Ekphrastic Assimilations, Rick Barot on Lv De’an 吕德安

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In the coming weeks I will be previewing some of the work which will be exhibited in conjunction with the  Ekphrastic Assimilations — or ecphrastic, as some would prefer — project, an exhibition at the VALA art center in Redmond, WA and symposium discussion of word-image aesthetics in China and beyond jointly held by the Seattle Asian Art Museum and Pacific Lutheran University. Here, the first instance of such an exchange to be featured on this blog, namely the poem “The Grey Painting” (2016) by my colleague Rick Barot written in response to the painting “Fugue” (2014), which is below. Its important to observe that Rick did not have the title when he wrote the poem, as the titles from all of the images have been withheld so as not to complicate the poets’ responses to the images as visual, rather than verbal, expression.

At the risk of directing, or just polluting the reading process, either of the image or of Rick’s fine poem, I will just add that what fascinates me at the moment at least about reading words and images together is the question of proximity, here expressed in Rick’s line:

 

You are near or you are far,

depending on the accuracy of the words I have chosen.

 

The “you” here can be the image for which the poem is composed, or of course any other you. The problem of being apart from that “other” is in a sense the same, a longing or even a curiosity, and often an experience startlingly deep precisely for its very remoteness, like “…the plant /  that you brush by in the dark of your / own house.” Words reaching across to an image are to my mind much like neurological events occurring in different parts of the brain. They are aware of one another in a sense, but still and forever distinct.

 

赋格曲,Fugue

 

 

 

THE GRAY PAINTING

by Rick Barot

I may be looking at the gray painting

that is now in front of me, but it is you I am addressing.

You are near or you are far,

depending on the accuracy of the words I have chosen.

When my teacher told me to use this

instead of the, she was talking about the range between

the intimate and the conventional. The gray painting

is radiant, but it is a melancholy radiance.

To describe it only seems to lean away

from what I intend. Maybe, then, touch is a better way

of explaining the pleasure of that

encounter: the surprise and familiarity of the plant

that you brush past in the dark of your

own house. Or maybe the always-new logic of a dream

is closer to the truth: the falling that takes place

in a place where there is no ground. The gray painting

is there for me, a parcel with its warren

of successful rooms. One door opening to foggy roses.

Another one opening to a dawn that is the color of tea.

Surely there will always be new language

to tell you who I am, imagination rousing

out of idleness into urgency, reaching now towards you.

I keep remembering my teacher and she is an image

of joy, the small and wordless music

of her silver bangles. This over the.

One of the rules for writing the poems of a lonely person.


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launching Ekphrastic Assimilations 同画项目

Post-industrial Society has Arrived

I’m taking this moment, after a few months reprieve from work on this blog, to announce the launch of the Ekphrastic Assimilations project. This will involve an exhibition, held at the VALA arts center in Redmond, WA and in conjunction with Ryan James Fine Arts in Kirkland, WA from September 15 through early November, as well as an academic conference to be held jointly by Pacific Lutheran University and the Seattle Asian Art Museum.

Please visit the website to learn more about the project, or check back here, where I will now be posting EA-related updates and information.

 

 

My Review of Dragon in Ambush on MCLC

Dragon in Ambush

Today courtesy of Nick Kaldis and Kirk Denton at MCLC

http://u.osu.edu/mclc/2015/10/28/dragon-in-ambush-review/

 

Dragon in Ambush:
The Art of War in the Poems of Mao Zedong
By Jeremy Ingalls

Reviewed by Paul Manfredi
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2015)

Jeremy Ingalls (compiled and edited by Allen Wittenborn). Dragon in Ambush: The Art of War in the Poems of Mao Zedong. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013. 420 pp. ISBN: 978-0-7391-7782-2 Hardback ($90.00 / £60.00); E-ISBN: 978-0-7391-7783-9 eBook ($89.99 / £60.00)
Jeremy Ingalls (compiled and edited by Allen Wittenborn).
Dragon in Ambush: The Art of War in the Poems of Mao Zedong
. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2013. 420 pp. ISBN: 978-0-7391-7782-2 Hardback ($90.00 / £60.00); E-ISBN: 978-0-7391-7783-9 eBook ($89.99 / £60.00)

Jeremy Ingalls’ translation and explication of Mao Zedong’s poems is an extraordinary work, so full of information that it seems bursting at its roughly 500-page seams. This is not an entirely good thing, because the information provided, while often rich and resonate, is also frequently far-fetched and the assemblage of contents is somewhat unusual. In the Preface, we are told the work is a “critique and new translation of the first twenty of Mao Zedong’s published poems” (xi). This is a deceptively simple description of what is actually a tour de force of literary scholarship, but one that veers into an odd combination of reverential reading of Mao’s poems and diatribe against Mao himself and all that he stood for.

