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Calligraphy/Critical Thinking "Big Pictures"

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The "Big Picture" of the boundless subject of Critical Thinking (CT) is aided by using a "Big Picture" of the somewhat bounded subject of Calligraphy (Greek, the art of fine handwriting). This principle enables one to see and understand a subject, situation, or concept as a whole rather than getting bogged down on specific details. Calligraphy and CT are arts of composing or structuring with rules based on practical experience. Calligraphy's origin is an offshoot of Ancient Egyptians' hieroglyphic symbolism, as needed to discern something written in the same manner but differing totally in meaning. Chinese Calligraphy was originally called picture writing (e.g. putting legs on an eye to represent "seeing" things in a certain way). CT is not only extremely important for Calligraphy, but being aware of a few aspects of Calligraphy helps in understanding CT. Examples are each stroke represents something in particular; each conveys specific concepts; and its order aids insights into principles about those concepts. Its alphabet of 7 basic strokes (elements) lead to infinite characters--e.g. simple characters created to depict objects like "human", "hand", "foot", "mountain", "sun", "moon" and "tree" + objects whose message is inside and outside the characters. More complex characters (i.e. radicals) give hints, by the nature of the strokes, to the meaning of those characters. Three types of strokes are: Fine Strokes, like writing fancy ways in articles, books, and documents; Middle Strokes (between the fine and broad), for any pulse; and Broad Strokes, being like art--for decoration, titles of halls or buildings. With all three, the different forces exerted on the paper or the different speeds in moving the pen create different effects of the image. These are particularly true with "Broad strokes," the highest level of calligraphy, which not everyone can do. Some calligraphy pens make thick strokes in one direction and, if the pen is rotated, thin strokes in the opposite direction. Calligraphy's two living principles are form and expression, as shown in the rhythm, line, and composition by the very artistic who are in the flow of writing the word.

Just as the artist's personal expression of individuality and spirit is the vital element in all forms of creation and the significant thing in Art, so is it with Calligraphy/CT. Both demand having the whole picture in mind, including details, before putting ink on the paper. Special notice is to the overall layout (the totality shows the "Big Picture" values and attitudes towards the world); to its first character; and to its last character. "Broad stroke" writers, qualified by years of "fine" strokes practice, must already have sharp distinctions of the detail stroke of the word and know well how to express the word with their own character and personality. This and cultivation means that judging Calligraphy/CT depends on the different styles because different styles have different judge standards. Gaining the full effects of Calligraphy/CT necessitates subtle Discerning by sensitivity of feelings; by delicate perceptions; and/or by the intellect, with its Penetration (looking through, seeing beyond the surface) and Perceiving (understanding meanings and implications) aspects. Combinations of strokes are analyzed by looking at them in various ways so as to detect all ideas contained within a character. The purpose of displaying Calligraphy/CT and/or interpreting what is appropriate and pertinent is to see a thing for what it really is (Essence), especially under confusing or misleading appearances.

Since all Art is concrete, since Calligraphy is mainly symbolic, and since CT is a way of taking charge/being in control of oneself as well as the situation, there are always theoretical/mechanical problems of mastering/applying the respective techniques. Whereas the Method is the way to proceed to the goal, a Technique is the possession of skills, tools and resources needed for making happen the Method. There will be No Nice writing -- No Correct writing -- No Writing every stroke in correct order for those who habitually make broad strokes so huge as to whitewash distinctions in stroke combinations; use broad strokes when thin strokes are called for; or use thin strokes when broad strokes are needed--for each generates or worsen problems. Their counterparts apply to CT. In daily life dealings it seems to me that many Ordinary Thinkers (e.g. those with a "flashing lights" mentality from gadgets) do whitewashing of what is really important; use thin strokes when broad ones are needed; or use broad ones when thin strokes or none are needed.


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