Nature and Language



Posted September 22, 2017


Chu Hsi (1130-1200):

Nature is principle. The mind is its embracement and reservoir, and issues it forth into operation.


Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964):

When it looks back from the world to what makes it a world, from beings to what makes them be, the pure gaze, which involves nothing implicit (which does not, like the gaze of our eyes, have the darkness of a body and a past behind itself), could apply itself only to something that would be before it without restriction or condition: to what makes the world be a world, to an imperative grammar of Being, to indecomposable nuclei of meaning, systems of inseparable properties. The essences are this intrinsic sense, these necessities by principle. However may be the realities to which they are compounded and confused (but where their implications constantly make themselves no less felt), they are the sole legitimate or authentic being, which has the pretension and the right to be and which is affirmative of itself, because it is the system of everything that is possible before the eyes of a pure spectator, the diagram or pattern of what, at all levels, is SOMETHING --something in general, or something material, or something spiritual, or something living.


Ivy on wall

" ... 'Situational Frames'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.) 

"When inverted thinking stops, the affrming mind naturally accords."

-- Ch'an/Zen master Dongshan Liangji (807-869)

"The role of language itself, as of any other medium, is to translate and to transform being by 'participation' and perception."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1973)


Mirror in garden

Gary Lee-Nova, MIRROR/WATERFALL, West Vancouver, October 1969. 
Installation view: mirror being placed in a sluice to form a waterfall that reflects sky and autumn leaves through water.

Gene Youngblood (1970):

Artistic activity during the last five years, known variously as land art, earthworks, conceptual art, process art, environment art, has been characterized, however tentatively, by a common concern with interacting ecologies, whether social, biological, or geosocial. The most important work has been done by ... Andy Warhol (real-time films) ... Robert Smithson ... Michael Snow ... John Cage ... Iain Baxter ... Gary Lee-Nova ... and others.


Chu Hsi (1130-1200):

Nature refers to what is stabilized whereas destiny refers to what is operating. Destiny, for example, refers to water flowing, while nature refers to water contained in a bowl.


Teahouse photo




-- Zen master/poet-monk Ryokan (1758-1831)


Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964):

Time and space extend beyond the visible present, and at the same they are BEHIND it, in depth, in hiding. The visible can thus fill me and occupy me only because I who see it do not see it from the depths of nothingness, but from the midst of itself; I the seer am also visible.


"Although passing on and remaining are different, ultimately they are the same."

-- Seng-chao (384-414)


Green Flower

" ... 'Point of Apparition'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)


Chuang Tzu (fourth century BCE):

All things are one. Which is short and which is long? Things are born and die and their completion cannot be taken for granted. They are now empty and now full, and their physical form is not fixed in one place. Time cannot be arrested. 

This is the way to talk about the workings of the great principle and to discuss the principle of all things.


Stone lantern

" ... 'Pivotal Point'..." (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

CHIBA GARDEN, North Vancouver, was  designed by the landscape architect Toshimasa Ito. 

This traditional Japanese garden site was opened to the public in 1986. Its two stone lanterns were 'lit' for the first time on November 6, 2012, as part of a CAUSA multi-site curatorial project: IAIN BAXTER&: INFORMATION/LOCATION: NORTH VANCOUVER, June 17 - December 30, 2012. ]



-- Zen master/monk-poet Ryokan (1758-1831)


"In the humblest material sense, as information levels rise, no raw material or natural resource is indispensable any longer."

--  Marshall McLuhan (1960)


Dainichi Nyorai image

DAINICHI NYORAI, Japan, 12th century. Wood with gold leaf and lacquer decoration  H. 36 3/8 in. (92.4 cm); W. 27 1/2 in. (69.9 cm); D. 19 5/8 in. (47.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Collection Record:

As Supreme Buddha of the Cosmos, from which the entire universe emanates, Dainichi Nyorai (Sanskrit: Mahavairocana Tathagata) is the central object of devotion in the esoteric sects of Buddhism. [ ... ] In its original gilt form the sculpture embodied the name by which Dainichi is most commonly known in East Asia: Supreme Buddha of the Great Illumination.

Kukai (774-835):

Existence is my existence ... and the existences of all sentient beings. ALL these existences are interrelated horizontally and vertically without end, like images in mirrors, or like the rays of lamps. This existence is that one, and that one is this. They are not identical, but are nevertheless identical; they are not different but are nevertheless different.


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1844):

We have learned that we do not see directly, but mediately, and that we have no means of correcting these colored and distorted lenses, which we are, or of computing the amount of their errors. Perhaps these subject-lenses have a creative power; perhaps there are no objects.


        CONFUSION IS FOR SURFING                         


                             all things counter, 

                             original, spare, strange--Hopkins


You find things downright perplexing?

Concaving when they should be convexing?

Coincidences and their cousins 

Bunching up? Paradoxes somersaulting by the dozens? 


Tangents encircling you? Reality over-flexing?

It's just the scheme of things cultivating, 

Instead of simplicity,

What intrigues. Maybe annexing.


Other dimensions. The uses of (even including duplicity

A bit of it) multiplicity? It, salivating

Plurivalency--yes, lucidity

Often lacking-- features mostly incongruity.

All this getting someone out there hot under the collar? 
Harken an old across-the-seasons sprawler,
Probably ambiguously, hollar:
Humility is the better part of humidity.


Chuck incuriosity:

Don't give up delving diversity:

It's implicitly witty.

Heaven the ultimate super-city? 


Massed harps the alpha and omega of dulceticity? 

Make do with this vaudeville world's circus circuitry; 

Revel down its sublime villas of virtuosity.

Rhapsodic blue


Ringing intermittently eternally true--

At the wedding of philharmonic kaleidoscopicity

And gourmet pyrotechnicity, 

For the orchestra pit's bootleg electricity 

Anyone care who, most distractingly inexplicitly,

Foots the bill in manner-born princely remittancely?

You note I invoke confusion, not chaos.

Who's to deny an alias, 


Itself sufficiently nom de plumed, can be most efficacious?

Emerson everywhere beneath us a sliding floor. 

Detected. What's to deplore? 

The more's abundbarndance to score.


"In reality, a concept is the same as a sign, and a sign is the same as a concept."

-- Chang Tung-sun (1886-1962)

"The future is &."


[ Communication to CAUSA Research Curators, 24 February 2013. ]


Lamelas projection

David Lamelas, PROJECTION, 1967 (reactivated in 2004). Two 16 mm projectors --placed back to back,  projecting imageless film onto a viewer/onto a wall. Collection FRAC Lorraine, Metz, France. 


Kuo Hsiang (d. 312 CE):

There has never been a person who has roamed over the transcendental world to the utmost and yet was not silently in harmony with the mundane world; nor has there been anyone who was silently in harmony with the mundane world and yet did not roam over the transcendental world.



Posted September 4, 2017


Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964):

If we are ourselves in question in the very unfolding of our life, it is not because a central non-being threatens to revoke our consent to being at each instant; it is because we ourselves are one sole continued question, a perpetual enterprise of taking our bearings on the constellations of the world, and of taking the bearings of the things on our dimensions.


Chuang Tzu (fourth century BCE):

You have heard of the knowing that comes from the result of knowledge, but you do not know of the knowing that comes from not knowing. 


Still Life sculpture

Marcel Duchamp, SCULPTURE-MORTE, summer 1959. Fruits and vegetables (made of marzipan), insects; paper mounted on wood, in a glass box. 33.8 x 22.5 x 9.9 cm (13.307 x 8.858 x 3.898 inches). National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, Paris. 

"To all appearances the artist is like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing."

-- Marcel Duchamp (1957) 


Bronze Yamantaka

FIGURE OF YAMANTAKA [a "dharmapala"/defender of the religious law] DANCING ON A BUFFALO, East India, 11th-12th century CE. Bronze. 11.5 x 7 x 4 cm max. (4.528 x 2.756 x 1.57 inches). Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. 

The Editors of Encylopaedia Britannica (2017):

Worship of DHARMAPALAS was initiated by the magician-saint Padmasambhava, who is said to have conquered the malevolent deities in Tibet and forced them to take an oath promising to protect Buddhists and the Buddhist faith. 

They are worshipped singly or in a group called "Eight Terrible Ones," which most commonly includes YAMANTAKA ("Conquerer of Yama, or Death"). 


Use of Speech

René Magritte, L'USAGE DE LA PAROLE [THE USE OF SPEECH], 1961. Gouache and collage on paper.

René Magritte (1965):

Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.

[ Note:

L'USAGE DE LA PAROLE addresses a subtle dichotomy between two conflicting terms: LE SAVOIR and LA CONNAISSANCE.

A 'connoisseurial' understanding of Magritte's work requires constant attention to a particular pattern: the fluency that links theoretical knowledge (LE SAVOIR) to both an awareness of actuality (LA CONNAISSANCE) and a potential acquisition of 'wisdom' (LA SAGESSE).

Therein, the artist locates his radical reminder of a persistently 'discontinuous' space/time continuum ... LE SAVOIR/LA CONNAISSANCE/LA SAGESSE.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ] 


MEMO to CAUSA Research Curators from Gary Lee-Nova (August 2017). 

Re: René Magritte, L'USAGE DE LA PAROLE, 1961:

"I'm haunted by this painting. I want to  build it and experience it as an object."


Bertrand Russell (1940):

Truth and knowledge are different ... a proposition may be true although no method exists of discovery that it is so. 


We shall define 'truth' by reference to 'events' (I am speaking of non-logical truth) and knowledge by relation to 'percepts'. Thus 'truth' will be a wider conception than 'knowledge'. It would be a practically useless conception but for the fact that knowledge has very vague boundaries.


Leaf silhouette

" ... 'Not Going (Or Staying)'....". (Photo: M  Cynog Evans)



Ch'an master Niu T'ou Fa Jung (594-657):

Eternal day is like night, 
Eternal night is like day.


McLuhan Scientist text


Ariel on Bat

Henry Singleton, ARIEL ON A BAT'S BACK [first exhibited 1819]. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery, London.


Stephen Hawking, Director of Research, Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge (2011):

It will be difficult to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million.

Our only chance of long term survival is not to remain lurking on planet earth, but to spread out into space.

NASA Press Release ( 22 February, 2017):

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located within the habitable zone, the area around the present star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

"This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Answering the question, 'are we alone' is a top science prioriy and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal."

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles from earth) the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets. 


Huxley Text


Ch'an master Shih T'ou Hsi Ch'ien (700-790):

Principle yields to the arrow, the sword's edge, the stick.

'Honorable' and 'lowly' are merely words.


Priestley text




M. K. Morton

Awake enough to be on terms with the agenda-shy moon, 
My hour too early for distinguishing later from soon. 
Morning not up and about, merely giving notice.
But who's to notice even an absenced surface.

Ripple breaking a setting that remains all surface.
Milky Way tabloids report dawn indifferently affianced 
To noncommittal noon, 
Cockcrow nowhere near cadenced.

Venue not quite ready to wonder whether to stare,
It's that moment before morning-glory petals 
--Drowsy their flair 
For estimating how many bees they can afford share--

Their primal rune 
Open. The last trace of leftover night settles.
From sky --its own tone reflecting supposedly washed kettles
On warning putting dull--

First faint careless gesture trying nudge lull.
Climate essence of spare,

Posture mendicant,
Pension-calculating sun strews shards, audacious gull
Unimpressed. Overlapping silences the only fine fettles 
Impinging: implicit and unreproachful call on elementals.

Hint of yesterday or to-morrow abeyanced: 
Arrivals and departures 
Since not important, balanced; 
Exploring any suscepibility to reluctant double exposures,

Even so minimally incipient as a palimpsest
Sustains inclination to indirection,
Half-heartedly stretches its facility for most routine reception. 
Less than manifest,

Quasi-quiescent, demurely assertive but possessed
Of a slightly indiscreetly self-effacing atmosphere,
Those effortlessly retarding layers wisp the floors of perception. 
Burgeoned light making shift with a lackadaisical suggestion

Things might be getting underway,
Who within happy-go-lucky hollaring distance likely give a cheer?
Were even a customer on hand, no remaindered item any cause 
To feel it might be on display.

Rehearsal-jaded, nuts, bolts, screws,
Light-bulbs excuse cues 
For the trailing day. Pop, ices, candy, chips disturb no stray quark.
Sundials suppress their envy of seesaws.

What motive for anything on anything to turn its back?
Expectation is uncorked but at best the flavour of cork 
Tips its hand. Canteen pre-emptively against pulled-pork.
Orders flimsily (antithetical to particularized college quads) 

Gated. Not yet their inevitable track, engines clack.
No river shoal scents how often the day may fork.
Poster featuring winning lottery numbers gives up flapping, nods 
If a yawning air current lets the occasional eddy slip torque.


Ch'an master Yung Chia Hsuan Chueh (665-713):

Ask the mechanical wooden puppet 
When it will attain Buddhahood through practice.



Posted August 12, 2017


Ch'an master Shih Wang Ming (sixth century CE):

Beware of shadows and tracks;
The farther you leave them, the better.
Sitting upright in the shade of a tree,
Neither traces nor shadows remain. 


Wyndham Lewis (1914):

The human form still runs, like a wave, through the texture or body of existence, and therefore of art. 

But just as the old form of egotism is no longer fit for such conditions as now prevail, so the isolated human figure of most ancient Art is an anachronism. 



Lugus print

Gilbert & George, LUGUS, 1982. Photo-piece: gelatin silver prints with hand colouring.

The Editors of Encyloædia Britannica (2017):

Lugus in ancient Celtic religion is one of the deities whom Julius Caesar  identified with the Roman god Mercury (Greek: Hermes.)

In Wales, as Lleu Llaw Gyffes ("Lleu of the Dexterous Hand"), he was believed to have had a strange birth. His mother was the virgin goddess Arianrhod ("silver wheel"). When her uncle, the great magician Math, tested her virginity by means of a wand of chastity, she at once gave birth to a boy child, who was instantly carried off by his uncle Gwydion and reared by him. Arianhrod then sought repeatedly to destroy her son, but she was always prevented by Gwydion's powerful magic. As his mother denied him a wife, Gwydion created a woman for him from flowers. 

Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE): 

Use the light.
Revert to enlightenment,
And thereby avoid danger to one's life --
This is called practicing the eternal.



"What a long procession of dead bodies follows the wake of a siingle living person!"

-- Ch'an master Chao-chou Ts'ung-shen (778-897)


Les Epaves print

Frontispiece by Félicien Rops from Charles Baudelaire's LES ÉPAVES ("Scraps"), published 1866.

"Here a skeleton that forms a tree with the legs and ribs for the trunk, the outstretched arms sprouting the leaves of poisonous plants in rows of little pots arranged as in a greenhouse."

-- George Poulet (1969)


by Charles Baudelaire


Conceive me as a dream of stone:
my breast, where mortals come to grief, 
is made to prompt all poets' love,
mute and noble as matter itself.

With snow for flesh, with ice for heart,
I sit on high, an unquizzed sphinx
begrudging acts that alter forms.
I never laugh --and never weep.

In studious awe the poets brood
before my monumental pose
aped from the proudest pedestal,

and to bind these docile lovers fast
I freeze the world in a perfect mirror:
the timeless light of my wide eyes.

Marshall McLuhan (1971):

Was it not the great innovation of the Symbolists that they suddenly turned away from cause and effect in order to look at the effects minus the csuses? Accompanying this strategy was the discovery that there was a pattern in the effects which revealed the total process rather than an isolated cause.


"Roaming vultures regret former laughs, 
earthworms regret their late awakening...."

-- Su Tung-p'o (1037-1101)


Plant in pot

" ... 'Counter-Physics'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.) 

Alison Foster, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford (2017):


In Japan, China and Korea this species is embedded in the folklore and celebrated in poetry where Katsura has been translated as "moon laurel". Legend has it that a shadow on the moon is the result of a magic Katsura tree which cannot be cut down.

JAPAN TIMES, August 9, 2017:

As Nagasaki marked the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing on Wednesday, Mayor Tomisha Taue demanded that the Japanese government join a recently adopted treaty banning nuclear weapons. 

Taue's call for Japan's inclusion in the treaty, which was adopted by 122 United Nations members last month, followed an appeal on Sunday by the Mayor of Hiroshima for the government to "bridge the gap" between nuclear and non-nuclear states to help achieve a ban on nuclear weapons.


A plutonium bomb named "Fat Man" was dropped over Nagasaki by a U.S. bomber on August 9, 1945, three days after the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.


"The bomb is of higher learning all compact, the extension division of the university." 

-- Marshall McLuhan (1964)

Zen master Ikkyu (1394-1481):

We pray for our life of tomorrow,
Ephemeral life though it be;
This is the habit of our mind 
That passed away yesterday.


Car and shovels

Joseph Beuys, F.I.U.: THE DEFENCE OF NATURE, 1983-85. Automobile, shovels, copper pieces, pamphlets and blackboards. Solomon R..Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Cornelia Lauf, Guggenheim Museum:

The work refers to an ecological campaign that Beuys [in association with Lucrezia de Dominizio] waged in the 1980s with the help of his students at the F.I.U. [Free International University for Creativity and Interdisciplinary Research]. The campaign required the use of a car, pamphlets, copper tubing, and spades that were meant to be plunged vigorously into the Italian countryside  Beuys sold the car, its contents and two blackboards as part of his routine transformation of performance materials that would in turn fund other projects.

"Nature says few words."

-- Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)


Confucius (d. 479 BCE):

Do I have knowledge? No, I do not. If even a bumpkin asks a question of me, I am all empty. I simply tap at both ends of the question until I exhaust it.

Jonathan Schell (1982):

There is no need to 'abolish war' among the nuclear powers; it is already gone. The choices don't include war any longer. They consist now of peace, on the one hand, and annihilation on the other. And annihilation --or 'assured destruction'-- is as far from being war as peace is, and the sooner we recognize this the sooner we will be able to save our species from self-extermination.


Green Light photo

Bruce Nauman, GREEN LIGHT CORRIDOR, 1970. Wallboard and green fluorescent light. 10 x 40 x 1 feet (3 m x 12 .2 x 30.5 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

"Both what's inside and what's outside determine our physical, physiological and psychological responses --how we look at an object."

-- Bruce Nauman (1988)


Andrew Marvell (1621-1678):

Luxurious man, to bring his vice in use,
Did after him the world seduce;
And from the fields the flowers and plants allure,
Where Nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclosed within the garden's square
A dead and standing pool of air....

Kukai (774-835):

Perception of an object varies according to the mind.
When the mind is polluted, the object becomes tainted. 