Ingalls, for those not already familiar, was born Mildred Dodge Jeremy Ingalls in 1911 and passed away in 2000. She was a scholar, essayist, and student of Asian Languages who taught in both English and Asian Studies at University of Chicago, Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, and Rockford College in Illinois. Over the course of her career she was awarded the Yale Series of Young Poets Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, American Academy of Arts and Letters grant, and other awards, as well as an honorary Doctor of Literature and Letters (Litt.D.) from Tufts University in 1965, five years after her retirement. The appearance of this book in 2013 was due to the painstaking efforts of Allen Wittenborn, an associate and friend of Ingalls. Wittenborn met Ingalls at the University of Arizona, where Wittenborn was completing his graduate work in the 1970s. Wittenborn returned to the University of Arizona archives later and produced, from some fifty boxes of posthumous papers, Dragon in Ambush. Wittenborn’s presence in the manuscript is notable: large editorial notes fill out the work in important places, providing background information necessary to hold the great span of truly disparate concerns together in one work.

Structurally, the book is not particularly unusual. It is comprised of two major sections, with Part 1 “Recognizing the Terrain” (a little over one hundred pages) divided into two chapters—”Methods of Approach” and “A Rationale for Ruthlessness”—and Part 2 “Mao’s Poems 1-20” (nearly 300 pages) comprising the translations, with poems appearing in pinyin, traditional and simplified characters, and English. Why, precisely, it was necessary to include both traditional and simplified characters is a bit of a mystery, and the pinyin also seems overkill, but the work is consistently thorough, and these elements are in keeping with that trait. The commentary that follows each poem, meanwhile, is truly exhaustive, working through line by line with general historical setting for twenty of Mao’s poems composed between 1925 and 1936, full explication of textual origins wherein demonstration of Ingalls’ extensive knowledge of classical Chinese literature is in full display, and a smattering of notes on translation issues, particularly as they relate to potential cultural miscommunication. In the translation discussion we can see that Ingalls takes her readership to be those generally interested in Mao’s work but with little knowledge of Chinese literature, recent or ancient.

The really curious part of the work is its intent. Ingalls seems less inclined to educate readers about Mao’s poetic writing than to make them acutely aware of the way Mao’s dastardly plans for world domination are manifest in his poetical writing. In Ingalls’ estimation, the poetry can be read first as a chronicle of Mao’s political thinking of the time, but also as a grand plan for the future for those learned enough to “read between the lines” (3). Ingalls observes:

Acquaintance with what these poems are asserting and proposing is crucial for those of us who recognize the continuing costs to humanity of seemingly effective despotisms and the aggravation of those costs by eloquence dedicated to the celebration of massively artful control over the destinies of other human beings. (ibid)

Two points about this bear immediate mention. First, that poetry could be used in such a way—to cleverly communicate a momentous scheme to a group of would-be political followers—is in itself fascinating. Ingalls’ view is that Mao the poet writes work that is consistently bifurcated, simultaneously communicating on one level with the masses and offering on another an esoteric layer of often conflicting information to be comprehended only by the truly worthy. The second point, perhaps less of a novelty in Mao studies generally but still fresh in the context of literary studies of Mao, is that the textual origins of Mao’s lyrical personae lie almost entirely outside of Marxist-Leninism. They are instead a collection of classical Chinese texts including principally Sun Zi’s Art of War, the Book of Changes, and Laozi’s Dao De Jing. The crux of Ingalls’ work is the identification of a stratum of readers, of which she is the preeminent example, who can actually unravel the dense allusions at work Mao’s poetry, revealing at last what Mao intended his poetry to actually do for his contemporaries and future generations. As readers, or “explorers” as Ingalls names us, we are initiated by her into an even deeper cognoscenti status than the one signaled by the texts themselves, aware of Mao’s hidden agenda and those to whom the agenda is addressed.

