Five-Dimension World Culture” Theory
~ A Global Renaissance in Love ~
In 1964, while visiting Firenze, the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, Dr. Chen started to conceive of the possibility of a New Renaissance — a flowering and rebirth of cultural achievement — but on a global scale. Since that time, he has advocated this vision extensively, such as in the publication of numerous books and articles, lectures and presentations at international conferences, as well as in the expression of his “Neo-Iconographic” artworks. Here is the brief essence of his cultural view, which was presented at the State of World Forum in San Francisco, 1998.
~ An Event and a Revelation ~
Man’s stepping on to the Moon was a momentous and historic event. At that moment, I felt that humankind was entering into a new era. But of what kind? Beyond the scientific and technological triumph that this event signified, what would be the significance of such a success?
While deep in my research, a revelation came to me as I was reading a book about Father Teilhard de Chardin. He said:
“After the atomic age, the age of love is preparing to come, that of human plenitude. The time we are living in marks the end and the beginning of a world. We have precisely come up to a critical time where humanity passes from divergency to convergency. Country substituted tribe, above the country we have seen the emerging of sideological or economic blocs; tomorrow all will constitute into a sole unity for the whole human family. Amid the events which dominate our actual life, the most important phenomenon, according to me, is not the discovery of radiations or electricity, but the putting into practice of the inter-human affinities.
We have no choice. We have to root ourselves in love, the real soul of our Earth…”
(translated from French by T.F. Chen)
That’s it! We have come into an era of “Love” — the real soul of our planet. For the first time, we saw our planet floating like a moon above the horizon of the Moon, and we realized how small , beautiful and at the same time, how fragile our earth is! But it is one, one wholeness, not divided.
With this ”Oneness” before our eyes and engraved in our conscience, I realized that since 1969, our cultural ecology was shifting from ”divergency” to ”convergency.” The different cultures, especially those of the East and the West were converging into a world culture to come, denying Kipling’s famous stanza:
”East is East, West is West
And never the Twain shall meet…”
Thus I established a view on human civilization in 1969 which I termed as ”Five-Dimensional World Culture” and which consequently initiated my personal style in painting ”Neo-iconography.” Guided by the Italian Renaissance, I perceived the emerging of a new Renaissance of a global scale; however it is also a movement emerging against a dangerous counter backlash, caused by ignorance, blindness, and/or the negative side of human nature.
~ An Aspect of Cultural Manifestation ~
The fast advance of high-tech and the prevailing of mass media and computers accelerated the beginning of the Space Age. The rapidity of communication and transportation annihilated our distance and suddenly we found ourselves bound up tightly together into one ”Global Village.” Yet in many aspects, our conception, philosophy, mentality, and way of life have still been very far behind. We need not just “hardware” and “software,” but “SOULware” – a matching advancement in the depths of our shared humanity and cultural harmony and progress. This urgent challenge is what I have dedicated my life and my art to.
To match this new situation of a global age, standing at the threshold of the third Millennium, a review on world culture from a new aspect might be helpful. It is impossible for me to present in detail my cultural view. Here I would be honored just to present a brief outline on an aspect of cultural manifestation from one-dimension to five-dimensions as shown in the following:
Cultural Manifestation: From One-Dimension to Five-Dimensions
– The Italian Renaissance: Three-dimensional Endeavor –
As an artist-painter, I have analyzed some ”cultural archetypes” and their manifestations. Let me start with the western culture of the Renaissance epoque. In one sense, the Italian Renaissance was the convergence of ancient cultures around the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in a creative and unified foundation for the Western culture afterward.
