Conscious Movement

Postby ShowHong » Sun May 14, 2006 8:02 am

Hi Louis,
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
I’m fascinated by how different languages privilege different senses in common and metaphorical use. For example, English often privileges the visual in talking about abstract ideas (the Greek root of the word 'idea' is itself visually based). We say, “I see what you mean.” or, “That’s a great insight.” We talk about “shedding light” on an issue. Even “to speculate” is visually based. It’s fun to think about how and why these usages take hold. </font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My guess would be that it is not that visual is privileged in English but, rather, the aural has been left behind. I did not do a complete survey but I’d venture to say that most if not all the examples you listed can find their counterpart in Chinese. There is even this ‘ting ting kan’ – literally ‘listen and see (what you are going to hear)’. Visual is such a powerful tool it can’t help but to impact all people groups more or less the same. Even powerful thinkers in science would like to have visual models if possible.

Society and its culture is molded or heavily influenced by tools made available through its environment. Listening including use of language is more a contemplative tool while visual always involves matter/things and is more a investigation/analytical tool. In the West, first logic was developed and then scientific method followed. Logic may not have a preference for aural or visual as its venue but the scientific method, particularly the experimental sciences, could never come to being without the visual ability of humans. With these powerful tools to address our daily problem the need for contemplation is greatly reduced in most people’s consciousness. In the East, at least in China, logic was never developed or used and the scientific method was not introduced until very recently. Contemplation is the major and perhaps the only means of generating solutions for problems big or small. I don’t believe Chinese is going to hang onto it simply because it is historically so. When they’ve gotten used to the power of the visual analytical tools I’d bet they will similarly leave behind the more contemplative aural tool.

A year or so ago I met a psychologist who had traveled quite a bit to other parts of the world particularly the 3rd world countries. He mad a remark that he found people in less developed countries were more spiritual than people in the States. He thought that was due to their culture. But I’d rather think that it is simply human nature to be more spiritual or reliant on faith when people are short in resources and means to address their problems. When they have acquired the means and resources to improve their lot, given sufficient time and material success, their spirituality is going to wane. When they can only be at the mercy of the nature they have to learn to live with the nature and to be part of the nature. When they become capable, human beings would try to become independent of nature and would even try to be the master of nature.

So if you think that Chinese culture gave more emphasis on the aural, just wait and I am sure it will change.

Chris wrote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">It is not only an issue of direction, but also of initiation. In daily life, you direct vision and follow sound. If you instead direct hearing and follow images, you will not be able to move. </font>


Yes. Listening is kind of passive action while looking is a more active action. So listening’s nature is closer to Taichi’s approach and in Taichi practice we try to exercise vision in a similar way – to look without looking at.


Sincerely,
Show-Hong
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Postby Louis Swaim » Sun May 14, 2006 7:16 pm

Greetings Show-Hong,

Thank you for your comments. I think I am less interested in comparing how different cultures may privilege one sense or another than in what we can learn about the whole process involved in the way humans think about/think through their senses. I tend to harp on this, but I’m interested in the degree to which our thinking is metaphorically based. The metaphors we end up using are culturally determined, to be sure, but all humans evidently do this. So when I used the examples of visually based language (idea, shed light, insight, I see your point, etc.), it was just to illustrate (look, there’s another one!) that we use metaphors to talk about things. You used a metaphor (several, actually) when you wrote: “Society and its culture is molded or heavily influenced by tools made available through its environment.” You used a kind of sculpting, shaping metaphor with the word “molded,” and a mechanical metaphor with the word “tools.” You weren’t talking about hammers or saws or wrenches, but when you say “tools” it’s perfectly clear what your meaning is. That is the way we think and communicate. So the process through which we come to acquire the various tools in our metaphorical tool kits fascinates me. Comparing how different cultures address this is one of the tools, but it’s not my main objective.

Getting back to tingjin, I am interested in playing with the metaphorical underpinnings of the concept. What is going on under the hood? The idea that you can “listen” to the intent, movement, direction, speed, degree of force, etc. of the other when doing push hands, or sparring, or in a fight is metaphorically-based on the sense of hearing—on sound. So what is the deep-structural basis of this metaphor? I don’t have any systematic way of approaching this, so I can only make observations and ask questions.

