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Images of the otherworld in ink tears

In the sky and on earth, in mountains and rivers there live round and square forms, sky-like and flowing forms. The sun, moon and celestial bodies have degrees of latitude and longitude, and light curves. There are such forms in the clouds, dawn, grass and trees that widely spread like canvas, also forms of growth and wealth. Cultural artifacts and clothes keep the forms of modest greeting and treatment. If you try to serve it, your writing will be astounding.

Zha-ngdì, Hàn cháo chirographist

How often do we think about our handwriting?

Very seldom I would say. We seldom think about it, because we have not been writing. “How dare you say we haven′t been writing? a reader would exclaim. “Every day we write dozens of papers! On the computer.” This reader is right, because technical progress broke people away from handwriting. People said handwriting was unfashionable and of no use. This is the way of thinking of the modern man. Of a man who thinks he is at the highest level of evolution and it is a shame for him to write with a pen on paper. Of a man who thinks that the meaning and shape of what he does is of no value. Of a man who neglects everything for the sake of material benefit. He thinks: If I can get everything I want without any pain why should I expend my energy in thinking about shape and meaning? Today in the Internet and computer era a word falls behind the thought. That is why we do not write a word following the definite rules and state of mind. We type a word on a computer. If we write in the old way, if we write by hand, we will be surprised at our poor handwriting. The everlasting interrelation “spirit — heart — hand — paper” is broken by many “agents” — computers, printers… It′s hardly to be wondered at the fact that we lose the meaning of many ideas. Those ideas which demand deliberateness, concentration… But there is nothing in place for it: these are the rules. It is painful to admit this fact, but we can′t do anything about it. Long ago we left behind those times when people recognized each other by their handwriting.

No matter what they say, nothing vanishes into thin air. Let the great History take the floor. The history is like a diary where we can find everything we search for. Here we′ve been talking about our poor handwriting. So, let us open the page of the historical diary and find the article about penmanship. Ah, this writing has its own name: it is calligraphy.

Calligraphy is one of the most complicated and spiritual experiences … but let us start at the beginning. In all the primitive cultures the notions “write” and “paint” were identical. People handed the information by pictures, not by letters and words. Time flew and the pictures became schematized; they were not pictures any more but simplified symbols which expressed the objects. In China these simplified symbols turned into hieroglyphics, which accumulated writing and painting, words and pictures, notions and designations. In Ancient China people valued a written word more than a spoken one, and the assiduous Chinese made the written word a cult. So, the art of calligraphy was born.

In the early beginning this art was “the art for the chosen”. Calligraphers were always associated with magicians making mystery. People could see what they wrote, but wouldn′t always understand it. Flowing lines sweeping like a clear stream, wide strokes resembling the clouds, it was charming. Each brush stroke was “alive” and contained part of its author′s soul. Here is an ink drop, fallen from the brush. Here is a hair left on the paper. Suddenly the picture starts to grow, it increases in volume, turns into fantastical forms and you see bamboo stalks instead of black ink strokes. Bamboo leaves undulate in the breeze, the wind comes in a wave and flies away. And you imagine the old master who sits on a stone and peruses and pens symbols in the air. A shiver! And suddenly the old master makes some strokes on silk paper and we can see his soul exposed. You always feel this when you first look at intricate handwriting. Written by hand the text lives, it has its own soul. It is out of time, it is a processional set provided by energy circulation dynamics which touch all levels of the human universe. Calligraphic aesthetics focus at the rhythmic balance of the space-time continuum. Calligraphic plastic parameters allow the individual to encapsulate all outdoor metamorphoses and reveal the calligrapher′s personality, his spiritual being. Calligraphic aesthetics is based on matching psychic peculiarities and cosmic substance. It is like painting and literature. As in painting and literature, calligraphy mostly values the harmony of the soul and the birth of motion. Sometimes we can not read the symbols of a foreign culture, but we can see and feel smooth brush strokes, the strains and sweeps of the brush. That is why calligraphy is not only the art of perfect writing, but also the art of a perfect spirit. When a true calligrapher creates his masterpiece, it is a very exciting picture. But the most exciting thing is not even the writing itself, but the preparations for this process. The master spreads the paper on a table, he takes his inks and for a long time he is engaged with grinding the inks in the ink pot, which he brought from “holy mountains”. Then the master conscientiously chooses the brush, he looks at every hair of the brush. It takes time, but it took more pains to make the “four holy items”: paper, inks, ink-pot and brush. After that the master looses himself in long musings. But the musings may be short, that depends on the tuning and the “inner impulse”. Some go back and fro in the room swaying, some turn to the Holy table and whisper, some calmly draw future symbols in the air. Suddenly the master makes a few strokes on the paper and unbosoms his thoughts and feelings, his muse in the symbols, hieroglyphics.

In everyday life this process is faster and less comprehensive, but in general handwriting with a pen fully copies the process of creating calligraphy. Writing a symbol, a human being turns to the earliest beginnings of “magic calligraphy”; the text under the brush of the master is born “in a trance”. It is not the master himself, but his spirits controlling his brush.

A calligrapher should correspond to this title. A calligrapher may not start writing before he recovers balance of mind, before he clears his heart, and what is most important, only when feeling a volitional impulse inside, a calligrapher may start writing his masterpiece. He makes a shapeless thought real, and it is not by chance that in the Ancient East the people said: “A human′s beauty is in the beauty of his handwriting”.

Source: Oleg Vetoshnikov

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Calligraphy is the art of deliberate hieroglyphic corruption and transformation in order to reach natural harmony.