Ch'an master Hung-chih (1091-1137):

The round pearl has no hollows.
The great raw gem isn't polished.
What is esteemed by the people of the 
Way is having no edges.
Removing the road of agreement,
Senses and matter are empty.
The free body, resting on nothing,
Stands out unique and alive.

Osbert Sitwell (1945): 

Everywhere men have unlocked the prisoners within, and from under the disguising skins the apes have leapt joyfully out. 


Remember Nature photo

Students from Central Saint Martins College (University of the Arts, London) respond to Gustav Metzger's worldwide call for a DAY OF ACTION TO REMEMBER NATURE, 4 November 2015.

"We have no choice but to follow the path of ethics into aesthetics."

-- Gustav Metzger (2015)

Hans Ulrich Olbrist, THE GUARDIAN, 3 March 2017:

Gustav [1926-2017] repeatedly told me that we needed to take a stand against the continuing erasure of species, that if we continued to talk just of climate change, nothing would change. He said we must call it what it is: extinction.



Posted July 13, 2017


White Peony photo

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

"The world is what I perceive, but as soon as we examine and express its absolute proximity, it also becomes, inexplicably, irremediable distance."

-- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964)


Levi strauss text


Niu T'ou Fa Jung (594-657):

Going, coming, sitting, standing,
Don't attach to anything.
Affirming no direction,
Can there be leaving and entering?

Mao text


Jung Chan and Jon Halliday (2005):

China's first bomb was detonated on 16 October 1964 at Lop Nor in the Gobi Desert. The silk road had passed through here, linking central China with the shores of the Mediterranean Sea across the vast continents of Europe and Asia. Via this most barren and uninhabitable desert had flowed silk, spices, precious stones, art and culture ... exhanges that had excited ancient civilizations, and infused them with new life. Lop Nor had thus witnessed numerous life-enhancing impacts. Now, nearly two millennia later, it was the cradle of another "big bang," that of destruction and death.

[...] With hunger only a couple of years behind [The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962], and powerful memories raw, some among the elite wondered how much the bomb had cost. [...] In fact, the cost of China's Bomb has been estimsted at U.S.$4.1 billion (in 1957 prices). This amount in hard currency could have bought enough wheat to provide an extra 300 calories per day for two years for the entire population --enough to save the lives of every single one of the nearly 38 million people who died in the famine. Mao's Bomb caused 100 times as many deaths as both of the Bombs the Americans dropped on Hiroshima.


Chuang Tzu text


"We have learned that history is something that takes no notice of our exepectations."

-- Oswald Spengler (1930)

"The world is full of abandoned meanings."

-- Don DeLillo (1985)



T'ao Ch'ien

Years never walking mountains and lakes
gone, elated again among forests and fields,

I take our children by the hand and set out
through woods and abandoned farmlands.

Soon, we're walking around aimlessly amid
gravemounds and houses deserted long ago,

their wells and kitchen stoves still standing
among broken-down bamboo and mulberry.

Someone's out gathering firewood, so I ask
where these people, all these people, went.

Turning toward me, he says: NOTHING'S LEFT

EVERY LAST FACE IS NEW. It's true, of course.

Life's its own mirage of change. And it ends
returned into all empty absense. What else?


Tree tops photo

" ... 'Long View'...". (Photo: M  Cynog Evans.)

Marshall McLuhan (1959):

A hundred years ago, the painters abandoned pictorial space, the space of perspective, enclosed space as painters call it, in favor of what they call, "automorphic" space, a space in which each person, each thing, makes its own world.

Bertrand Russell (1914):

In looking at a given thing and approaching it, one sense-datum will become several, and each of these will again divide. This ONE appearance may represent MANY things, and to this process there seems no end. Hence in the limit, when we approach indefinitely near to the thing, there will be an indefinite number of units of matters corresponding to what, at a finite distance, is only one appearance. This is how infinite divisibility arises.



Hsieh Ling-Yun

As for my
homes perched north and south,
inaccessible except across the water:

gaze deep into wind and cloud
and you know this realm utterly.


Anselmo otremare photo

Giovanni Anselmo, OLTREMARE A OVEST (ULTRAMARINE TO THE WEST). Granite with magnetic needle;  ultramarine blue paint on the wall. First  executed in 1980. Stone: 2 5/8 x 27 1/2 x 47 7/8 in. (50.5 x 70 x 12 cm.)

Tacita Dean (2006):

On the 16th of August 1965, Giovanni Anselmo had an epiphany on the slopes of the volcanic island of Stromboli.


Standing with his face to the sun for a photograph Anselmo realised he had no shadow. As the shutter clicked, he perceived his shadow as actually being projected into the sky and rendered invisible, and that all that he normally recognised as evidence of himself on the surface of the earth was now connecting him to the greater infinity of space. And suddenly he felt a true and actual cosmic integration. He understood his part in the universe and, as an artist, he knew he could no longer represent it by standing a little way back and looking at it head on, but could henceforth work from within, as an integrant in the invisible storm of electric energies that was raging above and below him on the tarry slopes of Stromboli.

"Today nobody knows whether he was tomorrow...."

-- Richard Hüelsenbeck (1916)

Ch'an master Shih T'ou Hsi Ch'ien (700-790):

In obscurity, words of the high and middle (paths) are in accordance;
in lucidity, purity or muddiness of
exposition are apparent.

Aldous Huxley (1940):

The old idea that words possess magical powers is false; but its falsity
is the distortion of a very important truth. Words do have a magical effect --but not in the way that magicians supposed, and not on the object they were trying to influence. Words are magical in the way they affect the minds of those who use them.


Sunset Ocean photo

CIRCUMFERENCE --September 29, 2004. (Photo: Gary Lee-Nova.)



In 1962, following a couple of Peyote excursions, it occured to me that it is always the same time, and everything moves past that point, whatever "that" is.

I now think that "that" is human consciousness, and perhaps consciousness of all living things, i.e., animals, vegetation, etc.

I inhabit a simultaneous field of events and make my way through all that instinctively and intuitively, for the most part. I apply my intellect to a task of developing an understanding of how I manage to do that.


Marshall McLuhan (1965):

Art as anti-environment awakens perception of the environment. Conventional art should then seem to be a mere repetition of the environmental by way of a soothing hypnosis.


Carr trees painting

Emily Carr, UNTITLED, 1938-39. Oil on paper. Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust.

"I feel there is very much in abstraction but it must be abstraction with a reason, that is, there must be an underlying truth --something-- the pith or kernel, the inner sense of the thing to be experienced. If that doesn't speak then it's a dead abstraction without cause or reason for existence."

-- Emily Carr (1930)

"All propositions intelligible to us, whether or not they primarily concern things only known to us by description, are composed wholly of constituents with which we are acquainted, for a constituent with which we are not acquainted is unintelligible to us."

-- Bertrand Russell (1910)


Wen Zhengming painting
Wen Zhengming, OLD TREE BY A COLD WATERFALL, 1549.
Hanging scroll, ink and colours on silk.
National Palace Museum, Taipei.

Chuang Tzu (fourth century BCE):

When "this" and "that" have no opposites, there is the very axis of Tao.
Only when the axis occupies the centre of a circle can things in their infinite complexities be responded to.

Alfred North Whitehead (1929):

The perfect realization is not merely the explication of what in abstraction is timeless. It does more: it implants timelessness on what in its essence is passing. The perfect moment is fadeless in the lapse of time. Time has then lost its character of 'perpetual perishing'; it becomes the 'moving image of eternity.'



Posted June 20, 2017


Chuang Tzu (fourth century BCE):

In reality Tao has no limitation, and speech has no finality. Because of this, there are clear demarcations.


Valery text


"We have at present no experience with atomic war. We do not know how many must die. It is better if one-half are left, the second best is one-third. [...] In place of the totally destroyed capitalism we will obtain perpetual peace. This will not be a bad thing."

-- Mao Zedong (1958)


Deleuze text


Jonathan Schell (1986):

It is of the essence of the human condition that we are born, live for a while, and then die. Through mishaps of all kinds, we may also suffer untimely death, and in extinction by nuclear arms the number of untimely deaths would reach the limit for one catastrophe: everyone in the world would die. But although the untimely death of everyone in the world would in itself constitute an unimaginably huge loss, it would bring with it a separate, distinct loss that would be in a sense even huger --the cancellation of all future generations of human beings.


Dancing Shiva image

SHIVA AS LORD OF DANCE (NATARAJA).  India (Tamil Nadu), copper alloy, ca.11th century CE. H. 26 7/8 in. (68.3 cm). Diam. 22 1/4 in. (56.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Museum Record:

Shiva is a brilliant [Hindu tradition] invention. It combines in a single image Shiva's roles as creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe and conveys the Indian conception of the never-ending cycle of time. Although it appeared in sculpture as early as the fifth century, its present, world-famous form evolved under the rule of the Cholas [880-1279]. Shiva's dance is set within a flaming halo. The god holds in his upper right hand the DAMARU (hand drum that made the first sounds of creation). His upper left hand holds AGNI (the fire that will destroy the universe). With his lower right hand, he makes ABHAYAMUDRA (the gesture that allays fear). The dwarflike figure being trampled by his right foot represents APASAMA PURUSHA (illusion which leads mankind astray).

P. S. Deodhar (2013):

Bilingual Tamil and Chinese-language inscriptions of late 13th century have been found associated with a Siva temple at Quanzhou [south-eastern China]. [South Indian style] statues of lord Krishna and Shiva have been unearthed from the Quanzhou temple site.


Tree trunk photo

" ... 'Permanent Flux'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)


Wei Ying-wu
(c. 737-792)


Exalted with age, you never leave here:
the gate-path is overgrown with grass.

But summer rains have come, bringing
fruits and herbs into such bright beauty,

so we stroll down into forests of shadow,
sharing what recluse birds feel at dusk,

freed even of our names. And this much
alone, we wander the countryside back.

Ink blots

Hans Hoffman, ASTRAL NEBULA, oil on canvas, 1961. Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München, Munich.

"It must be understood that no verbal explanation can ever penetrate the mysteries of creation."

-- Hans Hoffman (1946)


Ernst Bloch (1953):

Utopian consciousness wants to look into the distance, but ultimately only in order to penetrate the darkness so near it of the just lived moment, in which everything that is drives and is hidden from itself. In other words: we need the most powerful telescope, that of polished utopian consciousness, in order to penetrate precisely the nearest nearness.


Beuys handwriting

Joseph Beuys, HONEY IS FLOWING IN ALL DIRECTIONS  Ink, graphite and stamp on paper, 1976.  Tate Gallery (London)/National Galleries of Scotland.

Collection Record:

This work relates to the artist's installation 'Honeypump in the Workplace', which was shown at the contemporary art exhibition Documenta VI in 1977. The work was installed around the staircase of the Fridericianum Museum, and consisted of a series of tubes running into rooms adjacent to the staircase, through which two tons of liquid honey was pumped by a motor.

Joseph Beuys (1973):

I say aesthetics = human being. That is a radical formula. I set the idea of aesthetics directly in the context of human existence, and then I have the whole problem in hand.


Qiu Ying painting

Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1552), FAIRYLAND OF PEACH BLOSSOMS. Hanging scroll: ink and colour on silk. Tianjin Museum.

Longxi Zhang (2005):

In classical Chinese literature, the most famous literary utopia with some concrete description is undoubtedly by Tao Yuanming's (365-427) elegant narration in PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING. In Tao Yuanming's work, the poet lets us have a glimpse of a community in peace and harmony quite out of this world.


"Among the blind the one-eyed blinkard reigns."

-- Andrew Marvell (1653)

Marshall McLuhan (1971):

We have polluted not just the physical but the psychic and perceptual order of our societies without questioning our procedures.


If I have a point of view about the human condition as a result of investigating the effects of media, it is simply that people are somnabulistic. They seem to be happily hypnotized by their own extensions of themselves.


Chuang Tzu (fourth century BCE):

Tung-kuo Tzu asked Chuang Tzu, "What is called Tao --where is it?"
"It is everywhere," replied Chuang Tzu.
Tung-kuo Tzu said, "It will not do unless you are more specific."
"It is in the ant," said Chuang Tzu.
"Why go so low down?"
"It is in the weeds."
"Why even lower?"
"It is in a potsherd."
"Why still lower?"
"It is in the excrement and urine," said Chuang Tzu. Tung-kuo gave no response.



M. K..Morton

Could Stonehenge, of all remaining where gods hurled,
Be the most over-rated pile of rubble in the world?
These days difficult to discover a tightly folded map
That distinguishes heritage site from tourist trap.



Posted May 22, 2017

For Stanley Brouwn, In Memoriam


"In words all that matters is to express the meaning."

-- Confucius (551-479 BCE)


Marshall McLuhan text


Carr Painting Metchosin

Emily Carr, METCHOSIN, oil on canvas, c. 1935. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Emily Carr notebook entry, 1934:

There's a torn and splintered ridge across the stumps I call the "screamers." These are the unsawn last bits, the cry of the tree's heart, wrenching and tearing apart just before she gives that sway and last groan of falling, that dreadful pause while her executioners step back with their saws and watch. It's a horrible sight to see a tree felled, even now, though the stumps are grey and rotting. As you pass among them you see the screamers sticking up out of their tombstones, as if it were. They are their own tombstones and their own mourners.


Carr Untitled Painting

Emily Carr, UNTITLED, oil on canvas, 1922-1925. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Alfred North Whitehead (1938):

Connectedness is of the essence of all things of all types. It is of the essence of types, that they be connected. Abstraction from connectedness involves the omission of an essential factor in the fact considered. No fact is merely itself. The penetration of literature and art at their height arises from our dumb sense that we have passed beyond mythology, namely, beyond the myth of isolation.


The concentration of attention upon matter-of-fact is the supremacy of the desert. Any approach to such triumph bestows on learning a 'fugitive, and cloistered virtue', which shuns emphasis on essential connections such as disclose the universe in its impact upon individual experience.


"Augmentation leads to division, division leads to diminution, diminution leads to closing."

--  Shao Yung (1011-1077)

"Why is there anything at all rather than nothing whatsoever?"

-- Gottfried Liebniz (1697)

"Although the whole of this life were said to be nothing but a dream and the physical world nothing but a phantasm, I should call this dream or phantasm real enough, if, using reason well, we were never deceived by it.

-- Martin Heidegger (1929) 


Line drawing

Iain Baxter&, POINT OF VIEW ROOM, ink on paper, 2011. 

Shao Yung (1011-1077):

By viewing things is not meant viewing them with one's physical eyes but with one's mind. Nay, not with one's mind but with the principle inherent in things. There is nothing in the universe without principle, nature, and destiny.


Ontological photo

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

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964):

That the world could pre-exist my consciousness of the world is out of the question: is it not obvious that every world without me that I could think of becomes, by the very fact that I think of it, a world for me; that the private world I divine at the origin of another's gaze is not so private as to prevent me from becoming at that very moment a quasi-spectator?


There is no brute world, there is only an elaborated world; there is no intermundane space, there is only a signification "world"....


Two seated scholars

Shim So-Chông, Korean (1707-1769), TWO SCHOLARS SEATED IN A LANDSCAPE, ENGAGED IN CONVERSATION, AND ADMIRING A WATERFALL WHILE AN ATTENDANT PREPARES TEA --hanging scroll, mid-eighteenth century. The Harvard Art  Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum.

[ Burglind Jungmann, UCLA, 2014:

There is a long tradition of Korean painting, and Korean works can be clearly distinguished from paintings of China and Japan. [...] Under the influence of China, Korea developed and maintained its distinctive characteristics and sometimes reached a level that excelled that of China. ]

"I cannot understand why the defence of man against atomic death should be left to professional diplomats."

-- Ilya Ehrenburg (1961)


Mikhail Bakunin text


"By the time I was eleven years old, I had been taught that nature, far from  abhoring a vacuum, positively adores it."

-- Edith Sitwell (1965)

"No culture I know or have read about has developed a perfect balance of man's situational needs. This is due in part to the fact that man domesticated himself with very little knowledge of his own basic nature."

-- Edward T. Hall (1976) 


Jeffers Hawk text


Bertrand Russell (1918):

If life is to be saved from boredom relieved only by disaster, means must be found for restoring individual initiative, not only in things that are trivial, but in things that really matter. I do not mean that we should destroy those parts of modern organisation upon which the very existence of large populations depend, but I do mean that the organisation should be much more flexible, more relieved by local autonomy, and less oppressive to the human spirit through its impersonal vastness, than it has become through its unbearably rapid growth and centralisation, with which our ways of thought and feeling have been unable to keep pace.


                TUNING UP                      
                 M.K. Morton

  And what is so rare as a day in June?
  Then heaven tries earth if it be in tune.
                 --James Russell Lowell

Dropping light'o love promises, chalking up profuse sprints,
Cloud patches of April with coolest squints
The horizon scan. Ground-cover throwing off frosty stupors,
In ravine ferny clay, akimboly, slackly, cakes fresh footprints

Of exploring youngsters: embryonic grand old troupers,
Their moulting radar a-glinter,
Who earnestly track, inspect mud-hammocked,

Hollow logs, unpensioned timber now deceptively puddled,
But pipeline uncorrupted,
That made it untenanted through the winter.

Hoping something tricky to alert, these advance-guys imitate frogs;
Strategically place rocks, stones, then twigs, see how easily clogs
A freshet. No time for an experimental continental shelf.
Before supper. The season, hanging pretty folded back on itself,

Waiting to wake to its sacred role the cavernous, measureless Alph.
Dripping maple-sap stamps its feet on moss with vintner
Ambitions. Comfortable hibernatees, gratified to still register the cold,
Laze den-dazed. Below coffed blues, buds watch watering-cans unfold;

On vacant turf upstart russet tentatively sprawls entitlement bold.
Cuckoos' neighbours, put to squatters' rights, practise their scold.
Tadpoles don't know the import of "old",
But puzzle over what the caterpillars were told.

Extending the first cuppla bars of spring-song,
Challenging melting snowy owls too hoot for words,
Making tightrope-walkers nervous, earliest hummingbirds
Prolong percussion's daintiest gong.

From the projection booth on stage-struck shoots' emerging screen,
Conspicuous by their absence, unlettered bards' upland shepherds--
Still, yet, to trample down last autumn's soggy litter,
Among the unconjureds--

Boulder-masked, gather, weather unpredictable,
But unobliteratable,
Gather age-old renewed meaning for between
Tight-spun solstices. Although not the subtlest hinter,

And lots less vivacious than the jumping queues
At summer's seaside canteen,
This ram's month, horning the zodiac to more decisively intervene,
Impatience-sow it can't help but. Little better than loosely politely,

Verging on slightly--
Unconcerned about delaying dejavus--
Fields and slope, dim, dull, dusky green,
Seethe serene.


