Our time is an age of rationalism. Our rationality is based on an imaginary realm created within speech. In the words of Roland Barthes, modern speech and discourse have constructed a mythology of rationality. Barthes says: “What is myth today? I shall give at the outset a first, very simple answer, which is perfectly consistent with etymology: myth is a type of speech.”1

Jürgen Habermas states that with Kant, the modern age is inaugurated. As soon as the metaphysical seal on the correspondence between language and world breaks down, the representational function of language itself becomes a problem. The subject doing the representing has to objectify himself to gain some clarity about the problematic process of representation itself.2 Foucault develops his basic idea that modernity is characterized by the self-contradictory and anthropocentric form of knowledge proper to a structurally overloaded subject (a finite subject transcending itself into the infinite) in a wide arc that stretches from Kant and Fichte to Husserl and Heidegger.3 Thus, the human sciences occupy the terrain opened up by the aporetic self-thematization of the cognitive subject. With their pretentious and never redeemed claims, they erect a façade of universally valid knowledge behind which lurks the facticity of a sheer will to cognitive self-mastery, a will to a boundlessly productive increase of knowledge in the wake of which both subjectivity and self-consciousness are first formed.4 However, as the cognitive subject, a human being and his sheer will to cognitive self-mastery, as the being toward death has always lived in relation to its natural end. Habermas continues, but now it is a matter of the end of its humanistic self-understanding: in the homelessness of nihilism it is not the human being but the essence of the human that wanders blindly about.5

Such human essence clearly is written. As Derrida indicates, in any case the signified is not constituted in its sense by its relationship with a possible trace. The formal essence of the signified is presence, and the privilege of its proximity to the logos as phonè is the privilege of presence.6 The word mot is lived as the elementary and undecomposable unity of the signified and the voice, of the concept and a transparent substance of expression. This expression is considered in its greatest purity-and at the same time in the condition of its possibility-as the experience of “being.”7

On the other hand, Foucault remarks that writing, in Western culture, automatically dictates that we place ourselves in the virtual space of self-representation and reduplication; since writing refers not to a thing but to speech, a work of language only advances more deeply into the intangible density of the mirror, calls forth the double of this already doubled writing, discovers in this way a possible and impossible infinity.8 Foucault says, we must ceaselessly speak, for as long and as loudly as this indefinite and deafening noise-longer and more loudly so that in mixing our voices with it we might succeed-if not in silencing and mastering it-in modulating its futility into the endless murmuring we call literature.9

Today, the essence of human beings wanders blindly about in the homelessness of the deserts, which is constructed by this literature. Baudrillard calls it mirages on the deserts. He clarifies, the deserts here are not part of a Nature defined by contrast with the town. Rather they denote the emptiness, the radical nudity that is the background to every human institution. At the same time, they designate human institutions as a metaphor of that emptiness and the work of man as the continuity of the desert, culture as a mirage and as the perpetuity of the simulacrum.10

YeYoung Culture Studies (YCS), located in California, is a place for cultural studies and cultural practices. As Baudrillard contends, American culture is heir to the deserts, and California is the only authentic Disneyland, the only place in the world where the simulacrum is a homegrown product.11

There is simulacrum where there is real; there are deserts where there are oases. Mankind has survived in change, and mankind has changed in survival. Like a desert caravan, YCS travels across mirages of deserts slowly and steadily where we encounter simulacra and the real, enchanting Western modern art and postmodernism on one side, and Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Sinology on the other, looming through mirages.

The YCS journey of deserts begins at the desert and ends at the desert, utilizing the Chinese to serve the Western and the Western to serve the Chinese; employing the past to serve the present and the present to serve the past; applying text to reflect practice and practice to examine text.

YCS textual study sources include: Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean Baudrillard; Laozi, Analects, I Ching, Taoist Cannon, and Buddhist Philosophies.

YCS practices include: the art of tea, connoisseurship of fine arts and antiquity, bonsai, meditation, and Taijiquan.

YCS self-cultivation includes: Western modern and postmodern arts; Poetry of Tang and Song dynasties, calligraphy and literati painting, and Qin music.

Xiansheng established YCS in 2000. With the help from Furen and Siyi, YCS has grown in studies and practices, and YCS has studied and practiced in growth.

Xiansheng was born in China. As a child, he was raised and educated by his grandfather. As a teenager he studied with the eminent Chinese art critic, Mr. Shui Tianzhong, and soon after taught as a professor at universities, and later immigrated to the USA in 1989.

