Knowledge as Art

Chinese_art_and_poetry

Rhythm is something we can never define. It is the course by which all things move. We can never define it because it is always teaching us and we are never commanding it. The motion of the stars, the shivering of leaves by the touch of the wind, the steps of a tango dance, the flush of a toilet, the swerving molecules of air that produce sound, all things under and beyond our scorching star have a rhythm and this we can never define, because it never stops. It has not ever been static but constantly destroying present configurations for novel melodies of motion. The object of art in Chinese culture tries to capture this rhythm, by placing it on a canvas as an extension of the same rhythm the artist is trying to imitate. The Chinese artist follows several principles to ascertain his human creation of the natural flow or rhythm found in nature. He strives first of all to contemplate the natural rhythm of things by a non-forced condition they call wu-wei (non-action/ no effort). Once they become effortlessly aware of this flow of things, they then try to paint being themselves nothing more than a natural extension of this same flow they have discovered in the things of the world. When we turn to the West, we find another activity which resembles this attitude in Chinese art: it is called the pursuit of knowledge. The aim of knowledge is that of portraying an accurate image of reality in a set system of words and definitions. It has to proceed in a way that will imitate the rhythm of nature, through it we are doing nothing but a replica — we are duplicating our experience. We create a painting of the functions of the world by tinctures of words, sentences, definitions, propositions and paint all this on our minds– serving as a canvas. The ultimate goal of knowledge is not a set of coordinates for reality – it is not just a map of experience: it is a representation of all that comes through our senses, our awareness, and creates a picture of it in our minds with the artistic tools of language and logic.

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