If the pyramid
can symbolize the essence of the Egyptian culture which incorporates a spirit that is geometric, firm, collective, immobile, hierarchic, stubborn and lightly sealed off, bending toward abstraction, eternity and stylization;
if the parallel columns
can symbolize the spirit of Greek culture, incorporating the ardent spirit of Greeks, loving liberty, clarity, democracy, eloquence and individual expression, their passion for proportional beauty, their taste of harmony, of equilibrium, their love for the pursuit of ideals, of the perfection.that their genius has perpetuated in their sculptures;
if the arch can represent the spirit of Roman civilization, the arch
that one finds everywhere in aqueducts, bridges, porches, temples, arenas; which symbolizes the desire of Romans for unifying an enormous empire, their uniformity in administration and organization, their judicial sense;
and finally if the Cross
can characterize the essence of Judeo-Christianity, a symbol of their belief in a unique God; their energy and their spirit of sacrifice pushed until martyrdom, also their mysticism and their idea of salvation; then, the Western civilization at the Renaissance epoque is a synthetic and architectural civilization as shown in the following figure:
– Convergency towards a Three-Dimensional culture –
Thus, the Renaissance can be seen as a happy convergence, an immense transformation, and at the same time, a great synthesis of the Occidental cultures, because it triggered a propulsion of Western interest towards the future and at the same time caused a great “rediscovery” of the antiquities. It was a reconquest of Eden, a veritable ” return to the source,” for the Humanists trace back to the first virtue, namely, the antiquity of the Greek civilization; to the first religious inspiration, namely, the Bible and Hebrew cultures; to the original empire, namely Rome and Roman civilization; to the primitive wisdom, that of the magi and mystic philosophers of the East, and the Egyptian culture; and finally and significantly, to the great universal source, that is to say, Nature! The Renaissance of the 16th century provided for the Occidentals a synthetic, shared and unified cultural foundation on which the Western civilization of today is built. Its spirit can be summed up in a Big Cross: with a triple center of ”God-Man-Machine.” This Cross goes straight forward to the pursuit of the truth and the conquest of the world and even of the cosmos.
– Two Dimensions and Yin-Yang Couple –
Since the beginning of culture and entirely contrary to the Western mind of investigating the infinite in three dimensions, the Chinese mind developed towards two dimensions, around the intuitive and magic conceptions of the Yin-Yang couple. This symbol became a central part of the Chinese heritage and their subconscious collective sentiment, imbuing their thought in almost every field of life. The Yin-Yang couple corresponds appropriately to China’s two principal schools of thought, namely Confucianism and Taoism. It reflects marvelously two ways of their life: collectivism and individualism, namely social order and individual liberation; two tendencies of their character, mountain-like and water-like; two unities in their social behaviors, wheat-eating and horse-back, rice-eating and ship-going. And in art as well as in the Ch’an (Zen), it corresponds to two schools, that of the South and that of the North. For the good of all, harmony between this dual-polarity, on all levels, became the chief concern through the history of China. The effort for harmonization between Yin and Yang became the spirit of the Chinese civilization. Here, I take Chinese civilization as the representative of the East, for during the course of its formation, China has absorbed Buddhism, one of the essential elements of Indian civilization, and has nourished with its cultural fruit, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, etc. In addition, contrary to the Westerner’s embracing of the ocean as the home- base for their cultural development, the origins of Eastern cultures, especially those of India and China, are based on land, on a vast continent!
– Harmony in the “Empire of Middle” –
So, the Yin-Yang couple, a scheme derived from “Yi-Ching,” the Book of Mutation, may be well served as the cultural archetype for the Chinese civilization. This Book of Change is the crystallization of ancient Chinese wisdom and has had a vast influence. The Yin-Yang couple accompanied with different hexagrams developed into and was interpreted into a very sophisticated philosophical system concerning speculations on Heaven, Humankind, and Earth; namely the Universe, Human beings, and Society. The harmony between Yin and Yang, light and shadow, male and female, heaven and earth, governor and governed, has been the central occupation for this vast Chinese empire over several thousand years, creating a self-satisfied civilization. Besides the enrichment caused by integrating Buddhism, China rested without any substantial major changes until the Western impact after the Opium War. Thus, the Chinese (and most of the Eastern) civilization with its two centers cooperating towards perfection can be considered the most representative of two-dimensional culture in world history. This culture of China stayed in its original vast land of the “Empire of Middle” for several millennia as observed by Johns K. Fairbank:
|there is the fact, elementary but central, that for more than four thousand years the Chinese have lived in the same area. While the center of Western civilization moved from the Eastern Mediterranean through Greece and Rome, across France and England and out over the Atlantic|
Unfortunately, however, this vast Chinese empire of two-dimensional culture was taken by surprise by the attack from nations of three-dimensional culture, who had increased their power exponentially from their industrial revolutions.
