Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lao Ai

Niggling at a thought that reared its head a few weeks ago while reading Blanchot, or about Blanchot, this idea, or rather, this proto-conceptual figure, or pseudo-idea of the Il-y-a which to me just seems like a rather transparently sophistic method to return the word to the mark, and the mark to the word, and both to the 'surface' of molecularity or combinatorics. And never mind that absence can stand in for its opposite, etc, blah, blah. Some work I guess that comes to mind in the recent days would be Brett Lund's show at the Thomas Solomon gallery, and to some extent Stephen Lapthisophon's closing this week show at the Conduit gallery here in Dallas, but that's not really what I wanted to talk about. What I wanted to bring up is a sort of Il-y-a-ishness which brings in the proto-conceptual figure as an act of conceptualism, but more to the point, a question, how does the notion of the primitive fit into a contemporary conceptualist landscape where all primitive acts are assumed to be ironic during this epistemic moment. I guess I would like to posit that the Il-y-a itself shows that the primitive, the fetishing of substance remains transcendent. If it did not, then Art, or even Humanity would be a purely rote, discursive, journalistic endeavor, and yet, through the understanding of the Il-y-a, we find a path through the hegemonics of discursivity into a contemporary shamanics of antic, or delirious abcursivity, or rather, incursivity + encursivity to yield an eincursivity which lays us, our own selves as a fetish at the feet of singularity. Now that isn't what I wanted to talk about either. What I really wanted to discuss was a way of beginning to work with 'no idea'.. To use the trope of the Il-y-a as a methodus for beginnings. To literally begin with no idea, but then to begin with no idea is to have an idea, hence the recursion, even in Blanchot into figures, or proto-conceptus.

One thing that comes to mind then would naturally be, the generative modes of working, something like Cage's chance operations which aren't really Cage's per se (except maybe the naming), but he's a good landmark, but I guess you could say Dada hat poetry too, but then all that stuff is just sort of like making clouds out of dice. And then there's this recent toying with notions of the fragment, and thematics are always in the air here, like smoke, like a smoke of strings from an unraveling Ravel-esque Bo Derek march hare hoodoo of Derridean dude ranches.

So how about the court of Rudolf II? How about a historical moment of great conceptus as blind figure of primitive proto-conceptualism. What dioramas speak so eloquently of surface returned to surface? There would be many. Rudolf's glittering court included the most able astronomers of the day, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler, the mannerist painters Giuseppe Arcimboldo and Bartholomeus Spranger, the occult philosophers John Dee, and (briefly) Giordano Bruno, as well as notable Paracelsians, Platonists, Cabalists, Ramists, and Jewish scholars. Together, they exemplified "an underlying atmosphere, a climate of thought in later 16th century Europe, which was particularly characteristic of the Imperial court in Prague." They represented, moreover, not the madness of a hopelessly insane emperor but a "universalist striving.."

From there, I would like to break the branch, and move to Leiris' Brisées (Broken Branches)
where he is moving into a popular 19th century book (Emile Colombey's Les Originaux de la derniére heure, p.105). He reads the following anecdote:


Seeing an open side of beef being gutted in a butcher's stall, a woman experienced such profound disgust that she nearly fainted. When questioned about the attack she was suffering, she asked: "Do we have so many nasty things inside our bodies too?" The answer she was given convinced her to let herself starve to death.

A converse of this story might be said to exist in the entry for the LIANGGUI (FINE-TURTLE) within the 1st to 4th century Chinese Book Guideways Through Maountains and Seas. A story, or footnote within the entry itself of an incidental animal mentioned in the entry, of something called a Tuo-alligator.

Guo Pu noted that the Tuo-Alligators were like lizards but about twenty feet long with colored scales whose skin was used for drums. Yuan Ke noted a myth in The Compendium of Mr. Lu that credits the Tuo-Alligator with being the first musician. Following the command of the Thearch Zhuanxu, he curled up and used his tail to beat out sounds on his stomach that were described as harmonious and rich.

Yes. The dark deity is a foot! The Signese needs a boss! They cannot tell you, or let you in on the secret that:

A: People are Cellphones, ie Alligator Drums
B: That the Universe is a Cellphone, ie an Alligator Drum
C: That Symbolic Ideation serves only to signal a hollow digestion,
or perhaps a multi-purpose instrumentality ie Culture is a Cellphone Alligator Drum Stomach
which is eating you while eating itself, too!

It reminds me of Baudelaire's negative rhetoric concerning Charlet (as translated by Michele Hannoosh):
And this seems curiously like any period's scenester version of the artist, even if that scene is itself denuded of traditional forms of decorum:

Speaking of Charlet, Baudelaire says:

He is an artificial man who set about imitating the ideas of the time. He made a tracing of public opinion, he tailored his intelligence to fit the fashion. The public was truly his patron.

