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The human seriousness of interality: an East Asian take.


"Interology" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is the study of "interality" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] pronounced as "jianxing") or betweenness. It sees the interzone or zone of proximity as the space of possibilities and transformations and the locus of ethics. Both terms were coined by Dr. Geling Shang, the Chinese-American philosopher. The hyphen here betokens an interological mode of being, which has served as the existential ground to motivate, inspire (literally, give breath, energy, and spirit to), inform, and nourish this line of inquiry. As such, the etymology of the term "interality" is necessarily interlingual. Its English origin is "intersubjectivity" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). For one well versed in the Chinese philosophical tradition, "inter" is more essential than "subjectivity." Logically and chronologically, it precedes "subjectivity," rather than the other way around. As a philosophical concept, "interality" is much more inclusive than "intersubjectivity." It captures the gist of the Chinese sensibility. The Chinese eye, for example, has a predilection for what is in between. (1)

The Chinese origin of "interality" is "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (pronounced as "jian"), which later on took the form of "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" and finally got simplified as "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" The word "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" is an ideograph made up of a moon inside a door. The explanation offered by Xu Kai ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) captures the sense of the ideograph the best: "The door is closed at night. It is closed but one can see moonlight. For there is an interval" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"). "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" literally means an interval. The Chinese words for time ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and space ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) both have "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" in it. Used as a verb, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" means to create a gap in between (as in "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," meaning "thinning out seedlings"), or to alienate (as in "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"). When pronounced as "xian," with a rising tone, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" means leisure, an unoccupied period of time, or time to play, which is still an interval--a temporal interval. The simplified form is "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]."

In Japan, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" is recognized as the kanji for ma ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which is a concept pivotal to almost all realms of Japanese culture, including architecture, calligraphy, sumi-e (ink wash painting, or "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"), judo, gardening, flower arrangement, Noh theater, and so on. A good sense of ma is precisely what distinguishes superior artists (including martial artists) from mediocre ones. Ma has been translated variously as interval, space, spacing, and negative space, etc. For our purposes, ma is a special permutation of interality. Interestingly, the kanji for human being is "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," which literally means "in the midst of humans." The implication is that to be human is to be with or in the midst of others in the world, which is to say our being is defined by interality.

In English, there are a long list of words that fall within the semantic field of interality, such as betweenness (once I even coined the interlingual hybrid "zwischenness" to mean the same thing), hiatus, lacuna, the missing link (which was the greatest discovery of the nineteenth century), medium, milieu, environment, mediator (especially as used by Gilles Deleuze), trickster (e.g., Hermes, Old Man Coyote, as presented by Lewis Hyde), Sabbath, carnival, play, leeway, liminality (one of Victor Turner's signature terms), hybridity, relationality, guanxi, mutuality, reciprocity, synergy, resonance, apposition, juxtaposition, counterpoint (as used by Jakob von Uexkull), doppelganger, dilemma, and "and." Morphologically speaking, there are entire groups of words that have to do with interality, including those that start with "inter" (such as interval, interplay, interface, interstice, interruption, interregnum, interzone, interdiction, interlude, intermezzo, intertextuality, interflow, interanimation, intercourse, interdependence, intergenerationality, intermediary, Internet), those that start with "con," "com," "co," "sym" "syn" (such as configuration, conspire, consonance, concoction, communion, communication, compassion, compromise, commerce, coexistence, co-presence, cooperation, coincidence, symbiosis, sympathy, symphony, synchronicity), those that start with "cross," "trans" (such as cross-fertilization, transformation, transaction, translation--including the translation of swordsmanship into calligraphy and the latter into martial arts), those that start with "re" (such as repurpose, reiterate), those that have "ar" in it (such as art, articulation, harmony, arthritis), and a lot more. In French, there are words like entrepreneur (which literally means a middleman or intermediary). In German, there are words like Zusammenschauen (a contuitive view), and Mitsein (Being-with), etc.

Many figures of speech rely on interality to work, such as metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, pun, parody (which is a special kind of allusion), oxymoron (e.g., trained incapacity, learned ignorance, educated blindness), paradox, irony (e.g., The Colbert Report: "My great grandfather did not come here from Ireland to see his country overrun by immigrants"), hendiadys, couplet, repetition, parallelism, analogy, alliteration (the Chinese equivalent being "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"), and rhyme (the Chinese equivalents being "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" and "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"). All is to suggest that issues of interality have always been deemed as noteworthy in the English-speaking world, and, I'd assume, in the West at large.

Western attention to interality, however, has for a long time presupposed, and therefore, been secondary to and constrained by, an entity- or object-orientation. The assumption is that preformed entities and objects--and subjects, too--precede interality. Marshall McLuhan would say that this peculiar Western bias is not ahistorical. Rather, it is a symptom of the ascendance of the phonetic alphabet as a dominant medium of communication, the effect of which has been intensified by the printing press and then gradually eroded and dispelled by electric, electronic, and digital technologies. As McLuhan and Zingrone (1995) put it: "The age-old conflict between the Eastern integrity of the interval and the Western integrity of the object is being resolved in oral culture" (p. 208). That is to say, there has been an Orientalization of Western thinking in the age of postliteracy or secondary orality. Interality as an orientation has been rediscovered by prescient Western thinkers such as Jakob von Uexkull, Martin Buber, Martin Heidegger, Mikhail Bakhtin, Kenneth Burke, McLuhan, Edward T. Hall, Alan W. Watts, Victor Turner, Vilem Flusser, Deleuze, Paul Virilio, Lewis Hyde, and Bruno Latour, etc. Furthermore, Gestalt theory, field theory, and modern physics all display an interological orientation one way or another.

