书者,散也 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shū zhě, sǎn yě 书者,散也

Calligraphy Expresses Inner Conditions.

写好书法,先要抒放情性、摒除一切杂念。是东汉著名书法家蔡邕(133—192)在《笔论》中提出的书法观念。它论述了书法艺术抒发主体情怀的创作心态,强调书家在创作时应先抒放情性、排除一切牵累与功利之心,并将其视为决定书法作品成功与否的关健要素。

To become a good calligrapher, one must first set one’s mind at ease and dismiss all distracting thoughts. This is an argument raised by Cai Yong (133-192), a famous Eastern Han calligrapher, in his treatise “On Calligraphic Script.” He says that the art of calligraphy discloses the calligrapher’s personal feeling, stressing the need to unleash one’s true self and to eliminate all of life’s burdens and practical considerations. This view takes such actions as being crucial to the success of a calligraphic work.

引例 Citations:

◎书者,散也。欲书先散怀抱,任情恣性,然后书之,若迫于事,虽中山兔豪不能佳也。(蔡邕《笔论》,见陈思《书苑菁华》卷一)

(从事书法活动,先要抒放情性、排除一切杂念。动笔之前,必须舒展心胸,任凭性情恣意挥洒,然后再展毫书写,如果是被迫应事,即使是用中山产的兔毫佳笔,也写不出优美的书法作品来。)

To engage in the practice of calligraphy, one should first unleash his pent-up feelings and eliminate all distracting thoughts. Before setting brush to paper, he is advised to open his heart and give free rein to his fantasy. Only then can he expect to carry out his actual task. If he is reluctant to do it, even if he uses a rabbit-hair brush from Zhongshan, he will still fail to produce a fine work of calligraphy. (Cai Yong: On Calligraphic Script)

◎夫欲攻书之时,当收视反听,绝虑凝神,心正气和,则契于玄妙。心神不正,字则攲斜;志气不和,书必颠覆。(李世民《笔法诀》,见陈思《书苑菁华》卷十九)

(想要书写之时,首先应当对外界之事不看不听,杜绝思虑,凝聚心神,心思纯正,气息平和,才能写出玄妙的作品。如果心神不端正,那么所写的字就会歪斜;气息不平和,所写的字就会颠倒。)

When doing calligraphy, he should stay totally free from what is going on outside, let go of all worries and anxiety, concentrate his energy, purify his mind, and breathe with perfect ease. Only thus would he be able to produce a real piece of work of art. If his mind is in a jumble, his written characters will be crooked; if his breath is uneven, his characters will look as if turned upside down. (Li Shimin: The Craft of Calligraphy)

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