Tuesday, April 08, 2008


So what do you think.

I was surprised at first. Then I realized you are always in conversation with yourself. What a brilliant way to think through your ideas though, a self-interview.

I mean, that is how you think-- through writing. Writing is a way to think.

I was wondering, is it possible to think without language? I had a disagreement with someone about this. I think thinking is complex, but anything having to do with consciousness we view as complex because we don't understand it, it's so hard to grasp onto something intangible. But perhaps we make it more complex than it is, perhaps things are really very simple. Anyway I think that you do think with language...

Really the question is a bit pointless because what matters is that ideas are nothing without language/without a form. Language materializes thought and language is how we communicate thought to others. Thought becomes beautiful when materialized as language.

Figure 1: thinking ßà understanding ßà language

(Language helps you understand thought?)

So language materializes, is a material for thought; then, where is language?

And how does the power of language compare to the power of something visual? Both have their power, but language seems so unique... I can't put my finger on it... More powerful perhaps than visual art, because I find passages in Chen Zhen’s self-interview more powerful than the art works he talks about. How can a specific, physical art work compare to the pure idea? An art work can only be one manifestation of the concept, while the concept itself is limitless. A bit like a movie taking away all the magic in a book, though the movie may be very beautiful.

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(Tangent 1) (Tangent 2)

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Ok then the function of art may be humbler than it often claims to be. Which is fine. There is nothing wrong with art being only a little something. It's just that artists/critics/historians/etc make it out to be something more than it is, something that supposedly has more depth than it does.


I don't know, language flows in a certain way, it's a linear flowing (one thing leads to another), as opposed to the visual simultaneous flowing. I suppose any kind of flowing is beautiful.

You know you use the same words again and again.

That is called vibration. Everything is vibration, repetition. (Even that line I think I wrote before.) Daily life is repetition, we learn by repetition, the sun repeats, art functions by repeating, by echoing our psychic vibrations or emotional vibrations or vibrations in the brain. Wavelengths.

Figure 2: /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

Oh yeah the line I had written was: "Everything is repetition/vibration. Art that is realistic repeats the world around us and art that is not repeats our inner life." In that sense too.

You are supposed to be writing a paper about the reading.

Oh yeah. But I am. Everything is about everything.

The reading was good. It talked a lot about 'moving'. That word is quite beautiful and elusive. Moving physically, moving mentally, moving forward, moving backward, moving away, moving towards, moving slowly, not moving. A "miraculous word", as Chen Zhen says. He's quite poetic:

"Trees die when moved, people survive when moving...”

“When a person moves, his heart is also moving...”

“Is the wind moving?-- Are the poles moving?-- Are the flags moving?-- It is your heart that's moving...”

“When one is in a car, one's body is not moving and heart is not nervous, but the car is moving. This is called moving without moving".

I’d like to add one: To move people you have to move.

I, too, have moved much, "broadened" my heart by moving. (This paper is moving.) I have moved by moving. I have moved from continent to continent, from house to house to house.

I had originally written "from China to America" in place of "from continent to continent", but who cares about specifics, specifics are volatile. Irrelevant.

Do you believe in universality of art? Chen Zhen talks a lot about this.

Did you just change the subject? Well, "how could an artist represent only one nation and exhibit his works in only one national pavilion?" Artists are all humans. So in that sense yes, art is universal. But we also have specific ethnicities, cultures, histories, locations. And zooming in even further, each individual is individual. So, art in general is a universal phenomenon, but each artwork cannot be completely universal.

What about art and loneliness. I believe each person is lonely, each person is separate from another isn't he? An artist perhaps is especially lonely. More aware of inner vibrations. Chen Zhen mentions the "internal loneliness of spirituality and the overlapping of life experiences". He views loneliness as a kind of freedom, when he was living his simple life in Paris, "the rarest type of quietness and deep thinking in life".

Isn’t that where artistic impulse comes from? Loneliness. Some sort of repression which one must break free from via making art. A need to tell someone and let it out.

Loneliness is not the same as repression. No. Do you see the correlation? Would you be lonely if you weren’t repressed? Oh maybe repression is the wrong word. The opposite of repression is also a sort of repression, though.

Well. Artistic impulse is not easy to pin down. It is some sort of desire, that can be said-- where does desire come from? From the heart? Where does the heart come from?

I don’t know, but Chen Zhen said something beautiful: “…add another continent in your heart”.

Where do continents come from?

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