"Loving truth and living honestly is my attitude to life. Be true to yourself and be true to others, thus you can be the judge of your behavior."

-- Ba Jin, anarchist writer (1904-2005)

"Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle."

-- Peter Kropotkin (1902)


Piles of Lumber

Iain Baxter, PILES (one of 59 b&w photographs, offset printed, comprising A PORTFOLIO OF PILES), N. E. Thing Company, 1968.

(Published by the Fine Arts Gallery, University of British Columbia, on the occasion of its 1968 "Piles" exhibition.)

"It's the molecular structure and physical characteristics that give pile materials their nuances of stackability."

-- Iain Baxter (1968)

"Each moment is all being, each moment is the entire world. Reflect now whether any beings or any world is left out of the present moment."

-- Dogen (1200-1253)

[ Note:

Several years prior to becoming President of the N. E. Thing Company (NETCO), Iain Baxter had become a practicing artist-photographer. His earliest 'project' photographs were produced in the mid-1950s --being realized in tandem with his University of Idaho studies in ZOOLOGY.

In 1961, while residing in Kyoto (as the recipient of a Japanese Government Foreign Scholarship), Baxter 'concretized'  his mastery of photography as a COMMUNICATIVE/DOCUMENTARY MEDIUM. And from 1962 onwards, his work has revealed an insightful grasp of UKIYO, the "SORROWFUL WORLD" from which Buddhists seek release.


Shao Yung Text



"All classification depends on the current character of importance."

-- Alfred North Whitehead (1938)


Brouwn text image

Stanley Brouwn, LENGTH = DISTANCE, 2014.

"Art that is a matter of life and death cannot be free or fine art."

-- Ad Reinhardt (1953)



Posted April 28, 2017


Laozi stele

STELE WITH THE DEIFIED LAO-TZU AND TWO ATTENDANTS, Northern Wei dynasty, dated 515 CE. Sandstone. H. 43.5 cm..Osaka Municipal Museum of Art.

Inscription from the STELE OF THE SAGE MOTHER (SHENGMU BEI), dated 153 CE:

Lao Tzu, the Tao:
Born prior to the Shapeless,
Grown before the Great Beginning


He passes in and out of confusion,
Contemplating chaos as yet undifferentiated,
And viewing the clear and turbid in union.

"It's a flat'ning Thought, that the more we have seen, the less we have to say."

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1825)

"Functioning everywhere means far-reaching. Being far-reaching means returning to the original point."

-- Lao Tzu (d. 531 BCE)

Marshall McLuhan (1973):

Displacing percepts is the role of the artist. [...] The art of remaking the world eternally new is achieved by careful and deliberate dislocation of ordinary perceptions.


by Yang Wan-li

A spring's eye of shadow resists even the stillest flow.
Among tree shadow, its lit water adores warm clear skies.

Spiral of blades, a tiny waterlily's clenched against dew,
and there at the very top, in early light, sits a dragonfly.


"There is nothing to be seen beyond our horizons, but other landscapes and still other horizons, and nothing inside the thing but other smaller things."

-- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1945)

Marshall McLuhan (1973):

Today, metamorphosis by CHIASMUS --the reversal of process caused by increasing speed, scope, or size-- is visible everywhere for anyone to see. The chiasmus of speedup is slowdown.

"Always be doing something without expectation."

-- Mencius (371-289 BCE)

Wyndham Lewis (1950):

We should be thankful we are having our roots loosened, or, better, pulled up. We are not vegetables or trees, although we often rant about our ROOTS as if we were.

Circular Daoist image


Central circular area of bronze mirror --drawn by Hayashi Minao, from a rubbing in the Seattle Art Museum.

Wu Hung, University of Chicago (2000):

Among the various images on a "three register" mirror, the identifications of those on the middle level --the Queen Mother of the West and the King Father of East-- are most certain. Hayashi Minao [twentieth century scholar of Chinese archaeology] has further identified the loop motif on the lower level as JIAN MU, described in ancient texts as a divine tree at "the center of Heaven and Earth," along with heavenly lords (DI) moved back and forth between these two realms.

Trees and mountains

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

Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964):

If we are ourselves in question in the very unfolding of our life, it is not because a central non-being threatens to revoke our consent to being at an instant; it is because we ourselves are one continued question, a perpetual enterprise of  taking our bearings on the constellations of the world, and of taking the bearings of the things on our dimensions.


            NO VACANCY

If all things are packed into the absolute,
(Even messages lost on overdue digital clipperships)
Bedding down thereabouts with all their extended relationships
In tow, then all things into that accommodating pouch many times over
Are stuffed. Could be that's the most crowded of plethoric venues.

(High or low the repute,
Who/what to elude this all-include sufficiently astute?)
How with, like whisky and soda,
Those locked-in items for room jostling strenuous,
Does the absolute stay sober?

Swill-sotted its loop-the-loop veins crypting extended branchings
And flow of plentiful interfaces short of stanchings
(Whatever what is between a Moebius strip's side lets slip)
Before it turns vinous,
Does the absolute put labels on the labels?

When too often a paperclip
Can eclipse a galaxy as easily as an ellipse,
Taking stock of its inventory, its every last attribute,
Does the absolute to set the trig tables
Use slurplus napery? Could be, when over it tips,

Presuming amid such density none could note their absence,
Cuppla getaway incidents (for philosophers words too cute)
Showing they don't give the all and sundry a hoot
Team up, form, coast out, their own chute-the-chute.
Plunk down a teasing-the-absolute-more-than-us, coincidence:

That relativity-riddled,
Less than random-chance-diddled,
Metaphysical galoot:
Synchronicity, however much zigging,
Never sagging; largely proving the most intriguing

Case dismissed for lack of evidence.
Coincidences? Who says a conspiratorial leaguing?
A fork in our road whose arms resist detection.
A breeze that escaped the currents of its convections.
Duetting birds not seen but heard from their shared direction.

Two puzzling sweets blended into an indistinguishable confection.
A coincidence, ourselves not necessarily the object of its affections
(And can we always claim we're very excited,
Ready to show its attentions are requited--
Perhaps most often we leave it feeling slighted?)

Plays peekaboo. Exploits the most innocent connection
Into happenstance.
Yet every last coincidence,
Its timing an instance
Of absolute perfection.


Confucius (551-479 BCE):

Standing by a stream, he said, "It passes on like this, never ceasing, day or night."


Mirrors photo

Robert Smithson, SEVENTH MIRROR DISPLACEMENT, Mexico, 1969. 12-inch-square mirrors installed (temporarily) at nine (consecutive) sites.

This is one of nine colour photographs accompanying the artist's essay, INCIDENTS OF MIRROR TRAVEL IN THE YUCATAN, Artforum, September 1969.

Robert Smithson (1969):

The mirrors were balanced in a tentacled tree. [...] Sunrays filtered into the reflections. The displacement addressed itself to a teeming frontality that made the tree into a jumbled wall full of snarls and tangles. The mirror surfaces being disconnected from each other "destructuralized" any literal logic. Up and down parallels were dislocated into twelve centers of gravity.


George Santayana (1923):

Living beings dwell in their expectations rather than in their senses. If they are ever to see what they see [...] they must photograph the idea that is flying past, veiled in its very swiftness.

Marshall McLuhan (1973):

Speeding up of the components of any visually ordered structure or continuous space pattern will lead to breaking its boundaries. They explode into the resonant gaps or interfaces that characterize the discontinuous structure of acoustic space. The visual perspective becomes an acoustic wraparound. Repetition of any visual pattern or modular form creates a mosaic of nonvisual effects, as the single point of view becomes a multiple, iconic representation. History becomes "mystic" through time-compression and juxtaposition of events as past, present and future merge in electric newness.

Aldous Huxley (1962):

"It isn't a matter of forgetting. What one has to learn is how to remember and yet be free of the past."


Posted March 30, 2017



by Tu Fu (712-770)

A river moon only feet away, storm-lanterns
alight late in the second watch ... Serene

flock of fists on sand --egrets sleep when
a fish leaps in the boat's wake, shivering, cry.



by Wallace Stevens (1955)

The center that he sought was a state of mind,
Nothing more, like weather after it has cleared --
Well, more than that, like weather when it has cleared
And the two poles continue to maintain it

And the Orient and the Occident embrace
To form that weather's appropriate people,
The rosy men and the women of the rose,
Astute in being what they are made to be.

This artificial population is like
A healing-point in the sickness of the mind:
Like angels resting on a rustic steeple
Or a confect of leafy faces in a tree --

A health --and the faces in a summer night.
So, too, of the races of appropriate people
Of the wind, of the wind as it deepens, and late sleep,
And music that lasts long and lives the more.


Mountain landscape painting

Guo Xi, EARLY SPRING, 1072. Hanging scroll: ink and light colours on silk. National Palace Museum, Taipei.

"Art is the perfection of nature."

-- Thomas Browne (1642)

"Artists are the antennae of the race but the bullet-headed many will never learn to trust their great artists."

-- Ezra Pound (1920)


"All language is metaphorical because metaphor is the seeing of one situation through another."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1953)

Spring flower

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

"There are no components of experience which are only symbols or only meanings."

-- Alfred North Whitehead (1927)


Observatory photo
Alvin Langdon Coburn, OBSERVATORY, 1911. Gum platinum photographic print.

Marshall McLuhan (1971):

Was it not the great innovation of the Symbolists that they suddenly turned away from cause and effect in order to look at the effects minus the causes? Accompanying this strategy was the discovery that there was a pattern in the effects which revealed the total process rather than an isolated cause.


Yang Hsiung (53 BCE-18 CE):

The Supremely Profound Principle deeply permeates all species of things but its physical form cannot be seen. It takes nourishment from vacuity and nothingness and derives its life from Nature.

Flower and Cloisonne

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

"The flesh of the world is not explained by the flesh of the body, nor the flesh of the body by the negativity that inhabits it --the 3 phenomena are SIMULTANEOUS.

-- Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964)


Wang Ch'ung (27-100?):

How do we know that Heaven has neither mouth nor eyes? We know it from earth. The body of Earth is made up of dirt, and dirt of course has neither mouth nor eyes.

Red tree painting

Piet Mondrian, EVENING: THE RED TREE, 1908-1910. Oil on canvas. Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, The  Netherlands.

"It seems to me that the clarity of ideas should be accompanied by a clarity of technique."

-- Piet Mondrian (1909)

"There never has been any substance which is nonexistent. Nature means examining and practicing the substance."

-- Ch'ang Tsai (1020-1077)


Undergrowth Painting

Emily Carr, A RUSHING SEA OF UNDERGROWTH, 1932-35. Oil on canvas. Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust.

"Real Art is Real Art. There is no ancient and modern."

-- Emily Carr (1935)

"In reality, the most significant and comprehensive creations of the human spirit are hardly ever the result of a deliberately willed, straightforward development directed towards a final goal from the outset."

-- Arnold Hauser (1951)



M.K. Morton

"Job, jobs, jobs" mantra finances suspect licenses.
Believing ignoring the wages of sin trite,
For airfields, prime farmland auctioned off lucriest.
Environmental-impact panels range secrecy-zest.

In state-sponsored silences
The source of the Nile ends.
As we depart the highlands,
De-regulators, maintaining the speed of out-of-sight,

Gold travelling light,
Hope to make cornfields produce diamonds.
Rainforests left to less than their own devices.
Anything among the marketables

More pre-booked than lurid crisis?
Now that --the academic untouchables
On bass, flanked by the political uncorrectibles--
The Internet with Vegas-man rules,

Who cares what tame aging politician juggling schedules,
Sweats unsound bytes, tweats us to drools.
Scot-free seniority most desirous in his iris,
Faster than clear-cutting he shreds papyrus.

Too old to grasp blatancy is the better part of publicity.
What counts is how manage a scandal.
Unless you put a vandal in a sandal
In charge of damage-control, the judiciary

System, if you display sufficient elasticity,
Will let you flaunt pulchriticty.
On the head of your spin how many dances a perfumer
Can-can? Huddling, massing its misalliances,

Every last one of our sciences
Hankers for a deep-pockets super-collider consumer
Awash in a bouncy matchless max-less affluency
The statistical-probability dating agency heedlessly affiances.

Never saw a branch of the guild of the paparazzi
Who didn't to the highest grade karma assign priority.
'Twixt shunts, sidecar shuttling doggedly stokes
Infinitely expedited wait-and-see.

(But no cutting some slack to slowpokes.)
Sleek clowns spur mentality insolvency with tabloid latency.
Each day a fresh, thoroughly unsubstantiated rumour.
More than enough to keep us in good humour.


Marshall McLuhan (1966):

As our data become more inclusive and ecological, we naturally begin to look at the environmrnt as a huge teaching machine that can translate us out of the human dimension altogether. It then occurs to us that we might be able to translate, or program, the environment before it translates us.


Julip Tree

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

Lao Tzu (d. 531 BCE):

To be ahead of the worldly by
forsaking following
behind --
This is fatal.


Jonathan Schell (1982):

Politics, as it now exists, is even more thoroughly compromised than personal and social life by the peril of extinction.

[ ... ]

As long as politics fails to take up the nuclear issue in a determined way, it lives closer than any other activity to the lie that we have all come to live --the pretense that life lived on top of a nuclear stockpile can last.


Hsüan-tsang (596-664):

Does the storehouse of consciousness come to an end or is it eternal? It neither comes to an end nor is it eternal, for it is in perpetual transformation.



Posted March 1, 2017


"Only the transforming power which leads from the old to the new can give meaning to both the old and the new."

-- Alexander Dorner (1947)


Ma Yuan Painting

Ma Yuan, VIEWING PLUM BLOSSSOMS BY MOONLIGHT. Fan mounted as an album leaf --ink and colour on silk. China, early 13th century. The Metropolitan Museum.

Museum Record:

The thatch roof of a pavilion identifies the place as a garden setting. [...] Recalling a yin-yang cosmic diagram with its implication of positive and negative, light within dark, solid within void, the painting may be read as an emblem of man's dual nature: tied to the physical world, man's spirit is not contained by it, but, like the plum, reaches upward to partake of the infinite.


"To the primitive mind, everything is either friendly or horrible; but experience has shown that friendliness and hostility are not the conceptions by which the world is to be understood."

-- Bertrand Russell (1917)


Socius text


Garden photo

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

"A stepping up of visual values makes a new dichotomy between the spiritual and the material."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1968)


Gilles Deleuze + Félix Guattari (1991):

In its production and reproduction, the concept has the reality of a virtual, of an incorporeal, of an impossible, in contrast with functions of an actual state, body functions, and lived functions. Setting up a concept is not the same thing as marking out a function, although on both sides there is movement, and in each case there are transformations and creations: the two types of multiplicities intersect.


Wyndam Lewis text


Smithson Language Heap

Robert Smithson, A HEAP OF LANGUAGE, 1966. Pencil on graph paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Walter Ong (1982):

Without writing, words as such have no visual presence, even when the objects they represent are visual. They are sounds. ... They are occurences, events.


Bertrand Russel (1914):

In looking at a given thing and approaching it, one sense-dictum will become several, and each of these will again divide. Thus ONE appearance may represent MANY things, and to this process there seems no end. Hence in the limit, when we approach indefinitely near to the thing, there will be an indefinite number of units of matter corresponding to what, at a finite distance, is only appearance. This is how infinite divisibility arises.


Rothko  painting

Mark Rothko, NO. 5/NO. 22 (1949/1950). Oil on canvas, 9' 9" x 11' 1/8". The Museum.of Modern Art, New York.

Museum Record (2008):

The rectangles within the painting do not extend to the edges of the canvas, and appear to hover just over the surface. Heightening this sensation is the effect of chromatic afterimage. Staring at each colored segment individually affects the perception of those adjacent to it. [...] Despite the color relationships, Rothko did not want his pictures appreciated solely for their spectral qualities. He said, "If you are only moved by color relationships, then you miss the point. I'm interested in expressing the big emotions --tragedy, ecstasy, doom."


Marshall McLuhan (1968):

Beauty juxtaposed, but not connected with cruelty or suffering is the formula for horror and madness. Anybody in a state of pain finds beauty of aspect or sound an intolerable experience.


Spiritual flight text

Attributed to Zhong Shaojing, SPIRITUAL FLIGHT SUTRA, ca. 738 CE. Album of nine leaves, ink on paper. The Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Museum Record:

The copying of sutras, the sacred texts of Buddhism and Daoism, was an act of devotion as well as a means of propagating the faith. It required a special brush, paper of a conventional size with a vertical grid, and use of the strictest, most formal script. This hallowed fragment of a Daoist religious text meets all of those requirements yet has an elegance and fluency that elevates it beyond normal sutra writing.


The construction of the characters reveals an analytical process: different types of brushstrokes are seen as forces (shi) in a dynamic composition, each having a perfect form and a 'method' (fu) of interacting with the other strokes; each character ... exemplifies a model of physical equilibrium and spiritual repose.


Lunden Index card

Index card documenting instructions for a 'presentation' drawing by Duane Lunden, 1970.

[ Note:

A 'full-scale' version of this 'ephemeral' work was realized as part of a Vancouver Art Gallery exhibition --3 January to 8 February 1970-- curated by Lucy Lippard (in association with Seth Siegelaub).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

"I believe that art can increase our awareness of the world around us."

-- Seth Siegelaub (2013)


Bertrand Russell (1914):

Two 'places' of different kinds are involved in every sense datum, namely the place AT which it appears and the place FROM which it appears. These belong to different spaces.... No place in the private world of one observer is indentical with a place in the private world of another.


Thomas Cuneiforms

Lionel Thomas, SYMBOLS FROM THE CUNEIFORMS, metal bas-relief with (backlit) plexigas inserts, 1960.

[ Note:

The integrity of Thomas's structure entails 'continuous' visibility --in ambient daylight and artificial (dusk to dawn) illumination.

A lighting system (designed by the artist) functions to highlight the 'multispatial' conception/realization of this work. In 1956 --in recognition of "outstanding creative achievements utilizing architectural forms"-- Thomas was awarded the ALLIED ARTS MEDAL of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.

SYMBOLS FROM.THE CUNEOFORMS is sited in relation to the entrance facade of the (now repurposed) main  Vancouver Public Library. This modernist building (completed in 1956) was designed by one of Vancouver's most important architectural firms --Semmens & Simpson.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Lionel Thomas (1958):

Most people today are not capable of making their own aesthetic decisions because the emotional requirements for this have not been developed. Consequently, the advertising agencies are shaping ... and making ... aesthetic decisions for most people, which results in conformity as we know it today."