Here, for example, is an observation about the concept “yi” (intent) that may or may not mean something. I’ve seen several remarks in the literature that are similar, but this one strikes me as particularly compelling. It just interests me. Unfortunately, I don’t have the original Chinese text, only a translation of a quote. It’s a guy named Chao Yuezhi talking about his friend, Song Dynasty philosopher Cheng Yichuan (1033-1107).

“[Cheng] Yichuan says that ‘intention’ (yi) is a combination of ‘mind’ (xin) and ‘sound’ (yin). It is like striking a drum. The sound is not separate from the drum; it comes out from the drum. Intention is not separate from the mind; it is an emission of the mind.”
—A.C. Graham, _Two Chinese Philosophers: Ch’eng Ming-tao and Ch’eng Yi-ch’uan_ (London, Lund Humphries, 1958, p. 63)

So Cheng Yichuan implicitly used a sound-based metaphor for yi, and he explicitly used a drum to illustrate the concept. This immediately brings to mind the drum-based metaphor used in a line in the Taiji Classic: “The qi should be roused and made vibrant” (qi yi gudang). The term gudang is metaphorically based on the reverberation of a drum as felt in the body. When I first became aware of this gudang idea in the Taijiquan Jing, it made me think about an experience I had as a kid when I went to a parade and a marching band passed by. The sound of the huge drums seemed to come up through the ground and reverberate in my lower abdomen and then through my whole body. It’s the same with the big drums used in a lion dance. I get the same feeling of excitement listening to Art Blakey or Elvin Jones play the drums. So, what’s going on with this sound/drum metaphor when used to explain the concept “yi,” or when used in the Taijiquan Jing to evoke the psychophysical feeling of arousal when one prepares to do taijiquan? Does this have any bearing on the sound-based concept of tingjin? Does it “resonate?”

Take care,
Louis


[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-14-2006).]
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Postby Pamela » Sun May 14, 2006 10:27 pm

Hi Louis,

Great post...

“[Zheng] Yichuan says that ‘intention’ (yi) is a combination of ‘mind’ (xin) and ‘sound’ (yin). It is like striking a drum. The sound is not separate from the drum; it comes out from the drum. Intention is not separate from the mind; it is an emission of the mind.”
—A.C. Graham, _Two Chinese Philosophers: Ch’eng Ming-tao and Ch’eng Yi-ch’uan_ (London, Lund Humphries, 1958, p. 63)

I would tend to take this almost literally Louis...

~Does the sound of those lion drums actually exist...?
Well...I'd say yes, we can measure it, in decibals.

~And we can also feel it with our hands? Well, its quite loud, so we can feel the emissions reverberations thoughout our bodies...clearly.

~What is energy itself...If not movement, sound? Reverberations....?

Mind activity(movement) is also...energy....an emission...reverberations...but much, much more subtle...

~Can we measure this energy with a tool? apparently, now, we can...

~Can we touch minds reverberations with our hands? I guess if it were strong enough, we could feel that in the same manner as the lion drums...but perhaps more like a whisper...very low.

~Could these same reverberations and emissions, say from lions drums, be felt in the mind as well as the hands? Hmmm...I don't know...

But it's all very interesting.

Ah....maybe what we feel is felt by the mind, is first actually felt by the receiver of the body...I see what you're saying...Think I am starting to understand the logic...

VERY interesting...glad you're still at this...I will ponder...

Best wishes,
Pamela
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Postby Pamela » Sun May 14, 2006 10:38 pm

...so, the body (hands, feet, shoulder...all?)can receive and also send energy.

For we can fa jin with an elbow, a knee etc, not just the hands, or do I err?

What of the mind?
It can send, as was deduced above...

Can it be included with the rest of the body as a receiver also? Or does it somehow stand apart as ONLY an emitter?

Any thoughts?

[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 05-14-2006).]

[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 05-14-2006).]