– One-dimensional Culture –
Before going further, it is appropriate to discuss one-dimensional culture now. There is no doubt that the one-dimensional culture occurred when our ancestors, no matter whose, invented letters, signs, numbers, ciphers, etc. for abstract thinking and recording. Humankind thus entered into recorded history. In China, the making of Chinese archaic characters was regarded as a Promethean event – Heaven cried and the Earth quaked! Surely, Humans are part animal, but Humans distinguished themselves from animals not only by making tools, but more importantly by inventing and using symbolic signs. As soon as letters were invented, Humankind began marching towards higher dimensions in culture, that is to say, the One-dimensional culture was but a starting point and a very short passing stage.
To sum up, about 6000 years ago, when Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese characters etc. appeared on the earth, humankind entered into one-dimensional culture, “lettering” being its mark. With letters came philosophical speculations, which materialized into cultural spectrums. Among them, Chinese civilization happened to be the most accomplished two-dimensional culture, continuing for 5000 years. This China enjoyed her prosperity even through the Western world’s Age of Enlightenment, in which the West was building a culture in three-dimensions and entering into a competitive industrial age.
With arms and merchandise, the West met the East. The European Renaissance gave birth to the Age of Exploration and that
of the Enlightenment, which in turn caused the Industrial Revolution. Armed with superior machinery and powerful gunfire, the Westerners pushed their horizons to the end of the world, taking Africa, Asia, Latin America, and so on, amassing resources and trading merchandise. Darwin’s doctrine on “Evolution” seemed to justify, at least psychologically, their invasion, occupation, destruction, and violence. Nationalism, colonialism, and imperialism were at their pivot. Yet competition was inevitable. “Science sans Conscience,” passion without compassion, led Westerners to wars, among themselves and beyond themselves. Greater competition brought greater division; and in science, the ultimate division led to the explosion of the atom! Humankind was then forced to live in a dangerous four-dimensional culture with extreme “Power” occupying its center.
As the solid “classicism” in art established during the Italian Renaissance persisted until “Neo-classicism” in the 19th century, Newton’s theory of Gravity provided an unchallengable foundation for the sciences through the age of classicism. Then came the change. Due to broadened horizons and increasing contacts, as well as innovative technology and spreading mechanization, the powerful and wealthy Occidentals were marching towards a new era, an era of Modernization.
Modernist culture is the result of the Industrial Revolution. It is a culture centered at “power,” based on “science,” which fabricated the “machine” for mass production. It is West-centered and westernized, then spread internationally. It is a culture of “divergency” in extreme whose explosive power is evident in the chain reaction of nuclear weapons. Modernist culture is a culture of E = MC2, with “Time” as the fourth dimension. It is also a culture that denies absoluteness and proclaims relativity. This culture favors democracy, and “Self” emerges as the core of human existence. In art, it became a culture of “art for art’s sake,” as if art were a kind of scientific research; and also of “Individualism,” where a distinct personal style became the preoccupation of the artist. In Modern art, this expressive phenomena encompassed almost 100 years, from the 1860’s to 1969, pushing its “divergency” to the extremes, from Impressionism to Post-Impressionism, to Fauvism, Cubism, Expressionism, Dadaism, Futurism, Suprematism, Surrealism, and of course Abstract Art, which diversified into even’ “individual” stylistic manifestation.
– Cultural Manifestation in Four-Dimensions –
In science, the three-dimensional culture is based on Newton’s law of gravitation, in which time and space are regarded as separate, absolute and unrelated. In 1903, when Einstein proclaimed the theory of relativity with the famous equation of E = MC2, the conception of time-space changed – these two elements were not separate, but rather, related, with time as the fourth dimension. Thus, a new era of four-dimensions in science opened.