Ingalls builds the case for Mao’s nefariousness in the second chapter, appropriately titled: “A Rationale for Ruthlessness.” She opens with a discussion of the thirty two instances of the use of tian 天 in Mao’s twenty poems. Here, though, we immediately see a strange combination of scholarly, well-researched material and willfully unusual readings of Chinese classical texts. Chapter V of the Dao De Jing, for instance, begins with the lines: 天地不仁 / 以萬物為芻狗 / 聖人不仁 / 以百姓為芻狗. Ingalls renders these: “Heaven, in dealing with Earth, is ruthless / Using the ten thousand phenomena as straw dogs / The sage, in dealing with humankind, is ruthless / Using all of the people as straw dogs” (41) [italics mine]. This is not to say that her translation is wrong per se, but it is not standard. Though “ruthless” is a reasonable choice, the phrase is actually “not ren,” where ren (benevolent) is a fundamentally human psychological or moral attitude that is not a part of the nature signified by the phrase “Heaven and Earth,” to which it is here predicated. Further, by breaking the first two characters “Heaven and Earth” 天地 into: “Heaven, in dealing with Earth,” she sets up an oppositional force that is odd at best. Regrettably, this is an essential feature of Ingalls’ view of Mao’s appropriation of traditional literature; she believes Mao aligns himself with Heaven in opposition to Earth. Thus, the distance between ruler and ruled recapitulates Heaven’s ruthless “dealing” with Earth. In other words, Mao treats all people as “straw dogs,” only useful in their function of allowing him to achieve his principal goal of total domination. Ingalls writes:

In this rationale, the inherent ruthlessness and the inherent duration predicted, in analogy with Heaven, of the sage as a cosmically validated commander of humankind, supply the premises of Mao’s poems 5 and 21. In these poems he speaks of the ageless energy that he believes he possesses, in common with Heaven, in exercising, like Heaven, a ruthless activation of the process of change. (43)

The readings of the poems demonstrate similar orientation, often leading to interpretations that strain credibility. Poem 17, “Long March” (长征), might strike most readers as a celebration of Red Army exploits at a historical moment when success of the communists was anything but a foregone conclusion. Here is the original poem in full:

紅軍不怕遠征難,
萬水千山隻等閑。
五嶺逶迤騰細浪,
烏蒙磅礡走泥丸。
金沙水拍雲崖暖,
大渡橋橫鐵索寒。
更喜岷山千裡雪,
三軍過后盡開顏。

As is well known, Mao’s troops were outnumbered by and materially disadvantaged in comparison with the Nationalists. Mao’s poem describes the ease with which the Red Army travel difficult terrain, defiantly smiling as it reaches its goal. In Ingalls reading, though, these lines become something very different. Poem 17, she describes in her commentary, is

marked by a sustained ambiguity as to whose thoughts the poem is expressing. . . . Mao’s phrasing of his poem . . . sets up the suggestion that the thoughts might be those of the Red Armies but indicates, to close readers, that he is, by intention, summarizing, instead, his appraisal of the usefulness of the expedition to his personal political advantage. (292)

And a short time later:

A Mao Zedong who, like some of his predecessors, including the putative Zhou authors of the Zhou text of the Changes, considers himself endowed with unique talents and obligations to impose a “correct” government upon the human race can, without compunction, regard tens of thousands of human beings as expendable as long as, through this process, he grooms survivors docilely obedient to his further commands. (295)

What Ingalls sees as patently sinister in Mao’s work has its origins in Chinese political philosophy, a flawed system perhaps, but also perhaps no more necessarily conducive to world domination than any other. The essential problem with Ingalls’ work, which seems almost too obvious to observe, is that the “world” of Sun Zi, Lao Zi and the Zhou authors was not that of the 1920s and 1930s when Mao was writing, and thus the charge that Mao intended world domination based on his poetic appropriations of those texts is a bit absurd. Equally absurd is that the albeit over-confident and brazen lyrical persona of Mao’s poetic writing would actually have an intended result—if indeed such was Mao’s intent—to sway populations outside of Mao’s actual control. Ingalls again:

It is, therefore, scarcely surprising that Mao should suppose that, having proved himself an even more ruthlessly successful manipulator of human beings and human affairs than Zhuge Liang, the impact of the career of Mao Zedong and of his words . . . will enforce Mao’s dragon-claw grip upon the shaping of human events through many centuries to come. (99)

For anyone interested in Mao’s poems, or even in Mao himself, this book is immensely useful. As Wittenborn observes in the Preface, one cannot glean a full picture of the man without careful reading of the poems, because what Mao presents in his prose writings is for an entirely different audience. The argument that only in the poems does Mao’s true nature reveal itself, a position that might serve as a sort of raison d’être for the work as a whole, is convincing in a way. However, as Ingalls’ prevailing psychological characterization of Mao is that of a ruthless leader unconcerned with the people he purports to lead, the potential value of reading the poetry is greatly diminished. In fact, with Mao’s careful, even masterful, attention to poetic diction and other detailed elements of the texts, a truly astute reading, the like of which Ingalls advocates, could yield far more than a picture of mere ruthlessness at work in Mao’s poems. Unfortunately, for all of her efforts, Ingalls herself seems to be unable to grasp this broader view.

