Looking for information on calligraphic philosophy

Joshua LangmanJoshua Langman Posts: 48
edited June 6 in Education
Hi all,

Although this is not strictly a typography question, it occurred to me that someone on TypeDrawers might be able to help.

I am looking for a source for something that I remember reading about years ago. It is a teaching from the philosophy of, I believe, Chinese calligraphy, and states essentially that the most beautiful, unimpeachable composition is a blank white page. Writing on a piece of paper is thus an act of cruelty or mutilation because it ruins the perfection of the blank page. A written text must therefore reach a very high threshold of beauty or importance to outweigh the damage inflicted on the paper.

This is my own summary, and likely not very accurate. I am not sure where I came across this sentiment. It may have been in a Bringhurst book, though I haven't been able to find it again.

I greatly appreciate anything that anyone can do to point me in the right direction.

Josh

Comments

  • A compelling paradox.
    And perhaps parallel to something I've opined: using a font degrades it, because no usage could ever fully express the font's potential. (But we must use it nonetheless, because that's why it exists.)
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,363
    Another Asian philosophy, Wabi-sabi, tells us that there is no perfection without an imperfection.

  • Nick CurtisNick Curtis Posts: 87
    …states essentially that the most beautiful, unimpeachable composition is a blank white page. Writing on a piece of paper is thus an act of cruelty or mutilation because it ruins the perfection of the blank page. A written text must therefore reach a very high threshold of beauty or importance to outweigh the damage inflicted on the paper.
    My old Metaphysics professor Fritz Wilhelmsen noted that every abstraction is an act of violence. I am inclined to agree; unfortunately, without abstraction, language is impossible, and that simply will not do. I gotta make the rent somehow, ya know?
  • Simon CozensSimon Cozens Posts: 520
    I've never heard that, but my (Japanese) calligraphy teacher did certainly tell me that the most difficult character to master is 一.

    To be fair, there's a lot of expression in a single horizontal stroke.

  • What matters is the nature of the *im*pression resulting from any act of creation.
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