Translation (Practice)



Posted January 15, 2018


Merleau ponty text


Chuang-tzu (fourth century BCE):

The fish trap exists because of the fish; once you've gotten the fish, you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit; once you've gotten the rabbit you can forget the snare. Words exist because of the meaning; once you've gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find someone who has forgotten words? I would like to talk with  them.


Many people have noted how ours is an 'eye-minded' culture. But we do not have educated eyes. Similary our ears are assailed by messages as no ears have ever been assailed, but we do not have educated ears.

-- Marshall McLuhan (1954)


Cheng bamboo orchids

Cheng Hsieh (1693-1765), BAMBOO AND ORCHIDS. Hanging scroll --ink on paper. University of Michigan Art Museum. 


"These orchids and bamboo are not of this dusty [mundane] world. If not on the green mountain, where else could they be?"


"When SPUTNIK [the first artificial earth satellite] went around the planet, the planet became an art form. Nature disappeared overnight and planet polluto took the place of the old nature."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1972)

[ Note:

Sputnik ("Fellow Traveller of Earth") was launched by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. Planned as a contribution to the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958), the satellite completed 1,440 orbits of the earth; it burned up while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere (on 4 January 1958).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Chien bamboo rocks

Ch'ien Tsai (1708-93), INK BAMBOO AND ROCKS --hanging scroll, ink on paper. University of Michigan Museum of Art. 

Artist's statement:

"[My] bosom is so void that it contains
not even one single object. [My] impassioned brush [however] is saturated with the universe."


"Every medium is in some sense a universal, pressing towards maximum realization."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1954)


Stone pillars

" ... 'Artefact'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"To say that the body is a seer Is, curiously enough, not to say anything else than: it is visible."

-- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964)


Manet asparagus

Edouard Manet, BUNCH OF ASPARAGUS, 1880. Oil on canvas. Walraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne, Germany.

"Painting, if it is to be independent of all that is not painting, inevitably reveals the inmost being of the man whose hand and brain drive the brush."

-- Georges Bataille (1955)

"Earnestly avoid seeking without, lest it recede from you."

-- Ch'an master Tung-shan (807-869)


"The passage of time is the journey of the world towards the gathering of new ideas into actual fact."

-- Alfred North Whitehead (1926)


Manet asparagus 2

Edouard Manet, ASPARAGUS, 1880. Oil on canvas. Musé d'Orsay, Paris. 

Georges Bataille (1955):

No painter more heavily invested in the subject, not with meaning, but with that which goes beyond and is more significant than meaning. When Manet painted BUNCH OF ASPARAGUS, Charles Ephrussi not only bought the picture from him but gave him 200 francs more than he asked. To thank him Manet painted this ASPARAGUS [above] and sent it to his friend as a surprise. "There was one missing from the bunch I gave you," he wrote in the accompanying letter.


"The present type of order in the world has arisen from an unimaginable past; and it will find its grave in an unimaginable future."

-- Alfred North Whitehead (1926)


Manet two roses

Edouard Manet, TWO ROSES ON A TABLECLOTH, 1882-83. Oil on canvas. The William S. Paley Collection, MOMA, New York.

[ Note:

In 1927 William S. Paley became the founding President of the Columbia Broadcasting Corporation (CBS). In the course of his 'mass media career' he personally assembled a 'connoisseurial collection' of important nineteenth century paintings. That private assemblage of more than eighty works  was bequeathed to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1990. 

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Sonnier channel mix

Keith Sonnier, CHANNEL MIX, installed at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1972. 2 wall projectors using video mixer - 4 daytime TV shows.


"I would gladly wander in Paradise,
but it is far away and there is no road."

-- Tao Yuanming (365-427)




Posted January 3, 2018


Christmas elf

" ... 'Vertical World'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.) 

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964):

A "world" (it is a whole world, the world of sound, of colour, etc....) = an organized ensemble, which is CLOSED, but which, strangely, is representative of all the rest, possesses its symbols, its equivalents for everything which is not itself.


Lao Tzu (d. 531 BCE):

What is to be overthrown 
Must begin by being set up.
He who would be a taker
Must begin as a giver.


Hans Blumenberg text


"Front and back give sequence to one another."

-- Lao Tzu (d. 531 BCE)

"Human perception is literally incarnation."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1954)


Bachelar text


Irises --
from which that rainbow

--Issa (1763-1828)


Marshall McLuhan (1964):

Electric speed mingles the cultures of prehistory with the dregs of industrial marketeers, the nonliterate with the semiliterate and the postliterate. Mental breakdown of varying degrees is the very common result.

Samuel Beckett (1957):

Old endgame lost of old, play and lose and have done with losing.


Moments for nothing, now as always, time was never and time is over, reckonong closed and story ended.



Po Chu-i (772-846)

Don't cut it to make a flute.
Don't trim it for a fishing
Pole. When the grass and flowers 
Are all gone, it will be beautiful 
Under the falling snow flakes. 



Herbert Read (1950)

Emma said there had been snow
and a cold wind sighing in the wither'd branches
I imagined trivial details
sheepswool caught in the thorns
red berries 
and a prophet's dead face on the pillow.

She said he had died in peace
and the eternal intelligence on his brow
had seemed like a light
in the dark unlit hut.
I imagined 
his steel-rimmed glasses on the side-table
and a book abandoned.

