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KEN CHEN
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Yes, A Conversation Between Car and Confucius
Poem, Kyoto Journal, No. 55, 2003

Car: Cars are superior to people because all cars of the same model believe they are the same. Ancient Chinese law presupposes that people are not created equal. Power is a direction. It points to the father rather than to the son, the husband, not the wife. An irate father could break up a marriage even if the man and the woman still loved each other.

Confucius: Men are close to one another by nature. They diverge as a result of repeated practice. (XVII.2)

Car: I once thought I was the same as my wife. Once she said Traffic is really the loneliest experience—everyone wants to be somewhere else. But I am not my wife for two reasons. First, I do not have a wife. Second, cars as a rule do not have wives.

Confucius: The Odes can be summed up in one phrase—Swerve not from the right path. (II.2)

Car: Driving Directions! Finally something I understand.

Confucius: He did not really think of her. If he did, there is no such thing as being far away. (IV.31).

Car: The first time we met, I found her standing by the side of the road. She had biked to the lake to go swimming. Another car swerved off the road and hit her right in the bike, smashing it into uselessness. I said Come inside me, I will hold you until you find your destination. I will make the far seem close. The last time we met, she did not speak to me. Finally I said Is there someone else. The first time and the last time, this is what she said—Yes.

Confucius: How I have gone downhill! It has been such a long time since I have dreamt of the Duke of Chou. (VII.5)

Car: That’s funny—all my dreams are about (what else?) my wife. I see her in a doorless room and I say But I do not have a wife. She turns to me and says No it is you who do not exist and keeps telling me I do not exist. It’s hard to talk to someone who does not think you exist. You keep disappearing from the room.

Confucius: You should not go too far afield. If you do, your parents should always know of your whereabouts. (IV.19)

Car: This is why I have a global positioning system.

Confucius (by the river): What passes away is, perhaps, like this. Day and night it never lets up. (IX.17)

Car: Yes.

 

All content, unless otherwise noted, (c) Ken Chen, 1998-2006. Ken Chen can be reached by email.

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