交陪_4_1

文───高森信男
翻譯───黃暉峻

博物館空間與宮廟空間

在漢字世界中「博物館」一詞最早出現在日本幕末外交官岩瀨忠震(Tadanari Iwase)的家臣市川清流(Seiryu Ichikawa),在其《尾蠅歐行漫錄》[1]中被提及。市川清流是在1862年「第一回遣歐使節」[2]時,隨其主公由東京出發,前往歐洲遊歷;而《尾蠅歐行漫錄》即是記錄整趟旅程的日誌。當市川清流於同年5月22日參觀「British Museum」(大英博物館)時,即以「博物館」三字來形容該空間,且在他的描述下,「大英博物館」是座充滿「神仙像」、「裸體人像」和「斷牌」的「巨堂」。而當一行人參觀柏林的博物館時,市川清流則是以「斷牌」、「石棺」、「石佛」、「飛仙」,以及「人畜的乾固體」(標本)來形容館內的展示品。市川清流的描述提醒了我們,在未曾了解「博物館」概念和社會意義的傳統東亞學者,在直觀的感受下,所觀看到的「博物館」究竟為何物?在市川清流眼中的博物館可能不僅是「藏寶閣」或是「寶藏院」[3],也是充滿著「神仙像」、「斷牌」、「石佛」、「飛仙」之室;而在東亞,最接近市川清流所描述的空間經驗,即是進入東亞佛、道教廟宇的空間經驗。在此或許會產生廟宇為宗教空間,而博物館則是公共教育、西方分類科學的研究、展示機構之間的矛盾,兩者看似互為屬性差異極大的空間,然而實際上,博物館也不過是歐洲文化將「理性意識」轉化之後的廟宇殿堂,目的是為了頌揚啟蒙之後的科學、殖民宗教。事實上,在進入到蘇聯時期之後,俄羅斯境內許多重要的教堂或清真寺等宗教空間,被直接轉化為「博物館」,對外開放給大眾,供民眾明白革命前的「迷信」空間。
擺在眼前最大的問題或許是:不論廟宇和博物館在學理、結構和文化意涵的層次上有多接近,兩者在臺灣人的心理中,存在著浩瀚且截然不同的素質。甚至各自在民眾的心理量尺中,座落於「已啟蒙」和「啟蒙前」的兩端。
若回溯臺灣的現代建築史,則可以發現多數建築師對於廟宇空間的討論以及創作不聞不問;臺灣的重要戰後宗教建築,有賀陳詞的「臺南大同教巴哈伊中心」(1957)、楊卓成的「臺北清真寺」(1960)、陳其寬的「路思義教堂」(1963)、王大閎的「東門基督教長老教會」(1980)等,戰前則有井手薰(Kaoru Ide)的「建功神社」(1928),在當代則有李祖原等人投入佛寺建築,但是「宮廟」建築在臺灣的現代建築史中,是徹底被屏除的建築類別;若是考慮到傳統神佛信仰的信徒比率,以及宮廟宗教建築在臺灣的數量,現代建築師僅偏重於相對信仰比例較少的宗教建築類別,此點實在是不符合常理。
究竟臺灣對於自身的傳統信仰其排斥及排除系統究竟源自何處,在學術的各個領域之中,並未有過完整且系統性的探討。事實上,在清治時期,臺灣即存在著由官方興建並排入官方祭祀活動的「官廟」,臺南的大天后宮即為一例。在日治時期的晚期,隨著宗教皇民化運動的發展,諸如「寺廟整理運動」在內的反民間宗教、神道教化殖民政策,皆以破除「迷信」、「陋習」的旗幟來加以壓抑傳統民間宗教的發展。基本上,在日治時期所建構出來的知識結構中,臺灣漢人的神佛信仰,以及臺灣原住民的祖靈信仰皆被放置在「現代」的對立面;在這種結構之中,傳統信仰的時間狀態被剝除,被放置在「被禁止進入現代」的時間想像之中。而這種想像,並沒有隨著日治時期的結束而消散;相反的,國民黨的統治,同樣帶來了國民黨式的現代性。在這現代性中,宗教被收納至國族信仰之中,而在黨國體制的推動下,「紀念堂」、「忠烈祠」、「故宮」等中華文化復興運動的國族建構空間,方才是國族信仰的展現之處。