She said there had been a great concourse of people
walking out from Moscow
or from the nearest station
poor humble people --Lenin had let them come
to sidle lovingly past
his silent form.

Several hundred people, simple people
fur caps down to their ears
padded trousers criss-crossed with string
standing there on the obliterated road
waiting for the cortège.

Dmitrov was the name of the place.
They took his body to Moscow
and there formed a procession
perhaps a mile long
old revolutionaries, young students
and children carrying wreaths
of holly and laurel.

They marched five miles 
carrying the black and scarlet banners.
The feathery snow was falling
gently on his bier 
gently on the bowed heads
and the patient streets.

But when they reached the burial place
the snow had ceased
and the winter sun
sinking red
stained the level glittering plain.

A river of glowing light
poured into the open grave
all the light in the world 
sank with his coffin
into the Russian earth.

It was seven versts outside Moscow.
On the steps of the museum
the Tolstoyans had gathered
to play mournful music
as the cortège passed.

It was dark then and silent.
I remembered, said Emma, the cairn he had found
on the last mountain ridge
a heap of stones and broken branches
with tokens attached of horsehair or rag
and the cry: "The waters before us
flow now to the Amúr. 
No mountains more to cross!"

No mountains more to cross
dear comrade and pioneer.
You have crossed the Great Khinghán
travellng eastward into rich lands
where many will follow you.


Moore poem


Xuanzang [Chinese monk-scholar whose extensive Silk Road journeying had offered opporunities to collect, interpret, and translate Buddhist texts from India], RECORDS OF THE WESTERN REGIONS (649 CE):

Sahaloka ("This World") is the three-thousand-great-thousand system of worlds (chiliocosm), over which one Buddha exercises spiritual authority (converts and controls). In the middle of the great chiliocosm, illuminated by one sun and moon, are all the four continents, in which all the Buddhas appear by apparitional birth, and here  also die.


Kropotkin text



Po Chu-i (d. 846 CE)

Flower no flower
Mist no mist

arrives at midnight
and leaves at dawn

arrives like a spring dream --how many times 
leaves like a morning cloud --nowhere to find




M.K. Morton


It is the weak and confused who worship

pseudosimplicities of brutal directness.

--Marshall McLuhan


Declaring everything else a mirage,

It wasn't to be treasured

If it couldn't be measured.

Never a vacant lot for a house of all sorts,


Renaissance free-thinkers created the universe in their own town-clock image:

Guaranteeing lock-step repeatability allowing no exception,

Small pieces of matter running on tracks comprehensively predictable, continuous,

Straight and linear-manic. Only strict geometric theorems admit anything sinuous.


Or maybe based being's ultimate blueprint on, deceptively headier, their ports'

Booming commercial fixation on fixed formulas,

Well-charted, habits tight with regulation.  

Then Heisenberg uncertainly left the door ajar for an alternate world 


Or two. Now chance and choice could also seize an opening, get their oar in:

Willing give other modes of being a reception,

Finding free play maybe not an absolute norm but anything lacking it foreign.

Reality looms loose patterns, fluctuating webs in progress, avoids rigid routes;


Including what not yet conceivable, potentiality has away squirrelled.

What estuary, salmon-wiser,  tracks the river back to its source?

For all along what happens in history is the thing nobody could ever prophesy.

How can we predict since all the returns are not yet in?


Who would have thought destiny and novelty, not duplication, were in cahoots.

Forget front-runner, favourite, dark horse:

The winning entry fate still has to set spin.

Can we avoid cutting the cosmos down to match our own prime symbol


Set in stone? Can discovering how to objectify gravity gratify 

A Ford Madox Ford heroine? Provide a Covent Garden flower

Girl with an Ascot accent and a glinting echoing manicure?

Only the event will teach us in its hour. 


Happenstance vibrates pavilions filigreed chiaroscure.

Who drinks the universe out of a thimble?

Greenwich meanwhile time, don`t classify:  

Diversify. What signifies if you don't fortuitously jig and jollify?


Lao Tzu (d. 531 BCE):

True wisdom is different from
much learning.
Much learning means little wisdom.


Peters text


"From endless time sentient beings have cycled within the burning house, having failed to discard desire."

--Korean monk-scholar Wanhyo (617-686)


Table by Window

" ... 'Self-Reflection'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"There is no world of self-expression that is not transformative and no world of transformation that is not self-expressive."

-- Nishida Kitaro (1945)


walk during a few moments very consciously
in a certain direction;
simultaneously an infinite number
of living creatures in the universe 
are moving in an infinite number of directions.

-- stanley brouwn ( 1969 ... )



Posted December 5, 2017


Marshall McLuhan (1973):

Marx and Engels were attempting to MATCH the concepts of an earlier age to the experience newly visible in the "rear-view" mirror of the 19th century. [...] Their hidden hang-up was the visual bias of all "objectivity," whether "materialist" or "idealist."


Cha Landscape

Cha Chi-tso (1601-1676), CONVERSING MIDWAY UP THE MOUNTAIN IN LATE AUTUMN. Hanging scroll --ink and light colours on silk. University of Michigan  Museum of Art, Ann Arbor.

