"A word, once dissected, no longer signifies anything, is nothing. Like a body that, after the autopsy, is less than a corpse."
— Emil Cioran, Anathemas and Admirations
Xu Bing — Tian Shu (Book from the Sky), 1987-1991
Tian Shu is comprised of a display of books spread in a large rectangle across the ground, above which voluptuous scrolls unroll in long, pregnant arcs. The books—four hundred of them—are handmade with reverential adherence to the standards of traditional Ming dynasty fonts, bookbinding, typesetting and stringing techniques.
To make them, Xu painstakingly carved Chinese characters into square woodblocks, in just the way his ancient printing predecessors would have done, had them typeset and printed, and the printed pages mounted and bound into books and scrolls.
Yet, there’s the astonishing, Borgesian catch: out of the three or four thousand Chinese characters used in these volumes and scrolls, not a single one of them is a real Chinese character. They are made up of recognizable radicals and typical atomic components of Chinese characters, but Xu laboured to ensure that while they all retain the unmistakable look of Chinese script, they are all, so to speak, nonsense. They do not exist in any dictionary, and do not mean anything. Chinese speakers and non-Chinese speakers alike approach the books with the same sense of wonder at their beauty, and the same sense of incomprehension at their content. It’s a piece of art whose meaning is to be found in its meaninglessness. (via)
"Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding."
When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past.
When I pronounce the word Silence,
I destroy it.
When I pronounce the word Nothing,
I make something no non-being can hold.
In this instant, shaken to her very depths, this ecstatic human being has a first inkling that the soul is made of stuff so mysteriously elastic that a single event can make it big enough to contain the infinite.
— Stefan Zweig, The Post-Office Girl. NYRB Classics, 2008
"There are 7 billion 47 million people on the planet
And I have the audacity to think I matter"
The Tiniest Cosmos
Cosmology of Life is Indonesian artist Toni Kanwa’s collection of 1000 intricately carved, needle-sized ritualistic figures displayed on a lit table at the 2013 Singapore Biennale.
Magnifying glasses allow less-than-hawk-eyed viewers to observe the miniscule figures – each of which has its own teeny-tiny energy and character.
These miniature, talisman-like sculptures were intuitively carved and shaped by Kanwa to express his worldview of nature, spirituality, and the macro and micro cosmos. His creative process follows a special ritual, informed by his past investigations of sacred knowledge and practices in Indonesia, where he dialogues with the material and medium used before beginning to sculpt.
Dear employers, I will have to take the day off today because:
☐ It’s December and the streets are papier-mached with wet bronze leaves and it’s so dark outside that the cars have their headlights on at 3pm
☐ I have recently been through a breakup, or I have been through a breakup at any time in my life really, and I woke up today with the absolute conviction that I will never be loved again
☐ A dog looked at me
☐ I got a text from someone for whom I feel a mix of concern and frustration and recognition and longing that is both more and less than romance
☐ Someone made a joke about dead pets meeting you in heaven
☐ Daylight savings time
☐ I passed a knot of flowers that were so bright they glowed through the dim grey water of the day and when was anything in my life last that luminous?
☐ Girls are too pretty
☐ For the first time I genuinely comprehend that there is not enough time to have all the lives I wanted
☐ I accidentally listened to Leonard Cohen
“You’ll be driving along depressed when suddenly a cloud will move and the sun will muscle through and ignite the hills. It may not last. Probably won’t last. But for a moment the whole world comes to. Wakes up. Proves it lives. It lives —red, yellow, orange, brown, russet, ocher, vermillion, gold. Flame and rust. Flame and rust, the permutations of burning. You’re on fire. Your eyes are on fire. It won’t last, you don’t want it to last. You can’t stand any more. But you don’t want it to stop. It’s what you’ve come for. It’s what you’ll come back for. It won’t stay with you. but you’ll remember that it felt like nothing else you’ve felt or something you’ve felt that also didn’t last.”
— Lloyd Schwartz, from “Leaves”
"Of course, this is one of the profound ways in which oppression works—to mire us in body hatred. Homophobia is all about defining queer bodies as wrong, perverse, immoral. Transphobia, about defining trans bodies as unnatural, monstrous, or the product of delusion. Ableism, about defining disabled bodies as broken and tragic. Class warfare, about defining the bodies of workers as expendable. Racism, about defining the bodies of people of color as primitive, exotic, or worthless. Sexism, about defining female bodies as pliable objects. These messages sink beneath our skin."
Eli Clare, “Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies” (via genderqueer
Thinking about continuing to brainstorm… Brainstorming about continuing.
Gilbert. More thinking about Gilbert. Or, thinking about the things Gilbert’s work inspires me to think about, as well as how he does it. Maybe how he does it. How it’s done isn’t my strongest area of analysis. But.
It feels like something that’s honest, just honest. Meaningful, in many-layered ways. Poetic, almost!
"Silence is so accurate."
"Sometimes, I sit alone under the stars
and think of the galaxies inside my
heart, and truly wonder if anyone will
ever want to make sense of all that