September 29: Larry King and the Mandate of Heaven

If you're seeking after wisdom, I'll be at Nate 'n' Al's.

I say this with some trepidation, because I am who I am, whereas Confucius has been around for thousands of years. But if you were deciding to read a bunch of the Harvard Classics, and if you landed on Confucius in its century-old (at least) translation, and if the reading assigned were this reading, then you might be thinking what I'm thinking, which is that Confucius sounds like Larry King. Specifically, He sounds like a (less insane version of) Larry King's old "USA Today" column, where, on the page, random synapses would fire, tied together by three dots. I used to collect them. Here are some:
I get a good feeling when I see a police officer on a horse.
I never get tired of listening to Canada's National Anthem.
How do women choose from all the lipsticks available to them?
Jell-O is still one of the all-time great desserts.
If the first phone call of the day is a good one, all of them usually are.
The designs of the new ties are better than ever.
How do you celebrate Flag Day?
I hesitate to say it, but as I look at these, the word that comes to mind is "inscrutable."

Confucius isn't as random, because, of course, he's a wise old man, not a crazy one, but they're just as bullet-pointy:
The Master said: “Honeyed words and flattering looks seldom speak of love.”
The Master said: “In governing, cleave to good; as the north star holds his place, and the multitude of stars revolve upon him.”
“Our manner is the hard part. For the young to be a stay in toil, and leave the wine and cakes to their elders, is this to fulfil their duty?”
“A man without love, what is courtesy to him? A man without love, what is music to him?”
“Preaching to princes brings disgrace, nagging at friends estrangement.”
In Confucius's defense, he died in 479 B.C., where advice not to nag was still relatively fresh, having only been given a hundred thousand times, as opposed to a trillion like now. And, to be fair, because I'm painfully conscious of having insulted this world-historical figure by comparing him to Larry King, there's definitely things here and there to hang on to:
THE MASTER said: “In learning and straightway practising is there not pleasure also? When friends gather round from afar do we not rejoice? Whom lack of fame cannot vex is not he a gentleman?”
The Master said: “A man and his faults are of a piece. By watching his faults we learn whether love be his.”
The Master said: “A scholar in search of truth who is ashamed of poor clothes and poor food it is idle talking to.”
Although I have to say, it's one thing not to be ashamed of poor food. It's another thing to claim it's a positive good -- which I, whatever Confucius might say, do not officially recommend.

UPDATE: Fixed link. Sheesh.

1 comment:

Lisa Simeone said...

Ha ha! I am cracking up here!! I'm going to send this to everyone I know.

And how well I remember those Larry King columns! They always read like something out of The Onion.