"Far from harboring the secret of the being of the world, language is itself a world, itself a being --a world and a being to the second power, since it does not speak in a vacuum, since it speaks OF being and OF the world and therefore redoubles their enigma instead of dissipating it."

-- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964)


"Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital systems will be beyond repair."

-- Union of Concerned Scientists (1972)

"Dinosaurs never had it so good, as just before they vanished."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1967)


Chinese botanist print

Francois Boucher, CHINESE BOTANIST, etching, 1738-45.The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1738-45.

"Make the high mountain bow its head; make the river yield its way."

-- Mao Zedong (1958)


Everything, alas, is an abyss --
       actions, desires, dreams.

-- Charles Baudelaire (1862)

"Speech structures the abyss of mental and acoustic space ... it is a cosmic, invisible architecture of the human dark."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1962)


Li Shih-tseng (1903):

The proper society is that which permits free exchange between and among individuals, mutual aid, the common happiness and joy of all --and the freedom from control by the force of a few is what Anarchism seeks to realize. The governments of today, however, are organized by the few, who in turn pass laws which are of benefit to the few. Thus the state is the destroyer of the proper society. In sum, what we seek is the destruction of the destroyer of proper society.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, World Report (2017):

More than three decades after pledging to "reform and open-up," there are few signs the Chinese Communist Party intends to change its posture. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping ... the outlook for fundamental human rights, including freedoms of expressions, assembly, association and religion, remain dire.


Kraus text



Li Bai
(d. 762 CE)

You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain.
I smile, but do not answer, my heart at leisure.
Peach blossoms carried far off by the flowing water,
Apart, I have heaven and earth in the human world.


Peter Kropotkin (1896):

A different conception of society, very different from that which now prevails, is in process of formation. Under the name of Anarchy, a new interpretation of the past and present life of society arises, giving at the same time a forecast as regards its future.

[Anarchism] seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all possible degrees, for all imaginable aims; ever changing, ever modified associations which carry in themselves the elements of their durability and constantly assume new forms, which answer best to the multiple aspirations of all.


Cornell schooner

Joseph Cornell, UNTITLED (SCHOONER), 1931. Collage, 4-1/2 in. x 5-3/4 in. (11.4 cm x 14.605 cm). 

Joseph Cornell (1936):

I do not share in the subconscious and dream theories of the surrealists. While fervently admiring some of their work, I have never been an official surrealist, and I believe that surrealism has healthier possibilities than have been developed.




Daybreak, for convenience stored, hanging limp on precarious hold,

Rattlingly sporadic few bugs enlist to give the horizon a crank.

Cash-machine sheepishly short ambition to break the bank,

Motive lacking, fat chance the staff up might perk.

Price-markers nondescriptly doled,

The arid aisles--vertical rows of trapped food--sown 

Listlessly, somnolence cultivated, pinched-tin ready-grown:

No energy their dismally hyped petals to unfold.

Anything out of place well below attaining the status of quirk.

Always a clutter, never a cluster,


Nothing here ever had lustre.

Looking for an air freshener, likely come up with a duster.

Extravagance would be pointless, more so bluster.

Any of this stuff have enough attitude what would likely irk?

Stasis rules oblivious that, casing the vacant car-park from the back

Door, hazily perfecting the knack,

Some broomed, compass-skewed, finishing-the-night-shift clerk,

Outta sight 

Smuggles recycled unpensionable slack.

Hibernation-hearted, the flimsiest summoned impression--

Slight, sole hint of outright--

Still, fugitive-bold, 

Dodging. Each side the windows, floats mutual suspension. 

Lax emphasis matching flat fact, nothing special claiming attention-- 

Unsold as good as untold--


Here key word-in-training: "shirk".

Barely convincing modicum

Of birdsong or destiny's tides to strum and plumb.

Since mustering a lurk would be too much like work,

Why expect a motion more abrupt than a cautious exploratory jerk?

Scanning this indiscernibilty-coached, inclined-askance chance, 

Mildly fumblingly fluctuating, inertly rush-hourless fulcrum--

Blink-blank, to indifferent tail-flick nap with dozy paw-lick succumb

Would any cat's curiosity. For this locale's symbol 

(Slumped in waiting until morning makes some overdue allowance)


Shortfall implicits audition; overpersuaded gnats work up to phantom;

Feline-cued entrances, withdrawal 

Masquerading, exhibit a sustained pause to pounce,

Once dawn implements

The first few trudging, largely superfluous errands


And some sleepy developer thinks he here spots mall

Ambitions starting crawl. The only wash spindle currents 

Subtly gathering no one would pronounce

A stunt effect. Even those tiny increments 

Taken for stall.


Shao Yung (1011-1077):

Change has internal forms and external forms. The former are principles and numbers, while the latter refer to individual, concrete, unchanging objects.

"Temporality temporalizes as a future which makes present in the process of having been." 

-- Martin Heidegger (1927)


Cornell pharmacy

Joseph Cornell, PHARMACY, 1943. Box construction, 15-1/4 in. x 12 in. x 3-1/8 in. (38 .7 cm x 30.5 cm x 7.9 cm). 


Cornell understood his practice as an artist to be consistently projected one day in advance of 'conventional' time. In 1966, in a letter to The Museum of Art, New York, he noted: "This one day is an eterniday in the world I have come to be enveloped in."

