Hermit-Scholar

How ideal to make peace with the unfinished; how this would afford one a girth in which to wander around on the way to getting better. "I came here to win," I heard somebody say on TV, which for reasons I cannot explain was left on as I was working. Sometimes I feel almost insulted by such an attitude, particularly now, in the light of the ugly chemical war menacing the horizon.
But time and life have so many corridors, and when I write that, I'm thinking of those in the memory, when suddenly the memory lights up like a meridian, and things one knew long before return - like returning to the summer manor and unlocking the halls to rooms that had lay still, untouched, for a long period. I am thinking of ars memoriae - method of loci, though when I write that, I can't help but think of Giordano Bruno, whose hermetic memory system was supposed to have a magical influence upon the world. If mind and world must be mediated by the trickster Hermes, I pick hermeneutics to interpret my way through the furniture of the mind: which seems sometimes to block out access to better ideas.
What is beginning to come back to me are the distilled images and inscriptions of Chinese painting - the trilogy of calligraphy, poetry, and painting: the choice of miniscule detail to comment on the world. Like the painting of the potted plant (influenced by man) with its shriveled leaves (by nature). Such are the dynamic dualisms.
Sometimes I feel at the same time that so much depends on the attempt to find the right words and distill the right images through them - that, without reference to hermetic alchemy, one could really create some kind of salve through words, even if heard only by deer. Is an audience really required? I think back to the recluse fisherman: the genuine hermit scholar who was out of work by choice, and "fished for fish, not for fame" - living the simple life not as a pretense until employment but due to a true inclination.

To work on one's thought, there must be some kind of tangential perspective, of the laudator temporis acti: benefiting from the gifts of hindsight to sharpen one's vision, which is not necessarily a criticism of the present, some people don't seem to realise that.
In this Asian model, the retired or aloof critic will also be self-deprecating. I see this model now, which has suddenly come back to me, as something I wish to emulate. I'll change my moniker to Lazybones. What's the rush, anyhow? Ruskin told to us: petrol is in no rush to get anywhere.
An intriguing scroll by Wang Meng demonstrates the dualism of "nature's creative potential" and the "ever shifting terrain of political power". In the middle of all this dynamism is a vortex of calm, a retreat. Like of the hermit-scholar. Not fishing for fame, but communing with mystery: by holding 靈芝, the auspicious fungi which is also very decorative, gentle animals come forth of their own accord. Everything around the recluse is unfinished; he may be unfinished, but in one imaginary moment of time, he holds the panacea of longevity, a talisman of luck - incidentally also connected to alchemy, as outlined by Baopuzi
Wang Meng signed that ink scroll, "The Yellow Crane Mountain Woodcutter"; Baopuzi is a pseudonym meaning something like "Scholar Who Keeps It Simple/ Unmoved by Worldly Desires". I'd just like to point out that Wang Meng was royalty!
Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom, And it will be a hundred times better for everyone.
Give up morality and justice, And people will do the right thing.
Give up ingenuity, renounce profit, And bandits and thieves will disappear.
If these three aren't enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.
(19 and here)



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