Abstract

This essay explores some aspects of Heidegger’s thematization on the essential being of artwork and brings them into encounter with alternative modes of thinking as implicated in the Zhuangzi and inherited and elaborated by Su Shi. Starting from equipment (Zeug) as the prototype of a thing, Heidegger conceives the being of a thing, including things in nature, in terms of readiness-to-hand, and tries to locate the fundamental difference between a mere thing and a work of art. In contrast, the Chinese word for thing (wu 物) refers to a living being as well as to the myriad things, each having its peculiar heavenly rhythms (tianli 天理). Since the Daoist tradition does not set up a stringent stratification among things, it does not consider artwork apart from concrete activities in which the artist attends and attunes to the heavenly rhythms of things. This finds reflection in Zhuangzi’s idea of the coalescence between the finger and the brush (zhiyu wuhua 指与物化), which diverges significantly from the relation between the hand and the hammer, as Heidegger depicts. For Heidegger, an artwork, which is “no-thing,” has to stand aloof from the mundane life so as to serve as the site, or non-site, where the truth of things is unconcealed. This is epitomized by the Greek temple, which alone gives meaning to all its constituents and surroundings. Through an innovative description of one of the Ten Scenes of West Lake and a new interpretation of Zhuangzi’s expression of yitian hetian 以天合天, this essay seeks to illustrate that in the Daoist tradition the conception of artwork is open to multiple interpenetrating determinations; there is never just an artwork, but a stream of artwork(s) resonating with and enhancing one another.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 809-845
Launched on MUSE
2015-09-03
Open Access
No
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