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Maple leaves

" ... 'Outline'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.) 

"It is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behaviour."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1964)


Lao Tzu (d. 531 BCE):

The great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and and to be right. The ten thousand things depend on it; it holds nothing back. It fulfils its purpose silently and makes no claim.


Kropotkin text



Li Bai (d. 762 CE)

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.

We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.


canetti text2


Marshall McLuhan (1964):

Content of new environment is old environment. The new environment is always invisible. Only the content SHOWS, and yet only the environment is really ACTIVE in shaping force. [...] But in order to have autonomy we must push the unconscious and environmental parameters right up to consciousness.



Posted November 7, 2017


Marshall McLuhan (1960):

Our media have always constituted the parameters and the framework for the objectives of our Western world. But the assumptions and parameters projected by the structures of the media on and through our sensibilities have long constituted the over-all patterns of private and group association in the West. The same structuring of the forms of human association by various media is also true of the non-Westsern world, as of the lives of preliterate and archaic man. The difference is that in the West our media technologies from script to print, and from Gutenberg to Marconi, have been highly specialized. Specialism creates not stability and equilibrium, but change and trauma, as one segment of experience usurps and overlays the others in agressive, brawling sequence and cycle.


"Tranquility in disturbance means that it is especially in the midst of disturbance that [tranquility] becomes perfect."

-- Chuang Tzu (bet. 399 and 295 BCE)


Samuel Beckett Text


"By finding grandeur in our disasters, and merriment in our mishaps, the aesthetic scene thus modifies both, and consoles us for the frequent impossibility of a serious and perfect beauty."

-- George Santayana (1896)


Confucius (d. 179 CE):

What someone dislikes in their superiors, let that person not show it in dealing with their inferiors; what someone dislikes in those on the right, let that person not apply it to those on the left; and what someone dislikes in those on the left, let that person not apply it to those on the right. This is the principle of the measuring square. 



" ... 'Feedback Loop'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)



Roberto Juarro

Going up is only 
a little shorter or a little 
longer than going down


Hasty movement overcomes cold;
tranquility overcomes heat.

-- Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)


Friedrich Nietzsche (1886):

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not  become a monster. And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.




                      M. K. Morton

             What is this life if full of care

             We cannot stand and stare?--W.H. Davies


Some gods are downright dead;

We can others on their death-bed

Catch settling for idols made of lead.

But the riper polytheism cakes the take.


Pity Nietszche never took a break.

Not one to saunter: roads, if insouciantly crescent,

Less travelled,

Never tread.

With vision blurred,

(On that greatest of mirages--the future, what's ever lured

Those never quite present in the present 

Focussed) the god of ambition has before born, ahead of dead 


Already almost fled. 

More than lotus-polluted lagoon, always pungent oil-slick preferred

Has he. So why are you still slaving away for him? 

However you make your theological slang go,


Ever consider engaging with the goddess of whim?

From her the god of ambition--champion contestant,

Industriously furrowing his squint, reluctance quintessent

For once--stays well back, never even attempting hesitant.


Spotlighting sprinkled destinations whence all but he have never sped,

She'll--since, a butterfly inspired by rainbow, 

Never known to fake--

Lead you a right tight tango. Even more felicitous, her fandango.


A crystal the antithesis of opaque:

Dispensing with anything hinting oracular,

More honeydew than you can lick she'll into goblets shed.

Do stvadania! Could prove just would what Zarathustra 


Wake. Cuanto la gusta!

Or in the vernacular: 

"How much you like it." Finiculi, finucula!

Hasta la vista!


Tung Chung-shu (c. 179-c. 104 BCE):

People who are sad want to lie down, because the YIN of sadness and lying down seek each other. And people who are happy do not want to lie down because the YANG of happiness and staying up require each other.


Beuys cross painting

Joseph Beuys, KREUZ/CROSS, 1961. Collage, oil and watercolour on card. Tate/National Galleries of Scotland.

Ann Temkin, Philadelphia Museum of Art (1993):

Beuy's vision of social change, like that of many other artists during the 1960s, centered on repairing a divided world and a divided self. The political bisection of Germany exemplified the wide gap between Eastern and Western philosophy, religion, economy, and government.The crisis suggested for Beuys the unification of East and West necessary for a healthy society, as much as inner integration was required for a fully realized human being.


Marshall McLuhan (1953):

The basic requirement of any system of communication is that it be circular, with of course, the possibility of self-correction. That is why preseumably the human dialogue is and must ever be the basic form of all civilization.


Tung Chung-shu (c. 179 - c. 104 BCE):

Human nature may be compared to the eyes. In sleep they are shut and there is darkness.


"The transcendental field is a field of transcendencies."

-- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964)


"Although the universe is vast, its transformation is uniform."

-- Chuang Tzu (bet. 395 and 295 BCE)



Posted October 24, 2017


Enhance is to Reverse
Retrieve is to Obsolesce

-- Marshall McLuhan (1974)


Absence Presence

" ... 'Absent Presence'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"There is never a case when the root is in disorder and the yet the branches are in order."

-- THE GREAT LEARNING [from BOOK OF RITES], Confucian classic reconstructed under the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE).


