Forum For Cultural Memory Continued

COMPLEX VARIABLES/複雜變量

Posted September 13, 2015

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Meaning

" ... 'Meaning-Extensions' ...". [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

The appearance of grand integrity
is that it follows the Way alone.
The Way objectified
is blurred and nebulous.

How nebulous and blurred!
Yet within it there are images.
How blurred and nebulous!
Yet within it there is an essence.
Its essence is quite real:
Within it there are tokens.

From the present back to the past,
Its name has been imperishable.
Through it we conform to the father of the masses.

How do I know what the father of the masses is like?
Through this.

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"There is a quality of life which lies always beyond the mere fact of life; and when we include the quality in the fact, there is still omitted the quality of the quality."

-- Alfred North Whitehead (1926)

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Ch'an master Tung-shan Liang-chieh (807 - 869):

There is one thing above, it supports Heaven; below, it upholds Earth. It is black like lacquer, always actively functioning.

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Peinture

Daniel Buren: Photo-souvenir. PEINTURE-SCULPTURE (PAINTING-SCULPTURE). Work in situ, 1971. 66 x 32 ft. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Daniel Buren (1969):

Every art is political, and whether one is conscious of it or not, the presentation of one's work is no exception. Any production, any work of art is social, has a political significance.

Daniel Buren (1979):

When we say architecture, we include the social, political, and economic context. Architecture of any sort is in fact the inevitable background, support and frame of my work.

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Mawangdui

Funeral banner from tomb no. 1, Mawangdui, c. 168 BCE. [Unearthed in 1972.] Coloured pigments on silk. Length: 205 cm. Width: 92 cm (top) / 47.7 cm (bottom). Hunan Provincial Museum, Changsha.

[ Note:

The upper part of this Han dynasty funeral procession banner depicts the heavens (with moon/sun being represented by the symbols toad/raven); the middle part and lowest part of the banner illustrate the 'human realm' and the 'netherworld', respectively.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

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Peter Eisenman (1973):

The making of architecture can be said to be a continuing dialectic between ideas and forms. Certain ideas and metaphors have the power to suggest buildings. Equally, certain buildings, by virtue of their form, can imply a use and even suggest a way of life. Each is no more or less architecture.

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Buren

Daniel Buren, photo-souvenir, D'UN LOSANGE À L'AUTRE. 'Situated work' (painted mural) at Hudiksvallsgatan 8, Stockholm, 2012.

Daniel Buren (2012):

For me, all places are utilizable a priori. [...] As for staging my work, I'm just as ready to do it in a bathroom as in the Guggenheim or even in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

[ Note:

As a contribution to the 'Year of French Culture' (2004/2005), Buren produced a work, in situ: FROM THE SKY TO TEMPLE OF HEAVEN. A favourable report in PEOPLE'S DAILY (12 October 2014) summarized the work, succinctly noting: "The 230 standards [banners] are set in pedestals weighing 400 kg and are made up of declining gradations of a blue redolent of the lapis-lazuli used in the tiling of the temple itself. The flags [comprised of 8.7 cm vertical stripes, alternately white and colour] stand along both sides of the central walkway leading up to the magnificent view of the 'Altar for Good Harvest'." ]

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Charles Sanders Peirce (1892):

Time with its continuity logically involves some other kind of continuity than its own. Time, as the universal form of change, cannot exist unless there is something to undergo change, and to undergo a change continuous in time, there must be a continuity of changeable qualities.
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Louis H. Sullivan (1896):

It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things human and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that the form ever follows function. That is the law.

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Wyndham Lewis (1926):

"Revolution" today is taken for granted, and in consequence becomes rather dull."

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Father time

Simon Vouet, FATHER TIME OVERCOME BY HOPE, LOVE AND BEAUTY (1627). Oil on canvas. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

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Ch'an master Hung-chih Cheng-chüeh (1091 - 1157):

Merge your mind
with cosmic space,
integrate your actions
with myriad forms.

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Drunk

Liang Kai (c. 1140 - c. 1210), DRUNKEN CELESTIAL ("Immortal in Splashed Ink"). National Palace Museum, Taipei.

[ Note:

Having achieved the rank of Painter-in-Residence at the Imperial Painting Academy (in1202), Liang Kai abruptly left his sinecure (in 1204) and commenced an unconventional, experimental painting practice (informed by the Ch'an Buddhist concept of 'freedom' as a primary ethical value). His work as an independent artist would influence the later formation of so-called IDEA WRITING [HSIEH I] painters in China and Japan.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

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Chieh-chou Hsüeh Hua P'ien (1781):

It should be possible ... for the human spirit to express the spirit of the universe through the brushstroke without difficulty. For painting is only an art, yet it has the power of creation of the universe itself.

[...]

If the artist insists on doing what he did yesterday, he cannot do it. Why? Because when an artist insists on something, he is already obstructing the free flow of the spirit ... the circumstance of a moment, totally unexpected and hard to explain in words.

[...]

In a brief moment, the depths and heights appear. ... That is because the grand idea [of the universe] has been thereby expressed.

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Andy Warhol (d.1987):

I love [Communist China] better than our culture. It's simpler. I love all the blue clothes, everyone wearing blue. I like to wear the same thing every day.

I love [Mao's] book. I read it ['Little Red Book'] all the time. I like simple thoughts.

[ Note:

These comments were recorded by filmmaker Lee Caplin, during Warhol's visit to Beijing in 1982.

In 2013, the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh) sent more than three hundred works by the artist to Shanghai and Beijing. Despite their status as key components of a carefully planned curatorial initiative, five Warhol portraits of Mao Zedong were officially censored (removed from exhibition in both cities) by central government authorities.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

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Mao

(PAINTED) PORTRAIT OF CHAIRMAN MAO. Permanent installation (since 1950). Tiananmen / Gate of Heavenly Peace, Beijing.

[ Note:

The founding of the People's Republic of China was proclaimed by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949, In Tiananmen Square. The site is named after the adjoining Tiananmen / Gate of Heavenly Peace (built in 1415). As an embellishment to that precinct, Mao's portrait is re-painted annually -- thereby rejuvenating the 'substitute image' of an imposing 'super-person'.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

Honour is a contagion deep as fear,
renown a calamity profound as self.

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Mao Zedong (1949):

A state system which is shared only by the common people, and which the bourgeosie is not allowed to own privately -- add to this the leadership of the working class, and we have the state system of the people's democratic dictatorship.

Andy Warhol (1975):

What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it. And you know it.

Rong Xiaoqing, GLOBAL TIMES, China (2013):

Warhol started to depict Mao in 1972, at a historic time when then President Nixon was visiting China. But he was not known as a political person. His choice was in line with his predilection for chasing power. He drew Marylin Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, Muhammed Ali and the Queen of England in similar colours for the same reason.

Mao Zedong (1964):

Everything under heaven is in chaos; the situation is excellent.

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Marshall McLuhan (1974):

Electric speeds of information literally create the mass man and obliterate the private man. [...] At the old slow speeds of information, before the telegraph, there were habits of detachment and objectivity which don't hold up against the total environment and immersion in the World Tank.

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MEMO to CAUSA from M. K. Morton (August 2015):

In ON THE MAP: WHY THE WORLD LOOKS THE WAY IT DOES [2013], Simon Garfield has an anonymous quote that these days (with GPS, etc.) you are the map. McLuhan would have loved that.

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Across

" ... 'Across Emptiness' ...". [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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Thanks

BY W.S. MERWIN (2005)


Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
standing by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
taking our feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
thank you we are saying and waving
dark though it is

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Ch'an / Zen master Dogen (1200-1253):

The true person is
Not anyone in particular;
But, like the deep blue colour
Of the limitless sky,
It is everyone, everywhere in the world.

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CONVERGENCE/匯流

Posted August 15, 2015

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Dogen

SELF-PORTRAIT [Watching the Full Moon], Ch'an/Zen master Dogen. Hanging scroll, dated 1249. Hokyo-ji monastery, Fukui Prefecture, Japan.

Inscription:

The mountain filled with leafless trees
Crisp and clear on this autumn night;
The full moon floating gently above the cluster of roofs,
Having nothing to depend on,
And not clinging to any place;
Free, like the steam rising from a full bowl of rice,
Effortless, as a fish swimming and splashing
back and forth,
Like drifting clouds or flowing water.
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Carl Sandburg (1950):

The inexplicable is all around us. So is the incomprehensible. So is the unintelligible.

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TO-EM-MEI'S THE UNMOVING CLOUD

by Tao Yuanming (365 - 427)

Translation by Ezra Pound (1915)

"Wet springtime," says To-em-mei," "Wet spring in the garden."


I.

The clouds have gathered, and gathered,
The eight ply of the heavens
are all folded into one darkness,
And the wide, flat road stretches out.
I stop in my room toward the East, quiet, quiet,
I pat my new cask of wine.
My friends are estranged, or far distant,
I bow my head and stand still.

II.

Rain, rain, and the clouds have gathered,
The flat land is turned into river.
"Wine, wine, here is wine!"
I drink by my eastern window.
I think of talking and man,
And no boat, no carriage approaches.

III.

The trees in my east-looking garden
are bursting out with new twigs,
They try to stir new affection,
And men say the sun and moon keep on moving
because they can't find a soft seat.
The birds flutter to rest in my tree,
and I think I have heard them saying,
"It is not that there are no other men
But we like this fellow the best,
But however we long to speak
He can not know of our sorrow."

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DOORS

by Carl Sandburg (1950)

An open door says, "Come in."
A shut door says, "Who are you?"
Shadows and ghosts go through shut doors.
If a door is shut and you want it shut,
why open it?
If a door is open and you want it open,
why shut it?
Doors forget but only doors know what it is
doors forget.

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Ch'an/Zen master Dogen (1233):

To study the Way is to study the self. To study the Self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things in the universe. To be enlightened by all things of the universe is to cast off the body and mind of the self as well as those of others. Even the traces of enlightenment are wiped out, and life with timeless enlightenment goes on forever and ever.

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FOXGLOVES (1963)

by Carl Sandburg

Your heart was handed over
to the foxgloves one hot summer afternoon.
The snowsilk buds nodded and hung drowsy.
So the stalks believed
As they held those buds above.
In deep wells of white.
The dark fox fingers go in these gloves.
In a slow fold of summer
Your heart was handed over in a curve
from bud to bloom.