臺灣原生的漢族神佛信仰,不僅被隔離在黨國體制的核心價值之外,甚而在階級上,賦予其「民間」的意義。因此,臺灣的宮廟空間不僅無法像是不少國家的「國家清真寺」、「國家教堂」等宗教設施,在政治意涵上爬昇至國家的象徵性位階中,反而還在言語的使用上,將其縮限於社會階級的底層。因此,不論是日本殖民政府還是國民黨政府,參與臺灣宮廟空間建構的「官方人物」,不是黨國的「御用」建築師、「御用」壁畫家或「御用」雕塑家等藝術工作者,反而是「人類學家」。不論是戰前的民俗人類學調查,以及戰後的中研院,乃至於臺中國立自然科學博物館的人類學展示 [4],我們都可以看出,人類學或民俗研究成為了一種工具,藉此切割研究對象所具備的現代性潛力。
可以說,臺灣在近代史所經歷的多重殖民,及其所帶來的現代性,摧毀了在臺灣已扎根超過兩個世紀的宮廟文化。其中的關鍵來自於知識分子的棄守:傳統宮廟的主事委員,通常由地方仕紳所組成,而地方仕紳即為地方的讀書人/知識分子;作為地方意見領袖的仕紳,往往也將宮廟的經營、建設、藝術展現、社會服務作為其志趣及品味的延伸。也因此,仕紳在二十世紀開始逐步退出廟委的舞臺,是個重要的關鍵,這當中包括了兩個重要的壓力:一為急遽的都市化,促使年輕世代的知識分子普遍離鄉;二來在現代啟蒙的敘述之中,宮廟文化逐漸成為地方風俗,甚而是反現代的陋習。也因此,在戰後的歲月,不僅地方知識分子幾乎全面退守宮廟委員會的地方政治/文化場域,宮廟的龐大地方政經利益,反而吸引了地方角頭、黑道、民代、警界及其他相關利益人士的參與。從此之後,宮廟文化似乎走上了「反智」、「民間」和「傳統」的不歸路。
在粗製濫造的進口工業神桌取代地方藝匠的巧手之後、在鋼管秀取代廟埕戲亭的南管吟唱之後、在繁複且高聳的新興廟宇建築取代古典的空間巧思之後,宮廟空間的工作者,除了廟委之外,於其內「辦事」的神職人員:乩童及尪姨,也似乎缺乏成為「現代宗教」的特質。同樣身為濟公乩身的心理學家蔡州隆即表示,臺灣目前的神佛信仰神職人員,多數仍以土法煉鋼的方式來進行其個人的宗教事業;也因此,多數的乩身及尪姨,實際上日漸無法處理當代人所會遭遇的複雜和多元的家庭、職場、性別、價值觀等生活領域。出於這部分的認知,蔡州隆希望可以比照神學院或是佛學院的系統,系統性地將臨床心理諮商輔導以及其他的「現代知識」來引入神佛信仰的神職人員教育體系之中,藉此挽救神佛信仰所遭遇的危機。
因此我們可以說,知識分子撤出該信仰體系的神職服務工作,才是問題的根源。畢竟如同蔡州隆一般,同時身兼現代知識分子身分的神職人員,在臺灣的宮廟世界中,顯得是極端的少數。而誠如濟公禪師透過蔡州隆的肉身介紹自身的降鸞[5]經驗一般,祂認為,乩身的知識極限及語言能力,會成為靈體於現世具現的障礙和框架。