Marshall McLuhan (1966):

Quite unconsciously, the habit of perspective, or a fixed stance from which to observe a slice or facet of any situation, tends to breed intense emotional responses. When you try to find "what's going on", a point of view is not very useful.


Chuang Tzu (bet. 399 and 295 BCE):

The speaker has something to say, but what he says is nof final. Has something been said? Or has something not been said? It may be different from the chirping of chickens. But is there really any difference? Or is there no difference? 
How can Tao be so obscured that there should be a distinction of right and wrong? Where can you go and find Tao not to exist? Where can you go and find speech impossible? Tao is obscured by petty biases and speech is obscured by flowery expressions.

Jonathan Mirsky (2010):

Words can be fatal in China. Zhang Zhixin, a young Chinese woman, was executed in 1975 for "opposing the Great Helmsman Chairman Mao, opposing the revolutionary proletarian line and piling offense upon offense." To ensure that Ms. Zhang could not cry out at her execution, her vocal cords were cut.


Piccasso Massacre Korea

Pablo Picasso, MASSACRE IN KOREA, 1951. Oil on plywood. Musée National Picasso, Paris.

"To think straight, it is advisable to expect all qualities and attributes, adjectives, and so on to refer to at least two sets of interactions in time."

-- Gregory Bateson (1977)

Tian Wuxiong, School of History and Culture, Shaanxi Normal University (2014):

It would have been possible for the Korean War and hot military confrontation between China and the U.S. to end in January 1951, three months after Chinese troops entered the war. Due to Mao's serious miscalculation, China refused the mediation proposal of the United Nations Assembly and had to fight for another two years.


McLuhan Mass Public


Sixth patriarch of Ch'an/Zen, Huineng (638-713 BCE):

No thought is to not to think even when involved in thought. To be unstained in all environments is called no thought. If on the basis of your own thoughts you separate from your environment, then, in regards to things, thoughts are not produced. If you stop thinking of the myriad things, and cast aside all thoughts, as soon as one instant of thought is cut off, you will be reborn in another realm.


Lee Nova Electric

Gary Lee-Nova, SMALL ELECTRICAL STORM IN ELEMENT COUNTY --silkscreen (side one), 1973.

Lee Nova electric 2

SMALL ELECTRICAL STORM IN ELEMENT COUNTY -- silkscreen (side two), 1973.



" ... 'Thing-Perceived-Within-A-Perception-Reflected-On'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

" ... the camera, like the gun, serves as 'equalizer'..."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1974)



Ch'an Buddhist poet Danjiao
(9th century CE)

I expected my image to take form,
but its appearance saddens me. 
I'm already a dream inside a dream,
when I meet the body outside my body.
A flower in water has taken on illusive substance;
and ink has coloured empty dust.
It is laughable that you and I are both humans
where karma has not yet been fulfilled.



                   M.K. Morton

Faith pinned on numbers? Don't forget your pizzazz-word

To access the e-mail endlessly waiting you. Rumours unheard

Less sweet, In an information society


(No text-addicted tweeters second class

Citizens) billions of messages come through reliably.

But in that supersaturated mass 


All critical loose-lipped distinctions become blurred.

Who suspects transmissions range nine-parts soliloquy?

Despite much data overload, 

So little substantial variety.

Along the brick-cyber-a-braque road--

The music of the spheres failing make calliope--


Best read what it does not say.

Better still, since virtual space's specialty 

Is to pass on but not decay,


Before the data-processors the mother-download

Grubstake post (all Zarathrustra spake stowed)

Make your abode code.


Marshall McLuhan (1970):

The ordinary person has experience. The poet reports the consequences of the experience rather than the experience itself.


All Phenomena text


"There is a further dimension at the speed of light --everybody is discarnate, a nervous system without a body."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1975)


Korean Amitabha

BUDDHA, probably Amitabha (Korean: Amita), Korea, Silla Kingdom, ca. 706 CE. From the pagoda at Hwangbuksa Temple site. Gold. H. 4-3/4 in. (12.2 cm). National Museum of Korea --National Treasure 79. 

Curatorial Commentary (The Metropolitan Museum, New York):

This cast-gold Buddha was found as an offering, placed with other objects inside a bronze box. The long description on the box's cover helps iddntify the Buddha as Amithaba, a popular Celestial Buddha. A prominent East Asian practice focuses on rebirth in his personal paradise, or Pure Land, where conditions are condusive to the quest for enlightenment.


Baxter Neon

Iain Baxter&, AND/DNA ... three-colour neon installation (dimensions variable),   initially exhibited as part of a CAUSA curatoriaI research project at North Vancouver Museum ... IAIN BAXTER&: INFORMATION/LOCATION, NORTH VANCOUVER, 2012.

Marshall McLuhan (1971):

The nineteteenth-century consumer preference is not relevant to the electric age of quantum physics, even though our media bureaucracies continue to produce consumer packages. 


Walnut shell

" ... 'Metamorphic Moment'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"The actuality of Heaven extends to a certain point and then stops."