[ Note:

In 1949, Lionel Thomas had studied (in San Francisco) with the painter Mark Rothko. Thomas shared the precise period of expermentation that locates Rothko's breakthrough into the constant motion of continually self-defining (fully self-contained),  independently mature work.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]



Telegram --from Iain Baxter, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia --to Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax (September 18, 1969):

[Pacific Standard Time] AND
SAME TIME 630 AST [Atlantic
Standard Time] HALIFAX LIGHT


Buren Demi cylindre

Daniel Buren (Photo-souvenir): DEMI-CYLINDRE SUR DEMI-CIRCONFERENCE, striped cotton cloth --blue and white (each band, 8.7 cm).
Work 'In situ' (Vancouver Art Gallery), 8 July - 13 October 1986.

Daniel Buren (1970):

Every art is political and, whether one is conscious of it or not, the presentation of one's work is no exception. Any production, any work of art is social, has a political significance.

"Arborized paradigms give way to rhizomatic figures, acentred systems, networks of finite automatons, chaoid states."

-- Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1991)


Chu Hsi Text


In the space age of information environments, art necessarily takes on a new meaning and new functions. All previous classifications  of these matters lose their interest and relevance.

-- Marshall McLuhan (1968)



Posted January 26, 2017


This assemblage is dedicated to the memory of Vancouver architect and heritage activist Joe Wai (1940-2017).


Carr Painting

Emily Carr, ABOVE THE GRAVEL PIT, 1937. Oil on canvas. Vancouver Art Gallery.

Ch'eng I (1033-1107):

Empty and tranquil, and without any sign, and yet all things are luxuriously present. The state before there is any response to it is not an earlier one, and the state after there has been response to it is not a later one.


Albert Einstein (1914):

Nature only shows us the tail of the lion. I am convinced, however, that the lion is attached to it, even though he cannot reveal himself directly because of his enormous size.


Nature and man are basically not two. There is no need to speak of combining them.

-- Ch'eng Hao (1032-1085)


Marshall McLuhan (1968):

Vision as our only objective and detached sense, when in high definition, discourages empathy.


Ice on pond

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


Ch'eng Hao (1032-1085):

Man is not the only perfectly intelligent creature in the universe. The human mind (in essence) is the same as that of plants and trees, birds and animals. It is only that man receives at birth the Mean of Heaven and Earth (balanced material force).


Wyndham Lewis (1927):

If there is one thing more than another that is essential to provide a "sense of reality" --our sheer sensation that there is something REAL there before us --it is the deadness of nature. No "eternal object," or buzzing in our ear, or whiff of perfumed air, can give the sentiment of "the real," so surely as that.


"Nonconformity is the highest evolutionary attainment of social animals."

-- Aldo Leopold (1949)


Seated Jizo painting

SEATED JIZO, Japan, early 14th century. Artist/maker unknown. Hanging scroll: ink, colours (with cut and reverse-stamped gold on silk). Philadelphia Museum..

Museum label:

The advocate of souls facing trial in hell and a protector of children, Jizo is depicted sitting atop a lotus throne on a rocky bluff amid a sea of rolling waves.

Redon Buddha Pastels

Odilon Redon, LE BOUDHA (THE BUDDHA), c. 1905. Pastel on paper. Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

[ Note:

This image of bodhisattva Jizo makes symbolic reference to a key philosophical concept of Buddhism:
the truth of the 'path' that leads to the 'end of suffering'.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

"One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world."

-- Ch'an master Dogen (1200-1253)


Shamans house painting

Joseph Beuys, IN THE SHAMAN'S HOUSE. Gouache, watercolour and pencil, 1964.

"The primitive magician, the medicine man, or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself."

-- Mircea Eliade (1951)


Ch'eng I (1033-1107):

A thing is an event. If the principles underlying the event are investigated to the utmost, there all principles will be understood.


Conical Intersect Photo

Gordon Matta-Clark, CONICAL INTERSECT (detail), 27-29 rue Beaubourg, Paris. 1975.

Nancy Spector (Guggenheim Museum curatorial record, 2016):

CONICAL INTERSECT, Matta-Clark's contribution to the Paris Biennale of 1975, manifested his critique of urban gentrification in the form of a radical incision through two adjacent, 17th-century buildings, designated for demolition near the much-contested Centre Georges Pompidou, which was then under construction. For this antimonument, or "nonument" which contemplated the poetics of the civic ruin, Matta-Clark bored a tornado-shaped hole that spiraled back at a 45-degree angle to exit through the roof. Periscopelike, the void offered passersby a view of the buildings' internal skeletons.


                Two Poems by M.K. Morton

To summon an overwhelmingly unique new manifestation,
Never mind your round-a-sail-boat train of thought's destination;
Just don't fail to get off at the right gestation.
But, given the comedy of discovery's essence is timing,
The trick is, since inspiration knows no schedule,

Never work to rule.
Your best bet is get into your stride free-style.
Stay savvy that, in your uncommon paradigming,
For fine tuning of such unprecedented rhapsodic chiming,
What's improvised is the better part of innovation's

Imagining an almost-here era, giving ours a new profile.
When working with fresh theories, daubs, metaphors or sax
Riffs--patches of those tectonic-alert massifs,
The future's daring formulations--
Slapping together lively facts,

Fable-arched, cascading but danceable motifs
And visionary striking artefacts unfolded minds to beguile,
Keep off the oft-beaten tracks.
You don't have to starve in a garret,
But get used to spelunking in the seismic cracks

Between the already awarded plaques.
Lest, speechless except occasionally "blimey"ing,
You find yourself reduced to miming
And self-parodied recycling even a pirate parrot
Would spurn. When priming your subliming--

Any thought of map, clock or index
Still on hold below undecodably stacked decks--
Keep agile 'mid a roistering plenty that's volatile.
Where, impatient for an ultra-legendary isle,
Unguessed appearance in tourist-class to them slumming,

Unicorns--and, if you can believe it, hippogriffs--frisk.
Deeming errors negligible mistrial, before bold hints, ripe inklings cool,
Pounce. Then, after-shock breakers scull brisk.
Synapses slung punt-wise, feed the muses labyrinthine spool
Awash. (Who said they domicile docile?)

Pace, syncopate and flex
Your paradoxically dipping phoenixtral instinct for the vertex.
Presto! A seemingly house-broken trans-Atlantis orbiting sundial
Salvage from kaleidoscoop-ambitious vortex
Tamed to rainbow whirlpool.


In the rule of the absolute,
Since nothing exists but the whole
(Which gulps its every last attribute),
If everything else is illusion,
How account for that interloper's emperor's new clothes role?

The absolute too overstuffed to do much more than loll
Comes in on little sloth's paws. Asleep its all-enveloping tongue to groom.
Enfin, when from gorged snooze awaken
It may, since unlikely you can catch it in conversation
Try interviewing it, Check whether, in any of its oneness, there is room

For the whole to be mistaken
About itself. Go figure how the absolute's unity
Can harbour with such impunity
The music of the sphere's bandbox variety,
Draw spectra-spinning illusion into its monolithic entirety.

When straightening multiplicity's convolution
Does the absolute contract out? Maybe this past master of inclusion
Could then squeeze in a vacation.
(Bubbling with inaction,
On the sly cosying up to a prime number for its denying the full fraction?)

Meanwhile the absolute and illusion both to a generalization
Barely amount. Who denies either one is sponsored by improvisation?
Hoist on its contortions to reduce each single off-green shaded focus
Once-and-future thought to a pea-green evade.
Every last Cheshire smile swallowed by this ultimate in osmosis.

Does itself the absolute outmanoeuvre?
Even if the lens were stereoscopic and Hubble-strength that zoom,
After the whole Big Burp Shebang always something left over.
Maybe the absolute needs a strayed strolling players charade trade
For some billiard pockets mislaid?

Does the absolute ever find itself downsizing making more room?
Hoping to catch an escape artist what didn't plunge its booby hatch
Straight through? Could appearance and reality be in collusion?
Any attempt by those two to communicate
A mismatch, but they may give each other a backscratch.

What say illusion's artfully dodgy presence lets us demonstrate
A sub-category holds much the absolute purports to subsume.
Echo-hankering, ready the rug out from under alertly, doggedly to snatch,
If not a recipe for mass confusion
Is illusion reality's nom de plume?


Ch'eng I (1033-1107):

The mind of one man is one with the mind of Heaven and Earth. The principle of one thing is one with the principle of all things. The course of one day is one with the course of a year.


Binary code image

IAIN BAXTER&, "Blur" (binary code), 2012/2017.


"Attention spans get very weak at the speed of light, and that goes along with a very weak identity."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1977)


Daniel Brown, Nottingham Trent  University Observatory (2017):

We know for certain that our sun will end its life in 7.72 billion years. At this point, it will be thrown off its outer atmosphere to form a planetary nebula, ending up as a stellar remnant known as a "white dwarf".

[ ... ]

As the sun becomes older it will become cooler and larger. By the time it becomes a stellar giant it will be big enough to engulf both Mercury and Venus.

[ ...  ]

The sun will also create an extremely strong solar wind that will slow slow down the Earth. As a result, in about 7.59 billion years, our planet will spiral into the outer layers of the hugely expanded dying star and melt away forever.


Winter Tree photo

WINTER TREE --FRIDAY, 13 JANUARY, 2017. (Photo: Gary Lee-Nova.)

Midwinter Poem


"The investigation of principle to the utmost, the full development of one's nature, and the fulfillment of destiny are one thing."

-- Ch'eng Hao (1032-1085)



Posted January 3, 2017


Merwin Another Year poem


Chuang Tzu (d. 295 CE):

There is nothing that is not the "that" and there is nothing that is not the "this". Things do not know that they are the "that" of other things; they only know what they themselves know.


Voltaire (1733):

That there are squares of infinity, cubes of infinity, and infinite infinities, the plenitude of which is nothing in comparison to the last?

All this which at first seems the very extreme of absurdity, is in reality an effort of the subtlety and breadth of the human mind and the way of finding truths hitherto unknown.


"If we are to take it as a truth that knows no exception that everything dies for internal reasons --becomes  inorganic once again-- then we shall be compelled to say that 'the aim of life is death' and, looking backwards, that 'inanimate things existed before living ones'."

-- Sigmund Freud (1922)

Elias Canetti (1971):

Freud's death drive is a scion of old, dark philosophical teachings, but more dangerous than they, because it is garbled in biological terminology that has a semblance of modernity.

This psychology, which is no philosophy, lives from philosophy's worst legacy.


Susanne Langer (1942):

Nature, as a man has always known it, he knows no more. Since he has learned to esteem signs above symbols, to suppress his emotional reactions in favour of practical ones and makes use of nature instead of holding so much of it sacred, he has altered the face, if not the heart, of reality.


Ocular Evidence photo

" ... 'Ocular Evidence' ...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)



Po Chü-i (772-846)

I treasure what front eaves face
and all that north windows frame.

Bamboo winds lavish out windows,
pine colours exquisite beyond eaves,

I gather it all into isolate mystery,
thoughts fading into their source.

Others may feel nothing in all this,
but it's perfectly open to me now:

Such kindred natures need share
neither root nor form nor gesture.


Li Kan Bamboo Painting

Li Kan, BAMBOO AND ROCKS, 1318 CE. Pair of hanging scrolls; ink and colour on silk. The Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Museum Collection Record:

The author of an authoritative treatise on bamboo painting, Li stated that the painter must possess "the complete bamboo in [his] breast," and he urged statesmen to take up bamboo painting to discipline their minds and expand their breadth of vision.



Po Chu-i (772-846)

Snows heavy in Hsun-yang this tenth-year winter,
riverwater spawns ice, tree branches break and fall,

and hungry birds flock east and west by the hundred,
a migrant goose crying starvation loudest among them.

Peeking through snow for grass, sleeping nights on ice,
its cold wings lumber slower and slower up into flight,

and soon it's tangled in a river-boy's net, carried away
snug in his arms, and put for sale alive in the market.

Once a man of the north, I'm accused and exiled here.
Man and bird: though different, we're both visitors,

and it hurts a visiting man to see a visiting bird's pain,
So I pay the ransom and set you free. Goose, o soaring

goose rising into the clouds --where will you fly now?
Don't fly northwest; that's the last place you should go.

There in Huai-hsi, rebels still loose, there's no peace,
just a mllion armored soldiers long massed for battle:

imperial and rebel armies grown old facing each other.
Starved and extended --they'd love to get hold of you,

those tough soldiers. They'd shoot you and have a feast,
then pluck your wings clean to feather their arrows.



W. S. Merwin (2010)

In that tenth winter of your exile
the cold never letting go of you
and your hunger aching inside you
day and night while you heard the voices
out of the starving mouths around you
old ones and infants and animals
those curtains of bones swaying on stilts
and you heard the faint cries of the birds
searching in the frozen mud for something
to swallow and you watched the migrants
trapped in the cold the great geese growing
weaker by the day until their wings
could barely lift them above the ground
so that a gang of boys could catch one
in a net and drag him to market
to be cooked and it was then that you
saw him in his own exile and you
paid for him and kept him until he
could fly again and you let him go
but then where could he go in the world
of your time with its wars everywhere
and the soldiers hungry the fires lit
the knives out twelve hundred years ago

I have been wanting to let you know
the goose is well he is here with me
you would recognize the old migrant
he has been with me for a long time
and is in no hurry to leave here
the wars are bigger now than ever
greed has reached numbers that you would not
believe and I will not tell you what
is done to geese before they kill them
now we are melting the very poles
of the earth but I have never known
where he would go after he leaves me


Lions and Eagle photo

THE LIONS [North Shore Mountains, Metro Vancouver], 8:15 am, 16 December, 2016. (Photo: Gary Lee-Nova.)


Two Poems by M. K. Morton


The materials the ramparts at Elsinore
Are made with do not explain the story.
No pursuit of electrons will divulge the source
Of Perseus and Andromeda's glory.
Jack Sprat chance checking  bohemian cuisine could identify art's creative force.

The more's to deplore
So many misguideds think those elements nail down core
Status. Taking fleetest defeatist flight
Far below realms where dwell prospects insight its freshest, ripest taste,
Might offer. These barmecidals' diet In the study of physics' narrow corridor

Squats immeasurably beneath low definition. Their appetite
Craving nuclear waste,
Satisfied with itemizing the ingredients for lobster thermidor
(Of cider no abider,
Sartori tatterdemalion at best, anti-satori,

Work-to-rule) it perpetually reduces its sorry quarry
To shadowplay. Those number-crunchers (no time to waste to baste)
'd probably lick their chops scenting a treat like the flavour of paste.
Less than nano-chance the speediest super-collider,
Rivetted by dead reckoning rock bottom--

That worse than winter from which springs no summer, autumn--
Could from stalactite and stalagmite
Squeeze the least hint of even stagnant light
At the sub-atomic particles' love-in,
(How many calories does it take to nourish a phantom?)

Nothing resembling a cordon-bleu chef's oven:
Mesons' emotions strictly encased,
The effects sauces produce untraced,
Equation and theorem garnish come fossil stew.
Never enough sky chicken to belittle, at most on the barbeque

A bantam, these gourmets of the proton strut their spectral stuffin';
Don't expect a pumpkin cream-cheese muffin.
At a loss once and perennial once faced with the exceptional
(Anything creative notoriously non-reproducible
In labs), sedulous to inter in their Nobel-grave column

The latest sullen formulae, what beyond solemn
Can the actuaries riding quantum--
The fruitful sublime is not their territory--
Tell us of the world gone gypsy?
Human rhythms every bit as aleatory as tellingly insoluble;

Festivals harlequining spiffy and columbining frisky.
Matched motley: among time's salagumundi treats most indubitable,
Scrumptiouszest, piquant, peacock. The delightfully uncommon,
The Ritz-puttin'on, the Savoy-stompin':
To the beguine that began the big shebang

The hunt goes on for yet more picturesque slang,
Cribbed from what all the morning stars together sang.
If you can relish the tang,
Although carnally intuitable,
To/from test-tube incommunicable

This multi-story sorcery.
How could beaker-hunkered random samples summon
The colourfully up-and-comin',
The unapologetically hodgepodge, the irreducibly subtle,
The aptly imaginative and the cornucopiously gustatory?

                           ■        ■         ■


If instead...Better outcome had we been mentored
Or at least monitored
By a temperonaut Prospero?
But in that case, then quite the different scenario;

When in that alternate stead we surface,
Nothing will be confined to what we took as simple preference terse:
For, somehow arriving the locus of some desired rearrangement,
We'd still clutch much of what we wouldn't want to give up:

Hence, with our juggling all sorts motley stuff 
Taken along when we went absent
(Considerably more than a bulging portfolio.)
Any alternative universe overlaps another alternative universe.

Factors common to that triple-play have to be taken into account.
Easily omitted; what chance, once keen to over-develop,
We'll suspect one world at a time may no longer enough
Of this fresh focus claim. Enfin, when you venture impresario

For your own casting, if you don't, loose in the stirrup,
Across terrain parallel but unknown, screen-test before you gallop,
Better rate this thought paramount:
Keeping a weather eye for calendars 'twixt metaphoric gazumping

And meteorological metaphysical galumphing
Dithering, prior the show opens he who rehearses
Least may not last. Consider, in your exercise of extreme versatility,
Cosmic hedgerow-jumping

Once mastered--straddled the gaps where gather to converse intersperses
Pursing their banks to engulf napping but grinning interstices--
Each identity encountered that new side spots its own interchangeabilty,
Zounds! With this treble superimpositioning giving these extra versions

Of everything, there may be no definite article.
Moreover, although even the odds, they're still astronomical
Against any chance all this improvising, not to say impersonating,
Should come up with proper nouns.

Well, perhaps, a trio of living-spaces inter-resonating,
Constantly shuffling your branched-off-world immersions,
Any illusion Is optional, optimal not optical.
Could be that's when some non-Cheshire cat frowns.


Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

To hold and fill to overflowing
Is not as good as to stop in time.

Gransci Motto Layout


Tzu-ssu (492-431 BCE):

Only after knowing what to abide in can one be calm. Only after having been calm can one be tranquil. Only after having achieved tranquility can one have peaceful repose. Only after having peaceful repose can one begin to deliberate. Only after deliberation can the end be attained. Things have their roots and branches. Affairs have their beginnings and their ends. To know what is first and what is last will lead one near the Way.



Posted December 16, 2016


McLuhan Education


Second Patriarch Shi Ke

Shike, THE SECOND CH'AN PATRIARCH IN CONTEMPLATION. Hanging scroll, tenth century BCE. Tokyo National Museum.

"Ignorance and wisdom are identical, not different."

-- Eka [Dazu Huike], Second Ch'an Patriarch (487-593)


"Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact."

