Today we share with you the opening speech of Young to young International Collaborative Workshop 2020 by CAA president Gao Shiming.
Illusion, could be translated as both misconception and hallucination in Chinese.
Chinese language system is unlike that of west, illusion has nothing to do with “right and wrong”， “existence and nonexistence". Wrong, in fact, means doesn’t match, while right is contrary. Wrong, mostly, refers to staggered or missed.
Therefore, “right and wrong” is neither “true or false”, nor existence and nonexistence. What relates to existence and nonexistence is called illusion, and illusion also concerns truth and falsehood.
But the truth and falsehood are not completely irreconcilable. Both the Taoism and the Buddhism emphasized "to practice the truth with the falsehood".
It can be seen that the East and the West have completely different ideological modes and systems over the issue of Illusion.
The word “真” in ancient Chinese is derived from the word “贞”. The true meaning of “贞” is to consult the gods, to reach the mysterious world that is natural, beyond image and objects. Therefore, the top radical of the old writing of “真”（“眞”）which looks like “匕”, actually is read “huà”, means change. Similarly, the Chinese word of illusion “幻” is of the same meaning.
In the short story “the Circular Ruins”, Borges described the story of a sorcerer, who dreamed a son of his own. However, he eventually head towards death. He walked into the tatters of flame. The flames devoured him, but he felt no pain. Then he, with sadness, tolerance, humiliation and terror, realized that he was also a phantom within the dream of another man. So, the story reveals the essential meaning of illusion, that is, the world itself is an illusion.
Another example, in the movie Matrix, the superhero Neo could see the essence of the world through phenomena. The essence of the world is illusion. The world we live in is matrix, the rules of which can be interrupted or rewritten. Thus, Neo, as both the son of man and the savior, substantially became a prisoner returning to the Plato's cave. That’s why he is able to resist and see through the illusion of reality, realizing and experiencing that reality does not exist. In fact, Plato's cave is the first relatively complete concept of an illusory world presented in our system of knowledge.
This, in effect, is like we watch movies, we see the flashes on the screen and plunge into the plots, following the protagonist's love and hatred, the ups and downs of his destiny. This is how we regard images as the world and the same, we usually consider the world as images. The so-called “seeing is believing” is just to “believe it to be true”. However, illusion is not only an unique perceptual phenomenon, but also a mental event. The White clouds suddenly change into gray dogs is an illusion, and The Emperor's New Clothes is also an illusion. Our experience of watching a movie, just like we dive ourselves in other one’s whole life in a mirror, or an image. When you jump out, the only thing left might be the illusion of one moment. Then, we have the story of "ZhuangZhou's Dream of Becoming a Butterfly", which is more critical and profound. Thereupon, we doubt our lives and suspect that everything in the world is just dreamlike bubble.
This is what the Buddism Sutras always stress. The book Complete Enlightenment Sutra says: after people realize that everything is illusory, they will keep away from illusions at, and when they keep away from all illusions, they are enlightened. Therefore, illusion is not completely negative. Illusion could transcend truth and falsehood. Illusion is a dynamic transformation and endless change between substance and void, between existence and nonexistence, between truth and falsehood. The power of illusion, leads us to look at the sky as abyss and then makes us see the eye of creation within the abyss. The most mysterious and confused work of Ye Zhi is called Illusion. But it's not an illusion, it's a vision, or the vision. What we need to think about is, if there is no vision, where does illusion come from? Moreover, what we should further question is, how could we distinguish what is a vision and what is an illusion? Is there really a difference between the two?
In addition, we are in a "post-truth" era where there is neither real delusions nor illusions without reality. More importantly, by jumping out of the entanglement of right and wrong, false and true, we can find that illusion can be a productive force. Being in a mirage, whether it is a mental projection, or a mental event, in terms of quantum theory, all these illusions are based on reality. They are all possible worlds, which are real, subordinate, and simultaneously existent utopias and arcadias. Outside our world, there are countless other worlds.
In a story, a gymnosophist went into a big city with millions of people, sneaking into everyone's dream and observing their dreams for a hundred years, and he finally got enlightened. This story tells us we can try to achieve illumination through illusion and get enlightenment through illusion. So, getting lost is the start of finding the way out and the illusion leads to your sensations on things. Isn’t it the significance behind art and design?
Therefore, I hope in the second session of YOUNG to young workshop, we can continually carry forward the spirit of Playshop, as the first session last year, letting the game guide us to play well between science, art and philosophy, to find our ways, multiple truths and futures inside illusions.