This article treats of interality as a polysemous term, explores its rich permutations, and articulates their ethical implications. The argument is that a thoroughgoing interological orientation is more serviceable and "ethical" (i.e., life enhancing) than an entity or object orientation. Since there is a polyphony of voices to orchestrate in this exploration, the article adopts a nomadic, rhapsodic, rhizomatic textual strategy, which more or less enacts the interological orientation. As such, "He who walks with me shall walk from crest to crest: You will need very long legs," to borrow Nietzsche's formulation. Due to space limitations, the article will be no more than a fast-paced montage, a catalyst for further explorations. It will focus on manifestations of interality in East Asian cultures (especially Chinese culture), touching upon Western permutations of the concept only where the flow of textual energy makes such digressions seem natural.

Interality as a Default Emphasis in East Asian Cultures

The Chinese mind has always been preoccupied with the interplay between "things." It's the interplay that makes things what they are. When the interplay changes, things are no longer the same. From the very beginning, "thingness" has been grasped as an effect of positionality, relationality, or simply interality. The game of Go ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) makes a perfect example. The pieces are not coded. The meaning of a particular piece is nothing but its relative position vis-a-vis other pieces at any given moment. Players call a newly placed piece this or that (e.g., [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) but it is not the interiority or essence of the new piece that is being named but its positionality vis-a-vis the existing configuration. That is to say, each name designates a particular type of interality. The aim of the game is to maximize the interality (i.e., intervals, empty spaces) on one's own side while squeezing the "air" out of the other side. So the game of Go is interological in a double sense--it is about using interplays and bonds between pieces ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) to create intervals (i.e., room for play) while playing with the other side.

This mindset is reflected in Chinese ideograms, i.e., characters formed through logical combinations ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], one of the six methods of constructing Chinese characters), "in which each part of the character contributes to the meaning of the whole" (Chiang, 1973, p. 25). Small on top of big implies that something is "pointed" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Broom in hand betokens the act of "sweeping" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). A female holding a broom to do housework symbolizes a married woman ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). A woman accompanied by her son suggests a "good" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) state of affairs. A man holding a lance or spear implies to invade or attack ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Using both hands to divide means to "break" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). A person in an enclosed space stands for a "prisoner" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). One person behind another indicates to "follow" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The meaning comes from the interplay between two or more constituent elements.

Interality is also the essence of the art of calligraphy. When it comes to the composition of Chinese characters, the first element to be considered is "the plotting out of the parts in relation to one another and to the spaces left blank" (Chiang, 1973, p. 167). There is interality or interplay not only within individual characters but also between them. Within whole pieces of calligraphic work, characters are supposed to set off one another. On the other hand, the arrangement of spaces ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is as important as the arrangement of strokes, radicals, and characters in relation to one another. This principle applies to Chinese painting as well. In his book on Chinese calligraphy, Chiang Yee illustrates a number of rules regarding how to arrange the elements within a character in relation to one another. These rules are all statements about interality. Examples include: arranging and piling up ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), avoiding and approaching ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), facing inwards and outwards ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), mutual concession ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), covering over ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), implied connexion ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), lower prop ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), salutation ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and embracing and wrapping up ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (Chiang, 1973, pp. 172-185). To practice Chinese calligraphy is to rehearse proxemics on paper and to cultivate in oneself a good sense of interality, which will translate into decorous social postures. McLuhan and Powers (1989), by the way, associate calligraphy with cubism (p. 64). Even though they have English calligraphy in mind, the idea applies to Chinese calligraphy as well. What calligraphy and cubism have in common is spatial discontinuity, which is a kind of interality.

The immemorial I Ching ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), also known as The Book of Changes, which is the oldest of the Chinese classics and lies at the root of Chinese culture, is entirely based on interality (i.e., the interplay between yang and yin, line and line, line and position, lower and upper trigrams, hexagram and situation, question and text, text and interpreter, and the intertransformation between hexagrams). The 31st hexagram ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], translated variously as "Influence," "Mutual Influence," or "Reciprocity") contains the metamessage of I Ching, which is interality. "Hui-yuan, an eminent monk of the Eastern Jin Dynasty ... says the root of the I Ching is mutual influence" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"), which is synonymous with resonance or the Deleuzian notion of affecting and being affected (Huang, 1998, p. 268).2 A broad-stroke discussion of I Ching and interality can be found in "McLuhan and I Ching: An Interological Inquiry" (Zhang, 2014, pp. 449-468). Suffice it to say here that each hexagram does not name a thing, but a particular configuration of interplays, or a particular type of relational field, which calls for a particular social posture, a particular mode of action or inaction. The interological-minded I Ching has "radically" (i.e., at a root level) shaped the Chinese sensibility.

In The Book of Odes ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), there is a peculiar type of poetic leap called "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," which is aptly translated as "evocative association." It is a matter of using one thing as a starting point or a springboard to get to another. There is a resonant interval (i.e., interality) in between. The first thing is the way-in, the preparation, which paves the way for the second. When the mind has reached the second thing, the first does not fade away, but serves as the supporting ground, the accompaniment, the shadow--somewhat like the way the double plot functions in Shakespeare's works. The very first lines of The Book of Odes (translated by Legge) make a good example:
   Guan-guan go the ospreys,
   On the islet in the river.
   The modest, retiring, virtuous, young lady:
   For our prince a good mate she.

