⟨ Object ⟩

Moon Palace Sumi Ink

The entire universe whistles through it

Words / 夏侯露茜
Illustration / Furze Chan

你們大概也有玩過這一種心理測驗吧?先說出三種最喜愛的動物,然後再說出喜愛那些動物的原因。喜愛第一種動物的原因代表其他人是怎樣看你;喜愛第二種動物的原因則代表你是怎樣看自己;至於喜愛第三種動物的原因呢,就是你真正的樣子了。

我常常也會想,為什麼一定要選動物呢?換轉選擇的是心愛物件的話,不就會更精準貼切了嗎?至於我的三項心愛物件,先不管次序,這款開明書液應該是會榜上有名。它那無止盡的濃黑經常讓我想起,美國詩人Patricia Goedicke的〈Though It Looks Like a Throat It Is Not〉內這數行詩句:

For the shape of loneliness is a hole
Without any edges, finally
The entire universe whistles through it.

頭一趟看見小孩使用這類墨液繪畫,是在《August to August》相集之內。小男孩的母親本身是書法家,讓他使用墨液塗鴉成了理所當然的事情;至於任職攝影師的父親,更會利用攝影棚的背景紙充當巨型畫紙,任由兒子肆意揮筆塗鴉。相集內最吸引我的一幀照片剛好就是小男孩背對攝影機鏡頭、手握沾滿墨液的毛筆正在聚精會神地繪畫的情景。喜愛開明書液的我,看過這幀照片以後,自然也有讓蔦悠一顯身手的衝動。欠缺攝影棚場景不要緊,把A3大小的雪白畫紙貼往畫架上,將少許墨液注入玻璃瓶子裡去,然後連同畫筆一起擱在畫架跟前,悄悄退到一旁,再靜觀蔦悠的動靜。從來不會指導他應該如何畫畫的我,一直堅信孩子都是與生俱來的藝術家,所以頂多只會把合適的畫具排列出來,再隨他在心血來潮時自由發揮。想不到這天在我背過身子的當兒,蔦悠已經拿起畫筆並以電光火石之速完成他的第一幅水墨畫,我也只能在回過神來的一刻,瞪著完成畫作發呆。

你可能正在納罕,小孩子不是應該跟繽紛色彩為伍嗎?讓他用墨液繪畫,好像是有點單調又令人沮喪吧?可是,那天當我站在蔦悠的水墨畫跟前,正在抓破頭也看不出一筆一墨之間哪是起點哪是終點之際,卻暗暗感覺到了這種無知與未懂,才是力量所在。我猜蔦悠在揮筆的當兒,腦袋並沒有確切的想法;他就只是專心一致地在感受手腕的舞動。那種無念的狀況,也許又是另一種無邊際的洞,在你想要看清一點並且好好理解的同時,一整個未知宇宙也在向著蔦悠的內心世界,呼嘯而過。


You guys probably have played this kind of psychological test before? Firstly, name three of your most favorite animals; then tell the reason why you love each of them. The reason why you love the first favorite animal is how other people see you. The reason for the second favorite is how you see yourself. As for the reason for the third one, it is what you truly are. 

I have always wondered, why must we choose animals? What if we choose our favorite objects instead? Wouldn’t it be more accurate then? As for my three most beloved objects, this Moon Palace sumi ink should definitely be on the list. Its seemingly endless black always reminds me of these lines from Though It Looks Like a Throat It Is Not, a poem written by the American poet Patricia Goedicke:

For the shape of loneliness is a hole
Without any edges, finally
The entire universe whistles through it.

The first time I saw a child using sumi ink for painting, is from a photo book named August to August. The child’s mother is a calligrapher, so naturally she would give him access to this kind of ink for doodling. And since this child’s father is a photographer, he would also let him use the backdrop paper in his studio as a giant canvas. One photo from this book which particularly attracts me shows how the boy, deep in concentration while standing in front of the giant white paper, drew with a large brush and sumi ink. Having always loved Moon Palace sumi ink, I naturally have the urge to let my son Julian try as well. The lack of a studio space is no big deal. I can put an A3-sized drawing paper up on an easel, pour a little ink into a glass jar, and then place it together with a brush in front of the easel. I would then quietly observe what Julian would do with them. I never specifically teach him how to paint, since I always believe that all children are born artists. I would set up the appropriate tools for him, and let him play with them at his own free will. Unexpectedly, one day when I was doing some chores and had turned my back away, Julian had already took a brush and finished drawing his first ink painting in split seconds. When I finally realised what had happened, all I could do was to stare at the painting and wondered how he did it. 

Perhaps you are wondering, shouldn’t children play with cheerful colors? Isn’t it a bit dull and depressing to give him only sumi ink? The thing is, that day when I was standing in front of Julian’s ink painting, while I scratched my head hard and still couldn’t figure out which stroke started first and which one ended last, little by little it dawned on me that such ignorance and obscurity are where the power lies. I guess the moment when Julian was painting, he had no definite idea in his mind; he was only concentrating on feeling the movement of his wrist. This state of blank mind may as well be another kind of hole without any edges. The moment when you wish to see clearly and try to understand it, the entire universe whistles through it – that little inner world hidden inside Julian.