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The Tao – a binary dance

The Way, by Ching Huang. You will notice that Chinese text floats through this video. It is a poem of occasions – I’ve found an amazing consilence between this and the Ecclesiastes concept of hebel (see insert below). Many thanks to my collegue, Qiang Xu, for translating the poem for me:

1. First text in the video at 1:30: Qiyun vivid. “Qi” for the use of the word clouds, gases, collectively, the phenomenon of natural heating and cooling, solar terms (section Hou), odor, sniffing, anger, philosophical concepts (strength). “Qiyun” is also the later emergence of the concept – “posture”.

2. The next text appears several time – 2:07. 2:24, 2:33, 3:08: This is a poem talking about plum flowers. Translation: “(I am) not competing the beauty with other flowers. But (I) do bloom earlier that any other flowers. When it is very cold with snow and ice, (I) am blooming widely.”

3. Text at 4:02: “Praising bamboos”. (Note what is praiseworthy in this type of life, text 5 elaborates – kj.)

4. Text at 4:21, 4:38: “I grow straightly even though I don’t have to. I was written by many poets from a long time ago. When winds come, I dance like a gentleman.”

5. Text at 7:24: “The Way” (Tao) – commentary by Kenny Jones follows:

Hebel – as in the phrase, “Vanity, vanity all is vanity“. Choon-Leon Seow, in his book Ecclesiastes, states hebel also has the concept of fleeting, temporary, ephemeral, hard to grasp or define though significant, mysterious. So a better reading is, “All is breath“. This seems to echo the “Qi” in the first Chinese symbol. Where is this breath occurring? Paradoxically hebel is manifested in concrete forms of flesh and cosmos. This fits with the vaporous treatment of forms in the opening scenes of the video (up to scene 1:04). From the chaos a self-organizing Logos orders and all flows from it. This dance of binaries (opposites that define each other) is reinforced by the soundtrack and Asian ink brush style (ironically done in a Binary Code in a computer). The first part of the soundtrack up to 4:40 is a bit pensive, brooding, reflective. But at 4:45 it breaks abruptly into a playful frolic echoing the looser ink wash technique of the water-creatures. In a closing of the loop, a visual taxonomy of opposites goes full circle: water-flowers spring from this same substance, echoing the land-flowers that also danced to a breath of wind. Dualities abound, split and recombine. The fluidity becomes solid, solidity flexes and yields returning to hebel.

Yin/Yang binary is the subject of this computer-animation-meets-Chinese-ink-painting. This video reflects an ancient Taoist view of the world as a constant changing process or metamorphosis of forms rather than the unchanging, unconnected entities of reductionism. The law of changing is a seemingly chaotic/spontaneous and yet is ordered by a sub-surface “interconnectedness” which somewhat matches the notion of Emergence in Chaos theory. How does simple give way to complex and then return? Can there be stillness in motion and motion in stillness? Binaries dance from one pole to the other.

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Journal & sketchbook

Here on the porch the sun is rising up over a ridge and this shadowed blank space between high places reveals millions of floating particles and insects that literally fill this valley. This beautiful and graceful torrent of backlit bugs and floaters comprise a river 80 feet above the actual water-river. Each tree unfurls a flapping undulating thread – spiders’ strings of swaying streamers. It is as if I was under the sea with small animals and seaweed dancing to a current above me. All is woven through with the sound of the river – it is a white noise that reveals hidden gurgles and ker-plunks punctuating the slapping clapping of water drops, billions and billions against rock; particles dissolving particles in a molecular applause.

Bits and pieces, we are awash in them. Seen only in fleeting, side glances these patterns of small things flow through and around us. We seem to live in an enfolding veil of patterns; they cascade over us like a river of impossibly light fibers. Patterns of sound, color, texture, light and shadow intertwine just on our threshold of perception yet are as basic as a cloth’s weave. I am told that the best scientific theory of what things are made of is a theory of invisible strings that create vibrating patterns that express all that we see – a Stringy Thingy Theory. We are fleshly patterns; patterns define us, for we are based on a DNA rhythm of amino acids. In addition, our brains are best described as a swarming network of intertwining nodes and gaps whose outcome is mind. This thought product of pattern is itself an obsessive pattern-detecting program. Here it would seem that the object and the subject have become layered onto each other – a palimpsest of patterns. Is it possible to take a snapshot of the swarm of all these rhythms? Can we ever step outside of the weave and witness the whole cloth? Each time I try, I find myself looking off the edge of my understanding into a vast unknown and it takes more than I am to dip my toe into it.

journal entry – Outside Pecos NM, cabin by a river in between two mountain ridges 7/31

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