes a repository of what has happened.” But whereas most religious traditions, both East and West, have emphasized the activities of a god or gods as an explanation for cosmic processes, devotees of the Changes have long held the view that such explanations reside in the cosmic powers embodied in its lines, trigrams, and hexagrams.

從公元前206年的漢朝開始到1912年清朝終結的2000多年里,易經一直是中國文化中不可挑戰的靈魂,每個中國人都以其方式敬奉易經,實踐易經。無論是高高在上的皇帝還是身居權位的命官,從身懷絕技的工匠到耕作田間的農民無一不是把易經奉為上天圣旨。平民百性引用易經中的詞句作為咒語驅趕惡鬼,學士把易經推崇為與論語齊名的杰作。盡管易經中沒有公開提及超自然的神靈,但是總是宣揚精神實體的存在。易經宣稱其是“世界上最神靈化的主張”。易經告訴我們,借助其精神力量,易經“讓人預見到將來”,根據其智慧源泉,易經匯集了我們過去的經歷。盡管大多數東方或者西方的宗教人士都強調神的行為當作對宇宙過程解釋,但易經的信奉者一直持有這樣的觀點,易經對宇宙力量的解釋體現在其咒語中、占卜和卦象中。

The central preoccupation of the Yijing throughout the imperial era (from the Han to the Qing) was how to understand the patterns and processes of nature, and how to act in harmony with them. The most common term for nature in premodern China was Dao, usually translated as “the Way.” Although this longstanding metaphysical concept had neither a personality nor a particular identity, it remained an overarching unifying truth among the Chinese in the same general sense that concepts such as Yahweh, Allah, God, Brahman, and Ultimate Reality were in the Judaic, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions, respectively. To fathom the Dao was to understand the various types of change in the universe, from the cosmic to the mundane, from recurrent cycles of movement -- ebb and flow, rise and decline, advance and retreat -- to physical and metaphysical transformations. From this sort of understanding came an appreciation of proper timing and positioning, essential in a culture where the ritual ideal had always been to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right place, facing the right direction.



Similar processes of appropriation and adaptation took place much later in the West, but for somewhat different reasons and with sometimes radically different results. First, the Yijing had to be translated into various Western languages by scholars who had different levels of language ability and different political, religious, or personal agendas. In East Asia the Changes remained part of the dominant culture into the twentieth century, whereas in Europe and the Americas, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s, the radical otherness of the Yijing led to its use primarily as a countercultural document. To be sure, some individuals -- Christian missionaries in particular -- tried to find affinities between the Changes and the Bible, and scholars of various sorts sought to understand the document on its own terms, as a historical artifact rather than a living document. But on the whole the Yijing served in the West as a tool for challenging the establishment rather than supporting it.

很久以后,易經在向西方傳播時也發生了相似的適應和取舍,但是出于某些不同的理由,產生完全不同的結果。第一,易經必須由學者譯成結構不同的西方語言,這些學者的語言能力參差不齊,在政治、宗教、個人傾向方面存在顯著差異。在東亞,易經保持其在文化領域的統治地位一直到20世紀,而在歐洲和美洲,特別是在上世紀60年代到70年代,巨大的文化差異性使得易經變成一個主要的反主流文化的反面教材。確實,有些人---特別是基督教的牧師—曾經嘗試在易經與圣經之間找到某種相似之處。不少學者努力想站在自己的角度理解這本巨著,把易經當作歷史遺物來研究,而不是當作有實用指導意義的著作來研究。但是從整體上講,易經在西方主要被當作一個挑戰其制度的工具,很少得到認可。