Friday, December 16, 2011


"'Antiquity' is but a tool of knowledge; 'transformation' involves recognizing it as but a tool while refraining from using it in this way. For I have never seen anyone achieve transformation by using antiquity as a tool. Often I lament those who are mired in antiquity, unable to transform themselves because their knowledge has trapped them. It traps them in stylistic imitation so that their vision is narrowed. For this reason, the superior man just uses antiquities to expand the potentials of the present."

..."I am myself because 'I' naturally exists. The whiskers and eyebrows of the ancients cannot grow on my face, nor can my body contain their entrails. I express my own entrails and display my own whiskers and eyebrows. Even when there may be some point of contact with some msater, it is he who comes close to me, not I who am trying to become like him. Nature has endowed me thus. As for antiquity, how could I have learned from it without transforming it?"

Shih-T'ao, Enlightening Remarks on Painting, 1700. Translated by Richard E. Strassberg, Pacific Asia Museum Monographs, No. 1, 1989

1 comment:

Ann Knickerbocker said...

Love this quote ... nicely said, and a rather important point. Thank you!