Another good example is: "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," To illustrate the point, we need a translation that retains the original syntax: "Blue, blue your collar; blue, blue my heart." Over the ages, evocative association has become a staple feature of Chinese poetics and a collective mental posture of the Chinese people. Numerous examples can be found in folk songs, couplets, as well as poetry. Li Ji's revolutionary poem, "Wang Gui and Li Xiangxiang," which was published in 1946, has multiple examples in it. Reading the poem against the present-day Chinese ethical ground creates an interality loaded with incongruity, making the poem oddly interesting.

Interality is a recurring motif in The Analects ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Take this line from Simon Leys's translation: "The master said: 'A gentleman brings out the good that is in people, he does not bring out the bad. A vulgar man does the opposite'" (Leys, 1997, p. 58). For our purposes here, a gentleman creates a positive field of influence or zone of proximity, which activates good potentials in people. This is where Confucian ethics and Spinozan-Deleuzian ethics (which is all about good encounters vs. bad ones) coincide with one another (Deleuze, 1988, p. 103). When asked by Zigong, one of his disciples, whether there is any single word that could guide one's entire life, Confucius replied, "Should it not be reciprocity?" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (Leys, 1997, p. 77). Interality is central to Confucian ethics, so to speak, although not all interalities are good. As Confucius remarks, "With those who follow a different Way, to exchange views is pointless" (Leys, 1997, p. 79). Another example: "Master Zeng said: 'A gentleman gathers friends through his culture; and with these friends, he develops his humanity" (Leys, 1997, p. 59). "With his friends" says it all--one's humanity is to be developed interologically. This line can be read as a footnote to a line from I Ching: "The action of Heaven is strong and dynamic. In the same manner, the noble man never ceases to strengthen himself' (Lynn, 1994, p. 130). To couch it in Deleuze's vocabulary, a gentleman is a machinic assemblage with material, symbolic, and social dimensions--the symbolic mediates and catalyzes the social. A gentleman's virtue lies in his interalities. Overall, Confucianism is invested in harmonious social relations. It is preoccupied with relationality.

In Tao Te Ching ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), there are two chapters that are particularly interesting for the interological-minded. Chapter Two touches upon the interality between Being and Nonbeing, which "grow out of one another" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," translated by Waley). This interality is both both Being and Nonbeing and neither Being nor Nonbeing. (3) Part of the point is that Being and Nonbeing are not mutually exclusive but interdependent and mutually generative. This is precisely what Alan Watts means by "polarity." The interality here is analogous to that between nonblank and blank spaces in Chinese calligraphy and painting. The following lines from McLuhan's DEW-Line deck, which was published in 1969, indicate that he is appreciative of this sense of interality: "learning creates ignorance," "white creates black," "the public creates privacy," "affluence creates poverty." A quote attributed to Albert Einstein is also in order here: "Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy."

Chapter Eleven articulates the dialectical unity between Being (i.e., what is) and Nonbeing (i.e., what is not) and is worth quoting in toto (note that the version below is cited by McLuhan and Fiore in The Medium Is the Massage):
   Thirty spokes are made one by holes in a hub,
   By vacancies joining them for a wheel's use;
   The use of clay in molding pitchers
   Comes from the hollow of its absence;
   Doors, windows, in a house,
   Are used for their emptiness;
   Thus we are helped by what is not,
   To use what is. (McLuhan and Fiore, 1967, p. 145)

For our purposes here, not only is there interality between "what is" and "what is not," the latter (known as "wu" or "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" in Chinese, typically translated as "nothingness," the simplified form being "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") constitutes a kind of interality in and of itself. It belongs with yin (which is the emphasis of Lao Tzu's philosophy and Taoism in general) and the Buddhist notion of sunyata (i.e., emptiness, known as "kong" or "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" in Chinese).

Lao Tzu's reasoning here has been intuitively grasped or directly taken up by thinkers East and West, such as Deleuze, Lewis Hyde, McLuhan, and OkakuraKakuzo ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). In his short essay on Gerard Fromanger's paintings entitled "Hot and Cool," Deleuze (2004) points out: "when the medium is hot, nothing circulates or communicates except through the cool, which controls every active interaction ..." (p. 250). "The cool" is synonymous with yin, interality (as against socalled entities and objects), emptiness, and "what is not." Nurturing one's emptiness ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is the Taoist's lifetime pursuit. The Deleuze quote more or less captures the spirit of Taoism. In his works, Deleuze repeatedly emphasizes the ethical significance of receptivity and affectability (i.e., the capacity to be affected, which is "yin" in nature) and sees passion as a species of human power (i.e., passive power) that is as important as action. Take this quote: "Potential is pathos, that is, passivity, receptivity. But receptivity is first of all the potential to give and receive blows--a strange endurance" (Deleuze & Parnet, 2007, p. 155).

Hyde is another Western author who celebrates the Taoist ethos without naming it as such. He dedicates an entire chapter of his book, The Gift, to creativity. Yet, instead of emphasizing "the Creative" (the first hexagram of the I Ching, made up entirely of yang lines), he puts emphasis on "the Receptive" (the second hexagram of the I Ching, made up entirely of yin lines), as betokened by the begging bowl image below, which resonates strongly with the pitcher image in Tao Te Ching:

An essential portion of any artist's labor is not creation so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that 'begging bowl' to which the gift is drawn." (Hyde, 1983, p. 143)

To paraphrase Hyde's point, in order to be creative, one has to be receptive in the first place. To privilege the latter is to privilege interality, in the double sense of relationality and emptiness. The ethos here is shared by Osho (the Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher), who points out: "The creative person is one ... who becomes a hollow bamboo and allows God to flow through him" (Osho, 1999, p. 146). Heidegger's notion of "clearing" resonates strongly with the Buddhist notion of sunyata and the Taoist notion of wu. As such, it belongs with the notion of interality.

