Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taoism in "All Tomorrow's Parties"

The assassin ("Konrad") in All Tomorrow's Parties is, as we have read & heard in lecture, a follower of Taoism. I found this website which can be provide helpful information to anyone who wants a fuller understanding of William Gibson's artistic use of the character and the metaphysical beliefs that he projects.

From that webpage, here are some specific Taoist concepts, beliefs and practices pertaining directly to Gibson's text:

  • Tao is the first-cause of the universe. It is a force that flows through all life.
  • The Tao surrounds everyone and therefore everyone must listen to find enlightenment.
  • Each believer's goal is to harmonize themselves with the Tao.
  • The concept of a personified deity is foreign to them, as is the concept of the creation of the universe. Thus, they do not pray as Christians do; there is no God to hear the prayers or to act upon them. They seek answers to life's problems through inner meditation and outer observation.
  • Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking.
  • Taoists follow the art of "wu wei," which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam which would interfere with its natural flow.


J. A. Ching said...

what are humans then in the tao? i find it confusing that tao is this great harmony that embodies all natural flow, but to me the only things that do not flow are humans. animals and plants co-exists because of a lack of higher-consciousness(that we beleive of atleast) Are we not the destroyers of tao then? People who are given Free-Will. We can never be enlightened to harmonize with tao, but remain deaf and insensitive to it no matter what meditation or observation. Tao should be something that nature has exiled humans from. Humans that are forever alienated from the balance of the tao. atleast thats what i beleive what with all the cynical apsects of human nature~

retrodeathpixie said...

do we really have free will though?
or just the illusion of free will with our choices ultimatly responses to the movement of the tao. think soft determinism with a taoist bent...i like it, there's a paper in there somewhere.

retrodeathpixie said...

censored! thats okay, kinda expected it.

Dr. Stephen Ogden said...

Dear "retrodeathpixie"

I didn't censory anything -- must be a transmission error. Can you re-send the comment you're talking about?

retrodeathpixie said...

it's not important at all, the gist is in there.