11/20/07

Catmasutra - māo, zì dòng (the Quality of Being)

“God made the cat so that
man might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger”

There is an innate quality in a Chinese character, which represents a word rather than a sound or a combination of sounds. After all, "Shu Fa" (calligraphy) is regarded as the most abstract and sublime form of art in Chinese culture. All calligraphy strokes are permanent and incorrigible; they require careful planning and confident execution, and yet its expression can be extremely creative. And the incidental diffusing of ink blots and dry brush strokes add to the beauty and natural rhythm of the character, revealing its essence and its quality of being. The external is always a manifestation of the internal, and this is quite apparent in calligraphy or painting. The painting is already there before you paint it. Otherwise, you cannot paint. Everything manifests itself in the same way.

Perhaps as a punishment for not studying Mandarin hard enough in the growing up years, I am now in awe of the beauty of some of these characters, each capable of being filled with such power and life! My earliest appreciation (though idealized) of Chinese calligraphy must be of Bruce Lee, poised and ready for action with "Wu" in the background. haha This resonated in my mind when I painted "Mao", in an attempt to draw out the innate quality of the cat.

“Take things as they are.
Punch when you have to punch.
Kick when you have to kick.”
~Bruce Lee

The quality of being a cat is just that, its innocent praticality and its seemingly awareness of life without thinking about it. Perhaps our fascination with cats lies in their ability to be themselves based on inner feeling, as distinct from following rules, and hence we cannot "force" a cat to do anything. It's akin to the quality of "de" - moving with the unity of eye and heart (mind).

You will always get what you want if you do not want or lack it!

"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter.” Lewis Carroll

If it doesn't matter, it doesn't matter.


;)
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