It's been a while since I posted, and that is due to my impending China trip (leaving early tomorrow AM!). Although the first portion of the journey is largely fun, escorting a group of alumni from my college to various and sundry famous locales (looking forward to Huangshan, where I have never been), after that I am off to some academic work, a confernece at Beida.
And in good academic fashion I am writing a paper to present, something a bit more esoteric than my usual postings here. The general topic is: why Confucianism is not catching on in the US (I realize that this is an empirical issue and some may want to argue that it is catching on. But I don't think so....). In thinking about this, I am exploring the extent to which translation is not the problem. And I have discovered Wlater Benjamin's famous piece, "The Translator's Task" (PDF!). At first, I was not particularly taken with his analysis. The traces of a kind of divine realm of "pure language" ran against my usual rationalist impulses. But the more I thought about, the more I could see how Benjamin's view can show us how Confucianism is, in his sense, "translatable."
I am pasting in the section of the paper, with footnotes, that deals with this below the fold. Warning: 2000 words!