Synopses & Reviews
The undraped human form is ubiquitous in Western art and even appears in the art of India and Japan. Only in China, Franand#231;ois 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] stimulating book . . . the author brings three worldviews into a fascinating trilogue . . . [and] his vantage point revitalizes the potentialities of translation . . . here is a book that any translator will wish to peruse and discuss.”—John Taylor, Arts Fuse
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 Yijing (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 an internationally recognized philosopher and sinologist who explores the workings of European and Chinese thought. He has published more than thirty books and holds several academic posts in France. He lives in Paris. Jody Gladding is a poet and teacher in the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has translated more than twenty books from French to wide acclaim.
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