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Chuang Tzu’s Empy Boat


“If a man is crossing a river

And an empty boat collides with his own skiff,

Even though he be a bad-tempered man

He will not become very angry.

But if he sees a man in the boat,

He will shout at him to steer clear.

If the shout is not heard, he will shout again,

And yet again, and begin cursing.

And all because there is somebody in the boat.

Yet if the boat were empty,

He would not be shouting, and not angry.

The straight tree is the first to be cut down,

The spring of clear water is the first to be drained dry.

If you wish to improve your wisdom

And shame the ignorant,

To cultivate your character

And outshine others;

A light will shine around you

As if you had swallowed the sun and the moon:

You will not avoid calamity.”

Read by DMFreemont
Tzu, Chuang. “The Empty Boat”, The Way of Chuang Tzu. Translated by Thomas Merton. New York: New Directions, 1965.

CT+CR Collective

The Critical Theory and Creative Research Collective is devoted to socio-political critique, including the rethinking and recalibration of unstable, fast-changing relations between machine-generated data and human experience, theory and practice, the possible and the real, time and judgment, process and end-driven behavior. Its members include Anne-Marie Oliver, Barry Sanders, Marie-Pierre Hasne, Joan Handwerg, Nicole Smith, Marshall Astor, Carmen Denison, Peter Falanga, Andre Fortes, Dustin Freemont, Val Hardy, Lauren Heagerty, Hannah Horovitz, Evangelina Owens, Mel Ponis, Kevin Smith, Mohammed Usrof, Brooke Wendt, and Chloé Womack.

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