The Philosophy of a Brush Stroke With Xiongbo Shi
My apologies but this is our first episode with any technical sound problems.
So, please use captioning and, as with so much in life, remember that “patience is a virtue”. Hence, please tolerate the less than ideal sound quality at the beginning because what Xiongboo shares throughout is truly enlightening and inspiring!
This Conversation with Mother Earth is a bit different regarding the setting as well. My guest in this episode is Professor Xiongbo Shi, who is, thankfully based in Shenzhen, China – as I am right now – and we are able to meet face-to-face.
Do you remember being taught handwriting? In my childhood, in the former Yugoslavia, we were duty-bound by our teachers to write in very precise ways with all the alphabet letters slanted slightly to the right. More recently in my life, when I started to learn the Mandarin language, I became fascinated with writing the Chinese characters. They seemed to be an art form. What astounded me was the strict rigour and discipline that is applied when writing Chinese characters. Each stroke must follow a long-established certain order of movement and even a certain rhythm of motion.
Calligraphy is also held in high esteem across East Asia – like in Japan and Korea – but in this episode we will focus on China.
My guest today can share deep insights about Chinese calligraphy. He is Assistant Professor at Shenzhen University and has studied Art History in Christchurch, New Zealand and in Nanjing, China. He has also written scholarly articles and books about calligraphy. Xiongbo, welcome to Conversations with Mother Earth and especially for taking the time to meet with me in person for this episode.
We talk about calligraphy as fine art as well as the outer form and the inner qualities of calligraphy. Xiongbo demonstrates how to hold the brush for the calligraphy writing, as he writes down several characters. He also explains why it is possible for Westerners to appreciate Chinese calligraphy without speaking Chinese. At the end, Xiongbo elaborates why calligraphy and Mother Earth are so closely linked.
Writing Chinese calligraphy is a philosophic lesson in mindfulness and thus one obviously needs to be fully present to appreciate the beauty of all the characters.