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Additional Comments to Passage 1:2 in the Zhuangzi



Zhuangzi packs maximum paradox into his opening salvo.  The smallest and youngest fish (the roe, the fish egg) is also the largest fish and, picking up the visual pun in this fanciful name, the elder brother.  The paradoxical results of the limitations of knowing are signaled by the vastness of the tiny, which is "beyond knowing."  The enormous bird in its solitude, its distance from the world, is also the peer, the cohort (following another visual pun).  And indeed each of these creatures, the fish and the bird, is in its aloneness the companion of the other, the opposite end of its process of transformation.  The rising from the depths of the water to the height of the sky, from hiddenness to manifestation, echoes the ascending course of the dragon in the first hexagram of the Zhouyi, here pictured as an arcing journey from one oblivion to another.  The manifest bird is a temporary arc of stunning visibility poised between two darknesses.  The north is normally the place of darkness and cold, while the south is the place of light and heat.   Zhuangzi, however, points us toward the "Southern Oblivion"—darkness and light at once, which, we are told is also the "Pool of Heaven," water and sky at once, a paradoxical coincidence of opposites that signals the depths of what he will henceforth be calling "the Heavenly."  The reader should note the spate of such "double formulations" to come in the Inner Chapters: "Tumultuous Tranquility"(6:38) "Let yourself be jostled and shaken by the boundlessness--for that is the way to be lodged securely in the boundlessness"(2:46) "Walking Two Roads"(2:24) "responding but not storing"(7:13) and the like.



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