As a heuristic, the wheel image in Tao Te Ching has had a profound impact on McLuhan's thinking. The second chapter of The Global Village, a book coauthored by McLuhan and Powers, is tellingly entitled "The Wheel and the Axle." Their emphasis is neither on the wheel, nor the axle, but the interval in between (i.e., interality), which is what "play" means and precisely what Lao Tzu means by wu or "what is not." The point is best summarized in the following passage from another chapter of the book:

We have long been accustomed to using the interval between the wheel and the axle as an example not only of touch, but also of play. Without play, without that figure-ground interval, there is neither wheel nor axle. The space between the wheel and the axle, which defines both, is "where the action is"; and this space is both audile and tactile. The Chinese ... use the interval between things as a primary means of getting in touch with situations. (McLuhan & Powers, 1989, p. 64)

McLuhan and Powers argue explicitly that it is not entities that define interality, but the other way around ("The space between the wheel and the axle. defines both"). They are less interested in figure-to-figure relations (which are a kind of interality) than the interval, interface and interplay between figure and ground, which is also the emphasis of this project. Blank spaces in Chinese painting, for example, have a philosophical significance--they embody the Taoist notion of wu (i.e., nothingness), which is seen as the constitutive ground of things and entities. In accordance with this philosophy or sensibility, interality is primary, whereas things and entities are secondary or derivative. It should not come off as a stretch to say that McLuhan has or has retrieved a Taoist sensibility. The last sentence in the quote above indicates that when we say somebody is out of touch, what we really mean is that this person needs to work on his or her interalities. McLuhan's notion of probing is precisely based on this Chinese way of knowing. To probe is to artificially create an interval or interality to generate insight, and to move on to another interval if the original one turns out to be unfruitful. Among Western thinkers, McLuhan is a hardcore interologist.

In The Book of Tea, Okakura (1906) offers a useful paraphrase of and commentary on the same passage in Tao Te Ching, referring to wu as "the Vacuum":
   [Laotse] claimed that only in vacuum lay the truly
   essential. The reality of a room, for instance, was
   to be found in the vacant space enclosed by the roof
   and walls, not in the roof and walls themselves. The
   usefulness of a water pitcher dwelt in the emptiness
   where water might be put, not in the form of the
   pitcher or the material of which it was made.
   Vacuum is all potent because all containing. In
   vacuum alone motion becomes possible. One who
   could make of himself a vacuum into which others
   might freely enter would become master of all
   situations. The whole can always dominate the part.
   (pp. 59-60)

"In vacuum alone motion becomes possible" sounds very similar to Deleuze's point (mentioned earlier) about the cool controlling every active interaction, and to the following line by McLuhan: "The natural interval between the wheel and axle is where action and 'play' are one. The aware executive is the one who 'steps down' when the action begins to 'seize up'. He maintains his autonomy and his flexibility" (McLuhan & Zingrone, 1995, p. 358). "The whole can always dominate the part" can be read as a statement about the medium (i.e., milieu, environment) "having" the user, which is to say, "the medium is the massage," whereas "the user is the content," to use McLuhan's formulations.

The immediate next paragraph in The Book of Tea applies the Taoist idea of wu to jiu-jitsu ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). It also illuminates McLuhan's notion of "cool" media (examples include mosaics, low definition TV, pointillist painting, collage, montage, cubist painting, William Burroughs's cut-up method and fold-in method, etc.) and his style of writing. As Okakura (1906) puts it:
   These Taoists' ideas have greatly influenced all our theories of
   action, even. those of fencing and wrestling. Jiu-jitsu, the
   Japanese art of self-defence, owes its name to a passage in the
   Taoteiking. In Jiu-jitsu one seeks to draw out and exhaust the
   enemy's strength by non-resistance, vacuum, while conserving one's
   own strength for victory in the final struggle. In art the
   importance of the same principle is illustrated by the value of
   suggestion. In leaving something unsaid the beholder is given a
   chance to complete the idea and thus a great masterpiece
   irresistibly rivets your attention until you seem to become
   actually a part of it. A vacuum is there for you to enter and fill
   up to the full measure of your aesthetic emotion. (pp. 60-61)

The Japanese notion of ma ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is synonymous with Lao Tzu's notion of wu and our notion of interality. The following passage from Yoshida Kenko's ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) Tsurezuregusa (Essays in Idleness, or ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) illustrates the centrality of ma or interality in Japanese aesthetics without explicitly using either term:

Things which seem in poor taste: too many personal effects cluttering up the place where one is sitting; too many brushes in an ink-box; too many Buddhas in a family temple; too many stones and plants in a garden; too many children in a house; too many words on meeting someone; too many meritorious deeds recorded in a petition. (Keene, 1998, p. 64)

If anything, the Japanese aesthete would rather err on the side of ma or "coolness." Yoshida's book itself was written in the cool zuihitsu ("follow-the-brush," or "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") style, which is not unlike Nietzsche's aphorisms in form. Whoever finds the concept of ma hard to grasp will get it immediately by visiting a dry landscape ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) garden at one of the Zen temples (such as Nanzen-ji or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in Kyoto. For one thing, the rocks are "related to the surrounding space or to the area of sand in the same way as figure to background in Sung paintings" (Watts, 1989, p. 194). Francois Berthier (2000) points out, "the temple gardens are paintings painted without brushes, sutras written without [Chinese] characters" (pp. 9-10).