宮廟空間的現代性
與反現代性

在臺灣進入日治初期時,宮廟世界並非被動地抗拒現代性;彰化南瑤宮即為一例證。南瑤宮於日治初期組成「南瑤宮改築會」並於1916年完成改建,採史無前例的歐式建築風格來作為改建後的建築外觀主體,同時融合傳統建築風格、日式神龕,以及巴洛克式的壁掛浮雕,成為臺灣宮廟建築史上的奇觀。南瑤宮所創立的融合風格,及其中所蘊含的野心,至今仍少有其他宮廟可以超越。然而南瑤宮卻也遭遇了極為現實的問題:原本香火鼎盛(因而才有修繕費用)的宮廟,在採取新的風格式樣後,信徒卻因為無法接受引入西方風格的「現代建築」,而造成香火銳減的問題。
因此,當我們在討論神佛信仰文化如何銜接和處理現代性問題的同時,也必須顧及其信仰文化所存在的經濟結構,以及信徒如何看待現代性等面向。當然,我們不能把事物簡化為引介西方形式即為發展現代性,反之亦然。但是透過南瑤宮香火銳減的例子,我們可以明白,神佛信仰社群中,也具備了一定程度的保守性格,而這種保守性格可能是同一時代的其他外來宗教所沒有的。也就是說,當我們討論建築或藝術創作者為何迴避宗教性創作的同時,也不能忽略民間信仰者所具備的保守選擇,以及信仰結構中所蘊含的傳統父權體系。
在我們企圖重新頌揚神佛宗教信仰所隱藏的動能之時,也要小心地意識到傳統信仰結構是構成父權社會及封建家庭結構的重要基石。在討論宮廟信仰的傳承之時,往往會附著在其儀式及視覺、表演的結構,而忽略掉當代社會社群關係的轉變。在社群結構已經日漸疏離、趨向個體化的今日,重新進行集體性的動員,其意義應當已經不同於部落、農村的集體動員。另外,臺灣神佛信仰的儀式動員日漸繁複壯觀,也和臺灣的新自由主義經濟成長有著直接的關係,很多的資訊皆顯示,廟會的規模和經濟的發展有著直接的關係;而在新自由主義壓迫結構下,最不惜撒下重金資助神佛信仰的,往往是掠奪結構中受益最多的代工業資本主。
因此,我們究竟要追求怎樣的神祇?而近未來的神祇又該如何再現?筆者認為,神祇的迴返並不完全是反動,在一些幽微的例證之中,我們仍能看到神佛信仰的解放性。隨著解嚴時代的到來,臺灣各地的乩身文化逐漸繁茂,這必然顯示國民黨軍事化統治的現代性社會,缺乏照料民間心靈需求的能力,同時在現代性的社會中,人們盼望不到救贖,並缺乏對多重空間存在的想像。
那麼,當我們開始嘗試在神佛的信仰世界之中找尋下段旅程,我們究竟可以前往何處呢?

宮廟文化的新空間

宮廟文化已經在臺灣島上存在超過三至四個世紀,每座宮廟都是島嶼的硬碟,內部儲存著每個當代的文化及歷史印記,從平埔族、原漢交流,一直到日本人的出現,這些硬碟補足了臺灣視覺和表演藝術的歷史空缺。宮廟除了是歷史及藝術的空間,同時也是一個俗世事務得以被解決的空間,透過神職人員的協助,俗世的煩憂得到了答案。除了大規模動員的壯麗儀式之外,我們是否也能了解在宮廟空間中的婦女,藉以明白女性在神佛信仰系統中的位階?在以男性鄉里政治圈為主的資源動員結構之外,宮廟及神佛信仰對於婦女、對於家庭成員,又是個怎樣的存在?
另外,筆者認為神佛信仰及宮廟文化,並非單純的「本土」文化,其本身在亞洲區域也具備充足的國際性,以該信仰文化所延伸而出的知識論,是可以輕易地展開相關的國際性討論。舉例來說,當筆者在數年前,首次展開於越南地區的當代藝術交流時,即驚訝地發現,越南來臺駐村的藝術家,往往可以輕易辨認出宮廟中的神祇:「這座是Quan Công(關公),我的家人也會拜。哇,你們的媽祖,我們叫Thiên Hậu(天后)[6],通常都是漁村會有這種廟。」當然,更不用說,相同的信仰體系,早已透過漢人的移民,遍布東南亞各地。在同樣的信仰背景之下,雙方的藝術家,往往可透過共同的認識論、道德價值,以及宗教觀,很快速地進入到核心的藝術討論。我曾經從一位越南行為藝術家的口中聽到「安居樂業」這四個字,以越語音念出。如果我今天面對的是另外一個文化系統的藝術家,我則可能要先跟對方辯論「輪迴」是否存在,接著還要解釋家庭對於個人的宰制力量,而對方通常只能「理解」,而無法「體會」。
因此,我們是否有可能拼湊出一幅跨越海洋、島嶼的神佛信仰地圖,以臺灣的藝術創作者作為驅動整套系統的新CPU,藉此喚醒各地的硬碟,並重新招喚神祇、鬼魅、記憶、歷史故事以及想像?也許,亞洲的父輩早已聳立了一座座的「巨堂」,並在其內擺置了無數的「斷牌」、「神仙像」、「石佛」、「飛仙」,只是這些「石佛」和「飛仙」從來就不是為了展示殖民帝國的壯麗,也不是為了服務殖民學術體制中的人類學、考古學和藝術史。我們的「石佛」和「飛仙」在「巨堂」之中,是自身的主體,是世世代代棲居於村里之中的看顧者。祂們既貪婪地動員人力、物力、財力和時間,來進行綿延不盡的儀式消耗,但卻又同時毫不吝惜地給予信眾庇護、信心、勇氣和靈感。也許這正是神佛信仰圈的文化本質:我們不蒐集、不分類、不購藏,我們的文化創造及記憶的累積,是透過一次又一次的消耗和掏空來構成,既飽滿、壯麗、但卻彷如鞭炮、煙火和燒王船一般,在烈焰的燃燒之中,感官的刺激、出神、創造力、毀滅,和信仰、敬畏、期盼、虔誠同時並存,並同時消耗。