-- William James (1896)

Matsuo Basho

butterflies flit
in a field of sunlight
that is all

Earth Air Fire dis

EARTH, WATER, FIRE, WIND: Arita Ware, late 20th century. (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

Documenting traditional expertise in the use of 'opaque overglaze  enamel' --named, in this instance, CINNABAR-- the present image marks the 400th-Year Anniversary of the porcelain industry in Arita. (Porcelain deposits in Japan were first discovered in this town.)

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Gido Shushin (1325-1388):

White clouds and cinnabar canyons, abode of the man of the Way;
Forested mountains are not always far from the world of man.
Going and stopping like the clouds,  originally without ties;
Body and mind like the canyons, naturally empty.

Wall and fish pond

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

Ch'an/Zen master Dogen (1200-1253):

Three heads and eight arms may be yesterday's time. The eight-or-sixteen-foot body may be today's time. Yet yesterday and today are both in the moment when you enter the mountains and see thousands and myriads of peaks. Yesterday's time and today's time do not go away. Three heads and eight arms move forward as your time-being. It looks as if they are far away, but they are here and now. The eight-or-sixteen-foot body moves foward as your time-being. It looks as if nearby, but it is exactly here. Thus a pine tree is time, bamboo is time.


Duchamp unhappy readymade

Marcel Duchamp, THE UNHAPPY READYMADE, installation, 1919.

[ Note:

'Newlyweds' Jean Crotti and Susanne Duchamp accepted the artist's  proposal to (atypically) 'ornament' their domestic environment by locating a geometry book (suspended with strings) in the 'open air' setting of a residential balcony in Paris. Through his 'random  intervention' the artist locates a 'use of the aesthetic' by having noted: "the wind could go through the book, choose its own problems, turn and tear at the pages."

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

On peut regarder voir;
on ne peut pas entendre entendre.

-- Marcel Duchamp (1914)


Chu Hsi (1130-1200):

Nature is principle only.
However, without the material force
and concrete stuff of the universe,
principle would have nothing in which to inhere.



Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam
When that which drew from out of the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I cross the bar.


M.K. Morton
You can’t change everything                 
even if everything is changed.
‒ Gertrude Stein
Have you ever seen a butterfly talking to a caterpillar?
Don’t give up: go one better: introduce the high flier to the crawler.
If mutual incomprehension is the outcome,
Recall Thoreau’s deathbed dictum
To his brother’s question about what he could see of the other side:
Mildly the sage of Concord replied,
“One world at a time, chum; one world at a time.
This once I’m marching to the same drum.”
In that ironic way, before having actually died--
Not one to time his sundial with a stop-watch,
Nor tell Tennyson when crossing the bar to raise it a notch --
Our patient swallowtail-in-waiting declined to prime the sublime.
Above the caterpillar’s languorously (should that be archly?) rippling waves,
The true monarch of the air, from cocoon slips, elegantly dips
But hovers not long above our blooming graves.
What invisible dots could those flight paths be hurrying to connect?
Perhaps for a choreographer with an ultimate pirouette to perfect
Auditioning? Yet modest in its extravagance, never butterfly craves
The folds on which it alights. At the heels of the upwardly mobile, nips
Forgoes. Off the over-achieving will tear no strips.
Their unrecordable, never-showing up-on-tape patter fit chatter
For all who take tea with a mad hatter.
Ascendant possibly outlining a design for a switchback escalator stair,
Plucking rumours, the flimsiest best, out of thin air,
They seem to scatter
As many a morsel as they take: perhaps the airborne’s subtlest gossips.
Each one of the bagatelle bobbing different, lest in two shakes
Of a puppy dog’s tail you’re surprised by re-takes.
Blithely spirit wisdom reading,
These miniature flying carpets, summer tinted snowflakes,

Every trajectory unique, its’s Satie’s pedalling they’re heeding;
Not what Icarus spake at Zarathustra’s countless wakes.
Since no longer up to his hips,
In his attempt at running to ground stasis, giving up on rivers,
Looking for a steady current that reliably delivers,
Avoiding loop-the-same-loop performed by those trapped in a time-travel
Glitch, our Greek philosopher to a sports-channel,
Where instant replay is the name
Of the game, flips.
Confounding patisseries, milkers, millers
Swift to maintain
The wheel never grinds the same grain,
Reputation matching caviar’s,
Not unknown their birthright to claim,
No matter how tame--for given tempus fugit
How linear can you get? --
These flutterbys, with all their dodgy elegance
Refusing distinguish exit and entrance,
Spiritualists’ familiars
And philosopher-kings hesitate to give away the game
That, if contained in a twinkling
(We’re not talking weekend newspaper fillers)
It’s all the same. Yet seeing what they became,
Even if taking it one step at a time,
And their lift it is to mime,
What aviary handbook spoiling for fame would hide in shame
(Since who dare shrink an inkling?)
A species of butterfly that might tell caterpillars--
Whether they noticed those marathon wings were winking--
Maybe the grasshoppers are to blame?



-- Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)

"The art of Tao is in its essence not merely incommunicable
... but secret, as is every technique in the pre-scientific world."

-- Arthur Waley (1934)


Lee Nova supermoon

EXCURSION, 13 December 2016. (Photo: Gary Lee-Nova.)

Tonight's moon --
That there was only one.

-- Oshima Ryota (1718-1787)


Wang Fu-chih (1619-1692):

There will really be non-being when there is nothing which can be described as non-being. Since non-being is so-called, it follows that it is merely a denial of being.


Lewis creation myth

Wyndham Lewis, CREATION MYTH, 1941-42. Pencil, pen, watercolour and gouache on paper.


Baxter end of time

IAIN BAXTER& (artist's window  signage). Permanent installation, North Vancouver City Library.


Lewis artists and Indians

Alfred North Whitehead (1929):

The greater part of morality hinges on
the determination of relevance in the future.
The relevant future consists of those elements
in the anticipated future which are felt by
the present subject by reason of the real
potentiality for them to be derived  from itself.




Posted November 16, 2016


"When the velocity of progress increases beyond a certain point, it becomes indistinguishable from crisis."

-- Owen Barfield (1975)


SEATED DEMON, China 14th century. Gilt bronze. H: 8.3 cm. Seattle Art Museum.

[ Note:

Depictions of demons first appear in Chinese Buddhist art during the Tang Dynasty --when they become ubiquitous in paintings of hell scenes. Subsequently, from 841 to 845 CE, an extensive purge of Buddhism affected China --but the Ch'an sect (with its radical concern fot self-reliance and contrarian disdain for dogma) retained full vitality.

--  CAUSA Research Curators ]

Ch'an / Zen monk Dogen (1200-1253):

There are those who, attracted by grass, flowers, mountains, and waters, flow into the Buddha Way.

"We must continue along the road of interrelating socio-ecologically all the forces present in our society until we perform an intellectual action which extends to the fields of culture, economy, and democratic rights."

Joseph Beuys (1982)



Yang Wan-li


A spring's eye of shadow resists even the slightest flow,
Among tree shadow, it's lit water adores warm clear skies.

Spiral of blades, a tiny waterlily's clenched against dew,
and there at the very tip, in early light, sits a dragonfly.



W.S. Merwin


Dragonflies were as common as sunlight
hovering in their own days
backward forward and sideways
as though they were memory
now there are grown-ups hurrying
who never saw one
and do not know what they
are not seeing
the veins in a dragonfly's wings
were made of light
the veins in the leaves knew them
and the flowing rivers
the dragonflies came out of the color of water
knowing their own way
when we appeared in their eyes
we were strangers
they took their light with them when they went
there will be no one to remember us



Joseph Beuys, BACKREST for a FINE-LIMBED PERSON (HARE-TYPE) of the 20th century A.D. [Rückensfütze eines feingliederigen Menschen (Häsentypus) aus dem 20. Jh. p. chr.], Iron casting. 96 x 45 x 15 cm. 1972.

Joseph Beuys (1969):

Take a hare running from one corner of a room to another. I think this hare can achieve more for the political development of the world than a human being.


Harold Innis (1950):

We must somehow escape on the one hand from our obsession with the moment and on the other hand from our obsession with history. In freeing ourselves from time and attempting a balance between the demands of time and space we can develop conditions favourable to an interest in cultural activity.


Seated Buddha

SEATED BUDDHA, China (Yüan or early Ming Dynasty), 14th/15th century. Bronze with gold inlay. H. 15.9 cm. Seattle Art Museum.


Orwell trousers

Joseph Beuys, THE ORWELL LEG --TROUSERS for the 21st CENTURY, 1984.

Blue jeans with circular holes. Unlimited edition --including approximately thirty-five variations (with label) signed by the artist.

[ Note:

Prior to producing The Orwell Leg, Beuys had made a 'pertinent'  proposition regarding the 'persistent'  problem of CREATIVITY AND CRISIS.

For his appearance in GOOD MORNING MR. ORWELL (a 'live' global satellite TV broadcast presented on New Year's Eve 1983)   Beuys had worn jeans with conspicuous holes cut in the front and back of the knees. Explicating a timely 'use of the aesthetic,' he suggested to the viewing public that "everybody in the world" should make trousers for themselves ... in a mindful decision "to struggle against world-wide materlialism and repression."

Joseph Beuys (1974):

This new discipline --which I call social sculpture-- can realize the future of humankind, it could be a guarantee for the evolution of the earth as a planet, establish conditions for other planetarians too, and you can control it with your own thinking.



Posted November 9, 2016


"To cling to the past is hypocrisy,
because no one knows those moments."

-- Heinrich Böll (1963)

Ch'an master Seng-ts'an (d. 606 CE):

When we return to the root, we open the meaning;
When we pursue the external objects, we lose the purpose.
The moment we are enlightened within,
We go beyond the voidness of a world confronting us.

Bad News



Joseph Beuys,  STAGLEADER'S CART, 1976. Oil on paper. Inscribed on verso: "Joseph Beuys Wagen des Hirschfürers".

Joseph Beuys (1979):

It is the WORD that produces all images. It is the key sign for all processes of moulding and organizing.

Ch'an master Yung-chia Hsuan-chueh (665-713):




Posted October 13, 2016



" ... 'Consciousness-Only'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)


-- Hsüan-Tsang (596-664)



-- Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an, Huineng (638-713)




"Du Dunkelheit"

Rainer Maria Rilke (1899)

You darkness, that I come from,
I love you more than all the fires
that fence the world,
for the fire makes
a circle of light for everyone
and then no one outside learns of you.

But the darkness pulls in everything:
shapes and fires, animals and myself,
how easily it gathers them! --
powers and people --

and it is possible a great energy
is moving near me.

I have faith in nights.



Joseph Beuys, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN,1957. Ink and watercolour on paper [manila envelope --marked with the seal of an international organization of Auschwitz survivors].

Joaeph Beuys (1977):

We must probe (theory of knowledge) the origin of free individual productive potency (creativity). We then reach the threshold where the human being experiences himself primarily as a spiritual being, where his supreme achievements (works of art), his active thinking, his active feeling, his active will, and their higher forms, can be apprehended as sculptural generative means ... and in the direction that is shaping the content of the world right through into the future.


"Perhaps the peculiarity of art is to pass through the finite in order to rediscover, to restore the infinite."

-- Gilles Deleuze + Félix Guattari


Marshall McLuhan (1979):

Touch is actually not connection but interval. When you touch an object there is a little space between yourself and the object, a space which resonates. This is play, and without play there cannot be any creative activity in any field at all.


Third Chinese Patriarch of Ch'an,
Chien-chih Seng-ts'an (d. 606 CE):

Pursue the light, and you will lose its source,
Look inward, and in a flash you will conquer the Apparent and the Void.
For the whirligigs of Apparent and Void all come from mistaken views;
There is no need to seek the Truth; only stop having mistaken views.



by M. K. Morton


The department no longer offers Geography 102,

River-Stepping. Perhaps would have been a more popular course

If, if you failed, you were allowed to repeat it once you found the source.
As it was, Mark Twain was letting too many through.

And not just landlubbers without a clue.

Sweet Thames's endlessly gently flowing song

Left Spenser isolated in the throng;
Disputing Masefield's peacock-shimmering quinquereme
Can only once switch to steam;
Came nowhere near twigging  in the jabberwockiest jet-stream

Nowhere could the Cheshire cat find a double for his smile.
ATT's sundial trials still hoping teach them their faces to re-dial.

Did Jerome K. Jerome's three men ever get that boat to stay afloat?
What their chance of pursuing Toad of Toad Hall's motor in full flight?
Given their luck, likelier grounded on the river's single mudflat.

That Agatha Christie can't use the same victim twice there's no de-Nile.
Size not a factor, the smallest ravine is of tributaries an imbiber

No end.; but there is only one estuary for it to go into lapping exile.
Furthermore, ships lifting through a canal's locks must go in single file.
Karma drifting, going through the Khyber,

Might Kim, playing a waiting Great Game with snake-charmer flute,

Slow down the Ganges?

Never the same syncopated bounce from a Basin Street trapeze;
Who would say it's better with the banjo on both uncrossed knees?
Caesar's handlers, choosing the Rubicon to double-cross the Tiber,

Grasped cutting a figure means no stepping out in same old yesterday's stylgure means no stepping out in same old yesterday's style.
How many gliding down to Camelot does the Lady of Shallott beguile
Still? Yet they do still remember, up the Yukon out stepped out
A man who was haggard and stout

And his fame was Dangerous Dan McGrew playing Falstaff.

Although since top of the bill,

Could regularly spill,
From the same carafe
Of ratty, rattling silver service

Plate, enough to make a polar bear nervous.

He could only once make a serious gaffe

Without provoking from the wings the wrong kind of last laugh.

An extra is one too many when the name of the game is reciprocities.
The dummy's not to question, not to reason why,
Although three-handed bridge is possible on the River Kwai.

For Euclid shows there are always two sides to the second story

If the pointed structure's north-south skyscraper sides are isoscoles.

Higher yet, Wagner above the Rhine

Gave The Valkyries their one chance to shine.
Recalling beside the Hudson only early

And never twice a day unfolds its glimmer each morning-glory
(Longhouse drumbeats suggesting the Grand Coulee Gorge

Keeps sightseers' baggage too long in storage)
Lewis or Clark scribbled those Columbia River journals just for the nonce.
Along the Zambezi did Stanley prematurely presume at least once?

Did Tigris dry up because Zarathurstra gulped it in one take while he spake?
Approaching, at last report one foot over the Urizen, could that be Blake?

With reading lists, field trips, sample exam questions like this--

Such an intellectual palace of bliss--
A pity Heraclitus, and not even once, had to give it a miss.


Standing beside me in the desert,

If I can't spot anything while you tell me you see a mirage,

Imagination not exceeding wit,
I'm still sufficiently alert
(No need call in  an academic expert)

To recognize that, given the mirage is part of you seeing it,

Your illusion (even if less than sand-dune camouflage
And not likely to blow up stormy)

Is real although not there for me.

Because if it isn't real--regardless of reality's past, present and future intents

And purposes--then there is no difference

Between your seeing a mirage and my not.
But that difference exists and is huge.

Similarly when an actor plays Othello,
If Othello is not real,

There's no difference between that performance and a fellow

Actor doing a character out of Eugene O'Neill.
(Perhaps on the fly caught,
Seeking box-office refuge,
Only ventriloquist and dummy can an identical scene steal.)

Hence, although philosophical dialogue since Plato has many a stooge

(Not invariably a compliant and shy lot)
Employed, shackled to routes linear and literal the camel driver the best pilot

For your metaphysical caravan crossing dunes dry and mirage-hungry and hot?

Does he grasp such a crusty sport's model's the slalom rather than the luge?




Ts'ao Shan (840-901):

In illusion what is true?
Illusion is from the outset true.
In illusion what is manifested?
The very illusion itself is a manifestation.
If this is so,
then one can never be apart from the illusion?
No matter how hard you seek illusion, you can't find it.



" ... "Interfusion...".  (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1964)



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


-- Shao Yung (1011-1077)



by W. S. Merwin (2016)

Summer has come to the trees reaching up for it
it has come in daylight without a sound
it arrived when the trees were dark in sleep
they dreamed it and woke knowing it was there
but I am an autumn child and my first
summer I was here but was not yet born
I heard the leaves whisper on their branches
and the cicadas growing in their song
I listened to all the language of summer
in which the time was talking to itself
I was born in autumn knowing the sound of summer




Ch'an/Zen master Ikkyu


When, just as they are,
White dewdrops gather
On scarlet maple leaves
--Regard, the scarlet beads.


The tree is stripped,
All colour, fragrance gone
--Yet already on the bough,
Uncanny spring.


W. S. Merwin (2010):

Certain things, if one pays attention and is concerned about them, in one's temperament, in one's outlook on the world, in one's attempt to understand something about the world, certain things confirm what one is groping one's way towards.


For me, there are various places where one can find things like that. Blake, or Daoism, there are even things in the New Testament. I'm not a Christian but I think Jesus was an amazing occurence on the planet, and I think we've made of him something that he never was or ever wanted to be. But there are incredible things that he said. I heard a Japanese teacher say where Christianity and Buddhism are very close is when Jesus said: "The kingdom of heaven is within you." If it's not there, it's nowhere.



Posted September 7, 2016


Editorial Memo

August 2016

An article by Peter Zhang --exploring "under-examined resonances" between I CHING [THE BOOK OF CHANGES] and the work of Marshall McLuhan-- has now been posted in the RELATED LINKS section of this website.

The author's congenial cooperation is appreciatively acknowledged.

-- CAUSA Research Curators



" ... 'Co-Presence'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"Halfway between worth and worthlessness, though it might seem to be a good place, really isn't --you'll never get away from trouble there."

--Chuang-tzu   (369-286 BCE)


George Santayana (1896):

When our senses and imagination find what they crave, when the world shapes itself or so moulds the mind that the correspondence between them is perfect, then perception is a pleasure, and existence needs no apology. The duality which is the condition of conflict disappears.





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

"Before emotional consciousness has been smashed, the mind-fire burns bright."

-- Ch'an master Ta Hui (1089-1163)

"When the soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it."

-- Meister Eckhardt (d. 1328)



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

We are living in a situation which has been called "future shock." Future shock, in fact, is culture lag, that is, the failure to notice what is happening in the present.

-- Marshall McLuhan (1972)

When a single flower blooms, the earth arises; when a single speck of dust appears, the universe is born. Before the speck of dust arises, before the flower opens, What is it?  Where do you find yourself?

-- Dogen (1200-1253)


"You must have faith that the original mind that is realized and that which REALIZES original mind are not different."