我們的時代,是一個理性的時代,我們的理性,是基於言論創造出來的想像理性。用巴特的話來說,就是現代言論和話語,構成了我們的理性神話世界。巴特說,今天的神話是什麼?我會立刻給出一個極其簡單的答案,神話與語源學的吻合:神話是一種言論。

自康德拉開了現代的大幕,語言和世界關係的形而上學印記就已破碎,語言自身的表達功能,便成了一個問題:自我表達的主體必須把自我客體化,才能清楚的認識到,表達自我是個充滿問題的過程。 從康德和費希特,到胡塞爾和海德格爾,福柯繞了一個大圈子,形成了他的基本思想:現代性是以主體的自相矛盾,與人類中心論為特徵,但是這個主體結構負荷超載,自身雖然有限,卻要向著無限超越。

因此人文科學,佔據了認知主體悖謬的自我表現開拓的所有領域。人文科學以其自負,卻從不兌現的斷言,豎起了普世效應知識的堂皇門面,背後卻隱藏著認知自我權力化的絕對意志,這種不斷積累無限知識的意志,使主體性和自我意識首先建立起來。 然而作為認知主體,人類及其認知自我權力化的絕對意志,只是作為面向死亡的存在,總是生活在與其自然歸宿的關係當中。哈貝馬斯說,今天這個人文主義自我的理解走到了終點:在無家可歸的虛無主義沙漠上,盲目遊蕩的不是人,而是人的本質。

人的這個本質, 顯然是被書寫出來的。德里達說,在任何一種情況下,所指都不是以其本身意义、及其與印跡的可能關係構成。所指的形式本質是在場,其接近作為聲音的理念特權,只是在場的特權。 文字只是作為基礎、不可分解的所指、語聲、概念,及其明確的實體表現的統一體而存在。就其無上的純粹性,及其可能性的條件而言,種種體驗就是 “存在” 的體驗。

福柯說,文字只是自我表現以及雙重副本的虛擬空間之中的言論,是副本的副本。因為書寫針對的不是事物而是言論,所以文字寫作,只是在進入一面深不可測幻鏡的更深處,複製作為副本的書寫副本,以此發現可能或不可能的無限。 我們必須不停的說,只要大聲、長時間的把這個模糊、卻震耳欲聾的噪音,以更大的聲音、更長的時間,與我們的言論混合起來,或許就會有用,要不然我們就在沉默中去熟練掌握,使這種徒勞無益轉化為我們稱之為源遠流長的文獻。

今天人的本質,無家可歸,只能在文獻建構起來的虛無沙漠上,盲目遊蕩。鮑德里亞稱這個理性通過文本建構起來的神話,為文化沙漠上的海市蜃樓。他說沙漠不是城市的對立面,沙漠只是指出,每種人類制度背後的空曠和根本的赤裸。沙漠同時表明,人類成果是沙漠連續性的象徵,今天的文化,是海市蜃樓般的永恆擬象。

弋陽書院 (YCS),位於美國加利福尼亞州,是一個文化研究與文化實踐的場所。鮑德里亞說:美國文化是沙漠的繼承者。加利福尼亞是唯一真正的迪斯尼樂園,世界上正宗擬象的唯一發源地。 有擬象,必有真相,有沙漠,必有綠洲,人類就在這種延續中變化,變化中延續。弋陽書院有如沙漠上一葉扁舟,緩慢而堅定,在重重海市蜃樓中,與擬象和真相遭遇,一邊可見,隱約蒼茫的儒釋道與漢學;另一邊可見,隱約變幻的西方藝術與後現代主義。

弋陽書院以中為西用,西為中用;今為古用,古為今用為宗旨;以文本研究指證實踐操作,以實踐操作參悟文本研究,始於沙漠,終於沙漠。

弋陽書院以康德、黑格爾、海德格爾、德里達、福柯、德勒兹、鮑德里亞;老子、論語、周易、道藏、佛教典籍,做文本研讀。

弋陽書院在喝茶、博古、盆栽、內丹坐禪、陳氏大架太極拳中實踐。

弋陽書院在西方現代和後現代藝術;中國唐詩宋詞、書法與文人畫、古琴音樂中,養性怡情。

弋陽書院由弋陽范炳先生 2000年發起,在弋陽夫人與助手伊莉莎白女士協助下,研究操作中發展,發展中研究操作。

弋陽范炳先生,生於中國,童年受教於其外祖父朱幼華公,少年受教於水天中先生,青年大學任教,1989年留學定居美國至今。

Footnotes

1. Roland Barthes, Mythologies, (New York: Hill and Wang, 2012), p. 217.

2. Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, (Cambridge: the MIT Press, 1990), p. 260.

3. Ibid., p. 261.

4. Ibid., p. 261.

5. Ibid., p. 161.

6. Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, (London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), p. 18.

7. Ibid., p. 20.

8. Michel Foucault, “Language to Infinity” in Donald Bouchard edited, Language, Counter-memory, Practice,
Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, (New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 56.

9. Ibid., p. 60.

10. Jean Baudrillard, America, (London. New York: Verso, 1988), p. 63.

11. Jean Baudrillard, Cool Memories IV, (London. New York: Verso, 1988), p. 96.