One final point is worth contemplating. From the wary or even alarmist tone of Ingalls writing one might suppose that she was engaged in analysis of the poetical writings of a living world leader, one who could, conceivably, extend his merciless revolutionary influence to lands outside of China. Given the rather restricted nature of information available outside China during the Cultural Revolution in particular, this might account for Ingalls’ concern about a world leader bent on something far more than governing just China. Obviously, limitations resulting from a lack of credible information of what was happening inside China during the Cultural Revolution and shortly thereafter, when Ingalls presumably began work on the project, could easily have been rectified in the years following Mao’s death with some judicious editing and revision. The incubation of Ingalls’ notes was decades long, certainly enough time to accomplish this task. Nonetheless, with the considerable volume of source material created in the 1970s, the sense that the Mao dragon was much more than poetic fantasy makes a degree of sense in the context of that time.

Whatever one’s political position, historical and/or literary training, Ingalls book is a rich source of information about Mao’s poetic work, and in some respects his personal and political philosophy. It is not challenging to sift through the dense commentary—which demonstrates at times an overabundant antipathy for Mao’s political project and slightly hysterical response to his hegemonic intentions—to find insights about his poetical work, particularly as regards his connection to classical Chinese literature. For those who have a low tolerance for narrow ideological reading, though, such a sifting process might be more onerous than it is worth.

Paul Manfredi (manfredi@plu.edu)
Pacific Lutheran University

Yan Li, Recent Works

Zhuanzi With Bird

Yan Li’s poetry and art has been receiving a lot of attention of late in China. Among others, the online poetry portal New Poetry Canon 新诗经started in 2012 by Gao Shixian, ran a lengthy piece (#067 May 15) containing many new poems. The opening introduction to Yan’s work also includes his recent work on the Autumn Moon festival, running annually in Beijing. That introduction as follows:

严力

严力:(1954—)祖籍浙江宁海,出生于北京,旅美画家、纽约一行诗社社长、朦胧诗代表诗人之一。1973年开始诗歌创作,1979年开始绘画创作。是1979年北京先锋艺术团体“星星画会”和文学团体“今天”的成员。1984年在上海人民公园展览厅举办了国内最早的先锋艺术的个人画展。1985年从北京留学纽约并于1987年在纽约创立《一行》诗刊,任主编。2009开始主持每年一次的北京中华世纪坛中秋国际诗歌会。严力出版的有:诗集、中短篇小说集、长篇小说、散文集、画集等二十多本。画作被上海美术馆、日本福冈亚洲美术馆、以及私人收藏家收藏.作品被翻译成多种文字,目前定居上海、北京和纽约。

Yan Li: (1954-) native of Ninghai, was born in Beijing and has had long residences in New York, Shanghai and other cities. He began composing poetry in 1973, and in 1979 also joined both the avant-garde Stars artist and Today writers and artists collectives. In 1984 in Shanghai People’s Park Hall he held his first one-man show, in fact the first one-man show of avant-garde art in contemporary China. In 1985 he moved from Beijing to study in New York, and in New York in 1987 founded One Line. In 2009 he began hosting the annual Mid-Autumn Festival China Millennium Monument in Beijing international poetry meeting. Yan Li has published over 20 collections of poetry, short stories, novels, essays and other arts-related works. His paintings have been collected by Shanghai Art Museum, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, and private collectors. Works have been translated into many languages, currently we live in Shanghai, Beijing and New York.

 

Here, as well, the first poem, a short, 2-poem sequence, actually, with my translation:

 

1

对简单的形象

我一直很有亲近感

比如板凳和鞋拔子

唯有对门一直不敢轻信

主要是门后太复杂了

我还听说

为此有人在制作门的时候

特意往里面加进了敲门声

那是干什么用的呢

几十年过去了

我觉得真的很管用

门要时常敲敲自己的内心

 

DOOR 

1.