-- Zen master Bankei (1622-1693)

"Not every organism has a brain, and not all life is organic, but everywhere there are forces that constitute microbrains, or an inorganic life of things."

-- Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1991)



M. K. Morton

On Parnassus,
Bards count commas
As Pythagoras

Plucks abacus
(Out-source the sauce)
Of asparagus.
What no couscous?

His strummed chorus
Scales rapturous
Mystic comas.
Rhythms dip wing

For Hopkins' spring.
With serenities
Of Delius
Many cuckoos

Play fast and loose.
Roman candle's
Waltz largos Handel's
Bar Viennese

Trick-cyclists sneeze.
Ziegfield Follies
Slip Wagner's ring.
Subversively sling

Whistling Satie's,
Skylark's tunes tease.
Mendelsohn's seas'

Most major of keys
Fiddle dee-dees
Highest tides' ooze
Off Hebrides.

Stars shooting craps,
Time's hammock naps.
Time settles to snooze,
What's left to enthuse?



" ... 'In Some Sense'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.) Nature and Language.

Chuang Tzu  (369-286 BCE):

Those who say that they would have right without its correlate, wrong ... do not apprehend the great principles of the universe, nor the nature of the existence of all creation. One might as well talk of the nature of Heaven without that of Earth, or of the negative principle without the positive, which is clearly impossible.

Third patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, Seng-ts'an (529-606):

Regard motion as if it were stationary and what becomes of motion? Treat the stationary as though it moved and that disposes of the stationary.



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

Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

Plunging in with the whirl,
I come out with the swirl.

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1991):

Movement of the infinite does not refer to spatiotemporal coordinates that define the successive positions of a moving object and the fixed reference points in relation to which these positions vary. "To orientate oneself in thought" implies neither objective reference point nor moving object that experiences itself as subject and that, as such, strives for or needs the infinite. Movement takes in everything and there is no place for a subject and an object that can only be concepts. It is the horizon itself that is movement: the relative horizon recedes as when the subject advances, but on the plane of immanence we are always and already on the absolute horizon. Infinite movement is defined by coming and going.




Posted July 15, 2016


Chuang Tzu  (369-286 BCE):

The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the words are forgotten.


Proclamation without Pretension

- Tristan Tzara

Art is going to sleep for a new world to be born
"ART"-parrot word-replaced by DADA,
PLESIOSAURUS, or handkerchief

The talent THAT CAN BE LEARNED makes the
poet a druggist TODAY the criticism
of balances no longer challenges with resemblances

Hypertrophic painters hyperaes-
theticized and hypnotized by the hyacinths
of the hypocritical-looking muezzins


Hypodrome of immortal guarantees: there is
no such thing as importance there is no transparence
or appearance

BLIND MEN take the stage

THE SYRINGE is only for my understanding. I write because it is
natural exactly the way I piss the way I'm sick


Art is a PRETENSION warmed by the
TIMIDITY of the urinary basin, the hysteria born

We are in search of
the force that is direct pure sober
UNIQUE we are in search of NOTHING
we affirm the VITALITY of every IN-

the anti-philosophy of spontaneous acrobatics

At this moment I hate the man who whispers
before the intermission-eau de cologne-
sour theatre. THE JOYOUS WIND

If each man says the opposite it is because he is

Get ready for the action of the geyser of our blood
-submarine formation of transchromatic aero-
planes, cellular metals numbered in
the flight of images

above the rules of the
and its control


It is not for the sawed-off imps
who still worship their navel

[ Note:

This poem was recited during the eighth dada performance in Zürich --at the Kaufleuten Hall, 8 April 1919.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


" ... 'Through and Through'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"The cause is right now, the result is at the moment of death."

-- Ch'an master Pai-chang Huai-hai (720 - 814)


Hereby I assign,
In perpetuity, to wit:
To this bird this fence.

-- Issa (1763 - 1828)



 M.K. Morton
The polar caps
Defying maps;
Black-hole gavotte
A fraction of what

While Pegasus
Con-trails braid queues,

Scarf-dance the sphere.

Global warnings
Don't stick at inklings.
Schroedinger's cat brews

The scheme of things,

Goes Cheshire

With no excuse,
Clings to nothings:

Atoms string

Along, wait what ring
Electrons choose.

L'il dog star yaps,
Cow fills lunar gaps.

Ozone-tanked-out chaps

Never refuse

Tar sands refuse.

Tsunami claps
Its tourist traps
To see such sport

When suns cavort:
He, who perhaps
Laughs cosmic lapse,
Time's shrewdest synapse

Around it wraps.


"The reason people misunderstand the difference between thoughts and delusions is that everyone imagines thoughts all exist at the bottom and arise from there, but originally, there's no actual substance at the 'bottom' from which thoughts arise."

-- Zen master Bankei (1622 - 1693)



"...'Rotation'...". (Image: M. Cynog Evans.)


In 1963, a City of New Westminster ravine site was carefully 'modified' to create a Japanese-style woodland garden. That civic initiative was further refined, in 1987, by the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association.  Their landscape --resulting in a  traditionally constructed precinct  now known as ZUIKOEN (documented here)-- presents a mindful complementarity to QUEEN'S RAVINE, the 'wilderness' setting of British Columbia's first public park  (as formally designated in 1859).

-- CAUSA Curators ]

"The important thing is not that the Japanese garden-maker follows rules, but that tradition and the experience of centuries guides his hand."

-- Tatsuo Ishimoto (1958)

"The most general definition of beauty ... Multeity in Unity."

-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1814)


"If you want knowledge, you must take part in the practice of changing reality."

-- Mao Zedong (1937)

"Almost anything that can be praised or advocated has been put to some disgusting use. There is no principle, however immaculate, that has not had its compromising manipulator."

-- Wyndham Lewis (1948)



" ... 'Rough Ascent'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

Richard Hülsenbeck (1920):

Dada is chaos from which thousands of systems arise and are entangled again in Dada chaos. Dada is simultaneously the course and the content of all that happens in the universe.


"Stupidity carried beyond a certain point becomes a public menace."

-- Ezra Pound (1912)




Joseph Beuys, HOMOGENEOUS INFILTRATION FOR GRAND PIANO [Bechstein piano covered with felt and two crosses of red material], 1966. Centre National d'Art Modern et du Culture Georges Pompidou, Paris.

[ Note:

This OBJECT resulted from the artist's "Infiltration-homogen for grand piano, the greatest contemporary composer is the thalidomide child" --an ACTION performed at the Staatliche Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf, on 7 July 1966.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Joseph Beuys (1978):

The sound of the piano is trapped inside the felt skin. In the normal sense a piano is an instrument used to produce sound. When not in use it is silent, but still has a sound potential. Here, no sound is possible and the piano is condemned to silence. On the same principle [...] "infiltration-homogen" describes the character and structure of felt, so the piano becomes an homogeneous deposit of sound with the potential to filter through felt.

The relationship to the human position is marked by the two red crosses signifying emergency: the danger that threatens if we stay silent and fail to make the next evolutionary step.

Such an object is intended as a stimulus for discussion, and in no way is it to be taken as an aesthetic product.

"Everything transitory is but an image."

-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1806)


by Po Chu-i (722 - 846)

My lute set aside
on the little table
Lazily I meditate
on cherishing feelings
The reason I don't bother
to strum or pluck?
There's a breeze over the strings
and it plays itself



Joseph Beuys, FELT SUIT, 1970.

Thomas Carlyle (1838):

Think well ... find that space is but a mode of our human Sense, so like-wise Time; there is no Space and no Time....

So that this solid-seeming World, after all, were but an air-image, our Me the only reality; and Nature, with its thousandfold production and destruction, but the reflex of our inward Force ... or what the Earth- Spirit [ERDGEIST] in FAUST [1806] names it:

"In Being's floods, in Action's storm,
I walk and work, above, beneath,
Work and weave in endless motion!
            Birth and Death
            An infinite ocean;
            A seizing and giving
            The fire of Living:
'Tis this at the roaring Loom of Time I ply,
And weave for God the Garment thou seest Him by."

"Human perception is literally incarnation."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1954)

Joseph Beuys (1970):

In the course of my sculptural attempts I noticed that usually something emerged in opposition, something that could be encompassed by the concept 'death'. Something was expressed that had warmth character in opposition to the coldness of death.... I recognized that warmth and coldness were sculptural principles, on a level above space, which corresponded to expansion and contraction, amorphous and crystalline, chaos and determined form. At the same time I gained a clarified perception of the essence of time, movement and space.




"The road taken must be broad. If it is broad, then there are fewer obstacles."

-- Shao Yung (1011-1077)

"The earth has become one big village, with telephones laid on from one end to the other, and air transport, both speedy and safe."

--Wyndham Lewis (1949)


Jonathan Schell (1982):

Since July 16, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was detonated, at the Trinity test site, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, mankind has lived with nuclear weapons in its midst. [...] These bombs were built as "weapons" for "war," but their significance greatly transcends war and all its causes and outcomes. They grew out of history, yet they threaten to end history. [...] Only life itself, which they threaten to swallow up, can give the measure of their significance. Yet in spite of the immeasurable importance of nuclear weapons, the world has declined, on the whole, to think about them very much.


Marshall McLuhan (1963):

With the telegraph, Western man began a process of putting his nerves outside his body. [...] Since the telegraph we have extended the brains and nerves of man around the world. As a result, the electronic age endures a total uneasiness, as of a man wearing his skull inside and his brain outside. The year of the establishment of the commercial telegraph in America, 1844, was also the year Kierkegaard published The  Concept of Dread.


Our electronic world now calls for a unified field of global awareness.... I believe that artists, in all media, respond soonest to challenges of new pressures. The new media, too, are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists.




Sixth and Last Patriarch of Ch'an /Zen  Buddhism, Hui Neng (638 - 713):

Self-nature is always pure, just as the sun and moon are always shining. It is only when they are obscured by clouds that there is brightness above but darkness below and the sun, the moon, and the stars cannot be seen. But when suddenly a gentle mind blows and scatters all clouds and fog, all phenomena are abundantly spread out before us, all appearing together.



Posted June 30, 2016



-- Gautama Buddha (sixth century BCE)


Buddha in Nirvana

BUDDHA IN NIRVANA (DEATH OF SHAKYAMUNI), Japan, Kamakura period, thirteenth century CE. Wood.  Tokyo National Museum.

[ Note:

The historical Buddha (Prince Siddhartha/Gautama) was born in the sixth century BCE, in Northern India, or present-day Nepal. Buddhist missionaries arrived in Han China --having perhaps taken a land route from northwest India-- in the first century CE.

Arriving in Japan in the sixth and seventh centuries CE, via Korea and China, the Gautama legacy (as grounded in his actual birth clan) became linked to the name Shaka, or SHAKYAMUNI ("Sage of the Shaka Clan"). Shaka, in the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism, presides over the memorial service held on the fourteenth day following a death.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

"Gautama thought he was going to Nirvana, and when he died, he stood not in Nirvana but in dada."

-- Richard Hülsenbeck (1920)





" ... Planning for a Moment...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

"It is only contrast that connects us with the past."

-- Tristan Tzara (1918)




Ch'an / Zen master Sengzhao (384-414):

Heaven and earth are from the same root as myself.

All things and I belong to the one whole.

[ Note:

The image (and its accompanying text) augments a multi-site curatorial research project, VAST OCEAN / VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN: CONCEPTS AND PROSPECTS (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, December 2015 - January 2016).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Call Virilio

Gary Lee-Nova, CALL VIRILIO!, 2016.

Lightning, flash, crash ...

Waiting in the bamboo grove ...

See three dew-drops

-- Buson (1716-1784)


"One thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1968)


Ch'an master Ma Tsu (d. 788 CE):

Asked "What is buddha?"
Ma-tsu replied "This very mind, this is Buddha."

Asked "What is buddha?"
Ma-tsu replied "Neither mind nor Buddha."






What honey can match the hunt for the hive?
Stevenson says it is a better thing to travel hopefully than to arrive.
But a bon voyage party may be the best part of a trip.
Don't underestimate packing the grip.

A fairground barker's outside improvisations better showmanship
Than the acrobats in the tent, their automatic lockstep
Like sheets clutched and systematized by a paperclip.
Conductors know, beyond all attempts at sobersides translation,

The bubbled laughter of anticipation
Is the better part of, if not Mahler,
That slowly awakening lingering of Satie's.
Maybe a tease

Is the true enthraller?
Although far from an open secret,
Looking forward to a diversion totes up even better than doing it.
(Or midway between the two, should we absorb of the caterpillar

The patient wisdom it secretes?) Facing in the ice cream parlour
The soda shelf, don't spare the adrenelin
In our surge to rush to turn on a spiggot:
All that likety-split

More than a match for anything the tasty cask's tap will emit.
The shadowy nostalgia the liquid evokes mere transcription:
Phantom performance compared to dipping the madelaine
Deep the cup. Indeed that gesture no apparition.

Absolutely spiffing
This lilting sifting; light years closer than iffing,
To what's in the offing
Your hat keep doffing.

Bon appetit,
Monsieur Satie.
Avant the tea-leafing
And the sneefing--

Saveur bien
Et (geeven you have the notes and nose for such a thing)
Toujours tiens
Bon l'aperitifing.                                   


Experimenting ...
I hang the moon on various
Branches of the pine

-- Hokushi (1667-1718)


The healthy social life is found when in the mirror of each human soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the community the virtue of each one is living. This is the Motto of Social Ethic.

-- Rudolph Steiner (1920)



GIANT BUDDHA (stone) carved 'IN SITU', 713 CE (and later), Lehan, Sichuan Province, China.

[ Note:

The Lehan depiction of MAITREYA BUDDHA (the Future Buddha) is currently the tallest 'substitute image' of its kind on the planet. Its monumental presence entailed direct carving into a large cliff --and rock  extractions created enough 'rubble' to calm the local river currents (as predicted by Haitong, the Chinese monk who conceived of this practical/prescient project).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


"... less is more...."

-- Robert Browning (1855)



-- Tristan Tzara (1918)


Sixth and Last Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, Hui-neng (638 - 713):

By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom. By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.

[ Note:

Gautama Buddha's teachings on 'sudden illumination' were brought from India to China by Bodhidharma, circa 530 CE. He was identified by Hui-neng as the twenty-fifth patriarch of the dharma (teaching/way) in the tradition of Gautama Buddha; he thus  became the first patriarch in China.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Overhanging pine ...
Adding its mite of needles
To the waterfall

-- Basho (1644-1694)


Ian McHarg (1969):

Clearly the problem of man and nature is not one of providing a decorative background for the human play, or even ameliorating the grim city: it is the necessity of sustaining nature as a source of life, milieu, teacher, sanction, challenge, and, most of all, of rediscovering nature's corollary of the unknown in the self, in the source of meaning.



Posted June 21, 2016



" ... 'The Problem of Dimension'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

Marshall McLuhan (1974):

When SPUTNIK went up on October 4, 1957, it put the planet inside a man-made environment for the first time. [...] Nature ended. The planet became an art form inside a manned capsule, and life will never be the same on this planet again. Nature ended and art took over. Ecology is art.

[ Note:

The image/text assemblage has been presented to coincide with the 2016 CONGRESS of the CANADIAN SOCIETY OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTS --23-25 June 2016.

The Winnipeg conference theme is: HOME: LOCALLY INSPIRED.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Chuang Tzu  (369-286 BCE):

Starlight asked Non-Being: "Master, are you? Or are you not?"
Since he received no answer whatever, Starlight set himself to watch for Non-Being. He waited to see if Non-Being would put in an appearance.
He kept his gaze fixed on the deep Void, hoping to catch a glimpse of Non-Being.
All day long he looked, and he saw nothing. He listened, but heard nothing. He reached out to grasp, and grasped nothing.

Then Starlight exclaimed at last: "This is IT."
    "This is the furthest yet. Who can reach it?
    I can comprehend the absence of Being
    But who can comprehend the absence of Nothing?
    If now, on top of all this, Non-Being IS,
    Who can comprehend it?"



"We live in a four-dimensional space-time manifold which, on all levels, consists of absolutely individual events, objects, situations, abstractions, etc., and we must conclude that structurally we live in an INDEFINITELY MANY-VALUED or INFINITE-VALUED world, where ... identification becomes impossible."

-- Alfred Korzybski (1933)


Illustration from a book by Ihara Saikaku --SOME FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE, Japan, 1694.

Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693):

The art of flower arrangement was originally the handiwork of priests attached to the imperial court. The priests would take oaks and pines gathered by woodsmen deep in the mountain forests and arrange them with the seasons far afield. But these days anyone with a sufficiently brazen spirit will, without hesitation, pluck a grafted camellia or uproot a potted holly. Such people will break off lotus blossoms in sacred precincts, chop down a cryptomeria on a holy mountain, and behave thoroughly willfully. Plants have feelings too, and the sufferings of these flowers must be severe.


F. David Peat (2007):

Art, in its widest sense, is a form of play that lies at the origin of all making, of language, and the mind's awareness of its place within the world. Art, in all its forms, makes manifest the spiritual dimension of the cosmos, and expresses our relationship to the natural world. This may have been the cause of that natural light which first illuminated the preconscious minds of early hominids.


Beuys Boll




Posted May 27, 2016




Zen master Bankei (1622 - 1693):

Mysteries and miracles --
          There are no such things.
But when you fail to understand
          The world's full of weird happenings

This is the phantom
          Who deceives
Who makes us take the false world
          To be real.




[ Note:

An incidence of vandalism (now rectified) foreshadows (by seventy-five years) the irreparable loss of two Cedar of Lebanon trees --felled/removed (last month) as part of a new 'development plan' for the Vancouver Art Gallery's North Plaza.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

The blankness of the Unnamed
Brings dispassion;
To be dispassionate is to be still.

"South, south which is a wind is not rain,
does silence choke speech or does it not."

-- Gertrude Stein (1914)


"Geographical areas can only harbour a sort of chaos, or, at best, extrinsic harmonies or an ecological order, temporary equilibriums between populations."

-- Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari (1997)



" ... SIXIANG SHU / THINKING OF HOME BUSH ...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE):

In Tao the only motion is returning;
The only useful quality, weakness.
For though all creatures under heaven are the products of Being,
Being itself is the product of Not-being.


Lin Zexu

PORTRAIT OF LIN ZEXU, oil on canvas (in the style of Lam Qua), nineteenth century.


I am told that in your country opium smoking is forbidden under severe penalties. This means that you are aware of how harmful it is.... So long as you do not take it yourselves, but continue to make it and tempt the people of China to buy it, you will be showing yourselves careful of your own lives, but careless of the lives of other people. Indifferent in your greed for gain, to the harm you do to others. Such conduct is repugnant to human feeling and at variance with the way of Heaven....