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Lu Zhi Plums

Lu Zhi (c. 1496 - 1576), PLUM BLOSSOMS. Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper, c. 1550. Honolulu Academy of Arts.

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"Understanding is not a point of view."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1971)

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riverbed

" ... 'Riverbed' ...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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OUTSIDE WORLD/外界

Posted July 31, 2015

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Foreign Influence

" ... 'Foreign Influence'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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QUESTIONING HEAVEN

[ Anonymous – from "The Songs of Ch'u" – c. 3rd century BCE ]


From the far origin of antiquity, who hands the story down to us?

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Arthur Waley (1958):

To be in harmony with, not in rebellion against, the fundamental laws of the universe is the first step ... on the way to Tao. For Tao is itself always-so, the fixed, the unconditioned, that which 'is-of-itself' and for no cause 'so'. It is the individual in the Uncarved Block, the consciousness on which no impression has been 'notched', in the universe it is the primal Unity underlying apparent multiplicity.

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

Endless the series of things without name
On the way back to where there is nothing.

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Oswald Spengler (1918):

It must not be forgotten that the physical notion of necessity that rules in what our intellects comprehend as Nature is founded upon another necessity which is organic and fateful in Life itself. The latter creates, the former restricts. One follows from inward certitude, the other from demonstration; that is the distinction between tragic and technical, historical and physical logic.

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Arthur Waley (1958):

The first great principle of Taoism is the relativity of all attributes. Nothing is in itself either long or short. If we call a thing long, we merely mean longer than something else that we take as a standard.

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True Forms chart

ILLUSTRATION OF THE TRUE FORMS OF THE FIVE SACRED PEAKS. (Rubbing from a stone stele at the Taoist Temple of the Central Peak, Mount Song, Henan province.) Ming dynasty, dated 1604. Hanging scroll – ink on paper. Collection: Dengfeng Bureau of Cultural Relics, Henan.
[Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

"Those who mix medicines, who are avoiding political turmoil or who seek quietude in order to practice the Way, have always gone into the mountains."

– Ge Hong, patriarch of chemical alchemy (283 - 343)

[ Note:

The "true forms" are accompanied by inscriptions that identify specific geographical locations for each mountain peak. Additionally, the inscriptions specify a correspondence with one of the Five Planets (and a particular god ruling over it).

– CAUSA Research Curators ]

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Carl Sandburg (1928):

Poetry is a statement of a series of equations, with numbers and symbols changing like the changes of mirrors, pools, skies, the only never-changing sign being the sign of infinity.

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DWELLING IN THE MOUNTAINS

by Hsieh Ling-yün (385 - 435)

Tracing the way back home here,
I might round North Mountain

on roads hung along cliff walls,
timbers rising in switchbacks,

or I could take the watercourse
way winding and circling back,

level lakes broad and brimming,
crystalline depths clear and deep

beyond shorelines all lone grace
and long islands of lush brocade.

Gazing on and on in reverence
across realms so boundless away,

I come to the twin rivers that flow through together.
Two springs, sharing one source,

they follow gorges and canyons
to merge at mountain headlands

and cascade on, scouring sand out and mounding dunes
below peaks that loom over islands swelling into hills,

whitewater carrying cliffs away in a tumble of rocks,
a mashing tangle of fallen trees glistening in the waves.

Following along the south bank that crosses out front,
the snaking north cliff that looms behind, I'm soon

lost in thick forests, the nature of dusk and dawn in full view,
and for bearings, I trust myself to the star-filled night skies.

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"On the 20th anniversary year of the discovery that proved other suns host planets, the Kepler exoplanet explorer has discovered a planet and star which most clearly resemble the Earth and Sun. This exciting result brings us one step closer to finding an Earth 2.0."

– John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA/The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington (23 July 2015)

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"I feel most at home in the United States, not because it is intrinsically a more interesting country, but because no one really belongs there any more than I do. We are all there together in a wholly excellent vacuum."

– Wyndham Lewis (1948)

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Robert C. Harding (2012):

Mao committed China to a formal space program in 1968 ... and the Chinese Academy for Space Technology was founded.... Decided in 1971, Mao's ambitious plans for space included ... the top secret Project 714, which aspired to put Chinese astronauts in space by 1973.... The program was cancelled in 1972 because of financial constraints as well as the Cultural Revolution, with Mao proclaiming that "we should take care of affairs here on earth first, and deal with extraterrestrial matters a little later." Despite this setback to the manned program, the unmanned program continued unabated.

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):


What Tao plants cannot be plucked.
What Tao clasps cannot slip.

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BLUEBIRD, WHAT DO YOU FEED ON?

by Carl Sandburg (1960)

Bluebird, what do you feed on?
It is true you gobble up worms, you
swallow bugs,
And your bill picks up corn, seed,
berries.
This is only part of the answer.
Your feathers have captured a piece of
smooth sky.
Your wings are burnished with
lake-morning blue.
It is not a worm blue nor a bug
blue nor the blue
Of corn or berry you shine with.
Bluebird, we come to you for facts,
for valuable
Information, for secret reports.
Bluebird, tell us, what do you
feed on?

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PAST AND FOREVER ON AND ON CHANT

by Li Ho (790 - 816)


Lucent-Lumen returns to western mountains,
Emerald-Blossom rises deep into far-off depths:

past and present – where will they ever end?
Years whirl away on wind by the thousands,

and ocean sands turn to stone. Fish froth up
sighs along ruins of a sea-bridge to the sun.

Bits of radiance roam empty distances, skies
propped on pillars worn away into the years.

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ANY TIME

by W.S. Merwin (2001)

How long ago the day is
when at last I look at it
with the time it has taken
to be there still in it
now in the transparent light
with the flight in the voices
the beginning in the leaves
everything I remember
and before it before me
present at the speed of light
in the distance that I am
who keep reaching out to it
seeing all the time faster
where it has never stirred from
before there is anything
the darkness thinking the light

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Navigation

" ... 'Navigation'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

He who having used the outer-light can return to the
inner-light
Is thereby preserved from all harm.
This is called resorting to the always-so.

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EXTREME RECEPTIVENESS/超級樂於接受
Posted July 9, 2015

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"The Way is nameless."

– Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)

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THE ANCIENT SAGE

[Excerpt]

by Alfred Tennyson (1869)


If thou would'st hear the Nameless, and wilt dive
Into the Temple-cave of thine own self,
There, brooding by the central altar, thou
Mays't haply learn the Nameless hath a voice,
By which thou wilt abide, if thou be wise,
And if thou knowest, tho' thou canst not know;
For knowledge is the swallow on the lake
That sees and stirs the surface-shadow there
But never yet hath dipt into the abysm,
The Abysm of all Abysms, beneath, within
The blue of sky and sea, the green of earth,
And in the million-millionth of a grain
Which cleft and cleft again for evermore,
And ever vanishing, never vanishes [ ...]

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

Know whiteness,
Maintain blackness,
and be a model for all under heaven.
By being a model for all under heaven,
Eternal integrity will not err.
If eternal integrity does not err,
You will return to infinity.

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1888):

There are the morning thinkers, there are the afternoon thinkers, there are the night owls. Not to forget the noblest species: the ones of noon, the ones inside whom great Pan sleeps all the time. All light falls vertically here ...

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Pan

Nicolas Poussin, THE TRIUMPH OF PAN, 1636. Oil on canvas. National Gallery Collection, London.

[ Note:

This painting depicts nymphs and satyrs – revelling, in a mythical celebration, before a statue of Pan (the god of woods).

Poussin has perhaps intentionally linked Pan's identity with that of Priapus (a deity of gardens). Literary and visual references – panpipes, shepherd's staff, and theatrical masks (comedy, satire and tragedy) – present attributes of both Pan and Priapus (or are linked with rites associated to the two gods).

– CAUSA Research Curators ]

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"We know what happened to those who chanced to meet the Great God Pan, and those who are wise know that all symbols are symbols of something, not nothing. It was, indeed, an exquisite symbol beneath which men long ago veiled their knowledge of the most awful, most secret forces which lie at the heart of all things; forces before which the souls of men must wither and die and blacken under the electric current. Such forces cannot be named, cannot be spoken, cannot be imagined except under a veil and a symbol...."

– Arthur Machen (1894)

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Beuys tree

Joseph Beuys, 7000 OAKS – CITY FORESTATION INSTEAD OF CITY ADMINISTRATION, 1982 (ongoing).

[ Note:

Assisted by volunteers (over several years, commencing in 1982), Beuys planted seven thousand oak trees in Kassel Germany. The artist had specified that each of these trees (forming part of a larger "social sculpture" initiative) would be accompanied by a single, upright, basalt stone.

– CAUSA Research Curators ]

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Joseph Beuys (1982):

I think the tree is an element of regeneration which in itself is a concept of time. The oak is especially so because it is a slowly growing tree with a kind of really solid heart wood. It has always been a form of sculpture, a symbol for this planet ever since the Druids, who are called after the oak. Druid means oak. They used their oaks to define their holy places. I can see such a use for the future.... The tree planting enterprise provides a very simple but radical possibility for this when we start with the seven thousand oaks.

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"All modern art begins to appear comprehensible when it is interpreted as an attempt to instill youthfulness into an ancient world."

– Ortega y Gasset (1925)

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Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

Between "yes sir" and "certainly not!"
how much difference is there?
Between beauty and ugliness
how great is the distinction?

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"Pause until the rediscovery of eternity."

– Ellias Canetti (1971)

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NUMEROUS OTHERS/繁多他者

Posted June 20, 2015

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Lao Tzu (6th century BCE):

Deal with things before their occurrences.
Put them in order before disorder arises.

[ ...]

A tower of nine-stories rises up from a heap of earth.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.

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Marshall McLuhan (1977):

Our world flipped around the year 1900. At that time Max Planck explained with quantum mechanics that matter isn't continuous, that the material world has no connections, that it is made up of, and held together by, resonant interfaces. This marked the end of Newton for whom everything was linked.

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Cold Mountain / Han Shan (c. 7th - 9th centuries):

UNTITLED

The cold in these mountains is ferocious,
has been every year since the beginning.

Crowded peaks locked in perennial snows,
recluse-dark forests breathing out mists,

grasses never sprout before the solstice
and leaves start falling in early August.

