This communication conducts firstly a historiographical research of the concept zhiyin (perfect connoisseur) and explores the mirror and empathic relationships between the nature and creators as well as creators and their auditors/viewers. It will try to clarify the role of imagery intuitions (xingxiang zhijue 形象直觉) in seizing the intention (zhi 志) of an artist by searching for the signified of the statements “zhi zai gaoshan 志在高山 ” (think of the “high mountains”) and “zhi zai liushui 志在流水 ” (think of the “flowing streams”).
These statements appear in the story of the Chinese zither qin player Boya and the lumberjack Zhong Ziqi, the perfect connoisseur of Boya's music. This anecdote can be found in many Chinese classics such as the Daoist text Liezi 列子. It was later sung with the qin and fictionalized with many Confucian reminiscences under the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), thus, gradually moving away from its original Daoist version.
Classical Chinese artistic creation pays attention to the power of the intuitions, while Western artistic creation, at least before the birth of modern art in Western countries, was knowledge-based and focused more on the representation of the real world. Drawing on studies of ancient Chinese music and poetry, as well as Chinese and Western aesthetic theories, our communication will explore in its second part the evolution of the artist’s “intention” (zhi). This examination will allow us to understand the interdependent and sometimes interchangeable relationship between “intention” (zhi 志), emotions (qing 情) and volition (yi 意) - major notions in Chinese aesthetics.
Mei Mercier, Professor agrégée and PhD, is an associate researcher at IFRAE (National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations, France). Her research themes include Chinese literature and aesthetic. She translated Le Monde futur (The Future World) (Actes Sud, 2013), one of Wang Xiaobo's most iconic novels and C'est gai la pub, the history of French advertising written by Jacques Séguéla. Mei published recently an article named «Entrele “moi présent” et le “moi absent”/ nouvelle lecture du Renjian cihua (commentaires sur les poèmes à chanter ci) » (Between the present me and the absent me, new lecture of Renjian cihua) in. L’auteur dans son œuvre entre présence et effacement (L’Harmattan, 2021).