[ Note:

Opium could be acquired in China, traditionally, but large quantities had not been available for import before  the opening of the country's tea trade to British and Dutch merchants. By the early nineteenth century opium had become a major trading product in China --an innovation of the English East India Trading Company.

After the death of the Emperor's son, due to opium addiction, Lin Zexu (1785 - 1850) had been sent to Canton (chief trading port of the East India Trading Company), with the aim of negotiating an end to China's importation of opium.

-- CAUSA Resesrch Curators ]

Neo-Confucian philosopher Wang Yangming (1472 - 1529):

There have never been people who know but do not act. Those who are supposed to know but do not act simply do not know.

Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, Huineng (638 - 713):

Since Buddha is made by your own nature, do not look for him outside your body. If you are deluded in your own nature, Buddha is then a sentient being; if you are awakened in your own natures, sentient beings are then Buddhas.



On Kawara, I WENT, 1968 - 1979.  Clothbound loose-leaf binders with plastic sleeves and inserted printed matter.

[ Note:

From 1 June 1968 to 17 September 1979, On Kawara diarized daily walking routes --recording (in red ink) pedestrian 'passages' on the map of a particular city.

Each map was dated by the artist before being inerted in a three-ring binder. The completed project comprises 47,440 pages.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Theodore van Doesburg (1923):

Dada has discovered the world such as it is and the world has recognised itself in Dada. Dada is a mirror in which the world sees itself. The dadaists do not wish the world to be different than the way they see it, namely, dada: at once orderly and disorderly, yes and no, me and not me.


John Dewey (1934):

Mind that bears only an occasional relation to the environment occupies a similar relation to the body. In making mind purely immaterial (isolated from the organ of doing and undergoing), the body ceases to be living and becomes a dead lump. This conception of mind as an isolated being underlies the conception that aesthetic experience is merely something "in mind," and strengthens the conception which isolates the aesthetic from those modes of experience in which the body is actively engaged with the things of nature and life. It takes art out of the province of the live creature.




"The emotion of hoping expands out of itself, makes people wider instead of narrower; insatiable, it wants to know what makes people purposeful on the inside and what might be allied with them on the outside."

-- Ernst Bloch (1954)



Sakai Hoitsu, YATSUHASHI [Eight-Plank Bridge], Edo period, early nineteenth century. Fan painting in color and gold on paper. H. 17.8 cm.; Chord: 55 cm. Seattle Art Museum.

[ Note:

In TALES OF ISE (a collection of 'waka' poems compiled in the tenth century), a traveller comes upon the  distinctive eight-planked bridge at Mikawa (eastern Honshu), where he  encounters irises in full bloom. On  that occasion he immediately drafts a poem in which consecutive lines begin with the syllables KA, KI, TSU, BA, TA (KAKI TSUBATA, IRIS).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]



               Meteors are needed no less than mountains--Jeffers

Neglected, neat compact minor, never unfolded--OK, stooge--destinies?
Escapades (we don't count here our miscalculated evasions
Or hilarious misquotations)
Every bit as predetermined as major romantic associations.

So what. Most of us have for those distractions casual propensities:
A sidewalk artist's speaking-image outline days on end defying smudge;
That long-since gone summer snack-stand's sure touch
With sixty-three varieties floss and fudge;

An amorous couple who it turns out were simply ships that pass in the night--
These in the scheme of things have been meant every bit as much
As medium love at ouija second-sight.
Numerous any slated to dabble, despite proving no dab hand,

They also stand and wait who less than seasonally get to greet the band
Made up from scratch for a last reunion. These rare occasions--
Don't write them off as trite:
Control impatience triggered by below-mild, nowhere near rippling sensations.

You can rash predict which bagatelles on life-time pilgrimages rate as right?
As far as they go, those mini-patterns, encapsulated micro-immensities
Supersede most routine pleasures if not all and sundry;
Harbour unsuspected felicities.

That remarkable lead-singer after the touring vocal combo
Broke up--never heard, but some once, again.
A kite suddenly trying to out-yo-yo a clumsy batter's bunt spun free.
(How blissfully crazy can a celestial stunt be?)

A diamond jubilee out-remembered by a less than one year reign.
The delightful, yet good for no more than a snatched momento
Of thrilled repose, overgrown off-trail grotto.
Getting close to W.H. Davies line of country,

A striking bird blown in only just after the most unexpected hurricane;
The ski instructor you overheard your single winter holiday
Vowing you showed such promise you could easily teach slalom how to slope.
An on-clover-scattering pear blossoms and dewdrops, if somewhat stunted, tree

That cast shade you could eat. Best, long indicated in your serendipity-scope,
A rainbow with for accompaniment in its train
An inadvertently bluebird-oriole duetted golden-voiced refrain.
Songularity plotted since perhaps shortly before the big bang was let out to play.

M.K. Morton



" ... 'Electromagnetic Field'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

This image connects the Nikkei Centre Garden (as conceived and constructed by the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association) to the nineteenth century origins of a 'locally rooted' Global Village.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Zen Master Bankei (1622 - 1693):

A layman asked: "If you become a buddha, where do you go?"

The Master replied: "If you become a buddha, there's no place at all to go. You will fill the vast universe to its very limits. It's when you become any other sort of being that there are different places to go."

"When two societies exist side by side, the psychic challenge of the more complex one acts as an explosive release of energy in the simpler one."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1964)



Robinson Jeffers (1935)

I think, here is your emblem
To hang in the future sky;
Not the cross, not the hive,
But this; bright power, dark peace;
Fierce consciousness joined with final
Life with calm death;
The falcon's
Realist eyes and act
Married to the massive
Mysticism of stone,
Which failure cannot cast down
Nor success make proud.



Posted May 15, 2016


Ch'an / Zen master Dogen (1200 - 1253):

That you carry yourself forward and experience the myriad things is delusion. That the myriad things come forward and experience themselves is awakening.



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

[ Note:

This image functions to convey a CONTINUOUS COMPLEMENTARITY between two CULTURALLY COHERENT LOCALITIES (uniquely linked to the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association): Nikke Place Garden (documented here) and UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden (constructed in 1960 and 1970, respectively).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]

Conrad Aiken (1955):

In every part we play, we play ourselves;
even the secret doubt to which we come
beneath the changing shapes of self and thing,
yet, even this, at last, if we shall call
and dare to name it, we would find
the only voice that answers is our own.
We are once more defrauded by the word.

Defrauded? No. It is the alchemy by which we grow.
It is the self becoming word, the word
becoming the world.


"Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact."

-- William James (1896)



Taro Okamoto, THE MYTH OF TOMORROW, 1967. Mural (oil paint on concrete and
asbestos panels), 5 x 30 meters. Shibuyu Subway Station, Tokyo (since 17
November 2008).

Donald Wood (2013):

The mural is not only about Hiroshima and Nagasaki; it has a great deal to
say about the nuclear arms race.

Along the bottom of the mural one can see the surface of a large body of
water. Bobbing amidst the waves is a likeness of Fukuryū-maru 5, the tuna
fishing boat subjected to heavy radiation by the massive March 1, 1954
Castle Bravo thermonuclear test at Bikini Atoll.

This was a landmark event for the anti-nuclear weapons movement in Japan.
The ill-fated crew members of  the ship, thought at the time to have been
well outside the danger zone around the Bikini testing site, suffered
terribly from the effects of the "ashes of death" that rained down on them
for hours after the blast --one of the largest explosions ever.


M. K. Morton:



Suppose time is a dodger swinging slightly free in a hammock,

Then a watch might be a mother hen with a flock
Of seconds, minutes, hours and hickory-dickory-dock.

Shucks, why not--the standard bric-a-brac of chrono-crawl-space stock--
For a cloud's egg-timer a windsock

Serve up. Get a move on: sweep up the shells and leavings
From the least rotation in time's table;

Hurry the wizard Keeper of the Keyboards shake free those up-his-sleevings;
Give Herk a helping hand cleaning up an Augean stable.
Myself, feel I'm quite unable to train an alarm clock to smart-talk

Sweet potato talk. Who in front of a time-machine dare jaywalk?
Or on a black hole's last pop eavesdrop?
In the core of the speed of light I balk.

But whether wine travels better with a label,
The indications all point we're shipping out on a tour of Babel.

The Big Bang hasn't yet released its latest playbill?

Are you waiting for Aesop--

'cuz he's the kinda guide and mime

Jus' bidin' his time--
To turn you into a fable?


"You must work hard to live in the present --and, all the more, to finish."

--Wumen Huikai (1183 - 1260)




From the standpoint of pure experience, there is no such thing as an object
divorced from a subject.

-- Kitaro Nishida (1911)



Gary Lee-Nova, HAT-TIP TO CHARLES BURNS, April 2016.


Old Woman

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, THE GREEDY OLD WOMAN. Woodblock print (from the series ONE HUNDRED GHOST STORIES FROM CHINA AND JAPAN),  1865.

THE TONGUE-CUT SPARROW, translated by Lafcadio Hearn [FAIRY TALES FROM JAPAN], 1918:

'Tis said that once upon a time a cross old woman laid some starch in a basin intending to put it in the clothes in her washtub; but a sparrow that a woman, her neighbor, kept as a pet ate it up. Seeing this, the cross old woman seized the sparrow and, saying, "You hateful thing!" cut its tongue and let it go.

When the neighbor woman heard that her pet sparrow had got its tongue cut for its offense, she was greatly grieved, and set out with her husband over mountains and plains to find where it had gone, crying, "Where does the tongue-cut sparrow stay? Where does the tongue-cut sparrow stay?"

At last they found its home. When the sparrow saw that its old master and mistress had come to see it, it rejoiced and brought them into its house and thanked them for their kindness in old times and spread a table for them, and loaded it with saké and fish till there was no more room, and made its wife and children and grandchildren all serve the table. At last, throwing away its drinking cup, it danced a jig called the "sparrow's dance." Thus they spent the day.

When it began to grow dark, and they began to talk of going home, the sparrow brought out two wicker baskets and said, "Will you take the heavy one, or shall I give you the light one?"

The old people replied, "We are are old, so give us the light one. It will be easier to carry it."

The sparrow then gave them the light basket and they returned with it to their home. "Let us open and see what is in it," they said. And when they had opened it and looked they found gold and silver and jewels and rolls of silk. They never expected anything like this. The more they took out the more they found inside. The supply was inexhaustible. So that house at once became rich and prosperous.

When the cross old woman who had cut the sparrow's tongue out saw this, she was filled with envy, and went and asked her neighbor where the sparrow lived, and all about the way.

"I will go too," she said, and at once set out on her search.

Again the sparrow brought out two wicker baskets and asked as before,  "Will you take the heavy one, or shall I give you the light one?"

Thinking the treasure would be great in proportion to the weight of the basket, the old woman replied, "Let me have the heavy one."

Receiving this, she started home with it on her back; the sparrows laughing at her as she went. It was as heavy as a stone and hard to carry; but at last she got back with it to her house.

Then when she took off the lid and looked in, a whole troop of frightful devils came bouncing out from the inside and at once tore the old woman to pieces.


Elias Canetti (1971):

It is necessary that people try to reflect on everything that exists ASIDE FROM TECHNOLOGY. How else can we come upon the forces that will set us free from the domination of technology?


Amy Goodman, DEMOCRACY NOW (May 11, 2016):

The White House has announced President Obama will become the first serving U.S. president to visit the Japanese city of Hiroshima.... But officials said he will not apologize for what happened on August 6, 1945, when the United States dropped the first nuclear weapon in history on the civilian population of Hiroshoma. The attack destroyed the city. Shock waves, radiation and heat waves took the lives of some 140,000 people. Three days later, the U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing another 74,000 people.


Despite the administration's call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, the United States is pursuing a 30-year, $1 trillion program to modernize its nuclear weapon arsensl by designing bombs with smaller payloads. Retired General James Cartwright recently told the New York Times, quote, "What going smaller does is to make the weapon more thinkable," unquote.

Jonathan Shell (1982):

At present most of us do nothng. We look away. We remain calm. We are silent. We take refuge in the hope that the [nuclear arms race] holocost won't happen, and turn back to our individual concerns. We deny the truth that is all around us. Indifferent to the future of our kind, we grow indiferent to one another. We drift apart. We grow cold. We drowse our way to the end of the world. But if once we shook off our lethargy and fatigue and began to act, the climate would change. Just as inertia produces despair --a despair often so deep it does not know itself as despair-- arousal and action would give us access to hope, and life would start to mend: not just life in its entirety but daily life, every individual life. At that point we would begin to withdraw from our role as both the victims and the perpetrators.


We would no longer be the destroyers of mankind, but rather, a gateway through which the future generations would enter the world. Then the passion and will that we need to save ourselves would flood into our lives. The walls of indifference, inertia, and coldness that now isolate us from others, and all of us from the past and future generations, would melt, like snow in spring.


Ch'an master Han Shan Te-ching (1546 - 1623):

Form does not differ from the void, nor the void from form. Form is
identical with void (and) void is identical with form. So also are
reception, conception, mental function and consciousness in relation to the



" ... 'Moment's End'...". (M. Cynog Evans.)

The timelessness of time takes form in rhyme:
the lotus and the locust tree rehearse
a four-form song, the quatrain of the year:
not in the clock's chime do we hear
the passing of the Now into the past,
the passing into future of the Now:
but in the alteration of the bough
time becomes visible, becomes audible,
becomes the poem and the music too:
time becomes still, time becomes time, in rhyme.

-- Conrad Aiken (1955)

[ Note:

This image and its text accompaniment augment a multi-site exhibition, VAST OCEAN / VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN: CONCEPTS AND CONTEXTS, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, December 2015 - January 2016.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


"Eternity has no beginning."

-- Karl Kraus (1919)



Posted April 26, 2016


Ch'an master Han Shan Te-ching (1546 - 1623):

A mind which abides somewhere associates itself with ignorance, and because of the obstruction (caused by) a subjective mind and its objective environment, it is likened to a man entering the darkness in which he cannot see anything. The mind which does not abide anywhere is free from all obstructions, and since the twin view of ego and personality is forsaken it is likened to a rising sun illuminating everything.


"Style is a way of seeing and knowing the world."

-- John Middleton Murry (1922)



" ... 'Unaccountable Data'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

This teahouse image augments a multi-site exhibition, VAST OCEAN / VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (December 2015 - January 2016).

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


-- Basho (1644 - 1694)


"Eternal types are the instrument of aesthetic life, not its foundation."

-- George Santayana (1896)


"Reflection reveals worldly glory for what it is: a dream within a dream."

-- Anonymous (from THE TALE OF HEIKE, compiled in 1240 CE)




Rachel Courtland, NEW SCIENTIST, London (2009):

Warming oceans could cause Earth's axis to tilt in the coming century, a new study suggests. The effect was previously thought to be negligible, but researchers now say the shift will be large enough that it should be taken into account when interpreting how the earth wobbles.

The Earth spins on an axis that is tilted 23.5° from the vertical. But this position is far from constant --the planet's axis is constantly shifting, in response to changes to the distribution of mass around the Earth.


The changing climate has long been known to move Earth's axis. The planet's north pole, for example, is migrating along 79° W --a line of longitude that runs tjrough Toronto and Panama City --at a rate of about 10 centimetres each year as the Earth rebounds from ice sheets that once weighed down large swaths of North America, Europe and Asia.



" ... 'Presence of Others'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

Kannosuke Mori (1960):

In the Japanese garden at UBC, I was most interested in arranging the rocks. I tried a bold treatment with such monotonous stones as used around the lake, doing my best to arrange them with some freshness. I used my own merhod of arranging the somewhat colorful stones at the waterfall and streams, hoping that people who see them will understand that some aspect of polychrome can be found in a Japanese Garden.

Ch'an master Hsu Yun (1840 - 1959):

Two clay oxen struggle to stride into the sea.


When past and present meet, there is a change of form.


Chan master Hsu Yun (1840 - 1959):

Where's the dividing line 'twixt South and North,
'twixt East and West?
Without hindrance things are seen to be
the product of continuing causes.
While birds and flowers smile, the moon
reaches the stream.


Old words


Ch'an master Fenggan (fl. ninth century CE):

Sinking like a rock, in the Sea
drifting through the Three Worlds
--poor ethereal creature
forever immersed in scenes
until a flash of lightning shows
that life and death are just dust in space


A. H. Reginald Buller (1923):

There was a young lady named Bright,
Whose speed was far faster than light.
She started one day
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.

[ Note:

This poem was first published in PUNCH (London) --in reaction to Albert Einstein's GENERAL THEORY OF RELATIVITY (1916).

Arthur Henry Reginald Buller (1874 - 1944) founded the Botany Department at the University of Manitoba, in 1904. Functioning as a  department head (until his retirement in 1936), he lectured on both geology and botany.

-- CAUSA Research Curators]


Marshall McLuhan (1972):

Living electronically, where the effects come before the causes, is a rather graphic and vivid way of explaining why distant goals and objectives are somewhat meaningless to "neuronic" man. Electronic man, that is, works in a world whose electric services are an expansion into environmental form of his own nervous system.


Accoustic man, living in a simultaneous environment of electric information, is suddenly disillusioned about the ideal of moreness, whether it be more goods or more people or more security or more fame. Acoustic, or electronic man, understands instantly that the nature and limits of human satisfactions forbid any increase of happiness through an increase of power or wealth.


M. K. Morton


Does Heraclitus use hip-wader boots in paddies of rice?
Feel that in drainage ditches on islands of spice
They are also great and would suffice?
Would Heraclitus tour in Showboat duets?
Allowing the river refuses heed the call "Atten-shunn!!!",

Don't expect out in the Styx it'll de-ice.

Or treading water will part the flow with forward-ploughng clefts.
If a river corkscrews back, can we access it, built in like a pun

Double? Regardless, arabesques

Of floating islets

With or without inviting inlets,
To the point of Clytie's itchy feet, in full flight and fidgets,

The mill-wheel crazily spun,

Trailing super-collider atomic string--

Like piglets on the wing,

Ole chameleon river, on the double our wee steps will make him run.

Now if each of those streams is actuarially preposterously brusquely concise,
Evasive, maybe the trick is to become adepts of the depths.
Whatever, stereoscopic trumps double-exposure

Every time, except when the lens shutter fails to achieve closure.

Who banks on Clyde-Dee's trials with swiftly whirled moisture's his oyster,
Politicians promise never to make the same mistake more than twice,
As in alluivial ignorance we dump detergents and deoderants,
Trusting to the recycling efficiency of cross-currents.
Our ambition any creek blunts?

