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The Impossible Nude: Chinese Art and Western Aestheticsby Francois Jullien
Synopses & Reviews
The undraped human form is ubiquitous in Western art and even appears in the art of India and Japan. Only in China, François Jullien argues, is the nude completely absent. In this enthralling extended essay, he explores the different conceptions of the human body that underlie this provocative disparity.
Contrasting nakedness (which implies a diminished state) with nudity (which represents a complete presence), Jullien explores the traditional European vision of the nude as a fixed point of fusion where form joins truth. He then shows that the absence of the nude in Chinese art evinces an understanding of the human body as changeable and transitory. Viewed in light of each other, these differing concepts allow for a new way of thinking about form, the ideal, and beauty, enabling us to delve deeper into the relationship between art and the ideas that lie at its roots. Beautifully illustrated and gracefully translated into English for the first time, The Impossible Nude will fascinate anyone interested in art history, Chinese art, or aesthetics.
A capstone work from a renowned philosopher who explores how Western cultural biases may be challenged by classic texts in order to enter another way of thinking
How can a person from a Western culture enter into a way of thinking as different as that of the Chinese? Can a person truly escape from his or her own cultural perspectives and assumptions? French philosopher François Jullien has throughout his career explored the distances between European and Chinese thought. In this fascinating summation of his work, he takes an original approach to the conundrum of cross-cultural understanding.
Jullien considers just three sentences in their original languages. Each is the first sentence of a seminal text: the Bible in Hebrew, Hesiod’s Theogony in Greek, and the I Ching in Chinese. By dismantling these sentences, the author reveals the workings of each language and the ways of thought in which they are inscribed. He traces the hidden choices made by European reason and assumptions, discovering among other things what is not thought about. Through the lens of the Chinese language, Jullien offers, as always, a new and surprising view of our own Western culture.
About the Author
François Jullien is professor of Chinese philosophy and literature at the University of Paris VII and director of the Institut Marcel Granet. Maev de la Guardia has translated works by many eminent French authors, including Jacques Derrida, Maurice Blanchot, and Julia Kristeva.
Table of Contents
PART 1 A History of Being
For an Ontology of the Photographic Nude
PART 2 The Impossible Nude
By the Same Author
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Arts and Entertainment » Art » Asia and Far East