-- Tung Chung-shu (c.179 - c.104 CE) 



Posted March 10, 2017

Contributions by Terence Russell

University of Manitoba




Shuangjhong Talismans

Every year in preparation for the Lunar New Year, the the 328-year-old Shuangjhong Temple 雙忠廟, Chiayi City in south-central Taiwan, produces and publishes a set of twelve talismans for purchase by those attending the temple over the New Year period. Depending on the text of the image, these talismans offer a range of assistance and protection ranging from success in school examinations to the expulsion of ghosts. The central image on the talismans is constituted of standard Chinese characters and “magical” graphs believed only comprehensible to extra-human beings and initiated religious practitioners. From earliest times, the Chinese have held the belief that efficient communication with the gods and spirits is only possible through graphic means, whether with the use of characters representing human language, or other images, including characters believed to represent the language of beings in other realms. Scholarly research indicates that the process of printing, long recognized to have been invented in China, was in all likelihood first employed primarily in the production of religious materials such as the talismans above, and other numinously endowed items. The primal use of graphs and printing for sacred purposes has carried over into the secular realm with respect to the reverence accorded to calligraphy and the integration of texts into other forms of artistic expression. Even traditional techniques employed in the production of woodblock printed books reflect a recognition of the power of graphs to convey supra-textual meaning and intent.




Wen Tianxiang rubbing

CHINESE STONE RUBBING ["Plum Blossom" Couplet], ink on paper.

Location of (stele) Inscription:

The Open Fan Pavilion of the Lion Grove Garden, city of Suzhou --one of "Four Great Gardens of Suzhou."

Date of garden:

Built for the Ch'an monk Wen Tianru by his disciples in 1342 CE (Yuan Dynasty).

The garden contains many oddly shaped "Taihu" rocks, some resembling lions, from which it takes its name.

Wen Tianxiang: Plum Blossom Couplet

Tranquil emptiness, all motion ceased,
An elegant form and a heart utterly clear;
Who shall recall the beauty of this spring?
Plum blossoms arranged in a platformed* vase.

*A particular type of vase (zuoping  座瓶) which had a platform and often had side handles.

zuoping vase




Hyatt Talismans

TALISMANS, Grand Hotel Hyatt, Taipei, Taiwan.

These magnificent talismanic images, hanging in the lobby of the  Grand Hotel.Hyatt, Taipei, offer protection (from pernicious ghosts) to the guests and staff of the hotel.

The hotel was built on the site of a WWII prison, and the restless spirits of those who met with untimely or cruel death in the prison are said to visit hotel residents to seek vengeance and release from their unpleasant state. The talismans employ magic graphs and spells to invoke the power of Buddha and the God of Thunder in ordering the malicious souls to desist in their mischief.


Why Translations of Premodern Chinese Poetry are Having a Moment Right Now

Posted July 19, 2016

A review article by Lucas Klein.




Memo on Translation Practice

Posted February 25, 2016


To: CAUSA Research Curators

Re: Chinese translation of “Betwixt/Between” on the CAUSA/U of M Asian Studies website

The rendering of idiomatic expressions such as “Betwixt/Between” (betwixt and between) is one of the most challenging aspects of translation practice. This is especially so when the original language (English) and the target language (Mandarin Chinese) are linguistically unrelated—to the extent of being virtually opposite in many respects. The initial choice of 不三不四 (busan busi), literally “neither three nor four”, to represent the idea of “betwixt/between" was a compromise based on multiple considerations. That the expressions were not exactly equivalent was taken for granted, however, in this case the nuanced use of the original phrase meant that it was impossible to find a Chinese term that would reflect all, or even most of, the original’s level of meaning. Now, after a somewhat fortuitous conversation on translation matters with Professor K.C. Tu, Director of the Centre for Taiwan Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, I am happy to follow Professor Tu’s suggestion and recommend that the Chinese rendering of “betwixt/between” be changed to 不即不離 (buji bull), literally “neither approaching nor deviating from”. This term is, of course, still not a precise equivalent, but at least it avoids much of the negative sense of the earlier rendering. My gratitude goes to Professor Tu.

Terence Russell




Posted July 5, 2015

Zhenwu Rubbing

ZHENWU, SUPREME EMPEROR OF THE DARK HEAVEN. Hanging scroll – Ink on paper – dated 1586 CE. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. [Photo: CAUSA Archives.]

[ Note:

This ink rubbing of a late Ming stone stele originates from the [Taoist] Six Harmonies Pagoda, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Based on an older ('original') artifact (now destroyed), the scroll functions as a trans-generational revivification/translation of "The Perfected Warrior" – Zhenwu (depicted as standing on the back of an entwined turtle and snake).

Descending on a black cloud over swirling waves, Zhenwu brandishes a flame-enveloped sword; an attendant (standing behind him) holds an unfurled banner that has been 'inscribed' with the stars of the Northern Dipper.

The scroll's (right border) inscription states: "On the fifteenth day of the first month of Spring ... [1586 CE] ... Zhong Yin of Qiantang [Hangzhou] saw the image of the saint ["shengxiang"] ... which people had rubbed to ruin. Manifesting his intent, he again restored [the stele] ... and made [this] offering."

An Imperial Zhenwu Temple inscription (dating from 1415 CE) affirms: "Zhenwu controls auspicious events and arranges our vast civilization. [...] His sword's light splits and devours the forces of YIN and YANG...."