Many more such investigative excursions into the nature of “Time” and its influence as the “fourth dimension” in our culture arose in other fields of human interest. At almost the same time that Einstein (1879-1955) was figuring out his theory, Madame Curie (1867-1934) realized the radiation of radium, proving the applicability of his E = MC2 theory. In the field of psychology, after Freud’s (1856-1939) publication of “The Science of Dream” in 1900, a rising tide of subconsciousness involving his theories and applications prevailed in psychology and medical treatment. In subconsciousness and memory, the “time” element, the fourth-dimensional complex, serves as the key. In the domain of literature, the novels of Marcel Proust (1871-1922), the famous series of “A la Recherche du Temps Perdus,” and the work of James Joyce (1882-1941) such as “Ulysses,” disclosed a flood of “L’Inconscient” involving the time-space entangling of men, events, emotion, imagination – a literature in four-dimensions. In art, in 1907, Picasso (1881-1971) released a startling painting, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” a starting point for his four-dimensional paintings in which he wanted to capture the “movement,” a “time” element, onto two-dimensional canvases, resulting often in the co-existence of silhouettes with facing figures in a portrait. On the other hand, Kandinsky (1866-1944) in 1910, painted “consciously” his first abstract painting, a kind of four-dimensional art, only in the sense of personal subjectiveness.
In “The Spiritual of Art” published in 1912, Kandinsky said that art was the infant of the age, so it is true with culture as well. After almost four centuries of development and maturation, the Western world entered into the 20th century and the Western culture of three-dimensions jumped into the four-dimensional culture, consequently bringing many parts of the world along with it into this orbit. Since the character of four-dimensional culture, like the four cardinal arms of the “Cross,” is divergent in extreme and very powerful, humanity witnesses an intense diversification in science, art, politics, society – everv aspect of human activities. The rapid progress in every field in undeniable, partially thanks to the diversification. Yet because of its extreme powerfulness in divergence, and with each party narrowly wrapped up in self-concern and selfish interest in mind, humankind suffered twice the terrible destructive wars of a global scale. That is the negative outcome of the four-dimensional culture. Such a situation persisted in the Korean War, in Vietnam, and above all, in the Cold War, until the breaking down of the Berlin Wall.
– Global Consciousness: Age of Oneness –
In the “Forward” of A Study of History, Arnold Toynbee said:
|“Humankind is surely going to destroy itself unless it succeeds in growing together into something like a single family.”|
This is exactly the significance we are looking for regarding the Astronauts’ landing on the Moon. In Space, are they angels or intruders? Regardless, the year 1969 stands in history as the year that Humankind was ushered into a bright new age, an age of Oneness instead of division; 1969, the year following the political crisis in Europe, the year in which we envisioned a new direction, where the cultural ecology was shifting back from “divergency” to “convergency,” and the world, from confrontation to cooperation. Still more significantly, a kind of “Global Consciousness” seemed to emerge — a kind of rising awareness that while possessing of powerful nuclear weapons, Humankind cannot afford to use them. For, there will be no winner, all will suffer
|“Therefore, never ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”
— John Donne
Such a new situation, this “Global Village” that we now live in, must center itself on Love. This, I think, is exactly the very spirit of our “State of the World Forum.”
– A Global Renaissance –
Since culture is the output of human activities, mental and physical, the shifting of cultural ecology from “Divergency” to “Convergency” corresponds admirably to the shifting of our society from industrial to post-industrial society, a society of information and communication, and essentially of global concern: hunger, poverty, pollution, population control, freedom, human rights, war and peace, etc. – all of these conditions affect each one of us. Entering into such an era of oneness with a shared destiny, our attitude needs a change, our mentality begs a fitting; we need a new philosophy, a new ideology to center ourselves in.
In short, we need a culture based on “Love” instead of “Power,” “Humanism” instead of “Materialism,” “Heart” instead of “Machine,” “Creation” instead of “Production,” and “Happiness” instead of “Wealth;” a culture of “to love” instead of “to have.”
For this purpose, humanity’s turn towards a global Renaissance may be an answer.
In culture, the East and the West are the most organized and representative; yet they can be said to be opposite and complementary in essence. The integration of these two sides, which has been going on since their momentous first contact centuries ago, is generating a universal culture which greatly deserves our attention.
Since it is impossible to go into detail, I would like to mention just one essential point: the archetypal genders of the East and the West.