[This message has been edited by Pamela (edited 05-15-2006).]
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Postby bamboo leaf » Mon May 15, 2006 2:21 am

(So, what’s going on with this sound/drum metaphor when used to explain the concept “yi,?or when used in the Taijiquan Jing to evoke the psychophysical feeling of arousal when one prepares to do taijiquan? Does this have any bearing on the sound-based concept of tingjin? Does it “resonate.?P>Take care,
Louis)

if you look at wave dynamics its quite clear. Ones yi interacts with another¡¯s in much the same way wave forms interact with each other. What ever the sound based concept is unless its referring to a wave form IMO its not the right idea.

(Ah....maybe what we feel is felt by the mind, is first actually felt by the receiver of the body...I see what you're saying...Think I am starting to understand the logic...)


its below their conscious level of thought, they may not even feel or be aware of it. but if you can ting jin, you can feel it, just by a light touch.

I have mentioned this on other forums maybe even here. in gen there are 3 levels. The first is being able to feel the bones. This is the level that most operate off of, when people start speaking of pung as being the center point of their practice this is the first level.

It means that they gen value the structure and allow a lot of force to be applied to them before moveing and try to apply a lot of force to move someone else.

The second is skin. This means that one can feel the muscle movement and does not allow another to engage their frame nor tries to move another directly by manipulating the others frame.

The third is qi, which brings us to what is being talked about here. the basic idea is to be able to discern the thought of an action or intent (yi) which then leads the energy (qi) which in turn motivates the muscle.

If you can do this then you can say that you have tin jin developed and can use it. it allows you to start late but arrive first never allowing the force to hit you and the ablility of not using force from the muscles directly to affect the other.


[This message has been edited by bamboo leaf (edited 05-14-2006).]
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Mon May 15, 2006 4:58 am

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Getting back to tingjin, I am interested in playing with the metaphorical underpinnings of the concept. What is going on under the hood? The idea that you can ¡°listen¡± to the intent, movement, direction, speed, degree of force, etc. of the other when doing push hands, or sparring, or in a fight is metaphorically-based on the sense of hearing¡ªon sound. So what is the deep-structural basis of this metaphor?</font>


Louis, let me bring up one more perspective. The concept I would like to point out seems to be not so evidently present in western culture as in Chinese culture. This concept is Preheaven vs Postheaven. Great taiji master Wang PeiSheng wrote an excellent article where he partly talks about the role of the senses in taiji practice. He refers ordinary hearing to Postheaven ability. We actuary almost don't use ordinary hearing in taiji and tuishou. It even may disturb the practice - if a practitioner pays too much attention to outer sounds he/she practically won't be able to listen to an opponent's movements. So we may say that he/she should partly switch off ordinary hearing.


Here is the piece I am referring to:

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ÓÃÖ®ÔòÄѵÃÆäÕ棬¶ø±ÎÈûÏÈÌìÁ¼ÖªÁ¼Äܲ»µÃÒÔÓã¬
¹ÊÄÚ¹¦Õߣ¬Ä˲ØÆäÓò»ÓÃÖ®¹¦Ò²¡£²Ø¶ø²»Óã¬
ÐÎÆøµÃÒÔ´æÑø£¬²»ÓÃÖ®Óü¤·¢ÏÈÌìÁ¼ÖªÁ¼ÄÜÖ®Óá­

I think these words of Bamboo Leaf reflect the related idea:

" its below their conscious level of thought, they may not even feel or be aware of it. but if you can ting jin, you can feel it, just by a light touch."


[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 05-16-2006).]
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon May 15, 2006 5:40 pm

Greetings Yuri,

I certainly have great regard for Master Wang Peisheng, but in my own view of things, I am inclined to be skeptical of formulaic expressions of pre-heaven/post-heaven schemata. The more pragmatic interpretations of xiantian and houtian read as “natural,” and “contrived.” Unfortunately, some of the more robust champions of the xiantian/houtian idea ended up creating a world view that is very contrived indeed. The greatest interpreter and advocate for the xiantian schema was the Yijing scholar and numerologist Shao Yong (1011-1071). Perhaps his most formidable critic was Wang Fuzhi (1619–1692).