Well, I'd have to say, at this point I love both Baudelaire and Charlet, and I especially love Mr. Lu, even if he fills the Alligator can only play his drum at the behest of Thearch Zhuanxu?

Doesn't that name ring a bell? Let's just Wikipedia, if it's wrong, so what, who am I, EzraPound?

Yes, and Historically it works, too.

Mr. Lu is none other than Lü Buwei:

Lü Pu-wei, 291?–235 BCE), Lord Wenxin 文信侯 was a Warring States Period merchant who schemed his way into governing the State of Qin. He served as Chancellor of China for King Zhuangxiang of Qin, and as regent and Chancellor for the king's (or, some claim, Lü's) young son Zheng, who became Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.[1] Lü Buwei committed suicide after being implicated in plotting with the Queen Dowager and her "eunuch" lover. Lü notably sponsored an encyclopedic compendium of Hundred Schools of Thought philosophies, the 239 BCE Lüshi Chunqiu ("Mr. Lü's Annals").

Begin to look at Thearch Zhuanxu itself:

Zhuanxu (simplified Chinese: 颛顼; traditional Chinese: 顓頊; pinyin: Zhuānxū), also known as Gaoyang (高陽) is a mythological monarch of ancient China. A grandson of the Yellow Emperor, Zhuanxu led the Shi clan in an eastward migration to present-day Shandong, where intermarriages with the Dongyi clan enlarged and augmented their tribal influences. At age twenty, he became their sovereign, going on to rule for seventy-eight years until his death.

It says he led the Shi clan!

Shi (Traditional Chinese: 詩; Simplified Chinese: 诗; pinyin: shī) is the Chinese word for "poetry" or "poem", anciently associated with Chinese poetry. In modern times, shi can and has been used as an umbrella term to mean poetry in any form or language, whether or not Chinese; but, it may imply or be used to refer certain classical forms of poetry, for example the folk song derived poetry of the Classic of Shi (Shijing, 詩經 / 诗经), the classic reference of shi. The poetry of China has tended to be especially associated in the Europe and America with the written word, the exposure to Europeans and Americans of what to them were and often are the novel implications expressed or latent in Chinese characters and the exquisite beauty displayed by some examples of Chinese calligraphy, including often the writing of poetry (shi).

But also doesn't Zhuanxu look or sound alot like Zhuang Zhou?

You know this guy, right?

Zhuangzi (simplified Chinese: 庄子; traditional Chinese: 莊子; pinyin: Zhuāng Zǐ; Wade–Giles: Chuang Tzŭ), was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE during the Warring States Period, a period corresponding to the philosophical summit of Chinese thought — the Hundred Schools of Thought, and is credited with writing—in part or in whole—a work known by his name, the Zhuangzi. His name Zhuangzi (English "Master Zhuang", with Zi being an honorific) is sometimes spelled Zhuang Tze, Zhuang Zhou, Chuang Tsu, Chuang Tzu, Chouang-Dsi, Chuang Tse, or Chuangtze. Zhuangzi is considered by many to be the greatest Chinese philosopher of all time.

Now where did I start all this? In the consideration of primitivist modes providing, well,
providing a gap in the wall of the "discursive contemporary".. A chink in the armor, so to speak of the common discourse of the day. But is what I'm portraying just another version of sophistry
rewriting itself back into the Aesthesis / Semiosis gambit?

That door between the gambits is the knowledge of Syntaxis and Irrony.

Look at this quote upon the writings of Zhuangzi:

A.C. Graham and other critics have subjected the text to a stylistic analysis and identified four strains of thought in the book: the ideas of Zhuangzi or his disciples; a "primitivist" strain of thinking similar to Laozi; a strain very strongly represented in chapters 8-11 which is attributed to the philosophy of Yang Chu; and a fourth strain which may be related to the philosophical school of Huang-Lao.

And this next quote also serves to highlight the collectionism, or rather accretionism of Zhuangzi's thought:

The style of the Zhuangzi is of little help in resolving this issue. As Martin Palmer again writes in his translation, "Trying to read Chuang Tzu sequentially is a mistake. The text is a collection, not a developing argument."[5] Not only is Zhuangzi a collection of sayings attributed to Zhuangzi, it also includes a number of stories, all presented haphazardly. It would be easy for another author to insert new material without disturbing the flow before the text had been stabilized centuries after Zhuangzi's death, and possibly escape detection.

"The text is a collection, not a developing argument."

A still-life for your edification.
A carving.
An Alligator Cellphone banging its own hollow stomach
and calling it music called for by

Great Leader Wave
who leads the Poetry clan
across the land, across time,

the air, the heir, hare, hair, hari chrys topulas, whatceteraveritas