note on song

cheng man ching

(Photo is of Cheng Man Ching.)

In taiji, there is a concept called song: it is an elusive quality of looseness that the practitioner aims to experience and harness so that it is possible to achieve correct form. Without song, gesture becomes either violent or submissive, and incapable of restoring energy.

Song is embodied through a ’roundness’ of movement – through spirals and circles in gesture, and from within the body. These shapes, applied to the body’s movement and the orientation of energy, expresses the processes of reciprocation and transformation, or the notion of a ‘gift’. Song is derived from an appropriate fluidity and elasticity that receives the energy it is given, and returns it as its own force without compromise or self-depletion. This is a creative energy, as it reinterprets the physical conditions that appear to be not ideal, into a gesture that transforms it for one’s own use. No energy is lost, as one’s own internal power is derived from and constantly giving back to the environment.

A text shared by Master Yau-Sun Tong (based in Halifax).

The enlightenments about push hands from learning Taiji with Mr. Li YaXuan
By: Chen Long-Xiang

Let him attack me with as much force as he could

I would simply tug with four ounces of power to take thousand pounds off.

Guide his force into nothing, and close on him and send him out.

Stick/adhere onto him and follow his movement instead of pulling away or crashing in.

With this principle in mind, whatever gesture is made by an ‘attacker’ is understood as a ‘gift’. (This was also reiterated many times in a very different style of self-defense class, which was not based on taiji, and had a much more aggressive nature.)

With a proper attention to song, it wouldn’t matter how large or powerful someone is; every movement they make towards you, every gesture, is giving you something to work with. It’s a constant transformation of that, and a readjustment of one’s self to use what was antagonistic towards you. As a result, the notion of success, or ‘victory’, does not rely as much on who the opponent is, as on optimizing the conditions of the body and mind for working through any material conditions. A person could be physically small and sometimes quite old, and yet easily repel physical attacks and exhaust their opponents without retaliating through a reckless force.

falsity, note


gently flirting with phlebotomy, painting by Jordan Clayton.
simple, barely perceptible gesture. erasure – removal of the excess or inaccurate – and negative space. the allowance for the other to be, as it is, without definition, and for the mistake to be, within. to be content with a fragment – or the undoing.

again on transparency, through Rowe & Slutzky,
on transparency arising out of paranoia towards darkness. When shadows become erased, by light that is always burning (streets, screens, glittering offices – endless illumination and having to know what surrounds, what is present) Or, to instill fear on the basis of the unknown being threat.

Yet such a spatial paradigm was, as Foucault himself pointed out, constructed out of an initial fear, the fear of Enlightenment in the face of “darkened spaces, of the pall of gloom which prevents the full visibility of things, men and truth”. It was this very fear of the dark that led, in the late eighteenth-century, to the fascination with those same shadowy areas-what Foucault calls the “fantasy-world of stone walls, darkness, hideouts and dungeons-the precise “negative of the transparency and visibility which it aimed to establish.” The moment that saw the creation of the first “considered politics of spaces” based on scientific concepts of light and infinity also saw, and within the same epistemology, the invention of a spatial phenomenology of darkness.”

vidler, scenes of the street & other essays

To see everything, to fear the unknown and the very possibility of fear, is irreconcilable. Total transparency demands that natural concealment and secrecy that are felt as intuitive, are subsumed to the service of a ‘greater whole’. Total transparency as the authority of non-interior, but not necessarily that which ‘is else, other’.

Matter is slow, condensed. Particles that move so quickly they cannot be perceived as solid, take on the permeability of transparency, that is speed. Further solidity, beyond matter, and hiddenness, is slower. The necessity of this.

“Have you never felt a sort of fear in the face of the ageless, a fear that in that room you might lose all consciousness of the passage of time, that untold years might pass and upon emerging you should find you had grown old and gray?” (20.)

Jun’ichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”

Further, the violence of speed in Virilio / the erasure of a dense past – Lethen’s coldness (erasure of shorthand history). The impossibility of living without ‘weaponization’ – the demon that lingers in the brightest days for no sight of length nor reason, even, without time for attention. And, liquidity. The ‘unfairness’ of financial liquidity (D. MacKenzie, later), as the manipulation of time-based value representations – upon which, the crisis of continued ‘prosperity’ / the self-justification of the national identity. or, spatial recession.

, when do we see through the material?