This confusion includes a lost guest now,
searching, searching – no sky to be seen.

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"Poetry is an exhibit of one pendulum connecting with other and unseen pendulums inside and outside the one seen."

– Carl Sandburg (1928)

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Frontier Wilderness

" ... 'Frontier Wilderness'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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SKYSCRAPERS STAND PROUD

by Carl Sandburg

(1963)

The skyscrapers stand proud,
They seem to say they have
sought the absolute
and made it their own.
Yet they are blameless, innocent
as dumb steel and the dumber
concrete of our bastions.
"Man made us," they murmur. "We are
proud only as man is proud and we
have no more found the absolute
than has man."

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Cold Mountain / Han Shan (c. 7th - 9th centuries)

UNTITLED

No one knows this
mountain I inhabit:

deep in white clouds,
forever empty, silent.

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Kenneth Coutts-Smith (1979):

The current uncertainty as to the precise function of art in our society is, of course, not a feature restricted to a self-enclosed art system, though the problem is often, mistakenly, understood only in terms of the support-structure ... [...] Rather, it is symptomatic of a fugitive and unclear relationship between a changed structure of developing social and political realities and the essentially unchanged assumptions of an art-community that draws its identity and its rationale from the past, from the tradition of art rather than from the realities of lived experience.

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N.E. Thing Company / IAIN BAXTER &

(1968)


AN OBJECT TOSSED FROM ONE COUNTRY TO ANOTHER [AND BACK AGAIN]

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Ch'an master Yang-shan Hui-chi (814 - 890 CE):

A monk spoke to the Master as follows: "The ancients often said when one sees form one finds mind, and that the seat of meditation is an objective form. Please point out to me the mind beyond the form." The Master said, "Where is the seat of the meditation? Please point it out to me." The monk did not answer.

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"Objects are what we aren't, what we can't extend ourselves to be. [...] Objects are the limits we desperately need. They dispel our sadness, temporarily."

– Don DeLillo (1982)

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WITNESS

by W.S. Merwin

(1988)


I want to tell what the forests
were like

I will have to speak
in a forgotten language

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AFFECTIVE CAPACITY/感動的潛力

Posted June 6, 2015

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Spiritual Heirloom

" ... 'Spiritual Heirloom'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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GETTING UP PAST MIDNIGHT AND GAZING ACROSS THE WEST GARDEN, I ENCOUNTER THE RISING MOON

by Liu Tsung-yüan (773 - 819 CE)

Waking to the sound of heavy dew falling,
I open the door, gaze past the west garden

to a cold moon rising over eastern ridges,
scattered bamboo, roots gone clear, clear.

Distance clarifies a waterfall into silence.
Now and then, a mountain bird calls out.

I lean on a column, stay till dawn in these
isolate depths of quiet: no words, no words.

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Edward Sapir (1928):

Art creates a feeling of wholeness precipitating the flux of things into tangible forms, beautiful and sufficient to themselves; religion gathers up all the threads and meaninglessness of life into a wholeness that is not manifest and can only be experienced in the form of passionate desire. It is not useful and it is perhaps not wise to insist on fundamental antinomies, but if one were pressed to the wall one might perhaps be far from wrong in suspecting that the religious spirit is antithetical to that of art, for religion is essentially ultimate and irreconcilable. Art forgives because it values as an ultimate good the here and now; religion forgives because the here and now are somehow irrelevant to a desire that drives for ultimate solutions.

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A SONG OF THE DEGREES

by Ezra Pound (1913)

I

Rest me with Chinese colours,
For I think the glass is evil.

II

The wind moves above the wheat –
With a silver crashing,
A thin war of metal.

I have known the golden disc,
I have seen it melting above me.
I have known the stone-bright place,
The hall of colours.

III

O glass subtly evil, O confusion of colours!
O light bound and bent in, O soul of the captive,
Why am I warned? Why am I sent away?
Why is your glitter full of curious mistrust?
O glass subtle and cunning, O powdery gold!
O filaments of amber, two-faced iridescence!

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Marshall McLuhan (1977):

In a connected, coherent world (that is, Newton's world), communication operated via connections and links. In the electronic world, there are no connections, only separate levels that vibrate together or are in disharmony. We have discovered in our time that touch consists of tuning the sense organ to the frequency of the object itself, maintaining a constant interval between the organ and the object. If we want to grasp the object and squeeze it, we are no longer dealing with contact (and interval) but with connection.

[...]

Most people do not have ears for hearing, but only for listening. To listen is to blinker yourself, to restrict the eyes, as it were. To grasp the way words arrive, what the speaker is saying. But to hear is to put yourself on the same wavelength as the speaker.

________________________________

UNTITLED

by Han Shan/'Cold Mountain' (c. 6th - 9th centuries)


Sage Cold Mountain
is forever like this:

dwells alone and free,
not alive, not dead.

________________________________

Kanzan

Yan Hui (Chinese painter, late thirteenth century), HAN SHAN. Hanging scroll – colour on silk. Tokyo National Museum.
________________________________

THINK SEE DO
THINK MORE SEE MORE DO MORE
THINK SOME MORE SEE SOME MORE DO SOME MORE
THINK SOME SEE SOME DO SOME
THINK LESS SEE LESS DO LESS
THINK EVEN LESS SEE EVEN LESS DO EVEN LESS
MORE OR LESS

– Duane Lunden (1969)

________________________________

MIDSTREAM AT THORN-BRAMBLE ISLAND,
I TURN TO LOOK BACK AT SHAMAN MOUNTAIN
AND FIND NOTHING THERE

by Fan Ch'eng-ta (1126 - 1193 CE)

Inside Triple Gorge, beneath a thousand, ten thousand peaks,
you can't believe there's level ground anywhere people know,

but seen from Island Palace ruins, it's all water merged into sky,
and you're sure the world's been flat and mountainless forever.

Rivers and mountains that once greeted me now bid farewell:
a turn of the head and they've simply vanished. It's like a dream:

of ten thousand miles back home, three thousand flew by today,
the dream turning to journey's end on the shores of Stone Lake.

________________________________

________________________________

DETACHED THINKING/超脫的思考

Posted June 2, 2015

________________________________

INSCRIBED ON A WALL AT JADE-SPRING MONASTERY

by Po Chü-i

(772 - 846 CE)

In the jade spring's clear green depths,
this body's far far off, a drifting cloud,

and a mind all idleness faces still water,
both perfect clarity, no trace of dust.

The gnarled bamboo staff's in a hand,
the silk cap on a head. Come on a whim

and gone down the mountain, the whim
vanished: can anyone know who I was?

________________________________

THE SEEING EYE

by Ezra Pound

(1916)

The small dogs look at the big dogs;
They observe unwieldy dimensions
And curious imperfections of odor.
Here is a formal male group:
The young men look upon their seniors,
They consider the elderly mind
And observe its inexplicable correlations.

Said Tsin-Tsu:
It is only in small dogs and the young
That we find minute observation.

[ Note:

In making reference to the name Tsin-Tsu, Pound draws attention to the author of an ancient Chinese military text, THE ART OF WAR. According to Sun Tzu (early sixth century BCE), "The way to avoid what's strong is to strike what is weak." Furthermore, the renowned strategist/tactician comments in his treatise, "You may advance and be absolutely irresistible if you make for the enemy's weak points."

Tsin-Tsu (Sun Tzu) had deeply inspired the ambitions of Mao Zedong's self-proclaimed "war on nature". And in that regard, Mao (in 1940) would unequivocally remark, "For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature, man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature."

– CAUSA Research Curators ]

________________________________

Mao

Mao Zedong preparing the lecture series titled ON PROTRACTED WAR, 1938.

________________________________

Wyndham Lewis (1939):

Where everything is in question, and where all traditional values are repudiated, the everyday problems have become, necessarily, identical with the abstractions from which all concrete things in the first place come. And the everyday life is too much affected by the speculative activities that are renewing and transvaluing our world, for it to be able to survive in ignorance of those speculations.... [...] Hurrying, without any significant reason, from spot to spot at the maximum speed obtainable ... how is the typical individual of his epoch to do some detached thinking for himself? All his life is disposed with a view to vanishing reflection....

________________________________

"Reality, however completely represented, must be changed by art, in order that it may be seen to be subject to change and treated as such."

– Bertolt Brecht (1956)

________________________________

EVENTS AT BELL MOUNTAIN

by Wang An-shih (1021 - 1086 CE)

Water soundless, a wandering stream skirts bamboo forest.
And west of bamboo, wildflowers delight in gentle spring.

Facing all this under thatch eaves, I sit through the day.
Not a single bird. No song. Mountain quiet goes deeper still.

________________________________

"Human perception is literally incarnation."

– Marshall McLuhan (1954)

________________________________

Chronotope

" ...'Chronotope'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

________________________________

"The void is what is discovered at the extremity of thought, when the movement of expansion becomes a movement of annulment. It is what lies beyond the farthest circle."

– Georges Poulet (1961)

________________________________

Buffer

" ... 'Buffer'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

________________________________

WAVES SIFTING SAND

by Po Chü-i

(772 - 846 CE)

1

One anchorage of sand appears as another dissolves away,
and one fold of wave ends as another rises, wave and sand

mingling together day after day, shifting through each other
without ease: they level up mountains and seas in no time.

2

White waves swell through wide open seas, boundless and beyond,
and level sands stretch into the four directions all endless depths:

evenings they dissolve and mornings reappear, sifting ever away,
their seasons transforming eastern seas into a field of mulberries.

________________________________
________________________________

FORMAL CONDITIONS/正式條件

Posted May 20, 2015

________________________________

"The soul lives in a cadaverous activity: its dramatic corruption thumps us like a racing engine in the body of a car."

– Wyndham Lewis (1927)

________________________________

Lewis

Wyndham Lewis, MR WYNDHAM LEWIS AS A TYRO, oil on canvas, 1920-21. Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull, England.

________________________________

Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

Those who stand on tiptoes
cannot balance themselves.
Those who take too long a stride
cannot walk far.

_______________________________

Bertrand Russell (1903):

To take into the inmost shrine of the soul the irresistible forces whose puppets we seem to be – Death and change, the irrevocableness of the past, and the powerlessness of man before the blind hurry of the universe from vanity to vanity – to feel these things and know them is to conquer them.

