David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

12 December 2015

Sky-like : Art observed without trace

 I've had a few
 But then again
 too few to mention.

- from Rebus No Songs
  by FIAPCE after Paul Anka, Claude François, Frank Sinatra
 Non, je ne regrette rien
(French pronunciation: 
[nɔ̃ ʒə nə ʁəɡʁɛt ʁjɛ̃]
meaning "No, I regret nothing")
- from Rebus No Songs
  by FIAPCE after Michel Vaucaire, Charles Dumont, Edith Piaf

 A thousand mountains. Flying birds vanish.
 Ten thousand paths. Human traces erased.
 One boat, bamboo hat, bark cape - an old man
 alone, angling in the cold river. Snow.

- River Snow, by Liu Zonghuan
  from the Preface (read here) of 'The Anchor Book of Chinese 
  Poetry : From Ancient to Contemporary, The Full 3000-year 
  Tradition' edited by Tony Barnstone, Chou Ping
Further on in that Preface :
Consider these lines from the poem "People's Abuse" by Japanese Zen poet Muso Soseki (1275-1351), translated bt W S Merwin and Soiku Shigematsu:
Don't look back
    to this world
        your old hold in the cellar
From the beginning
    the flying birds have left
        no footprints on the blue sky.
In Soseki's image, the flying birds fly through the sky without leaving a trace, as in "River Snow", which also shares with Soseki's lines a distinction between the human world and the natural world. Now consider these lines from Zhu Xizhen's poem "Fisherman, to the tune of 'A Happy Event Draws Near,'" in which the fisherman
spins his boat around at will
traceless like a bird across sky.
The fisherman on the water is like the birds in the sky, whose trackless flight is a symbol of the enlightened mind's passage through the world without grasping or holding or desiring. Compare "On Nondependence of the Mind"," a poem by Dogen (1200-1253) - founder of the Soto school of Japanese Zen Buddhism - translated by Brian Unger and Kazuaki Tanahashi :
Water birds
going and coming
their traces disappear
but they never
forget their path.
The mind that doesn't depend on the world leaves no traces, just as the "water birds" don't forget their path - a path we can understand as a mystical Way.  (i.e. the path of TAR - Ed.)

click image to enlarge  
 FIAPCE after 
 Kano Sanraku, Japan, 1559-1635
 Birds, tree and flowers, 1623-1635, Kyoto, Japan
 three panel screen (from an original of six panels)
 collection of Art Gallery of South Australia

 gift of Andrew and Hiroko Gwinnet

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...