New year, new text on vital nourishment ~ (yang sheng)

January 10, 2014

Here are some notes on an ongoing enquiry.

“A light will come and it is brighter than you imagine”         – Dennis Leri

Vital Nourishment is a life-art practice. A home arts practice, an arts world practice. The term VN is a text source (Francois Jullien), art-life approach, and an encompassing strategy.

Yang Sheng is a Chinese expression which is translated as vital nourishment, or “nourishing life.” Yang Sheng was exhaustively researched by possibly the world’s first anarchist, Zhaungzhi (contemporary to Aristotle).  Through deepening my understanding of this term’s meanings and connotation, I am further achieving what I seek to create as a model for my artistic work and research practice.

How can art feed the whole of a life? How can one’s vocation feed the art, feed the life, the intellect, the personal practice, friendship, kinship, the body-person, the inquiry, in community, in mutualism? What does it mean to let the intention be coherence, that the various parts of living all feed the whole?  As stated by Sabine Williams: “in balance with the macrocosm for the benefit of the individual body, the body of the family, the body politic, and the body of the cosmos”

In the end of 2012, I made an Arts Manifesto, which was a source for future practice: MG Manifesto Draft 12-12

Soon thereafter, I began to engage in a wildly healing process of fertility. Self research; experiential and embodied research. There is a book to write here.

In 2013, I deepened the enquiry through a performance poetry project on Yang Sheng. In a piece called “Pure Process”, I used spontaneous movement and stillness as an embodied basis to examine a constellation of phenomena that would offer a view on Nourishing Life. This was my contribution to Eleni Stecopoulos’ Poetics of Healing Symposium. Through the project, I found the revelation of relation between nourishing one’s body and nourishing one’s self.

Pure Process -- Poetics of Healing

I also found the importance of anchoring oneself in the environment as a practice for performance, to nourish the self that will then present, but that is another story which leads into one of the bases for the project which was its counterpoint, Relay.

The Chinese term for body shenti, is more like “body-person,” no big divide. That the vessel is a part of the environment and the procession of qi. However this sense of polarity arises in the imbalance that might come not enough essence or bloodfulness to harmonize with  the magnetism of the earth and the electro expansion of the forces of the sky (early notions of mind-body split). The kinds of things that emerge in the contemporary life. Hence, back again into the practice of nourishing life.

“Your life has a limit, knowledge has none

If you use the limited to pursue the limitless

You will be in danger of exhaustion”                        


Searching for the more fluid (therefore less reified) action-process in all realms in VN. How to induce subtlety of breathing, harmony, and feeding to be coherently integrated into philosophical reflection and daily activities? And thereby feed the quintessence in myself …

Vital Nourishment includes not solely a personal perspective, but the unity of mental, ecological, social, aesthetic, and personal choices.

One blog on the subject: Vital

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