– CAUSA Research Curators ]


Wu Hung [Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago] (2000):

Let us ... recognize that "art," in a broad sense, includes not only individual pictorial images and objects but also symbolic or narrative "programs" of images and objects, their architectural contexts and ritual functions, their makers and patrons, production and consumption, geographical distribution and period style, and so on. Thus, the term "art" ... means "visual culture": the different kinds of visual forms produced by a group of people who were linked together by a shared language, shared ideas and behavior, and a common sense of identity."


Thomas Burnet (1692):

I readily believe that there are more invisible than visible Natures in the universe. But who will explain for us the family of all these beings, and the ranks and relations and distinguishing features and functions of each? What places do they inhabit?

[Translated from the Latin by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.]

Elémire Zola (1968):

Pain is like a raw material. Scattered everywhere, it is the fulcrum upon which one presses in order to get away from the fear and domination of pain itself: in order to escape from the world, from the Vale of Tears.


Elias Canetti (1970):

Today, man can read nothing that concerns him more than the early Chinese philosophers. All inessentials vanish here. As far as possible, one is spared being deformed by the conceptual here. Definition is not an end itself.


Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

The appearance of grand integrity
is that it follows the Way alone.
The Way objectified
is blurred and nebulous.

How nebulous and blurred!
Yet within it are images.
How blurred and nebulous!
Yet within it there are objects.
How cavernous and dark!
Yet within it there is an essence.

[Translated by Victor Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, Department of Oriental Studies, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.]


"Life seeks to preserve itself, but life seeks also to perish; urge and denial – games of night."

– Gottfried Benn (1941)




To: Professor Terence Russell, University of Manitoba

The 'ampersand' and 'plus' sign in Lawrence Weiner's 'public freehold' statement (posted 13 May 2015) have not been previously presented as components of a Chinese text.

As previous incarnations (in European languages) do not capture the calligraphic nuances of that particular [ & / + ] probe, we recognize new and subtle prospects for future interpretation.

CAUSA Research Curators





Posted May 13, 2015


"Our words are analogies of the miracle by which we incarnate and utter the world."

– Marshall McLuhan (1954)




" ... 'Satellite Centre'...." [Photo: M. Cynog Evans.]


"The fauna and flora, the mineral world and the firmament encompass within their common substance that collection of corporeal, psychological and moral qualities which we usually consider human."

– Italo Calvino (1979)


Shells and Quicklime

Lawrence Weiner, 2013:


Lawrence Weiner, 1993 (Collection Public Freehold):



"To be a microcosm in the macrocosm is one and the same thing as having a power to communicate oneself to another."

– Oswald Spengler (1918)


"Beauty by no means coincides with morality nor does it depend on it; but it may be called a symbol of morality. For it is by beauty that a new faculty of the human mind is revealed by which it passes beyond the sphere of empirical individuality, by which it strives after a universal ideal of humanity."

– Ernst Cassirer (1936)


Marshall McLuhan (1954):

The keenest necessity of our time is "social attention."




By Edgar Alan Poe

傳說中 (1849年)



























Translated by Joey Su*



By Edgar Alan Poe

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old—
This knight so bold—
And o’er his heart a shadow—
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—
‘Shadow,’ said he,
‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’

‘Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,’
The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’


*Joey Su (Su Hui-hua) is a freelance translator from Taiwan. Her experience is literature and anthropology. She is also an educator.


(舊唐書 卷七十九 傅奕傳)

Throughout his life, whenever Fu Yi became ill he refused to see a doctor or take medicine. And although he was well versed in numerology and Yin-Yang arts he didn’t really believe in such things. Once when he had passed out drunk he woke up with a start and proclaimed, “I must be dead!” Thereupon he composed his own epitaph which read: “Fu Yi was a sojourner amid the verdant mountains and white clouds. Alas! He died of drunkenness. Such tragedy!” This was the origin of epitaph inscriptions in China.

Fu Yi’s Auto-Epitaph:
Fu Yi was a sojourner amid the verdant mountains and white clouds. Alas! He died of drunkenness. Such tragedy!
(Biography of Fu Yi. Scroll 79, Former History of the Tang Dynasty)

Translated from the Chinese by Terence C. Russell


Fu I loved the high cloud and the hill,
Alas, he died of alcohol.


And Li Po also died drunk.
He tried to embrace a moon
In the Yellow River.

– Ezra Pound, EPITAPHS (1914)

[First published by Wyndham Lewis, editor, BLAST no. 1, June 20, 1914]


"I would always recommend looking no further than five hundred years into the future."

– Joseph Beuys (1979)


"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."

– Stephen Hawking (2014)


Laozi Text2 

Exhibition Text [Digital Signage Screen / Display Case Document]: KEN LUM / CAUSA ... CENTRE / SURROUND, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, November 2014.


Ken Lum Anvil Centre

Ken Lum, "Gold Mountain (New Westminster Chinatown Punctum)," painted plaster, 2014. Installation view: Anvil Centre, New Westminster.


"Our ecological approach is paleolithic. It assumes total involvement in process rather than fragmentation and detachment."

– Marshall McLuhan (1969)


Song in the Songless

By George Meredith

They have no song, the sedges dry,
And still they sing.
It is within my breast they sing,
As I pass by.
Within my breast they touch a string,
They wake a sigh.
There is but sound of sedges dry;
In me they sing.