________________________________

Marshall McLuhan (1976):

The role of the portraitist is to put on his audience as costume of an era and to endow his subject with the corporate energy of that time.

[...]

The confrontation between the individual and the tradition, between the figure and its ground, creates the vision of a time.

________________________________

Ludongbin
THE TAOIST IMMORTAL LÜ DONGBIN. Hanging scroll, ink and colours on silk. Yuan dynasty, late 13th/early 14th century. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

[ Note:

One of the Eight Taoist Immortals, Lü Dongbin (Lü the Cavern-guest) is believed to have lived in the late Tang dynasty (618 - 907 CE). A renowned poet and calligrapher, he was also revered for his expertise in the meditative techniques of NEIDAN (Inner Alchemy).

– Causa Research Curators ]



UNTITLED

by Lü Dongbin

The water drinking sea tortoise passes unnoticed,
The mountain talisman burner is disliked by the demons.
One grain of millet contains the whole world,
In a one-quart alchemical vessel boil rivers and mountains.

________________________________

Koxinga

Anonymous, PORTRAIT OF KOXINGA (RULER OF TUNGING, 14 June 1661 - 23 June 1662). Hanging scroll, ink and colours on paper. National Taiwan Museum, Taipei City.

[ Note:

The subject of this portrait was a a Ming loyalist; his defeat of the Dutch East India Company forces on Formosa [Taiwan] marked the conclusion of his campaign against the Manchu-ruled Qing dynasty.

– CAUSA Research Curators ]

________________________________

Frans Halls

Frans Hals, PORTRAIT OF A (DUTCH) WOMAN, oil on canvas, between 1660 and 1665. Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull, England.

[ Note:

Ranking as perhaps the first multinational corporation in the world, the Dutch East India Company was established in 1602; but by 1661, its presence on the island of Formosa (present-day Taiwan) had been expelled by the Ming dynasty loyalist Koxinga. A Koxinga-Dutch Treaty of 1662 – compelling the Company to leave both goods and property behind – ended a thirty-eight year period of Dutch colonial rule, and established Taiwan as a stronghold for loyalists seeking to restore the Ming dynasty.

– CAUSA Research Curators ]

________________________________

Chuang Tzu (370 - 287 BCE):

There is a beginning. And there is no beginning to this beginning. Also, there is no beginning of that no beginning of that beginning. There is what is and there is what is not. Actually, it is difficult to say that what is, is, and that what is not, is not. Ultimately, it is hard to determine what is beginning and what is not beginning.

________________________________

As it is

" .. 'AS-IT-IS-NESS'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

________________________________
_______________________________

Guo Xiang, Daoist philosopher (died 312 CE):

This life of mine, I did not bring it forth. Thus all that occurs throughout my life of perhaps a hundred years, all my sitting, getting up, walking, and staying, all my movements, all my quiet, all hurrying and resting of mine – even all the feelings, characteristics, knowledge, and abilities I have – all that I have, all that I don't have, all that I do, all that I encounter: it is never me, but principle only.

________________________________

"A human body is one persisting thing for common sense, but for physics its matter is constantly changing."

– Bertrand Russell (1914)

________________________________

"The interior is only a selected exterior, and the exterior, a projected interior. The speed or slowness of metabolisms, perceptions, actions and reactions link together to constitute a particular individual in the world."

– Gilles Deleuze (1970)

________________________________

"If the private person is an artefact, then it becomes criminal to perpetuate him technologically in the electronic age."

– Marshall McLuhan (1972)

________________________________
________________________________

ALL THE WORLD'S FUTURES/世界所有的未來

Posted May 7, 2015

________________________________

"The more knowledge people have, the harder they are to rule."

– Lao Tzu (6th century BCE)

________________________________

"Man is born, not to solve the problems of the universe, but to find out where the problem begins and then restrain himself within the limits of the comprehensible."

– Johann Wolfgang van Goethe (1825)

________________________________

English Bay

Carl Andre, ENGLISH BAY, Vancouver 1978. Western red cedar. 36 units: 4 9-unit vertical rows (1 x 9) abutting from wall. Each unit, 12" x 12" x 36"; 36" x 108" x 480" overall.

"The key to art is experience of it, and proximity to it."

– Carl Andre (1969)

________________________________

"A classic is a work which persists as background noise even when a present that is totally incomparable with it holds sway."

– Italo Calvino (1981)

________________________________

"Pluralism lets things really exist in the each-form or distributively. Monism thinks that all-form or collective-unit form is the only form that is rational."

– William James (1909)

________________________________

IAIN BAXTER& / N.E. THING COMPANY:

TRANS VSI [Visual Sensitivity Information], 1969 / 2015:


LIGHT VANCOUVER 3:38 PM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time) AND SAME TIME 12:38 AM CEST (Central European Summer Time) VENICE DARK


LIGHT WINNIPEG 6:06 PM CDT (Central Daylight Time) AND SAME TIME 7:06 AM (China Standard Time) TAIPEI LIGHT

_______________________________

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1991):

There are indeed technical problems in art, and science may contribute toward their solution, but they are posed only as a function of aesthetic problems of composition that concern compounds of sensation and the plane to which they and their materials are necessarily linked.
Every sensation is a question, even if the only answer is silence.

________________________________

Ch'an master Tsung-shan Shou-ch'u (? - 990 CE):

Monk: "What is the state in which all causation has completely ceased?"

Master: "The stone man inside the earthen jar sells date candies."

________________________________
________________________________

EMBODIMENT/體現

Posted May 5, 2015

________________________________

Ch'an master Hung-chih Cheng-chiu (1083 - 1159 CE):

All the world situations and their manifold appearances are simply established by one's self [...] and as soon as we all freely interpenetrate, man and things are non-differentiated. Self and others are not understood to be separate as their names are. In the midst of the visible and audible world we are engaging in each event one after another, but we transcend them airily and gracefully. Therefore we say that there is no mountain barrier and no river separation; the bright light penetrates every corner of the world. That is what we should be aware of and grasp.

________________________________

Develop

"... 'Switcher'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

"The breakthrough and the breakdown are two different moments."

– Gilles Deleuze (1972)

________________________________

"If one looks for Tao, there is nothing solid to see;
If one listens for it, there is nothing loud enough to hear.
Yet if one uses it, it is inexhaustible."

– Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

________________________________

Peter Kropotkin (1889):

If the middle-class society is going to ruin; if we are today in a blind alley from which there is no escape without applying axe and torch to the institutions of the past, that is just because we have allowed ourselves to be drawn into giving that we may receive; because we have desired to make society into a commercial company based upon debit and credit.

________________________________

"Through an endless cyclical movement, Heaven and Earth secretly change. [...] Coming and going relate to each other and the interval cannot be seen. Who is aware of it?"

– Lieh-tzu (Daoist text @400 CE. Traditionally attributed to Lie Yukou, circa 400 BCE)
________________________________

"We instinctively repose on the future rather than the past, though this may not yet be generally realized."

– Wyndham Lewis (1926)

________________________________

ON YELLOW-CRANE TOWER, FAREWELL TO MENG HAO-JAN WHO'S LEAVING FOR YANG CHOU

by Li Bo (701 - 762 CE)

From Yellow-Crane Tower, my old friend
leaves the west.
Downstream to Yang-chou, late spring a
haze of blossoms,

distant glints of lone sail vanish into
emerald-green air:
nothing left but a river flowing on the borders
of heaven.
________________________________

Liang Kai Li bo

Liang Kai (c. 1140 - c. 1210 CE), Li PO STROLLING. Hanging scroll, ink on paper. Tokyo National Museum.

________________________________

Ezra Pound

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, PORTRAIT OF EZRA POUND (circa 1912-13).

"When I face the beauty of nature, I am no longer sensitive to art, but in the town I appreciate its myriad benefits – the more I go into the woods and the fields the more distrustful I become of art and wish all civilization to the devil; the more I wander about amidst filth and sweat the better I understand art and love it; the desire for it becomes my crying need."

– Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (1891 - 1915)

________________________________

SEPARATION ON THE RIVER KIANG

by Ezra Pound

Ko-jin goes west from Ko-kaku-ro,
The smoke-flowers are blurred over the river.
His lone sail blots the far sky.
And now I see only the river,
The long Kiang, reaching heaven.

Rihaku

[Li Po]
________________________________

"Beginning and end form a circle and no one can know its ruling principle."

– Huainanzi / "Masters of Huinan" (second century BCE)

________________________________
________________________________

THEY BECAME WHAT THEY BEHELD/所視既所為

Posted April 18, 2015

________________________________

TAO TÊ CHING (about 240 BCE), Chapter LXXI:

See, all things however they flourish
Return to the root from which they grew.
This return to the root is called Quietness;
Quietness is called submission to Fate;
What has submitted to Fate has become part of the always-so.
To know the always-so is to be illumined;
Not to know it, means to go blindly to disaster.

________________________________

2 Limits

" ...'Two Limits'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

"If perceptive organs vary, objects of perception seem to vary.
If the perceptive organs close, their objects seem to close, also."

– William Blake (1804)

________________________________

Ch'an master Fa-yen Wên-i (885 - 958 CE):

Question: 'What is the direct way to obtain Buddha's wisdom?"

Master: "There is nothing more direct than this question."

________________________________

Kaninchen

"Kaninden und Ente" (Rabbit and Duck – from the German humour and satire magazine FLIEGENDE BLATTËR [LOOSE LEAVES], Munich, 23 October 1892.

Caption (translated):

"Which animals are most like each other?"

"Rabbit and Duck."

________________________________

"The images which we may form of things are not determined without ambiguity by the requirement that the consequences of the images must be the images of the consequents."

– Heinrich Hertz (1894)

________________________________

"To know is a form of ubiquity. It has to do with being at one and the same time in the entirety of the knowable world."

– Georges Poulet (1961)

________________________________

Inner Alchemy

" ... 'Inner Alchemy' (Marshall McLuhan, c. 1964)...." [Image: M. Cynog Evans.]

"The proportionalities in things, and between things and our senses, and so embodied in language itself, are inexhaustible."
– Marshall McLuhan

________________________________

THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN:

"Internal Alchemy, or Neidan is a technique of enlightenment whose earliest written records date from the 8th Century [China]. It appeals both to rationality, which gives order to the world, and to what transcends rationality: the unspeakable, Totality.

