Explore Mindfulness without Deflection:
A Data Art Based on the Books of Songs
The Book of Songs is widely acknowledged as the origin of traditional Chinese culture and highly impacted the whole East Asian culture. It is officially assembled by the famous founder of Confucianist, Confucius, who lived in the Late Zhou Dynasty around 3000 years ago. This epoch is considered paralleled with the Axial Period of world history, and Confucianist is regarded as one of the fundamental East Asian philosophies. The Book of Songs represents secular and religious values Confucius approved in accord with his own philosophical system, which brings a profound impact on traditional Chinese culture, aesthetics, and morality.
Recorded from 1100 BC to 500 BC, The Book of Songs consists of 305 poems with three genres, namely, Songs (風), Odes and Epics (雅), and Hymns (頌). Across different genres, the poems cover various themes to portray the whole society in the Late Zhou Dynasty, including not only ballads, folk-customs of ordinary people, but also sacrifice, banquet, and the musical dance of nobility.
Although many phenomena mentioned in the book (e.g., feudalism) are antiquated to Chinese people nowadays, many language styles and underlying thoughts are substantially the same as those we are experiencing today, especially the unique euphemistic style lying in the Chinese culture. Such euphemistic style usually takes advantage of natural creatures or phenomena to make comparisons or uses them as metaphors to express the feelings of the authors. To express the euphemism, people use tons of poetic imageries in The Book of Songs. Herbage, Trees, Birds, Livestock, Insects, and Fish have constituted a huge imagery database shared by not only Chinese but the whole East Asian cultural circle. They act as essential bridges connecting the abstract themes and the subjective emotions and feelings expressed by the authors.
Savored today, the charm of The Book of Songs is still vivid. It represents the circumstances, the thoughts, the habits, the joys and sorrows of individuals from all classes of society in Ancient China. The Book of Songs has established a time tunnel to connect people today and their ancestors, which helps us understand the distant and precious cultural heritage and the universal, everlasting, and poetical human lives.
In this work, we have analyzed the 305 poems in The Book of Songs from different dimensions. We aim to learn how various poetic imageries connect abstract themes and subjective emotions at the micro level, and how the poems connect people today and ancestors to understand the universal, everlasting, and poetical human lives at the macro level.
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诗三百 一言以蔽之 曰 思无邪