Irregular Weekly Four 12: 君子豹変

If a superior man was worth half a panther, what would you get if you tried to buy one that way?

kun shi hyou hen
superior man panther change

Confusing? It should be! It's from the I Ching, the most confusing book in history! But perhaps the context will help. If you're following along at home, look up hexagram 49, moving sixth line:

The superior man changes like a panther.
The inferior man molts in the face.
Starting brings misfortune.
To remain persevering brings good fortune. [Wilhelm/Baynes]
[The sixth SIX, divided, shows] the superior man producing his changes as the leopard (does when he) changes (his spots), while small men change their faces (and show their obedience). To go forward (now) would lead to evil, but there will be good fortune in abiding firm and correct. [Legge]

"Molts in the face"?

Anyway, clearly what we have here is two guys -- three, if you include the translator -- trying to bluff us into believing that what they wrote is comprehensible. But let's face it: it isn't. For one things, leopards can't change their spots. That's why we have that whole turn of phrase about it. I would stand on their shoulders and suggest something like:

The superior man moves like a panther. The inferior man changes only his face. Setting out = suffering, staying put = happiness.

In any case, the four-character compound has come to mean "Admitting one's mistakes promptly and moving on". Originally it was praise, but in recent times it's come to be used critically as well: "A new girlfriend already? Don't you think that's a bit 君子豹変?"

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Hey Matt! This is superior to that LiveJournal in many ways. Currently with identical posts! See comment on Livejournal. Etc. I don't know.

What's up, man?

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