"Alchemy begins with a binary structure made of two complimentary and antagonistic terms: pure Yin and pure Yang. However, their binary structure admits complexity with two other mixed terms, born from the union of the first two: Yin containing Yang, and Yang containing Yin. A neutral term, the Center, is beyond the conjunction and the disjunction of the other two."

– Isabelle Robinet

________________________________

TAO TÊ CHING (about 240 BCE), Chapter LXXI:

Because the eye gazes but can catch no glimpse of it,
It is called elusive.
Because the ear listens but cannot hear it,
It is called the rarefied.
Because the hand feels for it but cannot find it,
It is called the infinitesimal.
These three, because they cannot be further scrutinized,
Blend into one.

[...]

Endless the series of things without name
On the way back to where there is nothing.
They are called shapeless shapes;
Forms without form;
Are called vague semblances.
Go towards them, and you see no rear.
Yet by seizing on the Way that was
You ride the things that are now.
For to know what once was, in the Beginning,
This is called the essence of the Way.

________________________________

"The forms are many in which the unchanging seeks relief from its formlessness."

– Samuel Beckett (1953)

________________________________

Boshan Lu

MOUNTAIN-SHAPED CENSER, Western Han Dynasty – second half of 2nd century BCE. Bronze with gold inlay. Hebei Provincial Museum, Shijiazhuang.

Note:

Mountains have played a key role in the history of Chinese religions – and the image of the 'sacred peak' as an axis joining 'heaven and earth' has been prevalent for centuries in Chinese philosophical and religious thought.

A cult of Five Sacred Peaks has traditionally comprised mountains that define both 'cardinal directions' and a 'centre': Mount Tai (Tai Shan) in the east, Mount Heng (Heng Shan) in the south, Mount Hua (Hua Shan) in the west, Mount Heng (Heng Shan) in the north, and Mount Song (Song Shan) in the middle.

The concept of mountains as numinous 'pivots' joining heaven and earth was given form during the Han dynasty – in the bronze and ceramic incense burners termed BOSHANLU ("universal mountain centre").

________________________________

Ch'an master Tung-shan Shou-ch'u (? - 990 CE)

Monk: "Free yourself from mental activity and perception and then say a word."

Master: "The Taoist priest wearing a yellow robe sitting in an earthen jar."

________________________________

"To know is a form of ubiquity. It has to do with being at one and the same time in the entirety of the knowable world."

– Georges Poulet (1961)

________________________________

________________________________

"The earliest use of connected writing (as opposed to isolated magic pictures, developing into magic patterns) was as an aid to memory. That is to say, its purpose was to help people not to forget what they knew already; whereas in more advanced communities the chief use of writing is to tell people things that they have not heard before. Writing in China, for example, was used to record the taking of omens, in order to assist in the correct interpretation of future omens."

– Arthur Waley

Anvil Window

'Five Characters (With Afternoon Shadows)' – Window Facade,  Anvil Centre, New Westminster, 15 September - 30 November 2014. [Photo: M. Cynog Evans]

MEMO

From:

JAN WALLS [Emeritus Professor and Founding Director, David Lam Centre for International Communication], Simon Fraser University

To:

CAUSA Research Curators

27 November 2014

Note to file:

If I were designing the placement of the five characters, which read from right to left "Middle East West South", I would put "Middle" in the middle, between "East and West" and "South and North".

This would emphasize the centrality of the concept, as in "Middle Kingdom" and "Middle Way". In Chinese "pentology", the fifth element is almost always placed in the middle of the Taijigram, as in "the Five Seasons" (Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Fall, Winter).

______________________________________

KEN LUM / CAUSA (installation view).

"Photo-Mirrors" [Sao Paulo Biennial, 1998 / Anvil Centre, New Westminster, 2014].

Photo-Mirrors

"The conception of reality as including both being and non-being together may be reached by regarding it as the summum genus. Everywhere there are things and also absences or nothings. [...] So in the totality of things there are  presences of things and absences of things, and there is the nothing which is space. Both something and nothing (thing and space or absence) are real. So reality is in both, though each of them is less than reality."

– Ernest Wood (1957) – formerly Dean of the American Academy of Asian Studies [The California Institute of Asian Studies], San Fransisco

________________________________________

"KEN LUM / CAUSA ...  CENTRE / SURROUND ...."  Installation View (Nightfall), Anvil Centre, New Westminster, 2014.

"Reversal is the movement of the way."

– Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)

Anvil Windows Night

__________________________

Centre Surround Ken Lum

Exhibition Poster – designed by Robert R. Reid, 2014

________________________________

"The way of Heaven and Earth may be declared in one sentence. – They are without any doubleness; and so they produce things in a manner that is unfathomable."

– Confucius (551 - 479 BCE)

________________________________

Cernuschi Han Squares

Han Dynasty tile representing the five cardinal directions – 'five squares' – North, South, East, West, plus the centre. Musée Cernuschi, Paris.

_______________________________

"Hold the great image in your hand and the whole world comes to you."

– Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)

_______________________________

Zha Shibiao Immortals

Zha Shibiao (1615 - 1698 CE), "Lush Woods of Taoist Immortal Land," painted scroll, ink on paper, circa 1687. Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland.

Inscription:

"'Lush Woods of Taoist Immortal Land' is a subject often depicted.... I try to capture the idea without any previous model."

_______________________________

"If ... the painter paints between 'there is' and 'there is not,' or 'as if there were – as if there were not,' that 'there is not' is clearly the opposite of a negative. It is not on the order of nonbeing or nothingness. It is the Fount of Immanence from which 'there is' can come about by becoming distinct – just as a line can ap-pear, or a form ex-ist."

– François Jullien

________________________________

Anvil Lum Installation

Installation view:

KEN LUM / CAUSA ... CENTRE / SURROUND ..., Anvil Centre, New Westminster.

Foreground:

KEN LUM, "Gold Mountain" [nos. 1 - 4], painted plaster, 2014.

Background:

KEN LUM / CAUSA, "New Westminster Chinatown and Its Environs – circa 1900." 2014. [Monochrome image – from archival 'panorama format' photograph – pasted on wall and enclosed by blue-black 'frame', painted on wall.]

________________________________

"The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born."

– Marshall McLuhan

________________________________

Ch'an Master Hsüeh-têng I'ts'un (882 - 908 CE):

Question: "What does it mean when the arrow is about to leave the bow?"

Answer: "When the archer is an expert he does not try to hit the target."

________________________________

________________________________

Ch'an Master Yung-chia Hsüan-chio (665 - 713 CE):

Question: "The subtlety of the relation between negation and affirmation is refined and difficult to perceive. Let your spirit be pure and your thoughts quiescent, and search for this subtlety carefully."

________________________________

"The known is timeless and alien to motion; its state of becomeness implies this."

– Oswald Spengler

________________________________

Mao in study

"Chairman Mao in His Study, 1961," lithograph, 1976. [People's Art Publishing Co., Shanghai.]

________________________________

"When François Mitterrand visited China in 1961, Mao Zedong mocked reports of famine in the country. There was no famine, he said, only 'a period of scarcity', an assertion that Mitterrand – who described Mao as a 'great scholar known in the entire world for his genius' – was happy to accept.

[...]

Though Mao's Great Leap Forward [1958 - 1961] was celebrated in the west as a major advance, the reality was captured by the name villagers gave to the vast irrigation schemes in which they were forced to labour – they called them 'the killing fields'. At least 2.5 million of the famine's victim's died violently."

– John Gray, THE NEW STATESMAN (London), 2010

________________________________

KMT Group Photo

KEN LUM / CAUSA, "Group Portrait – Chinese Nationalist League – Chinatown, New Westminster, 1961," 2014.

_______________________________

"Being a beginning. Being not yet beginning to be a beginning. Being not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. Being being. Being nonbeing. Being not yet beginning to be nonbeing. Being not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. Then suddenly, being nonbeing. And when it comes to being nonbeing, I don't know yet what's being and what's nonbeing."

– Chuang Tzu (circa 365 - 290 BCE)

_______________________________

"The question now is whether people are prepared or not to realize that they are dominated by technology. And to realize that technology oppresses them, forces them to undertake certain obligations and conditions them. Their freedom begins when they become conscious of these things. For when we become conscious of that which determines our life we attain the highest degree of freedom."

– Jacques Ellul (1954)

________________________________

"Faced with information overload, we have no alternative but pattern-recognition."

– Marshall McLuhan

________________________________

MEMO to CAUSA Research Curators:

"I think Marshall would have been gratified to have his name associated with your work, especially for its focus on art. As McLuhan once said, 'Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it."
– Howard R. Engel, Director, The Marshall McLuhan Initiative, St. Paul's College, The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

________________________________

Installation-Deinstallation

Installation / De-Installation – Anvil Centre, 2014. [Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

_______________________________

"Whereas the specialist's insulated point of view places the arts and other kind of work in sharp opposition, it is in fact crucial that the structural, formal and thematic problems of the various work processes should be constantly compared with one another."

– Joseph Beuys and Heinrich Böll, Free International University (FIU) Manifesto

________________________________

WINTER SOLSTICE 2014

QUESTION (from Jan Walls, Professor Emeritus and founding Director of the David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University) to CAUSA Research Curators:

"Any particular symbolism involved in posting the 'Group Portrait of the Chinese Nationalist League' upside down?

ANSWER (from CAUSA Research Curators):

"The inverted/reversed 'group portrait' image is intended as an evocation of 'connected' local presence – a perpetual juxtaposition of 'Heaven and Earth' informing the open-endedness of a pending Chinatown timeline."

________________________________

"There's something true that rules. If we go looking for its nature, there's nothing to find. But that doesn't make its truth any more perfect, or any more ruined."

– Chuang Tzu (circa 365 - 290 BCE)

________________________________

"There are invisibles (shapes) and incomprehensibles (principles), which, to those to whom it is vouchsafed, may become phenomenal or comprehensible."

– Oswald Spengler

________________________________

Ch'an Master Yun Wên-Yen (? - 949 CE):

The monk: "Please give us a basic principle for our pursuit of the ultimate."

The Master: "Look to the Southwest in the morning and to the Northwest in the evening."

________________________________

VINYL North

KEN LUM / CAUSA, "North (Northern Darkness) ...." Window installation, Anvil Centre, New Westminster, 2014.

