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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lest ye riot

At the risk of being arrested for plagiarizing or being denounced by the Chinese government (like the author here) and ruining future employment prospects, here is Gao XingJian's answer to the question previously posed:

It is a fine day with not a trace of cloud in the sky and the vault of heaven is amazingly remote and clear. Beneath the sky is a solitary stockade with layers of pylon houses built on the edge of a precipitous cliff. In the distance it looks quite beautiful, like a hornet's nest hanging on a rock wall. The dream is like this. You are at the bottom of the cliff, walking one way and the other, but can't find the road up. You can see yourself getting closer and the suddenly you are moving further away. After going in circles for quite some time you finally give up and just let your legs carry you along the mountain road. When it disappears behind the cliff, you can't help feeling disappointed. You have no idea where the mountain road beneath your feet leads but in any case you don't actually have a destination.
You walk straight ahead and the road goes around in the circles. Actually, there has never been a definite goal in your life. All your goals keep changing as time passes and as locations change, and in the end the goals no longer exist. When you think about it, life in fact doesn't have what may be called ultimate goals. It's just like this hornet's nest. It's a pity to abandon it, yet if one tries to remove ti one will encounter a stinging attack. Best to leave it just hanging there so it can be admired. At this point in your thinking, your feet become lighter, it is fine wherever your feet take you, as long as there are sights to see.
On both sides are red bayberry forests but it is not the season for picking the berries and by the time the berries ripen you don't know where you will be. Whether berries wait for people or people wait for berries is a metaphysical problem. There are many ways of dealing with the problem, and it has been dealt with in endless ways, but the berries are still berries and the person is still me. One could also say this year's berries are not next year's berries and the person existing today did not exist yesterday. The problem is whether or not the present really exists and how the criteria are established. Best leave it to the philosophers to talk about metaphysics, just keep your mind on walking along your road.

It's breakfast time now. Maybe later I'll post on why I think the book is so awesome, in case it's not immediately apparent. Or why it may or may not have turned me into an amateur Daoist, and what that may or may not mean. More likely than not, I won't, though.