In Chinese painting and Japanese sumi-e, the concept of wu, ma, or interality is "embodied" by empty spaces, which "are not, in the truest sense, 'blank' at all, but constitute unstated expressions of sky, land or water' (Chiang, 1973, p. 169). Watts (1960) points out:
   ... the Chinese artists understood better than any
   others the value of empty spaces, and in a certain
   sense what they left out was more important than
   what they put in; it was a tantalizing reticence, a
   vacuum which drew out curiosity; they lifted just a
   corner of the veil to excite people to find out for
   themselves what lay beyond. This was the Taoist
   principle of wu-wei, of arriving at action through
   non-action. (pp. 108-109)

Another important source for the study of interality is "The Secret of Caring for Life" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which is the third chapter of The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. The chapter tells the story of Cook Ting who cuts up oxen by running his knife through intervals, without touching ligaments, tendons, or joints, thereby keeping the knife intact after nineteen years of use, which is a parable about how to care for life. In Ting's words:

What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill.. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are.. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there's plenty of room--more than enough for the blade to play about it. (Watson, 1968, pp. 50-51)

The idea of "interval" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) takes multiple guises in this passage (the Chinese words used include: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The passage presents the "interval" as indispensable for, or at one with, play, freedom, and the Way (i.e., Tao). The spirit it espouses is one of "free and easy wandering" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," title of the first chapter of the book), which is a matter of transforming tricky situations into "smooth spaces" by virtue of a subtle sense of interality, to use a term from Deleuze and Guattari. (4) Sun Tzu (2003) has a like-spirited line in The Art of War: "So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") (p. 114). "What is weak" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") is the equivalent of "spaces between the joints" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") in Chuang Tzu. "Go along with the natural makeup" and "follow things as they are" imply another philosophical concept, li ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that li, interality, Tao, and tong (throughness, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) belong together. They all connote the realm of freedom, although there can be such a thing called "dead li" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which is a hindrance.

"Xu" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") is another word in Chuang Tzu that is closely related to our notion of interality. Watson translates it as "emptiness." In the following passage, xu is equated with "the fasting of the mind" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]"):

Confucius said, "Make your will one! Don't listen with your ears, listen with your mind. No, don't listen with your mind, but listen with your spirit. Listening stops with the ears, the mind stops with recognition, but spirit is empty and waits on all things. The Way gathers in emptiness alone. Emptiness is the fasting of the mind." (Watson, 1968, p. 58)

Here, Watson translates "Qi" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") as "spirit," which, although not the only possibility, is nevertheless a thoughtful choice. Like "inspiration," "spirit" has "breath" in it. For our purposes, this passage reiterates the indispensability of interality (which takes the guise of "emptiness" in this context) for Tao ("the Way"). To couch it in the language of Buddhism, what the fasting of the mind creates is a state of sunyata in the mind (Chuang Tzu is an important source for Chan Buddhism, which has flourished in the resonant interval between Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism). In this age of busyness, the therapeutic value of the fasting of the mind is not to be underestimated. What we gain from the fasting of the mind is precisely interality, or a kind of useful uselessness ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). A less hasty treatment of the motif can be found in "A Note on Photography in a Zen Key" (Zhang, 2013, pp. 20-27).

In a later chapter called "The Mountain Tree" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), Chuang Tzu points to the life-preserving nature of xu through the mouth of the Master from the south of the Market. The gist of it can be grasped through this short excerpt:

The Master from the south of the Market said, ". If a man, having lashed two hulls together, is crossing a river, and an empty boat happens along and bumps into him, no matter how hot-tempered the man may be, he will not get angry. But if there should be someone in the other boat, then he will shout out to haul this way or veer that.. Earlier he faced emptiness, now he faces occupancy. If a man could succeed in making himself empty, and in that way wander through the world, then who could do him harm?" (Watson, 1968, p. 212)

The moral is in the last sentence. The Chinese original is: "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" Like Lao Tzu's notion of wu, the wisdom here seems to have found its way into the Japanese art of ju-jutsu. As Watts (1960) puts it: "The essence of ju-jutsu is that there should never be anything which can be fought against; the expert must be as elusive as the truth of Zen; he must make himself into a Koan--a puzzle which slips away the more one tries to solve it ..." (p. 117). Deleuze's notion of "becoming imperceptible" captures the same ethos (Deleuze and Guattari, 1987, p. 232).

Interality is also the soul of Buddhism, especially Chan (known as "Zen" in Japan, "dhyana" being the original Sanskrit form) Buddhism. For the sake of convenience, let's start with Japanese Zendo ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The acme every Zen practitioner aspires to reach is ma ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which is a special permutation of interality. Ma literally means an aperture (photographers, by the way, literally have ma to thank for their art because they can't "write with light" without ma or the aperture) or an interval but its meaning has evolved over the ages. "Free time" and "tranquility of mind" are among the derivative meanings of the word. As a state of mind, ma is synonymous with mushin ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], spelt as "wuxin" in Chinese pinyin, meaning "no mind"), which implies, paradoxically, a cultivated spontaneity. The "do" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in practices such as judo ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], meaning "gentle way"), shodo ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], Japanese calligraphy), and kado ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], flower arrangement, also known as ikebana) entails that practitioners reach ultimate mushin (vacancy of mind, mental ma). The Zen-spirited tea ceremony, conducted in the Tea House (chaseki), the "Abode of Emptiness," is essentially "a temporary escape from all cares and distractions--a period of rest and contemplation" (Watts, 1960, p. 111). Its ultimate good is precisely ma, or mushin.