"As the generative ontological process through which all things arise and pass away, Tao might provisionally be divided into being (the ten thousand things of the empirical world in constant transformation) and nonbeing, the generative source of being and its transformations."

– David Hinton

________________________________

"Only thinking directed towards changing the world and informing the desire to change it does not confront the future (the unclosed space for new development in front of us) as embarrassment and the past as spell. Hence the crucial point is: only knowledge as conscious theory-practice confronts Becoming and what can be decided within it, conversely, contemplation knowledge can only refer by definition to What Has Become."

– Ernst Bloch (1954)

________________________________

"After all, the world is all around me, not in front of me."

– Maurice Merleau-Ponty

________________________________

"Artists are not consumers."

– Marshall McLuhan

________________________________

________________________________

                 體                用
           Substance & Function

________________________________

 
"We have not the freedom to reach to this or that, but the freedom to do the necessary or to do nothing."

– Oswald Spengler

________________________________

"When we sleep, our spirits roam. When we wake, we open to the world again. Day after day, all that we touch entangles us, and the mind struggles in that net: vast and calm, deep and subtle.Small fear is fever and worry; great fear is vast and calm."

– Chuang Tzu (d. 286 BCE)

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"Since integration into the new epoch of the masses is essential, it is necessary to solve the problem of the individual and the masses. This couplet from a poem by Lu Xun should be our motto:

Fierce-browed, I coolly defy
a thousand pointing fingers,
Head-bowed, like a willing ox,
I serve the children.

The 'thousand pointing fingers' are our enemies, and we will never yield to them, no matter how tenacious. The 'children' here symbolize the proletariat and the masses. All ... revolutionary literary and art workers should learn from the example of Lu Fun and be 'oxen' for the proletariat and the masses, bending their backs to the task until their dying day."

– Mao Zedong (1942)

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Digging Well

"Digging A Well," lithograph, 1974. People's Art Publishing Company, Shanghai. [Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

________________________________

“It was the absence of the power to probe or to observe the environment of his time that misled Marx in his Communist Manifesto (1848). What became the nightmare of the Communist threat … was a misunderstanding of events that had already occurred. Marx was as much the victim of the rear-view mirror as his opponents. Both were blinded to the new environments of corporate services by the assumptions of centuries of printed laws and institutes.
[…]
Naturally, when the working man could command the services of a world postal system, fast transport, and mass-produced books and newspapers, he had access in effect to multi-billion dollar services that no private wealth could command for itself. The Marxists spent their lives trying to promote a theory after the reality had been achieved. What they called class struggle was a spectre of the old feudalism in their rear-view mirror. But it served to distort the role of the new middle classes.”
− Marshall McLuhan
________________________________

"Only experience has ever taught the lesson, and only at the end of the whole development has it been assimilated, that the rights of the people and the influence of the people are two different things."

– Oswald Spengler

________________________________

"Natural science is one of man's weapons in his fight for freedom. For the purpose of attaining freedom in society, man must use social science to understand and change society and carry out social revolution. For the purpose of attaining freedom in the world of nature, man must use natural science to understand, conquer and change nature and thus attain freedom from nature."

– Mao Zedong (1940)

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"Joy and anger, sorrow and delight, hope and abandon, candor and reserve: it's all music rising out of emptiness, mushrooms appearing out of mist. Day and night come and go, but who knows where it all begins? It is. It just is. If you understand this day in and day out, you inhabit the very source of it all."

– Chuang Tzu (d. 286 BCE)

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Ch'an Master Yung-ming Yen-shou (904 - 975 CE):

A monk asked, "What is the great perfect mirror?

The master said, "A broken earthen pot."

________________________________

Celestial Ancestor

KEN LUM / CAUSA, "Celestial Ancestor – Vancouver, 1920," digital image, 2014.

Note:

The source of this photographic portrait dates from the founding year of the Communist Party of China.

– CAUSA Research Curators

________________________________

Lu Xun wrote the poem, "Mocking Myself," to criticize the oppressive governance of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Guomindang) which in 1932 had begun to harrass leftist intellectuals like Lu. The poem is deliberately opaque so as to avoid censure. What follows is a full (and alternative) rendering of the Lu Xun poem that Mao Zedong partially presents within his officially translated "Talks at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art" (1942) :

                    MOCKING MYSELF

Cursed by the stars, what use to strive for more?
I hardly dare breathe, yet my head is always bloodied.
A tattered cap to hide my face, I pass the unruly market
Like a leaky boat ferrying wine across a raging torrent.
I can only steel my gaze to coolly face the accusing crowd,
Or humbly play an ox for the amusement of children.
This little room now becomes my self-sufficient refuge
What matter to me what seasons pass outside?

Translated by Terence Russell

Original Chinese text:

                        自嘲

運交華蓋欲何求﹐未敢翻身已碰頭,
破帽遮顏過鬧市﹐漏船載酒泛中流.
橫眉冷對千夫指﹐俯首甘為儒子牛,
躲進小樓成一統﹐管它冬夏與春秋.

by Lu Xun (1932)
________________________________

Lu Xun Tomb

Tomb of Lu Xun (1881 - 1936), Shanghai.

Note:

A calligraphic inscription by Mao Zedong identifies THE TOMB OF MASTER LU XUN.

– CAUSA Research Curators

Note:

Lu Xun never joined the Chinese Communist Party. During his lifetime he often expressed sharp criticism of its operation and objectives. Nonetheless, with characteristic cynicism, the Party, which otherwise has had little or no tolerance for cosmopolitan intellectuals like Lu, has deified him as the model revolutionary writer.

-Terence Russell

________________________________

"History does not repeat itself; yet, wherever something did not become history and did not make history, then history will by all means be repeated."

– Ernst Bloch

________________________________

Ch'an Master Kuei-shan Ling-yu (771 - 853):

One day when the Master and a disciple, Yang-shan, were picking tea leaves, the Master said, "All day I have heard your voice ... but I have not seen your real self." Yang-shan shook the tea tree.
The Master commented, "You have achieved the function but not the substance." When Yung-shan asked his Master what he himself had achieved, the Master remained silent. Thereupon Yang-shan commented, "You, Master, have achieved the substance but not the function."

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  "Live with your century; but do not be its creature."

– Friedrich Schiller (1795)

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_________________________________

                   平常心

EVERYDAY-MINDEDNESS

_________________________________

"Intellectuals who want to integrate themselves with the masses, who want to serve the masses, must go through a process in which they and the masses come to know each other well. This process may, and certainly will, involve much pain and friction ...."

– Mao Zedong (1942)

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"Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us, nowhere do they touch upon absolute truth .... Through words and concepts we shall never reach beyond the wall of relations, to some sort of fabulous primal ground of things."

– Friedrich Nietzsche (1873)

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"Let those who hanker after the past return to the past. Let those who want to ascend to heaven do so. Let those whose souls want to leave their bodies expire quickly. The earth today should be inhabited by man with a firm hold on the present, a firm hold on the earth."

– Lu Xun (1925)

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Miniature Mountain

" ... Miniature Mountain ... (Lake Tai Stones) ... Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Vancouver ...". [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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"Hope, superior to fear, is neither passive, like the latter, nor locked into nothingness. The emotion of hope goes out of itself, makes people broad instead of confining them, cannot know nearly enough of what it is that makes them inwardly aimed, of what may be allied to them outwardly. The work of this emotion requires people who throw themselves actively into what is becoming, to which they themselves belong. It will not tolerate a dog's life which feels itself only passively thrown into what is, which is not seen through, even wretchedly recognized."

– Ernst Bloch

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Manifesto

Naum Gabo and Noton Pevzner, A REALISTIC MANIFESTO (detail). Poster – released on the streets of Moscow, August 5, 1920. [Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

"We say: Space and Time were born for us today. Space and Time are the only forms on which life is built and on which therefore art must be built."

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"I have a very simple creed: that life and joy and beauty are better than dusty death ...."

– Bertrand Russell

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"Vivisective inspection of all modes of our own inner-outer individual-social lives makes us acutely sensitive to all inter-cultural inter-media experience."

– Marshall McLuhan

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Ch'an Master Kuei-shan Ling-yu (771 - 853 CE):

"The mind of one who understands Ch'an is plain and straightforward without pretence. Every hour of the day, what one hears and sees are ordinary things and ordinary actions. Nothing is distorted. One does not need to shut one's eyes and ears to be non-attached to things."

________________________________

________________________________

         大用

GREAT ACTION

_________________________________

A poem translated by Arthur Waley and sent to Bertrand Russell in 1918:

THE RED COCKATOO

Sent as a present from Annam –
A red cockatoo.
Coloured like the peach-tree blossom,
Speaking with the speech of men.
And they did to it what is always done
To the learned and eloquent.
They took a cage with straight bars
And shut it up inside.

– Po Chü-i (772 - 846 CE)

Note:

This translation was first published in 1919. Russell had received the poem while in Brixton Prison, London. (He had been charged with authoring statements that were judged to be unacceptably critical of the American Army.)

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"I know some people think literature has a great influence on revolution, but personally I doubt this; literature is after all a product of leisure which does, it is true, reflect a nation's culture."

– Lu Xun (1927)

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"Understanding depends on something else for its accuracy. And what it depends on never stays fixed and constant. So how can we know that what we call heaven is not human and what we call human is not heaven?"

– Chuang Tzu (d. 286 CE)

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SYSMoongate

" ... 'Everyday World' ... (Classical Garden, Vancouver) ...". [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

"My aspirations for 'Chinatown' are related to its ability to retain its spiritual identity while meeting the different levels of change that are not limited to physical annihilation....

If an organism has managed to survive a period of successive crises, it has the resilience and resourcefulness to prevail. In a world of increasing homogeneity, distinctive cultural character, integrity of form and cultural expression are both hard to find and hard to maintain. However, the form is less important than the essence, as long as such essence can continue to regenerate its spiritual identity."

– Joe Wai (2011)

Note:

Dynamics of a 'social architecture' have informed this author's practice for over forty years. He is the architect of both the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park.
________________________________

"Joys impregnate. Sorrows bring forth."

– William Blake (1757 - 1827)

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Bamboo cutter

  Liang Kai, "The Sixth Ancestor Chopping Bamboo," hanging scroll, ink on paper, early thirteenth century CE. Tokyo National Museum. [Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

"It is neither the wind nor the banner that moves. It is your mind that moves."