I’ve always felt close to

Those simple shapes

Like benches or shoe-horns

Only doors I don’t approach lightly

Mostly for the complexity of what lies behind them

I’ve heard that

When doormakers make doors

They often have to add a couple of knocks inside

What can that be for?

After a few decades

I discover they’re really useful

Because doors too need to knock now and again

on the doors to their own hearts

 

 

2。

关在门里的门

是卧室的门

关在门外的门

是家的大门

而从来不用关的那扇门

还没诞生

 

The door in the door

Is the bedroom door

The door outside the door

Is the front door

And the door that never needs closing

Has yet to be born

Yang Xiaobin, another poet’s photography

 

Poet, critic, scholar Yang Xiaobin, now on the faculty at Academia Sinica in Taiwan, has in recent years joined the group of contemporary Chinese poets working in photography (Bei Dao, Mo Mo, Li Li among others). Yang is certainly the one whose engagement is most fully explicated in his own theoretical manner on his website. The textual companion

關鍵詞

 

is constructed in the manner of “keywords”, including “quotidian,” “badness,” “ready-made,” “subjectivity,” “other,” “garbage,” “trace [Derrida],” “automatism,” “abstract/figural,” and so forth. His photographic images, meanwhile, were originally material objects (flat surfaces such as walls, doorways, pavement) at such acutely close-up range as to render them visually unintelligible. Since then he has moved on to something different, more tactile, and readable. Long explication of his “post-photography-ism” is Palimpsest and Trace: Post-Photographism. Sample images from the exhibition site:

 

pic1

 

More, and I think better, works available on his blog:

001a4U1wgy6Kdp5KWM088&690 001a4U1wgy6Kdp5mHa7df&690 001a4U1wgy6Kdp5ukfUaa&690

 

 

As for Yang’s poetry, it is often described as being difficult, or at least challenging. Here, for instance, in a translation produced by Karla Kelsey, John Gery and the poet himself, is the second of three short poems, this entitled “Bread”

 

BREAD

You sliced the loaf of bread with a comb,

finding inside it hairs of the dead, a squamish voice,

and dry, warmed-over love.

the bread darkened and darkened, its crumbs

more and more seared and shriveled:

Before you could wash and dress, you face, too, was burnt:

its features, not easy to swallow,

burgeon with a hunger for beauty.

面包

你用梳子切开面包。那里

有死者的发丝,娇嗔

烤热的爱。

面包越来越黑,碎屑

越来越理不清:

梳洗之前,你的脸已烧焦。

难以下咽的五官

带着美的饥饿。

*translation appears in Another Kind of Nation: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry edited by Zhang Er and Chen Dongdong (Talisman House, 2007), 290.

Poetic Survivors (诗意的幸存者) exhibition

We Are Ourselves History 我们自己就是历史 

the “poetic survivors”

POET-ARTISTS at it again.

Laying vigorous claim to the hopelessly untranslatable  诗意 (“poeticalness”?–or shall we just say ‘poetic’), the poets of the Misty generation, led again by Yan Li and friends, are taking the stage as “painter-poets,” full of nostalgia for the days of old (26 years, to be precise), but also with an eye to the future of Chinese painting and poetry. In this forward-looking respect I find the most promise for such endeavors, a slow moving “movement,” to be sure, but the conjoined media endeavor of painting (and photography) and poetry have two things going for it: a robust tradition and unfadable modernity, the latter residing in the former, curiously enough.

This exhibition, title The Poetic Survivors 诗意的幸存者 , is on a larger scale than many iterations past, with some new members in the line-up. In particular is the calligraphy of Tang Xiaodu 唐晓渡, long-time critic and cultural figure whose visual art I had never seen before this collection emerged. Also notable is the preface to the exhibition written by Yang Lian, who is not often so closely engaged with goings-on inside China. The funding will carry this exhibition through numerous cities over the next 12 months, among them and besides Shanghai where the operation kicked off in November, will be Beijing, Shenyang, and Dalian.

The seven-person lineup this time rather different from previous “Poets Group” (诗派) of painters, with only Mang Ke 芒克, and Yan Li 严力 the constant members. They are here joined by Tang Xiaodu 唐晓渡, as mentioned, but also You You 友友, Guo Changhong 郭长虹, Li Li 李笠 and  Jie Wei 解危.