Translated by Joey Su


"Perfect simplicity is unconsciously audacious."

– George Meredith (1879)

 Baggage tag

Luggage Tag (for suitcase) – delivered to New Westminster or vicinity, c.1880.

[In 1885, the 'Chinese Immigration Act' was passed – following a peak of 'foreign' labourers arriving to work on the western portion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.]

The tag reads simply: "Barbarian region, Yeong Seon-hung." Apparently Mr. Yeong knew only that his destination was beyond the pale of the civilized Chinese world with which he was familiar. The traditional Chinese view held that the world was composed of a series of concentric regions revolving around the "central kingdom" (China) which alone possessed a fully civilized culture. The Chinese were surrounded by areas inhabitted by peoples lacking in civilization to greater or lessor degrees. It was the conviction of Confucius that civilization would gradually spread outward from China to reach "all under Heaven" (tianxia 天下). When this idyllic state was achieved, peace and a sense of common destiny would be shared by all. The Classic of Rites (Liji 禮記) predicts: "When the Great Way prevails, all under heaven is shared." 《禮記﹒禮運》:大道之行也,天下為公。

-Terence Russell


"1914 was not only the physical deportation of millions of men to the fields of battle, it was also, with the apocalypse of the deregulation of perception, a diaspora of another kind, the moment of panic in which the American and European masses no longer believed their eyes."

– Paul Virilio

"I would like to see more clearly, but it seems to me that no one sees more clearly."

– Maurice Merleau-Ponty


"There is a great stepping up of physical awareness and a big drop in mental awareness when the central nervous system goes outward."

– Marshall McLuhan


"I don't believe in China.


Haven't you felt this too, that you know yourself so well that the ground you tread on is your ground: it is never China or Siberia or anywhere else.... It is always the earth of you, the wood, the iron of you, the asphalt you step on is the asphalt of you whether on Broadway or the Chien Mon.

And you carry your horizon in your pocket wherever you are."

– Malcolm Lowry


"After coming to understand the other side, you come back and live on this side."

– Ch'an Master Nan Ch'uan (748 - 834 CE)


"Nothing is more real than nothing."

– Samuel Beckett


for Joe Chaikin

folly -

folly for to -

for to -

what is the word -

folly from this -

all this -

folly from all this -

given -

folly given all this -

seeing -

folly seeing all this -

this -

what is the word -

this this -

this this here -

all this this here -

folly given all this -

seeing -

folly seeing all this this here -

for to -

what is the word -

see -

glimpse -

seem to glimpse -

need to seem to glimpse -

folly for to need to seem to glimpse –
what -

what is the word -

and where -

folly for to need to seem to glimpse what where -

where -

what is the word -

there -

over there -

away over there -

afar -

afar away over there -

afaint -

afaint afar away over there what -

what -

what is the word -

seeing all this -

all this this -

all this this here -

folly for to see what -

glimpse -

seem to glimpse -

need to seem to glimpse -

afaint afar away over there what -

folly for to need to seem to glimpse afaint afar away over there what -

what -

what is the word –

By Samuel Beckett


給 喬才易京

蠢 –
蠢,有人 –
有人 –
什麼字 –
蠢,由於這 –
這一切 –
蠢,由於這一切 –
鑑於 –
蠢,鑑於這一切 – 

看見 –
蠢,看見這一切 –
這 –
什麼字 –
這這 –
這這,在這裡 –
這這一切,在這裡 –

蠢,鑑於這一切 –
看見 –
蠢,看見這一切,在這裡 –
有人 –
什麼字 –
看見 –
瞥見 –

覺得似乎瞥見 –

必須覺得似乎瞥見 – 

蠢,有人必須覺得似乎瞥見 –
什麼 –
什麼字 –
又在哪 –
蠢,有人必須覺得似乎瞥見那什麼,在哪 –
在哪 –
什麼字 –
那裡 –
在那裡 –

遠遠在那裡 –
遠處 –
在遠處之外,在那裡 –
朦朧 –
在那朦朧遠處之外的什麼 –
什麼 –
什麼字 –
看見這一切 –
這這一切 –
這這一切,在這裡 –
蠢,有人看見什麼 –
瞥見 –
覺得似乎瞥見 – 

必須覺得似乎瞥見 –
在那朦朧遠處之外的什麼 –

蠢,有人必須覺得似乎瞥見在那朦朧遠處之外的什麼 –
什麼 –
什麼字 –

Translated by Joey Su



"Do not point to the east or to the west, but go straight to what is fundamental."

– Ch'an Master Nan-ch'üan Pu-yüan (748 - 834 CE)


"No way in, go in, measure."

– Samuel Beckett



"What does pessimistic art mean?.. isn't this a contradiction? – Yes."

– Friedrich Nietzsche



Ken Lum Punctum


Ken Lum, "Gold Mountain (New Westminster Punctum)," painted plaster, 2014. Installation view (with exhibition-vitrine text) – LEN LUM / CAUSA ... CENTRE / SURROUND ... Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, November 2014.



"The ugly i.e. the contradiction to art, what is excluded by art, its negation – each time when decline, impoverishment of life, powerlessness, disintegration, decay are only remotely suggested, the aesthetic individual reacts with his opposition."

– Friedrich Nietzsche