Why would we want to “partly switch off ordinary hearing?” I’m not convinced that there is a good rationale for that. Could you elaborate what you mean?

Take care,
Louis
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Postby Pamela » Mon May 15, 2006 7:42 pm

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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon May 15, 2006 8:37 pm

No comment.

Louis
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Postby chris » Mon May 15, 2006 9:05 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
Getting back to tingjin, I am interested in playing with the metaphorical underpinnings of the concept. What is going on under the hood? The idea that you can “listen” to the intent, movement, direction, speed, degree of force, etc. of the other when doing push hands, or sparring, or in a fight is metaphorically-based on the sense of hearing—on sound. So what is the deep-structural basis of this metaphor?</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Who says it is a metaphor and not to be taken literally?
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Postby Louis Swaim » Mon May 15, 2006 10:21 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by chris:
Who says it is a metaphor and not to be taken literally?</font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Hi Chris,

Well, Chen Yanlin, for one. Take a look at my post on page 2 of this thread, posted 05-01-2006 01:36 AM.

Take care,
Louis



[This message has been edited by Louis Swaim (edited 05-15-2006).]
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Postby Yuri Snisarenko » Tue May 16, 2006 4:06 am

//

[This message has been edited by Yuri Snisarenko (edited 05-19-2006).]
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Postby DPasek » Tue May 16, 2006 4:46 pm

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Louis Swaim:
<B>
If, as Jerry suggests, the meaning of the phrase zhuoli is analogous to the zhuodi construction—touch the ground—that raises the question of what the direct object is in this case. Are you touching the opponent’s strength? If so, are you touching the opponent’s strength only to listen to his jin? I’m not sure that makes sense.

--Louis</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Louis,

If I understand Sam Masich’s approach to Yang style Taijiquan, then he does advocate this (“touching the opponent’s strength”). The family art of ILiqChuan (Sam Chin), which uses principles similar to Taijiquan, also uses this approach (again, if I understand correctly) of meeting the opponent’s strength in order to understand what energies they are presenting to you. The touching of the opponent’s strength would lead to listening to their jin, but would also follow with techniques to defeat whatever jin the opponent is presenting to you. But also, the better one’s listening and understanding are, the less meeting force is needed to understand the opponent’s jin.

DP
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Postby Louis Swaim » Tue May 16, 2006 6:23 pm

Greetings bamboo leaf,

You wrote: “if you look at wave dynamics it’s quite clear. Ones yi interacts with another’s in much the same way wave forms interact with each other.”

I think something like that is implied in the gudang idea. In addition to the drum imagery (gu), the “dang4” part of the gudang compound is rooted in the imagery of a large pan or bowl filled with liquid (tang: ‘soup’), and has entailments having to do with the sloshing, swinging, swaying, or wavelike motion of the liquid in response to some movement of the pan. If you put a bowl of water on a table, then pound on the table, there will be ripples or oscillations on the surface of the water. So the “dang” part of the term implies a sort of sympathetic response.

Ripples on water are compression waves; sound waves are transverse waves, but they are often used analogously. I don’t know if early taiji masters understood sound in terms of wave dynamics or for that matter if anyone in the eighteenth century world did so. But the imagery, language, and metaphors that people use often reveal the human intelligence at work in subtle ways. I think there is something in the gudang imagery, the tingjin concept, and Cheng Yichuan’s explanation of yi (“It is like striking a drum. The sound is not separate from the drum; it comes out from the drum. Intention is not separate from the mind; it is an emission of the mind.”), that reveal a keen empirical project in each case.

Take care,
Louis
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Postby JerryKarin » Tue May 16, 2006 7:10 pm

Gu does not mean drum here. There is another word written with this graph which means things like pluck or strike. As in 'gu qin' pluck a qin (instrument).

I am also very uncomfortable with the graphic explanation of dang. This really is not the right way to explain Chinese words. When people say a phrase like gudang they really don't refer to parts of the characters as picture 'entailments'.


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