In a state of mushin, one is not hindered by preconceptions and learned incapacities, and therefore is open to infinite possibilities in any given situation and capable of genuine perception when facing an "object"; for the first time, one can encounter being (e.g., a flower) for what it is. In this sense, ma or mushin augments one's responsive virtuosity and enhances one's life. It is more or less synonymous with Chuang Tzu's notion of the fasting of the mind. That's why Chuang Tzu and Chan (i.e., Zen) are often mentioned side by side, as in "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" Takuan Soho's ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) words about "immovable wisdom" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) belong here:

What is most important is to acquire a certain mental attitude known as 'immovable wisdom. '... 'Immovable' means the highest degree of mobility with a centre which remains immovable. The mind then reaches the highest point of alacrity ready to direct its attention anywhere it is needed ... There is something immovable within, which, however, moves along spontaneously with things presenting themselves before it. The mirror of wisdom reflects them instantaneously one after another, keeping itself intact and undisturbed. (Watts, 1960, p. 105)

Mushin is best explained in the words of a Zenlin ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) poem, "The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection; The water has no mind to receive their image" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (Watts, 1989, p. 181). A line by Te-shan Hsuan-chien ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is also in order here: "Only when you have no thing in your mind and no mind in things are you vacant and spiritual, empty and marvelous" ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") (Watts, 1989, p. 131). It is worth pointing out that ma is a polysemous concept. A useful summary of the different shades of meaning of the term can be found in Edward T. Hall's book, The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time.

The Surangama Sutra ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) has a line in it that is directly about interality: "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]," The English is something like this: "Marvelous as the sounds of qin, se, and konghou (three ancient Chinese musical instruments) are, they cannot go forth without marvelous fingers." At a surface level, the music comes from the interality (i.e., interplay) between the musical instrument and capable fingers. But this line needs to be read as an allegory about the impermanence (i.e., anicca, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) or ultimate emptiness ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of all conditioned existence, just as music inevitably fades away in time. The line also implies three Buddhist concepts: cause (hetu, H), external conditions (pratyaya, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and effect ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The same cause can lead to numerous effects, depending on what external conditions the cause encounters in the moment. The interval between cause and effect is where possibilities arise and transformations happen. What Deleuze means by "mediators" is simply positive external conditions ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) or good encounters, which may catalyze creativity or trigger awakening (the Buddhist term is upaya, meaning "expedient means"; Deleuze's point is that anything can serve as upaya when one is ready, when the time is ripe) (Deleuze, 1995, pp. 121-134). Good external conditions are indissociable from the opportune moment ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Therefore the two are often lumped together as "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (the right conditions at the right time). As an idiomatic expression, it bespeaks a sense of kairos, which is typically imagined as a favorable but fleeting temporal interval, as indicated by the expression, "a window of opportunity." Inspired by the line from The Surangama Sutra, Su Shi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) wrote a Chan poem about qin (rendered as "the lute" below):
   If the music comes from the lute,
   Why, when put in its case, does it not sound?
   If the music comes from the fingertips,
   Why not listen to your fingers? (Translated by
   Curtis Smith, the Su Shi scholar)

The following passage by Watts (1989) on Nagarjuna's ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) Sunyavada ("Doctrine of the Void," or "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") sheds further light on the line from The Surangama Sutra cited above:
   ... the Sunyavada is best called a doctrine of
   relativity. For Nagarjuna's method is simply to
   show that all things are without "self-nature"
   (svabhava) or independent reality since they exist
   only in relation to other things. Nothing in the
   universe can stand by itself--no thing, no fact, no
   being, no event--and for this reason it is absurd to
   single anything out as the ideal to be grasped. (p. 63)

The sound of music, for example, not only relies on the interplay between the musical instrument and capable fingers, but also on there being air (the medium), and on the interplay between the vibes and the ear, without which there is no sound. If we look more closely, nerves and the brain are also indispensable. The brain, in turn, cannot be dissociated from the rest of the body, which cannot be dissociated from the rest of the universe. There is relationality (which is a particular sense of interality) all the way through. Music is a system of interalities in the service of a spiritual impulse, to rephrase George Crumb's formulation (the original wording is "a system of proportions"). The Buddhist term in order here is "dependent origination" or "dependent arising" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Buddhism teaches us to privilege relationality over identity, interology and ecology over ontology, interbeing and becoming over being. The negation of fixed identities is precisely the affirmation of life, whereas the affirmation of fixed identities is precisely the blocking of life, insofar as we understand life to be all about flux, flow, fluidity, and flight. Behind the seemingly nihilistic notion of emptiness (sunyata), lies a thoroughgoing vitalism, according to which the universe is deconstructing and reconstructing itself moment by moment. This understanding is found in Heraclitus ("You could not step twice into the same river"), I Ching (which is all about change), Confucius ("The Master stood by a river and said: 'Everything flows like this, without ceasing, day and night,'" the Chinese original being: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), and Derrida (e.g., his notion of differance).

