Friday, July 5, 2013



Hsin means "sincere," "sincerity."  This Chinese character has two sides.  The left side is "person," and it looks somewhat like a torso with two legs.  The right side is "words," "language," and it looks somewhat like a hand blowing words from the mouth (at bottom).

Hsin is the title of the first chapter in Hunger Mountain, a lovely little book by the longtime translator of Chinese works, David Hinton.  The book is about Chinese words (and language and culture) and Nature and about  David Hinton's philosophical walks in the mountain near his home, Hunger Mountain.  Etienne showed me the book in Boston when we saw him there in May.

Hsin is a notable word in the last chapter of Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching ("The Way of Things").
Hsin yen pu mei
Mei yen pu hsin
Sincere words are not pretty
Pretty words are not sincere
-translation by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo

This is how Chapter 81 begins.  We have brushed this 8-character verse in calligraphy class, and so I was interested that David Hinton had chosen hsin for a title.  And I will always remember that Etienne held the Hinton book and showed it to me.

We got to meet Etienne and, for the first time, Etienne's wife Christien.  They are luminescent together.  How I wish South Africa were closer, so we could see them more often.

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