– Hui-nêng (638 - 713 CE), Sixth and Last Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism. 

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"Being carried away by the flowing stream, you ask what to do. Achieve real illumination, is my answer. However, to be free from forms and names is not innate in man. Even the sharpest sword must be continually resharpened."

– Ch'an Master Lin-chi I-hsüan (? - 866 CE)

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Bamboo grove

" ... 'Bamboo Grove' ... Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, Vancouver ...,". [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

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"The experiences of history have taught us, unfortunately, that every revolution brings about the resurrection of the most savage energies in the shape of the long-buried dreadfulness and excesses of the most distant ages: that a revolution can thus be a source of energy in a mankind grown feeble but never a regulator, architect, artist, perfector of human nature...."

--Friedrich Nietzsche (1878)

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 Mountain matrix

" ... 'Mountain Matrix' ... Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Park, Vancouver ...". [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

Note:

In 1971, Vancouver's Chinatown received "historic site" designation from the British Columbia government. Five years earlier, city planners had announced proposals for a major freeway – with a scheme that envisaged "on and off" ramps at the core of the Chinatown district. Following two years of public protest, the city council abandoned their project, thus providing a catalyst for subsequent development of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and an adjacent Sun Yat-Sen Park (which both opened in 1986).

– CAUSA Research Curators

 

_______________________________

"Centre your attention. Stop listening with your ears and listen with your mind. Then stop listening with your mind and listen with your primal spirit.Hearing is limited to the ear. Mind is limited to tallying things up. But the primal spirit's empty: it's simply that which awaits things. Way is emptiness merged, and emptiness is the mind's fast."

– Chuang Tzu (d. 286 CE)
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"Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than impassive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former inspires a deeper agreement than the latter."

– Bertrand Russell (1951)

________________________________

"People should be greater, empire less important, and rulers even less."

– Mencius (372 - 289 BCE)

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INTERFUSION
________________________________
"That which is understood, free from objectivity, is invisible.
That illumined, without causation, becomes wonder.
When the understanding is invisible, it is the consciousness of non-differentiation.
When illumination becomes wonder, it is instantaneous enlightenment."

– Ch'an master Hung-chih Cheng-chüe (1083 - 1159 CE)

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Bus Tickets

"... Main Street ... Vancouver Chinatown...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans, 2014.]

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"People can't see themselves in rushing water. They see themselves in still water, for only stillness can still stillness."

– Chuang Tzu (d. 286 BCE)

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MEDITATIO
by Ezra Pound (1914)

When I carefully consider the curious habits of dogs
I am compelled to conclude
That man is the superior animal.

When I consider the curious habits of man,
I confess, my friend, I am puzzled.
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Dog Park 1

"... (Temporary) Off-Leash Dog Park, Agnes Street, New Westminster... (Chinatown) ...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans, 2014.]

______________________________

"Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of fact."

– George Santayana (1896)

________________________________
________________________________

"Any collection of compresent qualities may be called a 'complex of compresence', but it is only a 'complete' complex when it cannot be enlarged without ceasing to be a complex of compresence."

– Bertrand Russell

________________________________

Hamilton Plaque

"Commemorative Plaque – Vancouver ...". [Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

_________________________________

Here stood H

"... 'Here Stood Hamilton' ...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans, 2015.]

________________________________

"There is no longer a gap between business and culture or military and civilian life."

– Marshall McLuhan (1969)

________________________________

"As long as thought is free, hence vital, nothing is compromised. When it ceases being so, all the other oppressions are also possible, and already realized, so that any action becomes culpable, every life threatened."

– Gilles Deleuze (1970)

________________________________

Ch'an master Yung-ming Yin-shou (904 - 955 CE):

A questioner asked, "What is the great perfect mirror?"

The master said, "A broken earthen pot."

__________________________________

__________________________________

 MEMO

To:

Michael Sorkin (Sorkin Studio, New York)

Dear Michael,

A contribution from you to the CAUSA / UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA website would be deeply appreciated.

With regard to an interdisciplinary theme – THE CONTEMPORANEITY OF 'CLASSICAL' CHINESE CULTURE – our research develops from dynamics of cultural memory and their contiguous (pending) preservation. Pertinently, a geographic/social relationship between British Columbia and China was first 'located' by way of a mid-nineteenth century Gold Rush economic boom in the New World. Soon afterwards, the transnational Canadian Pacific Railway construction scheme (connecting Montréal, Winnipeg, and Vancouver) became a major lure for Chinese immigrants who diligently preserved their culture through deeply-rooted 'Chinatown' communities across the continent.

Post-WWII, Vancouver benefited from the first 'traditional' (Ming Dynasty style) Chinese garden to have been realized in the Western Hemisphere. One of the most highly-respected (traditionally constructed) Japanese gardens outside of Japan is also situated in Vancouver. From that 'local' context we extend our work towards a 'global village' community – in honour of Marshall McLuhan (and his academic-intellectual foundations in Winnipeg, Manitoba).

We look forward to adding your name to the growing roster of CAUSA Associates.

Yours ever,

CAUSA Research Curators

___________________________________

Skyscrapers With Chinese Characteristics

 

by Michael Sorkin [Michael Sorkin Studio, New York]

 

The inhabited mountain is surely the hoariest metaphor for the skyscraper. From Gaudi to Taut to the great Deco towers of pre-depression New York to Close Encounters of the Third Kind there has, for a multitude, been an irresistible impulse to model towers on mountains and mesas. I’ve long shared this jones and it has been driven to obsession by visits to Cappadocia, to the American West, and perhaps most strongly, to Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, where the concatenation of objects and their doubling in reflection simply blew me away. Unseen but often dreamt is the landscape of Guilin in China with its similarly ethereal peaks rising in the river mists.

Of course, the sacrality of mountains is a staple of faiths descending from the foggy past and perhaps nowhere is the mountainous more exactingly revered and aestheticized than in China, where peaks have been reverenced for yonks in Taoist, Buddhist, and imperial traditions and figure in systems of geomancy, pilgrimage, and ‒ of course, representation. I’ve long been a (modest) collector of scholar’s rocks, those domesticated, miniature mountains, geologic “bonsai”. My initial fascination had to do precisely with their incipience as architecture, their weirdly habitable looking tectonic and their irresistible character as almost skyscrapers.

When we were commissioned some years ago to work on planning for a stretch of the waterfront along the Suzhou Creek in Shanghai, our primary missions were to reclaim the river edge, to extend the pedestrian realm, and to work to insinuate more intimate vectors of scale into an area that was rapidly succumbing to an epidemic of super-blocking and mega-building. Our planning defined locations for new towers that we hoped would aggregate in a suitably urban mountain range. An early study shows the deployment of mountains calculated to precise FAR’s on available sites, an image which apparently horrified the client. But delighted us.

Our mountain building has continued with a series of collages in which scholar’s rocks serve as sketches for towers that might ultimately find the means of their practicality in the development of their design. But, there’s an intention here that exceeds whimsy or coincidence. The search for qualities of locality in architecture, particularly for modern forms of building and organization that have no obvious “indigenous” cultural precedents grows more and more important as cultural differences are flattened by globalization and the all pervasive influence of mass media. In China, the locomotive development produces thousands of points of design inflection every day, sites at which someone must decide the degree of symbolic ‒ often purely ornamental ‒ localism to incorporate, whether the electric-eyed dragon wrapping the column at the shopping mall restaurant or the pagoda peak atop the tower downtown.

As a structure, this quest has something in common with Deng Xiaoping’s famous formulation of the idea of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. This, of course, was Deng’s ‒ now crazily successful ‒ attempt to insinuate aspects of a market economy in the nominal guise of “modernization” and the quest for universally “comfortable” living standards, erasing the tremendous urban/rural disparities that marked the country. The medium of this transformation was the successive opening of China to foreign investment and an energetic commitment to massive international trade. The risk in the strategy was to ideas and practices of socialist equity and virtue, brought on by the infusion of capitalism’s own cultural and ethical superstructure. Deng and his successors dealt with this through several canny moves.

Perhaps the most radical leverage was expressed in the slogan: “Rich Together.” This had a clear double meaning. Most radically, it over-turned the vision of a culture of virtuous parsimony as fundamentally native to socialist beliefs, substituting an idea of maximum comfort for all. The “for all” part of the equation was a riposte for what was understood to be the more typically capitalist pattern in which inequality and accumulation were locked in eternal symbiosis. The contradiction that the new Chinese model sought to overcome was embedded in the seeming oxymoron of a “socialist market economy,” one in which, as one Chinese commentator put it, “combining public ownership and market economy … is a necessary choice for the liberation and development of productivity in present China.”

Not to overwork this analogy but Deng’s hybrid is not simply a collision of convenience, an argument for state ownership of capitalist enterprise, but more authentically strange and ready to embrace unpredictable forms (of which Chinese architecture has surely become a world champ). Liberated from the defensive side (as in those arguments for “democracy with Asian characteristics” that one might hear in places like Singapore which generally defend the denial not simply of some rights but of the desire for them), there remains in the blithe willingness to bifurcate the seemingly incompatible, a penchant for experiment that could be tonic for design. Deng’s idea is distinguished for not being fundamentally aleatory, for demanding that forms of organization be tested for fidelity to some sense of locality and tradition.

Which brings us back to those Scholar’s rocks. Their appeal as a local format for a grafted programme is not simply in their general morphological suitability but in the aura of peculiarity that marks them. This is sustained by both their indigenous strangeness and by the fact that they bear complex familial relations and arrive with an historical critical hermeneutic ready made. Contemplated for millennia, celebrated as inducements to reflection, they arrive complete with a rich set of categories for judgment, including awkwardness, resonance, representation (including their resemblance to mountains), wrinkling, moistness, thinness, openness, and perforation. This set of criteria – in its categorical vagueness and in standards that are simultaneously performative and aesthetic – could not be more resonant for architecture.

If the skyscraper can be said to be the purest expression of market forces – the most aspirational strategy for the multiplication of real property – then the form of the Scholar’s Rock – with its long simmering, ineffable, and highly local standards of taste and with its dramatic bridging of nature and culture – offers a characteristic for skyscrapers perhaps more Chinese than any other.

