23 Chunks of Being:
Gregory Grieve’s Experiments in Transmitting Pure actuality
Ponder Point 3
It is like swallowing a red-hot iron ball. You try to vomit it out, but you can't.
-Zen Master Wumen
Diagram of Bamboo
A BAMBOO NODE: Grieve reports transmitting pure actuality by creating apparatuses for breaking through language like breaking through a bamboo node. A segment of bamboo is known as a culm. Each culm begins and ends with a solid joint called a node, which are barriers characterized by a swelling encircling the ends of the segment and separating the separate internodes. In Buddhism “breaking through the bamboo node” metaphorically describes going beyond theories, beyond discriminatory thoughts, by breaking open and passing through the barrier of one’s dualistic preconceptions.
The simplest way Grieve marks breaking a node, as can be seen in the sculpture Dinĝir (2018), is with the Sumerian sign for the devine, which he simplifies to an asterisk. For Grieve “*” marks when language breaks down (selbst überschlägt), and we are left with a rabbit hole to the overwhelming somersaulting pure actuality of lived existence. Grieve maintains that pure actuality, “*”, is not so much like the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant’s, thing-in-itself (Ding an sich) a static objective hard object that exists independent of observation. Rather, the actuality of reality is more like the French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan’s, notion of the Real, which discloses a moment in the possibility of perception. Grieve also captures the wiggliness of pure actuality with images of cephalopods. For instance, see Untitled Pencil on Paper (2018), which sketches an octopus, and also Hundredletter Thunderword & A Dry Shit Stick (乾屎橛) (2018), that blends Japanese motifs with cephalopods.