The ten thousand things is a key concept in Lao Tzu’s masterwork Dao De Ching, from which I quote on the main page of the blog.
The ten thousand things (wan wu) is the physical and natural world that surrounds us. Lao Tzu mentions the concept several times and writes: “The ten thousand things are / they are irrefutable.”
The ten thousand things are related to the concept of qi, which constitute the basic elements of the physical world in taoist metaphysics.
The ten thousand things can also be understood as a expression of metaphysical unity with everything alive. The Chinese philosopher and metaphysician Zhang Zai (1020-77) wrote in his famous essay, The Western Inscription (1044):
The heavens is my father, the earth is my mother.
I am a small being embraced by them both.
Everything between heaven and earth
I consider as my body.
Everything that binds together the universe
I consider as my being.
The ten thousand things are my brothers and sisters.
The ten thousand things can also be translated with words that indicate the potential and mutability of all things. All physical and living beings are made of the same energy and matter, called qi. It is therefore wholly incidental, if we become one or the other being.
The Blog of Ten Thousand Things is a work of poetry about the interrelation between human beings and all natural phenomena and biological life. The concept is metaphysical, but the experience of the ten thousand things is sensual, realistic and ineluctable.
Taken together, the poems seek out the immediate and embodied experience of the natural world – and our own place in it. This notion (or programmatic intent) is expressed in a keynote poem (verse No. 379):
The brain is emphatically a vegetable,
And the world is complete real.
- Every time!
The Ten Thousand Things Blog is based on the conviction that everything around us is in possession of conscience (often called panpsychism). Although other forms of intelligence are barely significant to us, nevertheless, we, as poet and reader, must try the best we can to understand them. I believe that the survival of the human world depends on us trying.
The Ten Thousand Things Blog is not a taoist work, not at all. But the work is inspired by what Neo-confucian philosophers during the Song Dynasty of the 11th century called the investigation of things (gen wu). Zhang Zai, quoted above, was a key figure of that movement.
The Ten Thousand Things Blog is created in real-time. I continue to add new verses and text in the order that I write them.
It is in the nature of things, that there is no practical end to what the blog may contain, and hence no end to how long it might become.
The work is chronological in so far as it arises over time. But it can be sectioned or structured in many ways and it is divisible into an almost limitless number of issues. The blog is therefore well suited for digital presentation.
It might be inferred that the blog will describe ten thousand things, and that would not be mistaken. Maybe the work will become ten thousand verses long. Herein lies a big poetic and systemic satisfaction. We will see. I am an organic pump, and this is not a machine-generated poem. It may be a system-driven poem, but it’s a living poem with the limits and possibilities contained herein.
Quotation and copy
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The work was begun in February 2023. The publication will continue until the work is done, or I am; whichever comes first.
The work was opened as a blog on 7th July 2023.
As of today, the blog contains 181 poems with 1354 verses and 1544 things.
On 1 December, 2023, I published an edited hardcover edition of the first one thousand verses with the corresponding items in Index Ten Thousand. The book is in Danish and available from my micropress Borwick Books (www.borwickbooks.dk).
Comments and suggestions are welcome on mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
De titusind tings blog (2023 – )
by Jacob Gammelgaard
Text and contents © Jacob Gammelgaard, 2023.
Illustration on the title page is en excerpt of: Albrecht Dürer: A Big Piece of Grass, 1503
Artwork: Peter Andrew Gammelgaard.