 _____________________________________________

Beijing 1

 

                                             北京市 1

                      "Beijing View 1" --Michael Sorkin Studio

____________________________________________

Beijing 2

                                           北京市 2

                      "Beijing View 2" --Michael Sorkin Studio

__________________________________________

Guangzhou

                                                  廣州                                     

                         "Guangzhou" --Michael Sorkin Studio

________________________________________                                   

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 "Our age is an esthete of the methodology of all other ages."

– Marshall McLuhan

________________________________

Lao Tzu (active sixth century BCE):

What is invisible when you look
is called subtle.
What is inaudible when you listen
is called rarefied.
What is ungraspable to the touch
is called forever constant.
These three things are incalculable,
so they are combined into one.
The one is not confused above
and not indistinct below;
an unbroken continuity,
it cannot be named,
reverting again to abstraction.
This is called
the formless state,
the image of the abstract.
This is called undefined:
even if your gaze follows it,
you cannot see its back;
even if you go out to meet it,
you do not see its head.
Hold to guidance for the present
to control what presently exists,
thus to know the perennial origin;
this is called the guiding rule.

[...]

Nature is guidance itself;
guidance is eternal,
never exhausted in all your life.

________________________________

common notions

" ... 'Communal Occasions / Common Notions' ... (Pacific Rim) ..." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]

______________________________

Ch'an master Nan-ch'üan P'u-yüan (748 - 834 CE):

One evening when the Master was enjoying the moonlight, a monk asked him when one could be equal to the moonlight. The Master said, "Twenty years ago I attained that state." The monk continued, "What about right now?" The Master went immediately to his room.

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"We are made of contracted water, earth, light and air... Every organism, in its receptive and perceptual elements, but also in its viscera, is a sum of contractions, of retentions and expectations."

– Gilles Deleuze

________________________________

________________________________

APPARENT ONENESS / 表觀合一

_________________________________

"People are conditioned by the physical environment; the physical environment is conditioned by the mental atmosphere. The mental atmosphere is conditioned by inherent adaptiveness."

– Lao Tzu

________________________________

"Things at hand are always already understood in terms of totality of relevance. This totality need not be explicitly grasped by a thematic interpretation. Even if it has undergone such an interpretation, it recedes again into an undifferentiated understanding. This is the very mode in which it is the essential foundation of everyday, circumspect interpretation.

[...]

The interpretation of something is essentially grounded in fore-having, fore-sight, and fore-conception. Interpretation is never a prepositionless grasping of something previously given."

– Martin Heidegger (1927)

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Veronese Saturn

Paolo Veronese, SATURN (TIME) and HISTORIA, 1560-61 – Fresco, Villa Barbaro, Maser, Italy.

____________________________________

"So long as it is supposed that the physical world is composed of stable and more or less permanent constituents, the fact that what we see is changed by changes in our body appears to afford reason for regarding what we see as not an ultimate constituent of matter. But if it is recognized that the ultimate constituents of matter are as circumscribed in duration as in spatial extent, the whole of this difficulty vanishes."

– Bertrand Russell

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Shugetsu landscape

LANDSCAPE IN THE CHINESE STYLE (by the Japanese artist Shūgetsu), hand scroll, ink on paper, c. 1529 CE. Collection: Honolulu Academy of Art.

_________________________________

Ch'an master Wên-i (885 - 958 CE):

Question: "When manifestations all come at once, what do you think about that?"

Answer: "Is it an eye or not?"

__________________________________

"The only life with its roots fixed in earth, the only autochthonous life, is that which is made of inevitable acts. All the rest, all that is in our power to take or to leave or to exchange for something else, is mere falsification of life."

– Ortega y Gasset (1929)

__________________________________

Kronos

Wilhelm Woernle (1849-1916), KRONOS and HISTORY, etching (after Paolo Veronese), 1880

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"There are many alternative universes and each of us inhabits one of them."

– M.K. Morton

__________________________________

"The seven minuses are as follows. First is shutting. Second is leaking. Third is exhaustion. Fourth is impotence. Fifth is emotional disturbance. Sixth is alienation. Seventh is waste."

--Lao Tzu

__________________________________

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            COACTION/合動

__________________________________

Dew Terrace

Yuan Yao, AUTUMN MOON over the DEW TERRACE, 1771. Hanging scroll, ink and colours on silk. Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne.

Note:

This painting depicts Jiang-zhang – a palace built by Emperor Wu in 104 BCE. The Dew Terrace (Lutai), a tall marble structure [located in upper right section of scroll] is topped by a bowl that functions to catch "Sweet Dew" (in reflection of the concept that an emperor's virtuous reign would be acknowledged by Heaven's mysterious interaction with Earth).

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Lao Tzu (active 6th century BCE):

Sky and earth combine
to rain sweet dew;
without the people causing it,
it is naturally even.

[...]

Guidance is universal,
it can be adapted
to higher and lower aims.
When it has completed an
accomplishment
and finished a task,
it is no longer said to be there.

________________________________

Liu Bei

Attributed to Yan Liben (d. 673 CE), THE THIRTEEN EMPERORS SCROLL (detail) – LIU BEI (EMPEROR ZHAOLIE of SHU HAN). Ink and colour on silk. Denman Waldo Ross Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Note:

Liu Bei – warlord in the late Eastern Han dynasty – founded the state of Shu Han (in the Three Kingdoms period, 220 - 280 CE), and became its first ruler.

_________________________________________

Zhang Fei

[GENERAL] ZHANG FEI, leading character in "Reed Marsh" (an act in the traditional Beijing opera titled "Sweet Dew Temple" – as adapted from an episode in ROMANCE of the THREE KINGDOMS, a long historical novel by Guangzhong, c. 1330-1400).

Makeup ("black-cross butterfly face"): painted on undated (present-day) ceramic mask.

______________________________

Guan Yu

[GENERAL] GUAN YU (a warrior famed for his faithfulness to Emperor Liu Bei) – as depicted in traditional Beijing opera.

Makeup ["red full face"]: painted on undated (present-day) ceramic mask.

[Photo: CAUSA Archives]

_________________________________

Cheng Yu (d. 220 CE), a major strategist serving under the late Eastern Han warlord Cao Cao, proffered this reckoning:

"The strength of Zhang Fei and Guan Yu combined is equal to an army of ten thousand soldiers."

________________________________

War and Peace

– Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore, WAR and PEACE in the GLOBAL VILLAGE (1968)

________________________________

"The Future is distant, like the Past, and therefore sentimental. The mere element 'Past' must be retained to sponge up and absorb our melancholy. Everything absent, remote, requiring projection in the veiled weakness of the mind, is sentimental."

– Wyndham Lewis (1914)

________________________________

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

• Hong Kong Protests:
Guan Yu Is The People's Deity

From a throne of wooden pallets, a small statue of the red-faced, bearded deity Guan Yu presides over Mong Kok, the most tense of Hong Kong's prodemocracy protest sites.

Guan Yu has the distinction of being worshipped by the protestors who occupy a major intersection in the heart of one of the cities densest neighborhoods ....

The god, also known as Emperor or Lord Guan, represents brotherhood, righteousness, and victory in war. His presence in Mong Kok is meant as a strategic deterrent. "Everyone can claim him: police, triads and protestors," said David Palmer, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong. "He incarnates the values of courage, bravery and loyalty."

[...]

The real Guan Yu was a Chinese general around the year 200. He gained prominence in Chinese culture from his depiction in "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," the classic historical novel written about 1,000 years later.

His traits of bravery and loyalty are highly prized by Mong Kok's more rough-and-tumble protestors, known for their hard hats and improvised body armor.

[...]

That's a far different scene from the largely peaceful main site in Admiralty, where students have rigged up desks and lights to keep up with their studies. "There's a contrast in Chinese culture between the loyal martial hero and the literary sage," said Mr. Palmer. "The martial hero is somebody who maybe is a little lacking in high levels of literary attainment but compensates through his ability to fight, and to fight for the just cause and to fight with loyalty."

That also accounts for Guan Yu's popularity among triads. "Brotherhood is an important element of triad subculture," said Sharon Kwok, a Ph.D candidate who researches triads and teaches criminology classes at City University of Hong Kong.

Guan Yu is deeply ingrained in Hong Kong's police department. A detective installed the first shrine to Guan Yu in a police station in 1931 "to demonstrate his own dedication to, and courage in carrying out duties," the website of the Hong Kong police says. "He also prayed for divine intervention in the solving of his crime cases."

– Ned Levin (October 30, 2014)

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Armada

Wyndham Lewis, THE ARMADA, (detail), 1937. Oil on canvas. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

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"I am quite pleased to see how war emerges as a vast field akin to the fields of modern physics, in which bodies experience peculiar deviations from their courses. Any calculation about the individual based on peacetime experience proves to be unreliable, bravery is no help, nor is caution, nor honesty, nor crookedness, nor brutality, nor pity: all are equally fatal. We are left with those same forces that turn peace into war, the ones that can't be named."

– Bertolt Brecht (1941)

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THE BEGINNING SONG
(and also the ending song)

["The Romance Of The Three Kingdoms" – translated from the Chinese by C.H. Brewitt Taylor, 1862]

O so vast, O so mighty,
The Great River rolls to sea,
Flowers do waves thrash,
Heroes do sands smash,
When all dreams drain,
Same are loss and gain.

Green mountains remain,
Under pink sunsets,
Hoary fishers and woodcutters,
Along the banks, find calm water,
In autumn moon or in spring wind,
By the wine jars, fill porcelain.

Discuss talk and tale,
Only laugh and gale ...

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Ch'an master Ts'ao-shan Pên-chi (840 - 901 CE):

Monk: "Where is the reality in illusion."

Master: "Illusion was originally real."

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Big Tree

Wen Zhengming, THE SEVEN JUNIPERS (detail), 1532. Handscroll, ink on paper. Collection: The Honolulu Academy of Arts, Gift of Mrs. Carter Galt.

Note:

This painting depicts the seven juniper trees that were planted (in 500 CE) at the Zhidao Guan, a Taoist temple in Changshu Jiangsu province.

As stated in a poem written written on the handscroll, the seven trees were seen as both Taoist 'immortals' and representations of the most powerful constellation in Taoist cosmology – the seven stars of the Northern Dipper. The poem records that 'sweet dew' descends to the Temple site because of the 'sacred' juniper trees – which function to create a 'natural' altar.

– CAUSA Research Curators

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"The soul is a field, not a point, or a speck or a core or a centre."

– M.K Morton

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