Unless, not wading or waiting by each tidal-bore river worth it salts,
Figuring he can ground gestalts,
And that stepping twice in the Suez is winning by the worst of defaults--
Astonishing the cormorants,

What metaphysical dog, who at river's edge with lifted leg halts,

Won't look up for a guide who can this slippery hurdle of a current illumine?
Say some seer (having read his McLuhan:

"The best way to control change is to go faster than change")

Refusing find it strange
Briskly beyond the loosely linear to range;

Some, ready any real Corinth Canal cool hand lock to clue in,
Too well seasoned sage or guru orang-utan,

Touting the aqueduct tube
Along the Riviera's fleshpots,
Who can his tongue lap "chin-chin"

Or "double-gin"
Into the same beaker? Dipping over the side of yawls and yachts,

The same dice-cup twice without losing a single Euclidian cube,
He, in a one-shot gulp all at once draining his flagon of blended malts,
Then, a shade trippingly,

A touch steppingly,
Let's not say swimmingly,

Singing and swinging true bluer than the Danube,
Plumb innumerately
In three-quarter time, across its raging torrents vaults.


"it's too late to be ready."

-- Zen master Dogen (1200 - 1253)



Posted April 14, 2016



-- Lao Tzu (sixth century BCE)


Out of control


Elias CanettI (1967):

Part of thinking is its cruelty, aside from its contents. It is the process itself that is cruel, the process of detachment from everything else, the ripping, the wrenching, the sharpness of cutting.




"That which neither grows nor shrinks is the self-diamond."

-- Ch'an master Hui Neng (638 - 713)



" ...'Dust Pit' ... 'Sweeping View'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

Located as an entrance feature of the traditional Japanese teahouse, a CHIRIANA functions (aesthetically) as a signifier of 'stillnes and commotion' within/beyond the Garden precinct. The 'dust pit' is used for occasional display of twigs and leaves that will remind guests of 'functional preparations' made for them on the 'particular occasion' of any tea ceremony gathering.

Symbolically, the presence of this modest architectural element at the UBC Nitobe Memorial Garden  addresses the capacity of every tea house visitor to remove their respective portions of 'unswept' unawareness.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]



On Kawara, 'I GOT UP' SERIES,  1968-1979.

[ Note:

In the course of this work, the artist sent 'common' (touristic) postcards
--every day of the week-- to two 'privileged' (familiar) recipients.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


"Those who cannot feel the littleness  of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others."

-- Okakura Kakuzo (1906)




Xiang Xiu (c. 323 - c. 275):

Where there is life, there are feelings.  Feelings are part of nature. To cut them off and put them outside means to become just like an inanimate object. What good, then, is it to be alive at all?


H..G. Wells, THE TIME MACHINE (1895):

'I drew a breath, set my teeth, gripped the starting lever with both hands, and went off with a thud. The laboratory got hazy and went dark. Mrs. Watchett came in and walked, apparently without seeing me, towards the garden door. I suppose it took her a moment or so to traverse the place, but to me she seemed to.shoot across the room like a rocket. I pressed the lever over to its extreme position. The night came like the turning out of a lamp, and in another moment came tomorrow. The laboratory grew faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter. Tomorrow night came black, then day came again, night again, day again, faster and faster still. An eddying murmer filled my ears, and a strange, dumb confusedness descended on my mind.'


Ch'an master Yung Chia Hsuan-chieh (665 - 713):

When a stately cart drawn by an elephant advances
slowly, will a praying mantis try to bar its passage?
As a huge elephant steps not in a hare's track,
A great awakening cannot be circumscribed.





Edward T. Hall (1976):

From now on, how one arrives at a definition of the relationship of man's basic nature to his culturally conditioned control systems (extensions) is of crucial importance. For in our shrinking globe man can ill afford cultural illiteracy.


Ch'an master Dalong (eighth century CE):


The earthly body decays but what happens to the last enduring spiritual substance?


Flowers on the hills,
in their blossoming like brocade.
The river in the gorge,
it's surging waters deepest blue.



Posted March 30, 2016


Gilles Deleuze (1990):

History isn't experimental, it's just the set of more or less negative preconditions that make it possible to experiment with something beyond history. Without history, the experimentation would remain indeterminate, lacking any initial conditions, but experimentation isn't historical.


Yung Chia (665 - 713):

Neither try to eliminate delusion nor search for what is real. This is because ignorance, just as it is, is the Buddha Nature. This worldly body itself which appears and disappears like a phantom is nothing other than the reality of life. When you actually wake up to the reality of life, there is not any particular thing which you can point to and say, "this is it".




"What people call permanence I call impermanence, and vice versa. But then impermanence and permanence, though seemingly different, are ultimately the same."

-- Seng-Chao (c. 378 - 413)


"A multiplicity has soley a disjunctive relationship to the actual world."

-- Alfred North Whitehead (1929)



" ... 'Dust-Whisk' ...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)


Ch'an / Zen master Dogen (1200 - 1253):

How can the mirror of suchness be cast into ten thousand images?
The pure brightness has never been shattered.
Refined for ten thousand years, melted down a hundred thousand times,
How could it create even a bit of deception?


"It is when our environment fails us in something that we feel it to be strange, like something other than ourselves, and it is then, when it fails us, when it is suddenly strange to us --precisely then-- that we notice it.

--Ortega y Gasset (1932)


Fu Ta Shi (477 - 569):

The handles hold the hoe.
A pedestrian walks, riding on a buffalo.
A man passes over the bridge;
The bridge (but) not the water flows.


"We obtain the concept, as we do the form, by overlooking what is individual and actual; whereas nature is acquainted with no forms and no concepts, and likewise with no species, but only with an X which remains inaccessible and undefinable to us."

-- Friedrich Nietzche (1873)

Sixth Patriarch of Ch'an Buddhism, Hui Neng (638 - 713):

Even in the aeons of destruction when flames will scorch the bottom
Of the sea and winds will rock the peaks to knock against each other,
The permanent reality enjoys the bliss of stillness
And extinction.


David Hume (1779):

How can we satisfy ourselves without going on in infinitum? And, after all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression?

[ ... ]

If the material world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon some other, and so on, without end. It were better, therefore, never to look beyond the present material world.



Yinyuan Longqi (J: Ingen Ryūki) (1592 - 1673), MIND AND MOON. Hanging scroll, ink on paper.

A monk from Fuzhou province in China, Yinyuan founded the Obaku sect of Buddhism in Japan.

[ Note:

This document augments a multi-site curatorial project, VAST OCEAN /VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN: CONCEPTS AND PROSPECTS, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, December 2015 - January 2016.

-- CAUSA Research Curators



Joseph Beuys, LAST SUNSET, 1973. Watercolour.

"Aesthetics is the human being in itself."

-- Joseph Beuys (1980)


Seng-Chao (c. 378 - 413):

Heaven and I are
Of the same root,
The ten-thousand things and
I are of one substance.


Alfred Caldwell (1967):

Of course what lies about us everywhere is a ruin that we do not truly see, because we have always seen it. It is a ruin of defaced and broken stones, with grave images of bankrupt gods overturned on a marble stair. There is a door ajar in an ancient alley, and someone passes fugitive and anonymous. Nay, it is a Paleolithic kitchen midden, a junkyard of used parts like the automobile dumps, both fact and symbol.


Hares blood

Joseph Beuys, HARE'S BLOOD, 1962. Pencil and hare's blood.

Joseph Beuys (1969):

If I produce something, I transmit a message to someone else. The origin of the flow of information comes not from matter, but from the "I", from an idea. Here is the borderline between physics and metaphysics...  Take a hare running from one corner of a room to another. I think this hare can achieve more for the political development of the world than a human being. By that I mean that some of the elementary strength of animals should be added to the positivist thinking which is prevailing today. I would like to elevate the status of animsls to that of humans.



Joseph Mallord William Turner, RAIN, STEAM, AND SPEED --THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY, 1844..Oil on canvas. The National Gallery, London. (Turner Bequest, 1856.)

[ Note:

With regard to a RUNNING HARE that the artist has located in the lower right foreground of this painting, a TIMES (London) art critic, writing in 1844, remarks: "Whether Turner's pictures are dazzling unrealities, or whether they are realities seized upon at a moment's glance, we leave his detractors and admirers to settle between them."

-- CAUSA Resesrch Curators ]


The universe in its diverse variety appears
Inside one brightness which is neither within nor without.

-- Yung Chia (665 - 713)


Gilles Deleuze (1990):

What we most lack is a belief in the world, we've quite lost the world, it's been taken away from us. If you believe in the world you precipitate events, however inconspicuous, that elude control, you engender new space-times, however small their surface or volume.



" ... 'Radical Widening'...".  (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

This image augments a multi-site exhibition, VAST OCEAN / VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN, UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, VANCOUVER, December 2015 - January 2016.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]



BETWIXT / BETWEEN/不即不離/どっちつかずの間

Posted March 8, 2016


Marshall McLuhan (1968):

In social terms the artist can be regarded as a navigator who gives adequate compass bearings despite magnetic deflection of a needle by changing environmental forces. So understood, the artist is not a peddlar of new ideals or lofty experiences. He is the indispensable aid to action and reflection alike.


"We don't want just subculture, we want real culture."

-- Joseph Beuys (1972)



" ... 'Mind-Ground'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ Note:

This document augments a multi-site exhibition: VAST OCEAN / VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN: CONCEPTS AND PROSPECTS, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, December 2015 - January 2016.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


Ch'an/Zen master Dogen (1200-1253):

Outside my window, plum blossoms,
Just on the verge of unfurling, contain the spring;
The clear moon is in the cuplike petals
Of the beautiful flower I pick, and twirl.



by George Meredith (1883)

On a starred night Prince Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o'er Afric's sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.


Hui Shi (380-305 BCE):

Great similarities are different from little similarities; these are called the little similarities and differences. The ten thousand things are all similar and are all different; these are called the great similarities and differences.



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

Excerpt from Taoist scripture  (unknown author, fifth century CE):

Suddenly Lao Tzu was nowhere to be seen. The office building was illumunated by a brilliance of five colors, simultaneously dark and yellow. Yin Xi went into the courtyard, bowed down and said: "Please dear spirit man, let me see you again. Give me one more rule, and I can guard the primordial source of all."

He looked up and saw Lao Tzu suspended in midair several feet above the ground. He looked like a statue. The image appeared and disappeared; it was vague and indistinct and seemed to waver between young and old.

Lao Tzu said: "I will give you one more admonition; make sure you get it right: Get rid of all impurity and stop all thoughts; calm your mind and guard the One. When all impurities are gone, the myriad affairs are done. These are the essentials of my Tao."

Then the vision vanished. Yin Xi did not know where it had gone. He cried bitterly and worshipped its remembrance. Then he retired from office on grounds of illness. He gave up all thinking and guarded the One, and the myriad affairs were done.


"Right and wrong are temporal, but time is neither right nor wrong."

-- Ch'an/Zen master Dogen (1200-1253)


"Speed now illuminates reality whereas light once gave objects of the world their shape."

-- Paul Virilio (2012)



by Walter de la Mare (1912)

"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door,
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest's ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller's call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:--
"Tell them I kept my word," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.



M.K. Morton

Now under water the paths which we along unconquered sped.
Little heeding the daybreak thought that hasn't dawned
As the sun sinks slowly into the poachers' favourite rhino pond,

Let's not and let's not say that it's been said.
Reassured since eco-theories have always punctually spawned,
Convinced we've nothing but tinsel-force litter to shred,

What we supposed done has exponentially life trebled
While (much stainabled, sustainabled bubbled,
Valuably couponed,

Debentured and autobahned Audoboned
Issue, accelerated promo ahead)
Development recycled us--we hope untroubled

By the tears that streak the shattered windows of a watershed.
But where--you've no idea what?--could destiny have fled?
While at mention of the next generation we yawned,

The writing on the inner-wall dials (buy, enlarge) maybe too exactly read,
The future comes in on big flattening sirocco
Cat-tailed swish but incognito.

The more we've corsetted, the more we're spread.
Tracking their short chortle's echo,
As the Highest Mediocre Denominator economic model starkens,

The dead-reckoned sooths' wherewithal
Gone without a footfall-traced portal
Still half-ajar--through which once-and future trend-and-tread

Not easily remaindered gremlins of chance
Loaded hype on a scale of from much to askance.
Plunging hoofs and hubcaps, who hearkens

An impact-study's Hallowe'en-encrusted sunken doorbell
Ring disguised as (lest squirrel fail and oriole orbital)
Nature-on-safari-film prompter's discreetest urgent warble.


Zen Master Bankei (1622-1693):

Unborn and imperishable
Is the original mind
Earth, water, fire and wind
A temporary lodging for the night

Attached to this
Ephemeral burning house
You yourselves light the fire, kindle the flames
In which you're consumed



" ... 'Celestial Rank'...". (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)


Zhi Dun (314-366):

Free and easy wandering refers to the mind of the perfected.


The perfected one rides the truth of heaven, soars aloft and wanders  boundlessly, in unfettered freedom. ... He is not self-satisfied in his wandering. Mystically one with the universe, he does not act purposefully. Like the Tao he is not hurried, yet moves swiftly. He goes everywhere in his freedom. He is truly a free and easy wanderer.


"What fetters the mind and benumbs the spirit is ever the dogged acceptance of absolutes."

-- Edward Sapir (1921)


Zen master Ikkyu (1394-1481):

If you break open the cherry tree,
Where are the flowers?
But in the spring time, see how they bloom!



BETWIXT / BETWEEN/不即不離/どっちつかずの間

Posted February 24, 2016


Guo Xi

Guo Xi, EARLY SPRING, 1072. Hanging scroll, ink and light colors on silk. National Palace Museum, Taipei.


Ortega y Gasset (1932)

It is when things are lacking that they begin to have a meaning. Apparently, it is the being of things that is lacking in our lives, that creates the enormous emptiness in life which thought, in its incessant effort, works eagerly to fill.


Ch'an / Zen master Dogen (1200 - 1253):

The bright green color of the peach and plum trees
       so shiny and lustrous
Manifesting in these very branches the same spring
       of hundreds of generations;
It is foolish to despise what is close by or to value
       something that is far away;
Right now remove all doubts by seeing what
       you see and hearing what you hear



" ... 'Near/Away'...". [Photo: M.Cynog Evans.]


This document augments the multi-site exhibition VAST HEAVEN/VAST OCEAN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN: CONCEPTS & PROSPECTS (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), 2015- 2016.


Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1951):

Language is that singular apparatus which, like our body, gives us more than we have put into it, either because we apprise ourselves of our thought thought in speaking, or because we listen to others.

[ ... ]

As my body (which nevertheless is only a bit of matter) is gathered up into gestures which aim beyond it, so the words of language (which considered singly are only inert signs that only a vague or banal idea corresponds to) suddenly swell with a meaning which overflows into the other person when the act of speaking binds them up into a single whole.



by Wang Wei (699 - 759)

To reach the Yellow-Flower River
Go by the Green-Water Stream.
A thousand twists and turns of mountain
But the way there can't be many miles.
The sound of water falling over rocks
And deep color among pines.
Gently green flocking water-plants.
Bright the mirrored reads and rushes.
I am a lover of true quietnesss.
Watching the flow of clear water
I dream of sitting on the uncarved rock
casting a line on the endless stream.


THE GUARDIAN (London), 11 February 2016:

Physicists have announced the discovery of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were first anticipated by Albert Einstein a century ago.

[ ... ]

The announcement is the climax of a century of speculation, 50 years of trial and error, and 25 years perfecting a set of instruments so sensitive they could identify a distortion of one atomic nucleus across a 4km strip of laserbeam and mirror. The phenomenon detected was the collision of two black holes.



MIRROR, thirteenth century. Registered Important Cultural Property.

[ Note:

In keeping with a Kamakura period practice of decorating the backs of bronze mirrors, this particular example presents a garden scene,  with blossoming plum tree.  Branches extend over a fence that is decorated with a pattern of small chrysanthemums; sparrows fly within the garden precinct.

-- CAUSA Research Curators ]


"The myriad phenomena are embodied by one dot."

-- Ch'an/Zen master Kukai (774 - 835)


"Anything which speeds up an environment around another environment destroys the environment it surrounds."

-- Marshall McLuhan (1970)



" ... 'Contiguous Territory'...". (Photo: M. Evans.)


"I say aesthetics = human being. That is a radical formula. I set the idea of aesthetics directly in the context of human existence...."

-- Joseph Beuys (1974)



by Ruan Ji (210-263)

Long ago there was an immortal man who lived on the slope of Shooting Mountain
riding clouds and commanding flying dragons
he did his breathing and supped on precious flowers

He could be heard, but not seen,
sighing sorrows and full emotion
self-tortured he had no companion
grief and heartbteak piled upon him
"Study the familiar to penetrate the sublime"
But time is short and what's to be done?




Some days its better to be eternal;
Other days it's better to be timeless.
What say when an island needs loosen its girtle,

Spill calabash, orchids and spices,
Levity-leavened, go empearled
By the billow-backed clambake's gurgle.

Plus the marshmallow-sticks and Limbo-dancers twirled
In rhythm with torch-songs segueing through floating choral.
Prefer where lulls the blither diver?

While sea breezes provide just enough mildness
To drowse palms rainbow-vernal,
Somehow match the swelter sub-tropical?

So no hardship waiting on that filmy atoll
Lily and lotus perform their encircle.
Take your choice between these strands: either

Venue drifted, fixed priceless brightness
Keeps your eyes partita/scherzo pealed not to miss
Whichever is stalked by iris and ibis.


"We categorize landscape by how it strikes us: inaccesible, traversible, wanderable or inhabitable."

-- Guo Xi (1020 - 1090)





"Art is the most effective mode of communication that exists."

-- Charles S. Peirce  (1839 - 1914)



BETWIXT / BETWEEN/不即不離/どっちつかずの間

Posted January 28, 2016




Wyndham Lewis (1944):

Nature is, as you know, a chaos.
It is a chaos of sound. And it is a visual chaos.
All art, of any description, is the CREATION OF
AN ISLAND OF ORDER --in the midst of this chaos.

In nature there is TOO MUCH OF EVERYTHING
So first of all the artist REDUCES THE QUANTITY.


"The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass."

-- Dogen (1200 - 1253)



" ... 'Comings and Goings...'. (Photo: M. Cynog Evans.)

[ This document comprises a single component of a multi-site curatorial research project ... VAST OCEAN /VAST HEAVEN: NITOBE MEMORIAL GARDEN: CONCEPTS AND PROSPECTS ... University of British Columbia, Vancouver ... December 2015 - January 2016.

"You do not wonder where a thing is when you can see it."

-- Ezra Pound (1935)



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