 

As to the contents, the photographic images by Li Li, are surely arresting. For instance:

 

Li Li photo

Morning Mirror 晨镜

 

 

and:

 

Li Li Photo

Coming Home #1 回家之一

 

 

But nonetheless I’m most impressed by Mang Ke’s painting, which evolves in slow but also deliberate and oddly self-assured steps. The earlier work was completely abstract, seeming landscapes with only faint hints of representation such as:

Mang Ke

2013-18 98x78cm


Gradually, the landscapes acquire more acute dimensionality, and often water banks, hills and other discernable features of the phenomenal world. In this case, a bank of trees by the water:

 

Mang Ke

2014-15 118x75cm

 

 

Nonetheless, Mang’s titles are still rigorously abstract: “2014-15”. The words he reserves for poetic work, which is not represented anywhere in this particular volume.

Chinese reporting on the exhibition below:

 

 

http://culture.ifeng.com/a/20141216/42730221_0.shtml

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凤凰网文化讯 2014年12月14日下午2时,“诗意的幸存者”–中国当代诗人“视觉艺术展”,在位于上海浦东三林老街的中道(上海)艺术馆启幕。

此次巡展由作家高晖担任总策展人,诗人杨炼为艺术总监,并由上海德重文化艺术有限公司、辽宁衡德投资公司联袂主办。上海站策展人由江旭担纲。参展人有中国朦胧诗的代表人物芒克、唐晓渡、严力,有作家兼画家友友、诗人摄影家李笠,还有诗人学者郭长虹、诗人画家解危等七人组成。

除上述参展诗人艺术家外,还有文学批评家、诗歌批评家、美术批评家、诗人、画家、上海各界代表及瑞典国驻上海总领事馆官员等共计110余人参加了此次活动。

著名诗歌评论家唐晓渡现场发言

策展人高晖说,此次展出的诗人视觉艺术品,关乎诗人个人心灵史也就是1980年代中国朦胧诗歌史的补充和延续。从这些视觉艺术作品里,总能看到那种灵动、奇异而温暖的东西,这种东西就是我们常说的诗意。当下,中国专业书画界乱象丛生,恢复中国视觉艺术作品精神本体性成为当务之急,呼唤心灵参加创作,其实,一个创作者的油彩、笔墨、线条、焦点,就是自身内在生命状态的透析。谁能与心灵一并还乡、谁愿意和历史一起成长、谁能拥有绵长的诗意,谁就是当然的“诗意幸存者”。

启幕仪式结束后,接续举行了“诗意的幸存者”–当代中国诗人视觉艺术研讨会暨诗歌朗诵会和中国当代诗人艺术档案馆(南馆)揭牌仪式。参展诗人纷纷登台朗读自己的代表诗作,场面感人。观众杨昕佳对记者说,我非常感动,这样的场面充满正能量,使我感觉又回到了1980年代。在研讨会上,与会的诗人艺术家、美术批评家,就此次巡展的诗歌与视觉艺术的关系、视觉艺术的精神出处、诗意在视觉艺术作品里的正确表达特别是此次巡展目的、意义、持续方式等方面进行了深入研讨。

诗人芒克与杨炼共同揭幕

最后,中国当代诗人艺术档案馆(南馆筹备处)由诗人芒克揭牌。该馆的建立,将成为保存中国当代朦胧诗歌史的现有文献的重要载体,将切实推进这段历史文献的搜集、整理及后续研究工作,为幸存的诗意提供一个“恒温箱”。策展人高晖认为,诗意总会被筛选而成为时代的精神高度,当我们丈量一部文学史的时候,其实主要是在翻拣那些诗意元素。这些视觉艺术作品,对于诗人个体而言,完全是诗歌的另外一种写法,而且几乎就是一首长诗的容量。

据了解,巡展启动后将开始不定期接续巡展,从明年3月上旬离开上海,将在北京、沈阳、大连、重庆、成都、济南、江西等地巡展。最后,相关作品和档案将分别保存中国当代诗人艺术档案馆的上海馆和沈阳馆。

美术批评家杨卫认为,此次巡展本身就是2014年的一个标志性文化事件。这次巡展,是中国当代诗人视觉艺术作品的首次集体亮相,充满着诗人艺术家对历史、人生、艺术的立体式反思与回顾,其本身就是一首不同寻常的“小长诗”。此次巡展将推动中国视觉艺术精神本体性的凸显,重新厘清视觉艺术创作者与自身内在生命状态的联系方式,进而指向其整体精神特质,从而拓宽当代文人视觉艺术作品的内含和外延。

