Quality of Not Knowing / by Yu Cao

Matisse said: "A new painting should be a unique thing, a birth bringing a new face into the representation of the world through the human spirit. The artist should call forth all of his energy, his sincerity, and the greatest possible modesty in order to push aside during his work the old cliches that come so readily to his hand and can suffocate the small flower that itself never turns out as one expected."

"A musician once said: in art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows, and when there remains an energy that is all the stronger for being constrained, controlled, and compressed. It is therefore necessary to present oneself with the greatest humility: white, pure and candid with a mind as if empty, in a spiritual state analogous to that of a communicant approaching the Lord’s Table. Obviously it is necessary to have all of one’s experience behind one, but to preserve the freshness of one’s instincts."

What defines the quality of not knowing:

  • Fullness of emptiness/ humility
  • Full presence in the present/ energy
  • Freshness of instinct/ Purposefulness
  • Sincerity

Then comes the mastery of that energy, the transformation of knowing, the New, the truth/ reality:

Yoyo Ma said mastery in musician is when one feels something, he or she knows exactly and immediately what to do with the instrument to express it. This is so similar to Matisse describes the relation between his hand and feelings: “if I have confidence in my hand that draws, it is because when I was training it to serve me I resolved never to let it overshadow my feelings. The more it is supple, the more it is obedient.” Here, mastery is the precision of expressing feeling through instruments. Picasso also mentions he never draw what he doesn't feel. This is the sincerity. It's being honest with what is happening--the feeling of spirit/character that's arising, it is to be pure to let the "human spirit" emerge. Capturing those moments of spirit, the vitality is important. They are traces of the real, the truth, what is not relational, but self-evident. Just to know that they exist, feel the energy that is beyond us is important to feel alive. It's like putting down "I," and reposition myself in a conversation with the world, I no longer know, no longer need to know, it is revealed to me, it is revealed in me, me as the revealed.