Feature Hans-Georg Moeller and Paul J. D’Ambrosio. Genuine Pretending: On the Philosophy of the Zhuangzi. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.x, 221 pp. Paperback $35.00, ISBN 978-0-231-18399-4. Back in the day, men were men, women were women, and ﬁsh were ﬁsh. You hunt, I gather, they play. If your father was a butcher or a carpenter, you inherited the role and accepted it without question. The modern age supposedly ushered in new freedoms, chief among them the right to choose one’s destiny. Yet the liberated person soon encountered a new tyranny: now you have to do the dishes willingly, so as to show that you are no mere slave to the role but rather a free and self-directed individual. To grumble about chores is to betray the modern imperative to ﬁnd fulﬁllment and self-actualization in everything one does. One wonders what Zhuangzi’s spouse (if any) would make of his signature work, especially if he was the sort who left dirty dishes in the sink. Going with the ﬂow, or being wu-wei, is easily caricatured as the habitus of the procrastinator or the privilege of those who have someone to clean up after them. The parables of the Zhuangzi raise
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Mar 6, 2020
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