Ancient Chinese strategists understood full well the importance of interality. Sun Tzu dedicated the last chapter of his book, The Art of War, to the use of "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (pronounced with a dropping tone, meaning "spies"). The version edited by Dallas Galvin has the following introduction before the chapter:

The evolution of the meaning "spy" is worth considering for a moment.. [It is defined elsewhere] as "a crack" or "chink," and on the whole we may accept Hsu Ch'ieh's analysis as not unduly fanciful: "At night, a door is shut; if, when it is shut, the light of the moon is visible, it must come through a chink." From this it is an easy step to the meaning "space between," or simply "between," as for example in the phrase "to act as a secret spy between enemies.". Another possible theory is that the word may first have come to mean "to peep," which would naturally be suggested by "crack" or "crevice," and afterwards the man who peeps, or spy. (Sun Tzu, 2003, p. 199)

This passage is interesting in that it makes a connection between "interval" (translated as "chink" here) and the act of spying or the one who spies. The last sentence of the chapter is relevant to this discussion: "Spies are a most important element in war, because on them depends an army's ability to move" (Sun Tzu, 2003, p. 211). It shows Sun Tzu's privileging of software over hardware, yin over yang, interality over materiality. Many centuries later, McLuhan reached the same insight, as shown in Take Today: The Executive as Dropout.

During the Warring States Period, Su Qin ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and Zhang Yi ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), two disciples of the Master of the Ghost Valley ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), reshaped the balance of power among the warring states by working on the interalities among them. Su played a leadership role in establishing vertical alliances ("[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") between the six less powerful states to contain the more powerful Qin on the west, keeping Qin from venturing beyond the Hangu Pass for fifteen years. Zhang, who was serving the more powerful Qin, came up with the counterstrategy of establishing horizontal alliances ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) with the weaker states, thereby defusing and overriding their vertical alliances and breaking their joint front against Qin. During the Three Kingdoms Period, the weaker Shu and Wu kingdoms were able to hold up against the stronger Wei on the north by forming a strategic alliance with each other. Speaking from the vantage point of Shu, Zhuge Liang ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) articulated the strategy clearly with a mere eight words: "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (On the east, treat Sun Quan as an ally; on the north, defend against Cao Cao). In a sense, the history of the Warring States Period was a history of interality. So was the history of the Three Kingdoms Period. Interestingly, while the English speaker sees a dilemma in the image of two horns (as evidenced by the expression, "on the horns of a dilemma"), the Chinese strategist finds in it the most advisable way to station his troops, since camping in two sites creates a sense of play and the two camps can come to each other's rescue when the one or the other is under attack ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). If language speaks us, then the English speaker seems to be somewhat interality-averse, whereas the Chinese speaker seems to see interality as a desirable resource.

Interality is a recurring motif in Louis Cha's ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) incredibly imaginative martial arts novels. In The Legend of the Condor Heroes ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), Wang Chongyang's seven disciples could only match the prowess of Huang Yaoshi by forming a Big Dipper configuration. The increase in their fighting power came from the interality the configuration created. Zhou Botong, another character in the novel, was kept on an island all by himself for fifteen years. In order to create "play" (i.e., interality), he figured out how to use his right hand to fight his left one, each hand employing a different kind of kung fu. As a result, his fighting power was more than doubled, since one plus one is greater than two. That Cha's works are fictional in nature does not keep them from shaping the sensibilities of people in the Greater China area, given their popularity.

Interality is a built-in feature in all couplets ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), which are a miniaturized literary form. Here is a good example: "In drunkenness Heaven and Earth are big. In the wine bottle the days and months are long" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The first or upper line is about space, whereas the second or lower line is about time. The two lines resonate and work in concert with each other to celebrate inebriation. As a figure of speech ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), couplets appear frequently in ancient poems, chapter titles of ancient novels, and many other places. The Chinese fondness of couplets is beyond question. Wang Wei's ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) imagistic lines, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" make a perfect couplet. An attempt to put it into English reveals something peculiar about the Chinese language, or at least about ancient Chinese, especially as it is appropriated by poets. What the couplet presents is a scene without syntax. Here is a word-for-word rendition: "Big desert solitary smoke straight, long river setting sun round." The expression "long time no see" has been strung together with a similar linguistic consciousness. McLuhan would call this style of writing Symbolist, meaning the visual connections are pulled out, making the writing "cool." Besides the resonant interval between the two lines, there are also resonant intervals between the words within each line, making the couplet doubly interological. There is another interality, though--that between desert as ground and smoke as figure, or between river as ground and sun as figure. The overall image is simple and Zen-spirited, in the sense that the big desert effects the fasting of the mind, thereby allowing the solitary column of smoke to leave a deep impression upon the mind. The same can be said about river and sun.

It should come off as no surprise that people from South Korea also have an interological Weltanschauung. For one thing, the national flag of South Korea is made up of the double-fish taiji image (standing for the interplay between yin and yang) in the middle surrounded by four of the eight trigrams (standing for heaven, earth, fire, and water) from I Ching against a white background. As can be expected, the trigrams for heaven and earth face each other diagonally. So do the trigrams for fire and water. The flag is about interality all the way through. When asked how important the word "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" (pronounced as "kan" in Korean) is for South Korean culture, Dr. Jae-Yin Kim ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), a Deleuze scholar from Seoul National University, said: "It's a very important concept. Everybody is affected by others, and is careful not to be seen as wrong by others. As is common in most East Asian cultures, human being is itself regarded as between-humans ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). It is the case in Korea now and before." Indeed, it is in the zone of proximity with other humans (and other creatures, and our own cultural artifacts) that we find our ethical gyroscope. Interality is our dwelling--where we are thrown, where our individuality is shaped and reshaped, where our humanity is realized, where we experience the sensation of freedom. Its human seriousness cannot be overemphasized.