杨炼撰写画展序言《诗意的幸存者》:

中国文人画,自元代始,其思想、美学特征,质言之,一曰民间性,汉族文人离弃对官方权力的依赖,由被迫而主动地深入民间生存处境,使艺术内涵愈加饱满。二曰文化性,汉文化的深厚资源,经由文人独立思考和重构,不仅没沦为粗疏,反而激发出超强能量,形成无数风骨、神采兼备的美学杰作。这民间、文化二元互补,彼此印证,转型至今,便是本人那句“独立思考为体,古今中外为用”。以此为根,我们的人生和创作,从未离开这个真传统、活传统。

上世纪八十年代初,华夏长梦初醒,“朦胧诗”并不朦胧,写诗爱诗若不知芒克、唐晓渡、严力诸君大名,简直不可思议。在京都,友友和我,出入诗人聚会,何止诗作青春四射?诗人和女友也个个英俊倜傥、美艳夺目。小字辈李笠本来就是帅哥,而那时尚未结识的郭长虹、解危,想来也均在他处驰骋。1988年“幸存者”诗人俱乐部,被同住北京劲松的芒克、晓渡和我们催生而出,一册油印诗刊、一百元外汇卷“巨款”赞助,掀起余震不断的社会海啸。那时我们谁能想到,二十六年后,会戴着另一圈迥然不同的画家光环,聚会到一起?二十六年啊,时间空间,如我们一样成了鬼魂,轮回在认不出的地方。中国,只剩几个老地名。“全球”,转眼扎进这土地每个角落。芒克诗题“今天是哪一天?”我出国前写过:“这儿是哪儿多远?”美貌不再,沧桑已至。我们自己就是历史。

但,多远?是否该改成:多近?潜入一行诗、一张画中的文人精神传统那么近!我们每个人的人生、历史、思想、艺术,本身就是一首小长诗。年轮兑换成了思想,而挑战威权话语的个性诗意不变。词语转型为笔墨、影像,而每一点、每条线、每一像素中蕴含的经典性,已如另一诗律,加入我们的艺术自律。一个姿态,与文化对决;而一种目标,却始终在创建文化。铆定的方向是:空话免谈,自我的深度必须印证于作品的深度。芒克的油画率性浓烈、晓渡的书札原生元气、严力的笔触优雅灵慧、友友的彩墨野艳奇崛、李笠的摄影自成玄学、长虹的心景嶙峋灵秀、解危的构图瑰异清冷。这里,万变不离其宗的,是每个艺术家创作中不断滋长的诗意。那原创的艺术属性,横溢的才华气质,永远比庞然大物的“过去”更大。民间性和文化性,铸成当代中国艺术的先天基因,由此幻化出我们种种艺术个性。为什么要否认?中国新视觉艺术,一定是还原了思想本义的新文人画:自觉承续、拓展那个贯穿千载的“雅艺术”精神传统——拒斥以任何方式流于空、俗、糙、贱,无论它们凭籍权力、市场的压力,或假借民众口味的名义。

正因为饱经沧桑,艺术才俊美永存。谁与心灵一并还乡、谁和历史一起成长,谁就是“幸存者”。我们生命的诗意,已将自己缔造成一个当代传统,并汇入了那个涵括一切时空的深邃无垠的传统中。

Layman poetry

Reading "Blood Sacrifice" by Layman

Reading “Blood Sacrifice” by Layman

 

This summer I spent some time with an interesting writer. His name is Leiman (“Layman” in English), a highly successful entrepreneur, business executive, engineer, inventor–the list of occupational identity labels could go on. Most recently, though, which is to say since he turned the age of 60 five years ago, he focused in making a name as a poet.

In early September Leiren was in town for the Boao Forum, an annual event usually held in Hainan but this year taking place in Seattle. Leiren was one of the attendees, and the list of speakers is certainly an impressive bunch (Governor to Bill Gates himself). Leiren’s contribution, meanwhile, is the following poem. We read the poem the poem, along with some others later in the week at the Art Rhythm art exhibition held at the Ryan James Gallery where the photograph above was taken.

 

 

 

Blood Sacrifice for Humanity

——To The Boao Forum for Asia Seattle, 2014

人类文明血祭——诗致2014博鳌亚洲论坛

 

Yiou-Yiou-

悠悠

Humanity!

人类

Yiou-Yiou-

悠悠

Vicissitudes

万年

Woohoo — humanity

呜呼,人类

Woohoo —  Alas!