&, transparency of time
as in, stolen from Negarestani: “Incognitum Hactenus is a double-dealing mode of time connecting abyssal time scales to our chronological time, thus exposing to us the horror of times beyond”.


to justify land /5

an experiment in american associations

In April 2016, Honduran activist Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores was murdered in connection with the  Indigenous and populist resistance against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam under the ownership of hydro-power company Desarrollos Energéticos, SA (DESA). The dam was to be constructed over Lenca territory. While Finish and Dutch funders withdrew from the project after international pressures and reporting, the Agua Zarca dam continued construction under contract with Canadian hydro-power engineering firm Hydrosys – based in Montreal, Sherbrooke, and Vancouver – who are responsible for the design and construction of the Gualcarque Waterpower Project. Berta Cáceres was representing the Lenca resistance to the construction of the hydro-electric dam over the Gualcarque River because the Lenca community was not “meaningfully consulted about the project, putting the Honduran state in violation of International Labour Organization Convention 169 on the Rights of Indigenous People, of which it is signatory” (Jackie McVicar, “Indigenous Rights Under Attack: Canadian economic and political interests over human rights“, Canadian Dimension).

Continue reading “to justify land /5”

like the bad guys


Gilles Châtelet, “To Live and Think Like Pigs: The Incitement of Envy and Boredom in Market Democracies”:

Young nomads, we love you! Be yet more modern, more mobile, more fluid, if you don’t want to end up like your ancestors in the muddy fields of Verdun. The Great Market is your draft board! Be light, anonymous, precarious like drops of water or soap bubbles: this is the true equality, that of the Great Casino of life! If you’re not fluid, you will very quickly become losers. You will not be admitted into the Great Global SuperBoom of the Great Market… Be absolutely modern (like Rimbaud), be a nomad, be fluid – or check out, like a viscous loser!” (page 75 from the Urbanomic edition)

Continue reading “like the bad guys”

to justify land /4

The sacredness of a river is a matter of distance – of a few kilometres.
The sacredness of a river is not a matter of principle, but a matter of legality.

“the river is not considered sacred and the company has their consent to build in that location”

– Statement by development finance company FinnFund, on dam construction at Agua Zarca, 09/03/2016. Source.

The hydro-electric dam between Ottawa-Gatineau is undergoing a multi-billion dollar expansion on the Kichissippi without due consultation with the Algonquin community, encroaching on land passed into private ownership by the Windmill development. Despite the significance of the Kichissippi’s ecological, geographic and cultural significance, few studies have been conducted on the impacts of the hydro-dam on the massive river, with most research focusing on the potential for exploiting ‘natural-resources’. Where is the research about the river before current reconstruction of the dam? Where is the research on impact on ecology, on the species reliant on the area, by a massive residential and commercial development? Where are the reports on the water’s changing levels of oxygenation due to the disturbance of migration and breeding patterns of fish, insects, molluscs?

The eel is a striking case in the ecology of Asinabka, because its breeding and migration path lies on the path of the existing hydro dam, and its massive turbines, spanning the entire width of the provincial border. Hydro-electric dams are touted as a clean-energy alternative, but these claims are dismissive of the environmental impacts of turbines on the river ecosystem. Clean for whom? Hydro dams alter the movement of sediment, the chemical composition of water, the breeding grounds and migration of aquatic life, thereby disrupting the balance of a river’s self-sustaining network. The systemic neglect and muzzling of scientific research into the river’s ecosystem reflects an ideological problem that runs much deeper than the superficial approaches to sustainability that underpin the current approach to the generation and provision of renewable energy.

Continue reading “to justify land /4”

to justify land /3

The Zibi ‘mixed-use’ condominium and retail development has been defended as contributing to a ‘green economy’; taking advantage of the environmental contamination caused by the Domtar paper mill that previously occupied the site, the developer and its subsidiary environmental clean-up corporation present an agenda of ecological restoration of the brownfield and a reconciliatory social enterprise. The developers tout passive energy provision and grey water systems, and purport to be a carbon-free community, but the supposed ‘green’ ambitions of the developers pretend ignorance of a fundamental issue – the masquerade that is “Natural Capitalism”.

“Jonathan Westeinde, BA’92, is promoting a new type of capitalism – one that puts equal importance on the environment and making profits.” [source]

“Zibi is new business”. The consumer nature of this development, not to mention the wealthy class that will afford to live in the condominiums, are parts of a system that perpetuates destructive and exclusionary politics. Architectural theorists and directors of dpr-barcelona, Ethel Baraona Pohl and César Reyes Nájera discuss in “A Tale of Two Cities”, the stratification and segregation enabled through urban ‘enclaves’. Formed as microcosms within cities, these enclaves exert some geopolitical influence upon the encompassing city, while being united by more or less homogenous economic and cultural characteristics. Pohl and Nájera specifically identify the amplification of the social stratification and systems of power that are further enabled by the presence of enclaves, citing Setha M. Low on the exacerbation of existing ‘social cleavages’:

Continue reading “to justify land /3”