Doubt into Yellow

Here is a photo of flowers taken two days after I bought them in the market from an old lady vendor on her little stool, whose shaky hands produced my change in notes pre-folded. There was such distillation in her existence, such premeditation and simplicity that I long to see in myself. I did not recognise the yellow flowers as snapdragons, and asked their name to learn the local appellation, "little yawners". There is a great distance between a yawn and a dragon's roar (assuming dragons roar). I found myself either roaring or yawning last week, it seems I have to watch out when people start talking about education, which I see as a craft and by no means a product. I hear I will be hired again this year, which is excellent considering that my PhD dissertation has fallen into an administrative black hole and as such is yet undefended. I need to know how how to greet what we are told to see as uncertain with the zen attitude of the surfer. I used to spend hours reading about surfers, like Laird Hamilton who was raised on waves so, naturally, I might think, sought big waves. Surfers don't tend to be big on words but to watch them is to see a difference in humanity: many take the plunge, but not with equal grace. Laird surfs effortlessly, in sprezzatura, little yawner with the force of a dragon.
There is a big wave before us; we are told it is big especially by the media. Where it is not bureaucratised, it is ruled by the relative values not of sophistication, like Feyerabend's defense of 1950's China's adoption of the Yellow Emperor's Textbook of Internal Medicine ("Acupuncture, moxibustion, pulse diagnosis have led to new insights, new methods of treatment, new problems both for the Western and for the Chinese physician"), but of musical chairs where the chair one had been sitting on may suddenly be removed in the next round, if it is the volition of the games' master to remove that particular one. Whether you are an artist, a teacher, an entrepreneur, you will hear about plenty of uncertainties.
After reading a useful post by Enbrethilel I wondered about how, frankly, we might need to be wiped out before the questionning of what a healthy mind takes for granted can begin, and the words can rally forth. Her post was specifically about education, and cites a book by John Taylor Gatto in which he identifies a problem of our age as beginning, "when the young were assigned to consume, not to produce". I will posit here that part of what it takes to create (poiesis) is doubt.
A recent NYRB article on Koons explains, "where there is no doubt, there is no art." It is doubt that reduces one to the epistemology of one's ontology. This can be explained by Taoism: I found a page that does this quite well (it gives the gist): "Certitude evolves forth to DOUBT as it answers, yet DOUBT revolves back to certitude as it QUESTIONS; hence, answer within the DOUBT, yet QUESTION within the certitude." In this equation, one is just to "realise" the extremes, flow, and potential balance.




Before the Taoist's five elements theory, symbolised in five colours (black, green, red, white, yellow), there were only the two colours of yin and yang: black and white. The "Yellow Emperor" mentioned above is not only said to be the ancestor of the Chinese, dating to the third millennium BC, but is an important deity in Taoism and it was his tribe that practiced what we take as typical Chinese medicines like acupuncture. He is also said to have helped create the first Chinese calendar and his wife was said to have discovered silk: no small discovery (need one even mention the silk road). His tribe honoured the yellow earth and Yellow River, and that colour, of the five, is that which symbolises a stabilising energy, associated with rice which grows in the yellow earth and brings stability to mankind. It is also important to feng shui, which is based on the five elements theory that roughly correspond to the cosmos.
I am focusing on yellow as it is the colour one hopefully comes to, it is the centre of the bagua, if you have ever seen that octagonal trigram template used in feng shui. It is a reminder that one is to seek the balancing force; e.g., in times of increased activity, to seek a restful attitude.
The skilled surfer does not wobble and is not too stiff. To quote a page on Taoism, "REST within the activity suggests that we will feel better in all life’s activities if we bring a RESTFUL attitude to activity, or as the Tao Te Ching puts it, blunt the sharpness; untangle the knots; soften the glare;… and so on." Such is one story of the yawning snapdragons.



Background: Marie Claire Idees; Brush: Ewansim flower grunge at DeviantART.

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