呜呼,哀哉

 

All war

所有的战争

Is

都是

The war of rulers

统治者的战争

All defeat

所有的亡国

Is

都是

the defeat of rulers

统治者的亡国

All independence

所有的独立

Is

都是

A ruler’s independence

统治者的独立

 

Whether

无论是

For conquest

为了拓疆

Or

还是

Defense

为了守土

Whether for

无论是

New doctrine

新教

Or

还是

Old doctrine

老教

 

People

平民

Everywhere

在哪儿

Are all

都是

Heads lowered

低着头

and bent at the waist

弯着腰

 

*****

 

Still water makes no current

水平不流

War after punitive war

征战不止

 

The strong win; the weak die

优胜劣汰

Dynasties come and go

改朝换代

 

Humanity

Lacking leadership

无头

Goes nowhere.

不走!

 

Birds

Lacking a leader

无头

Don’t fly!

不飞!

 

Civilizations

文明

Start naked

从赤裸

Sprout leaves, then

到树叶,再

Come the robes

到长袍

And then, after robes

再,从长袍

Comes BIKINI; and then

到三点式,再

Naked again

到赤裸

 

From

Knives and spears

大刀长矛

To

Guns and A-bombs

枪炮核弹

 

From

Cold weapons to

冷兵器到热兵器

Hot weapons

再从

And from

热战

Hot wars to

Cold wars

冷战

 

And now

而现在

Still hot and

依然热

Still cold

依然冷

 

Civilization

文明

Blood-stained through

一路血迹斑斑

Civilization

文明

All swaggering braggart

一路狰狞招摇

 

Wherefore civilization?

何以文明?

Civilization wherefore?

文明何以?

 

Boundless, the sea of bitterness

苦海无边

But the shore is there, if you look back

回头是岸

 

Human beings

人类

Are no more than

不过是

The ink

书写人类文明史的

Of human history

墨汁

 

Civilizations

文明

Are no more than

不过是

The last breath

人类和人类史的

Of the humans

延喘

And their history

 

Between

The cracks of thunder and lightning

雷电交加的缝隙里

Light all-encompassing

普世的阳光

Manages

得以

To emerge

泄下

 

Bronze is cast into cauldrons

青铜铸鼎

Iron, crafted into cannon

铁器造炮

 

Steam

蒸汽蒸开一个活塞的时代

Steams up an age of pistons

电火花

Sparks electric

点燃了

Have ignited

国界

The borders of nations

 

The PC

PC

Makes the Earth

让地球

Flat

扁平

 

*****

 

Human civilization

人类文明

Is a strongbox

是一个保险柜

Opened

For the first Time

华盛顿

By

第一个

Washington

打开

 

Ever since

从此

The Sun

太阳

Is Apollo no more

不再是太阳神

The Sun

太阳

Is becoming

成了

Sunlight’s tool

阳光的工具

 

Two centuries since

200年之后

One and all

一股脑儿

Out comes

走出来

Mahatma Gandhi

圣雄甘地

Out comes

走出来

Chiang Ching-kuo

蒋经国

Out comes

走出来

Mandela

曼德拉

Out comes

走出来

Gorbachev

戈尔巴乔夫

There’s also

还有

The King of Bhutan

不丹的国王

Who will be the next?

下一个是谁?

 

Community

根申国

Is

是一个

A chorus

大合唱

Who will be

下一个

The

大合唱

Next

Chorus?

谁?

 

*****

 

Science is a treasure-trove

科学的宝藏里

Of inexhaustible treasures

有取之不尽的宝藏

 

Air

空气

Can become grain

可以变成粮食

Sea water

海水

Can become oil

可以变成油

 

You, Sir

只要

Need only

Agree

To bend a bit

弯一弯腰

Need only

只要

Sir

Agree

To think a bit

用一用脑

Why is it

为什么

Some people

有的人

Always

总是

Whet their knives

磨刀霍霍

Gazing

盯着

At other people’s cake?

别人盘子里的蛋糕?!

 

Stop the blood stench of five millennia

不要再用5000年的血腥

From expanding our desires.

鼓胀我们的欲望

 

We have to use the bloody spots

我们要用斑斑的血斑

To shine

擦亮

Our

我们

Truly-civilized eyes

真正文明的眼睛

To be a World Citizen

做世界人民

 

 

 

 

雷人  作/译written and translated by Layman Lei

revised by Paul Manfredi