The Gestural Imagination: Toward a Phenomenology of Duration in the Art of Chinese Writing

This essay represents a reflection on the nature of shufa, the Chinese “art of writing,” and its ontological grounding as a continuous, “durational transcription,” of an inscriptional event, producing a phenomenology of “viewing.” This distinguishes it from ordinary writing (xiezi) in which attention is focused on the lexical meaning of the written characters (i.e., an experience of “reading”). Viewing a calligraphic inscription actually unfolding in time (i.e., as a dynamical structure or “temporal object event”), however, raises an interesting theoretical question concerning the two complementary aspects of temporal consciousness of calligraphy as both duration and unity. This will be addressed in terms of recent discussions of a dynamical approach to Edmund Husserl’s theory of time consciousness
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    Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964). Signs. Northwestern University Press.
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