Hybrid identity, like Korean-American, provides a window through the “self” via the hyphen. This parallax gap reveals the unspeakable qualities of our lived experience as always already existing outside of taxonomy.
Matthew Barney’s work is fascinated by the void-space where duality collapses into paradoxical indistinction, and all opposites merge. His work imagines the perverse and horrifying aspects of this undifferentiated space, while “Being & Death” examines this space in a spiritually positive light.
Selves exist, but they are virtual. Non-self exists, and it is actual. Both, however, are completely real.
Why do we explore? Perhaps it is because space affects us: the hadal depths of the ocean cut trenches into our curiosity, and the distant reaches of the universe beckon with constellations of desire. More than just a search for unknown facts, humans explore new spaces to experience the unknown as such.
The first event of The Open! Using Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael” as our jumping-off point, we discussed topics ranging from the evolution of consciousness, to the teleology of biological life, to the fuzziness of boundaries between conceptual categories. The great achievement of the book, we decided, was its ability to engender strong, polarizing reactions.
How do we speak about the unspeakable? This is the foundational question of Being & Death. The search for an answer leads to the structure of this book: chains of analogy forming a circle around the unknown, gesturing toward the unspeakable through the negative space of allegory.
Do we say the Tao is “outside of” duality? “Beyond” duality? All these prepositions are spatial, and as such are relational, and as such re-posit the very duality they aim to escape. If the Tao is “outside of” duality, then we’ve prepositionally established an inside/outside binary, thus trapping us back in the system we were trying to exit. This would be incorrect thinking. So… what prepositions should we use?