In Praise of Blandness: Proceeding from Chinese Thought and Aesthetics
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Already translated into six languages, Francois Jullien's In Praise of Blandness has become a classic. Appearing for the first time in English, this groundbreaking work of philosophy, anthropology, aesthetics, and sinology is certain to stir readers to think and experience what may at first seem impossible: the richness of a bland sound, a bland meaning, a bland painting, a bland poem. In presenting the value of blandness through as many concrete examples and original texts as possible, Jullien allows the undifferentiated foundation of all things -- blandness itself -- to appear. After completing this book, readers will reevaluate those familiar Western lines of thought where blandness is associated with a lack -- the undesirable absence of particular, defining qualities.Jullien traces the elusive appearance and crucial value of blandness from its beginnings in the Daoist and Confucian traditions to its integration into literary and visual aesthetics in the late-medieval period and beyond. Gradually developing into a positive quality in Chinese aesthetic and ethical traditions, the bland comprises the harmonious and unnameable union of all potential values, embodying a reality whose very essence is change and providing an infinite opening into the breadth of human expression and taste.More than just a cultural history, In Praise of Blandness invites those both familiar and unfamiliar with Chinese culture to explore the resonances of the bland in literary, philosophical, and religious texts and to witness how all currents of Chinese thought -- Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism -- converge in harmonious accord.
the bland begins to possess a special significance in China. Indeed, it does so in a number of decisive expressions that profited from the tendency, characteristic of this school, to play with paradoxes and to turn commonly held opinions upside down. From the beginning, the motif of the insipid took part in this widespread reversal of values that aimed at evoking the essential. According to the Daoists of antiquity, the very foundation of reality, in its infinite fullness and renewal, reveals
individual's openness, which moves in harmony with the fluctuations 60 OF CHARACTER of the world and makes it possible to partner them freely. Instead of a situation where a particular exertion causes all inner resources to contract and gush forth before our eyes, these inner resources remain in a state of repose, maintaining their equilibrium and blending into blandness. This lesson of the bland, the insipid, also applies to political life. Traditionally, Chinese literati, by virtue of their
at last, it does take on form, You've barely grasped its hand, and already it is gone.13 Here, the presentation of the theme is more consistent than in the preceding poem and is developed in three stages. The first lines evoke the existential and metaphysical basis (to describe them in terms familiar to Western readers) of this type of poetic experience. Simplicity, silence, and indifference open the way to the intimate workings of nature and bring mind into step with reality in its most subtle
practitioners of "pure fu, or "rhyme-prose," in the history of Chinese poetry. Jullien is referring here talk," see Liu Yiqing, A New Account ofTales of the World, trans, and ann. Richard to the famous story recounting how Sima, penniless after having failed to find B. Mather (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1976). —TRANS. employment at court, returns to Sichuan, where he falls in love with the young 4. Zhong Hong, preface to Shipin, 1.2a. 150 widow Zhuo Wenjun. He gains her
Chinese poetic criticism, is devoted to setting down, in suggestive, evocative terms, the complete range of lyric modes Retroactively dubbed the patriarch of the Southern school style of painting encompassed in poetic expression. exemplified by Dong Yuan and Juran, this poet and painter imbued his works with a Chan Buddhist-inspired sensitivity to the "emptiness" of all things. While his paintings had disappeared by the time of the Northern Song dynasty, his landscape poetry — most notably