Compared to the Occidental World, the Chinese civilization (and in a general way the Oriental World) demonstrates itself to be “Yin,” the feminine aspect: inward and centripetal, closing and enclosed, intuitive and reflexive, sentimental and creative, easy to be satisfied in an enclosed world at perfection, enjoying unity with nature, and favoring the reign of virtue and harmony. “She” finds difficulty in separating the subject from the object, religion from ethics, and science from art. Moreover, “She” has an easy tendency towards fatalism.
On the other side, the Western culture, since its childhood, has shown its character to be masculine, “Yang:” outward and centrifugal, active and pragmatic, loving liberty and loving to set up system and law. Armed with logic and reason, “He” separates Man from nature, and subject from object. “He” carries his taste of research and adventure to the domination of Nature and the conquest of the infinite cosmos. Yet “He” is conscious of original sin and irritating complexes, and in his belief in the evilness of human nature, “He” is looking for a transcendence through salvation. But with faith in Evolution, “He” makes his best efforts to attain an “Omega Point” as described by Pere Teilhard de Chardin in his “Phenomenon of Man”.
The Western mind tends towards rational thinking, mathematical abstraction, methodical experimentation and analytical
objectiveness; while the Oriental mind bends towards comprehension in an intuitive, synthetic, concrete and subjective way. The East tends to “be” while the West tends to “have.” The Westerners look to external achievement, the Easterners to interior perfection. And through courses of history, without a better mutual understanding or without any understanding at all, East met West, or, to say more truly, the West pushed into the East and violated the Lady! Well, if any historical act is to be meaningful at the end, such as this kind of East-West convergence – full of clashing and quarrels, blood and bitterness – it must be in the fact that it leads to an awakening of reconciliation and harmony through the unification of both sides, East and West; for “He” and “She” were inevitably bearing a new Child to the world, as the result of this convergence.
– New Renaissance of Today Centered in “Love” –
A new Renaissance has dawned! And here lies the supreme “Interior Necessity” of this East-West Convergence towards an integrity of a great historical significance!
Such convergency is bound to produce a higher level of civilization, say, “five-dimensions.” As Pere Teilhard de Chardin observed, the roundness of our planet — “the sphericity of man’s environment – was bound to cause the intensification of psychosocial activity” and thus “a global unification of human awareness of East & West are culturally complementary and that both are needed for the further synthesis and unification of world thought” that the convergency of these two big cultural units today, is destined to be a phenomenon of supreme importance, for it will serve as the foundation of a universal civilization.
Thus, the East and the West are united. To me, the “cultural archetype” of this new unity can be expressed as , with the center of the “Cross” ( ) superposed over and joining the center of the “Yin-Yang” couple ( ), which can represent the Tao, the Way, the Supreme Alpha and Omega of the universe. East and West united, the East rejuvenates itself by getting expansive energy from the West while the West rejoices in obtaining harmony and plenitude of what it possesses. And by cooperating together, and certainly by welcoming other cultures to join in, they can carry the effervescence of this new “state of being” to reach a splendid higher level of accomplishment for Humankind.
Such a new Renaissance cherishes without a doubt its new dimension: the fifth element, the ultimate dimension that unites Time and Space, you and me, East and West, North and South. This fifth dimension embraces our five races, five continents, five spheres (Homosphere, Biosphere, Mecanosphere, Noosphere, and Divinosphere). This fifth dimension uplifts all of humanity, all nations, all natures. Such a dimension cannot be anything but the dimension of “Love,” spurring energy for affinity at the same time, radiant energy for fraternity, the dimension of “God,” of “Tao,” of Soul. The dimension of “Love” is the divine energy within our unified hearts, minds, and souls – as well as the source of growth, wholeness, and harmony.
In our computer age, besides “hardware” and “software,” we need “Soulware” – a Soulware with a capital S! Soulware, the consciousness of the whole “Oneness” of human family in “Love”, the globalization of such conscience in cultural developments and human activities, the mental setting and reasonable choice of such attitude, the personal acknowledgement of “world citizen” and collection endeavor toward such a golden age of “Love, — Soul of our Earth Planet, that of human plenitude”, for the sake of human survival, world peace, global prosperity and soulful happiness!! May this new philosophy be the starting “Soulware” of our Global Renaissance in “Love”!
God bless you! God bless our conference!!