境生象外 – Chinese philosophy and culture

jìnɡ shēnɡ xiànɡ wài 境生象外

Aesthetic Conception Transcends Concrete Objects Described.

诗文中的审美意境往往在物象之外,需要鉴赏者领悟其中的精神之美。“境”指作品所创造的审美意境,“象”是作品中所呈现出的具体物象。诗歌由语言文字写成,所描写的都是一个个物象,在这些具体的物象之外,能够形成整体的审美情境。唐代诗人刘禹锡首次提出这个命题,表达对诗歌意趣的思考,强调文字与物象是确切的,而审美情境却是微妙而难以言传的。在古典诗论意境说的形成过程中,“境生象外”是一个重要的发展阶段。

The aesthetic conception evoked by a poem or prose transcends what a physical object denotes, and a reader needs to perceive and appreciate the beauty of such aesthetic conception. Jing (境) here refers to an aesthetic conception created by a poem or prose, while xiang (象) refers to the image of a concrete object portrayed in such writing. Composed of words, a poem describes individual objects through which it evokes a coherent poetic conception beyond the physical appearance of such objects. This proposition was first put forward by poet Liu Yuxi of the Tang Dynasty to express his understanding of poetry. He pointed out that words and images were concrete while aesthetic conceptions were abstract and subtle and therefore hard to describe. Liu’s proposition, namely, aesthetic conception transcending concrete objects described, marked an important stage in the development of the theory of aesthetic conception in classical Chinese poetry.

引例 Citations:

◎夫境象非一,虚实难明,有可睹而不可取,景也;可闻而不可见,风也;虽系乎我形,而妙用无体,心也;义贯众象,而无定质,色也。凡此等,可以偶虚,亦可以偶实。(皎然《诗议》)

(“境”和“象”不是同一个东西,“虚”和“实”也是难以分清。有的可以看到却不能取用,比如景致;有的可以听到却不能看到,比如风;有的虽然与我的形体有关联,而它神奇的应用却不受形体的局限,比如思想;有的其义理贯穿于万物,本身却无固定的形质,比如色彩。所有这些,可以蕴含于“虚写”,也可以蕴含于“实写”。)

Aesthetic conception and imagery are not the same thing, and it is not always easy to distinguish between what is actual and what is implied. Some things like scenery can be seen but not taken, while others such as wind can be heard but not seen. Still others are like thought: it exists in our body but is not restricted by the body. Some pervades everything but possesses no particular shape, like color. All these can be expressed concretely or indirectly by implication. (Jiaoran: Comments on Poetry)

◎诗者文章之蕴耶?义得而言丧,故微而难能。境生于象外,故精而寡和。(刘禹锡《董氏武陵集纪》)

(诗歌难道是高度凝练的文章吗?有文章的意蕴却无需那么多语言,所以非常隐微,很难做到。诗的美境往往产生于所描写的物象之外,所以非常精妙,很少有人能臻于完美。)

Is poetry highly condensed prose? A poem can convey the same meaning of a prose without using many words. Therefore, poetry is implicit and subtle, an art that is hard to master. Poetic conception often transcends what is denoted by the objects described, therefore it is subtle and difficult to achieve. (Liu Yuxi: Preface to Dong’s Wu Ling Ji)

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