Zhuangzi glossary


how much sense to make

There are plenty of excellent translations of Zhuangzi available, so why write another? The goal of a translation is to make the text make sense, which seems reasonable enough. The problem is, the more time I have spent with this text, the less sense it makes to me. I used to think I understood it much better than I do now. Some stories go nowhere at all, like the yak in 1:07. Others seem to have a straight-forward moral on the surface falls apart on further inspection, like the traveler with the ointment in 1:06. The better a translation does at the job of making sense, the more it obscures this resistance to sense which one of the text's hallmarks. So that is what I am trying to do here: not to make sense of the text but to explore the ways it does not make sense to me and why. But I’m not always sure when I am not making sense in a good way and when I am just not making sense.