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Old 05-25-2006, 11:25 AM   #19
clwk
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 136
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Re: Article: A Re-transliteration of Osensei's "Kannagara no Jutsu" by "The Grindstone"

David,

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Second, there is this sense, somewhat connected to the first, that folks are somehow being misled and that somehow through this misleading they are being negatively impacted. I am deducing this since in the common understanding of the word no one is ever "misled" to more truth or to any kind of better existence.
There are two unrelated issues here. One is the question of whether your text is 'better' than the one it modifies. You keep assuring me that it is unequivocally better, and I keep completely ignoring the point. I have not even read the original text because the extent to which you have improved it is irrelevant to the second question. I would point out though that assurances from an author that what he has done is valid are somewhat superfluous. We can assume you like what you have done and feel that it is valid, etc. - so your repeating that opinion as an argument does not add much. If you wanted to elevate the claim to more than an opinion, you would probably need to accept the idea that your piece should be rigorous in its attributions.

The second issue is whether it is misleading to present a text which 'appears' to be a re-worked translation intended as a critical commentary of an existing translation, but which is in fact, no more or less than a critical commentary and re-envisioning of the existing translation. I believe it is misleading. You seem to agree that it could be misleading, but that this is negated by the fact that since your text represents 'more truth' and leads to a 'better kind of existence' - this is okay. I think we understand each other now. I think the two questions are independent. Not only do I think it is a bad idea to mislead on one point in order to 'benefit' on the other - it seems totally unnecessary.

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Outside of this exercise, outside of this discussion, outside of what it means to me to be a practitioner of Aikido, I have little control over what happens to what I have written and chosen to share with others. For example, I can see your last point more clearly if someone in some distant future took away my footnotes, took my title away, took my name off the piece, made no reference to this thread, and then if you or others were not there to tell them that the piece is not a translation. However, I have to wonder why they could not and would not also just remove the line saying, "Warning: Not a translation."
I think you are making this far too complicated. What it comes down to is this: based on the text as it is, it was unclear to me what it represented when I read it - now, in context. I did not research the AJ article alluded to in your footnote, nor did I spend long hours pondering what poetic meaning you might have ascribed to the opaque word 're-transliterate'. Based on my best guess, I assumed you had found the original source of a translation to which you objected, and had re-translated that source to include the changes you have documented. I do not claim to be the sharpest tool in the shed, or to possess flawless reading comprehension. Nevertheless, I feel that if I could be confused by this (without any of the future confusing factors you mention having to have occurred), it's quite likely that others will be confused over it at some present or future time also. Since you yourself agree that the article does not in fact contain the necessary explanation, I think this is a reasonable point.

Certainly as an author, you may say what you want - but your attitude that since you do not object to me repeating myself on this point, you are thereby absolved of any responsibility to say it yourself, makes little sense to me. I have no desire to take responsibility for the future understanding of every possible reader of your text. To negate my criticism by saying that the criticism removes its own basis (by providing the missing information) is like refusing to amend a food label - on the basis that the complaining party has himself solved the problem by publicly pointing it out. Since, as you point out, the article is 'hardly scholastic' you have no obligation to be clear about your sources. I would have thought, given the authoritative tone of the footnotes, that you might *want* your readers to have a clear and straightforward basis for understanding what you have done - in order that it represent a clean step in shaping tradition, a motivation your self-consciously claim.

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On the other hand, if folks then reading it came to be misled, misled to see this act of literary criticism as a translation, I wonder if they would end up in a better place or in a worse place. Thinking on that: Though they would completely be misunderstanding my point, I am afraid I think they would end up in a better place for having thusly been misled. I am not saying this to belittle your position. It is just how I feel -- both helpless and yet without worry.
I guess this is where we differ. You feel that creation of a misleading text cannot be problematic, as long as the results of this deception (what else can you call it, if you intentionally mislead someone - for their benefit or not) are positive - both in your opinion, and in the opinion of at least several other Aikiweb posters. Personally, I feel that messing around with texts in order to deceive people for their own benefit is a sketchy business. The word that comes to mind is 'propaganda'.

I suppose whomever decided, once upon a time, to suppress Aikido's connection with Daito Ryu probably felt that this was a deception which would ultimately serve the Founder's higher purposes, and thereby benefit the inheritors of that information. Nevertheless, I am grateful to Stanley Pranin's work in recovering as much unvarnished historical information as possible so that we later practitioners can form opinions based on somewhat reasonable information.

It would be very easy for you to have included, as the introduction to your article a sentence explaining the article's source. This would be more than a 'warning' that the work was not a translation. It would place the work in context and could hardly detract from your purpose unless deceit, however benevelont, is part of the goal. Even this might have been unnecessary if the title of the work had been sufficiently accurate or comprehensible.

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Such explorations go in and out of use; they are changed many times; they are lost and re-found; they are discredited and re-credited; names are attached to them and names are unattached from them; etc. I do not see this in as negative a light as you may.
The things you describe are either products of historical confusion, or of slightly devious intention. I am not advocating a hyper-purist stance in which the realities of traditions are not accounted for. I am simply pointing out that lost, changed, and reconstituted information will come about over time; and if as information producers we have any obligation, it is to help minimize the confusion we know will arise over our words. We do not need to help it along on the basis that we do not view modifications to traditions as negative.

I appreciate that responding to my complaints gives you a further opportunity to explain the tradition-shaping rôle you see yourself as playing here. All I can gather from what you have said is that you feel comfortable identifying your piece as a mildly deceptive (misleading), but (in your opinion) helpful piece of writing. If it were me, I would prefer to eliminate the deceptive component, but I will not lose any sleep over your decision not to.

Chhi'mèd
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