Closing Remarks

If people automatically associate guanxi with Chinese culture, then maybe that says something about the interological predisposition of the Chinese mind. Yet, as the above exploration indicates, interality is a lot more polysemous than guanxi. This article alone covers a number of senses, including interplay, relationality, reciprocity, resonance, interzone, interval, wiggle room, blank space, nothingness, emptiness, unfinishedness, coolness, betweenness, and alliance. But this list by no means exhausts all the possible permutations of the concept. As a matter of fact, interality is so ubiquitous and taken for granted in East Asian cultures that all this article can do is scatter a few pebbles out there to imply their constitutive outsides, to use an interological image. Another profitable place to dig would be the work done by the Kyoto School of thinkers. But an article on interality works better if it creates a plurality of intervals and interzones instead of trying to cover every-thing because in the final analysis there is no-thing to cover.5

Put in very broad strokes, Confucianism emphasizes the constitutive function of relationality or interality, coaches investment in the wellbeing of society, and promotes a harmonious social order based on decorum, which is a relational or interological matter through and through. Per its logic, human freedom resides in inhabiting and navigating the social field in a smooth mode. At an individual level, Confucianism implies an art of autopoiesis that centers on the question of what zone of proximity to inhabit, or with whom to create an interzone.

Taoism Lao Tzu style emphasizes the generative function of a metaphysicized, mysticized sense of interval called wu or nothingness. It is privy to the usefulness of wu or "what is not" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and prizes it practically, philosophically, and ethically. The good life is intuited as a matter of subtraction, of hacking away the inessentials ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Taoism Chuang Tzu style sees the interval as the realm of freedom and advocates a life of free and easy wandering in a world that is never in lack of smooth spaces that afford such wandering. This sensibility has nothing in common with the fascist take on Lebensraum, which is about making the world empty for one's own life. Rather, it is more interested in making the self empty, so it gains "a rigorous innocence without merit or culpability" (to use a Taoist-minded phrase from Deleuze), so it is ready for a life of free and easy wandering (Deleuze, 1988, p. 4). If Cook Ting runs a knife that has no thickness, Chuang Tzu wants the Taoist to be a knife that is empty or zerodimensional, for which the world is necessarily a hindrance-free interval, a smooth space.

The ultimate good of Chan Buddhism is a mind that is no mind, that casts no shadow upon itself, that is infinitely receptive to Reality and open to possibilities, that is a locus of prajna when called upon but returns to a state of "intervalness" or tranquility immediately afterwards. Such a mind ultimately rises above or transcends the duality between objects (forms, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]") and interality (void), negation and affirmation, nihilism and vitalism, since impermanence is the only constant in the cosmos, just as I Ching, the Confucian-Taoist-Buddhist classic, teaches. All is to say, the taiji image has it right, after all: the ultimate interality is that between Being and Nothingness, which are aspects of one another.

To sum it all up: The kettle says xu ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The drum says tong ([[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]]). (6) The Chan Master says pei ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])! (7) The cow says mu ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (8) The cat says miao ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The cuckoo bird says wu-wu ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (9) And the owl echoes wu-wuwu-wu ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). (10) The mountain says nothing. (11) In between all the sounds and soundlessness, we hear the same message--the human seriousness of interality.


The author thanks Dr. Geling Shang and Dr. Stephen Rowe for the engaged conversations about interality and relationality that have motivated the writing of this article, which literally has emerged in the interzones thus created. He also thanks Dr. Robert L. Ivie, Dr. Kenneth Surin, Dr. Stephen Rowe, Dr. Geling Shang,

Dr. Joff Bradley, Blake Seidenshaw, Bill Guschwan, and Barry and Minetta Groendyk for reading and commenting on the first draft. His thanks also go to Dr. Richard John Lynn ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], translator of Wang Bi's interpretation of I Ching), who shared his understanding of xing ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], evocative association), Su Yi, with whom he has had ongoing conversations about interality and Buddhism, Shintaro Suzuki ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), a World History student from Osaka University, who shared his insights on the Japanese concept of ma, and Dr. Jae-Yin Kim ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), a Deleuze scholar based in Seoul, for assessing the significance of the word jian ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) for South Korean culture.


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Peter Zhang

Grand Valley State University, USA


(1.) This is an allusion to Chiang Yee's book, The Chinese Eye: An Interpretation of Chinese Painting.

(2.) The Chinese line comes from a different book: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 2007), pp. 361-362.

(3.) This line is a partial exemplification of tetralemma.

(4.) Contemplate this line from Deleuze and Guattari (1987): "[T]he Orient ... only exists in the construction of a smooth space" (p. 379).

(5.) Originally, a section called "The West's Repression and Recuperation of Interality" was also planned for this article but the section above has taken more space than expected, and rightfully so. Regretfully, the interality or resonance between the two sections will have to be sacrificed. Please expect some follow-up articles, though.

(6.) "Tong" means throughness or smoothness.

(7.) "Pei" is a shout ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) used by Chan Master Victor Chiang ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) when he oversees meditation sessions. It negates the ego.

(8.) "Mu" is the Japanese equivalent of "wu."

(9.) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] refers to ego-loss (literally, "no me").

(10.) "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]" means "I'm awakened, I'm awakened."

(11.) Silence is not only an interval in speech that serves as the constitutive ground of speech, it also implies the overcoming of the limitations of speech, or the forgetting of language ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).

Correspondence to:

Dr. Peter Zhang

School of Communications

Grand Valley State University

Allendale, MI 49401

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