[註釋]
1  《尾蠅歐行漫錄》(尾蠅欧行漫録)的書名中,「尾蠅」即市川清流的自稱,形容自己只是跟隨著主公遊歐的蒼蠅;然而在該書中,「尾蠅」雖然僅是撰寫日誌,卻顯露了當時代東亞學人,對於西方現代性少有的洞見。
2 亦稱「文久遣歐使節」,目的是為了向歐洲諸國交涉延期開港通商。一行「武士」使節們,從1862年初出海,至1863年回國;除前往英、法、荷、俄、普魯士等國進行外交交涉任務之外,沿途亦行經英屬香港、英屬新加坡、英屬錫蘭、英屬葉門、埃及、英屬馬爾他、葡萄牙等地。且正逢首屆世博開館,一行人亦因此參觀了「水晶宮」。
3 越文以「viện bảo tàng」來翻譯博物館,漢字意思為「寶藏院」。
4 國立自然科學博物館的「人類文化廳」,其中的「漢人的心靈生活」以人類學式的概念,大量展示臺灣民間的各類神佛信仰的儀式、乩身文化、藝術呈現等內容。
5 「靈體」或神佛以無形的力量模式,進入乩身的體內,進而可藉由乩身來發聲或「顯靈」。降鸞並非僅能透過人身來呈現,有時呈現在轎班的形式上,旁觀者會彷彿覺得神轎自身即為具備自主性的主體。
6 媽祖於越南稱為Thiên Hậu Thánh Mẫu,漢字為天后聖母。


The Temple:
A Field Reflecting Colonial Modernity
────── Nobuo Takamori

Translated by Hui-jun Huang

Museums vs. Temples

In the history of Japanese words, “hakubutsukan,” or museum, was used firstly in Biyō Ōkō Manroku (Notes of A Fly Which Follows His Lord in Europe)[1 ] by Seiryu Ichikawa, who was a vassal of Tadanari Iwase, a diplomat in the Bakumatsu period. In 1862, when First Japanese Embassy to Europe[2] started, he followed his lord from Tokyo to Europe, and that book was his diary of this journey. On May 22, he visited the British Museum, and used “hakubutsukan,” literally “a house of numerous things,” to describe the exhibition space. Based on his description, the British Museum was a “huge hall” full of “gods idols,” “naked figures” and “broken slabs.” Later, when they visited museums in Berlin, Ichikawa used “broken slabs,” “stone coffins,” “stone Buddha statues,” “flying gods” and “dehydrated bodies of human beings and animals” (specimens) to describe those displayed.
According to Ichikawa’s descriptions, we can see how a traditional, Eastern Asian scholar would portray a museum without knowing the concepts and social meanings of it. Based on Ichikawa’s ideas, a museum is more than “a treasure collection” or “a house of treasures,”[3] and it is a hall that displays “gods idols,” “broken slabs,” “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods.” In Eastern Asia, Ichikawa’s descriptions associate most likely with the space of Buddhist or Taoist temples. A temple is with religious purposes and a museum is for public education, scientific research or exhibition. The functions of both may seem completely different and contradictory, but a museum can be understood as a temple in that the European cultures worship reason and consciousness and have valued science and colonialism since the Enlightenment. In fact, in the USSR period, many important religious spaces in Russia like churches or mosques were reassigned as museums and opened to the public to let people know more about the space that generated “superstition” before revolutions.
Therefore, maybe the biggest problem we are having is that no matter how alike a temple and a museum are in terms of theory, constitution and cultural implication, these two spaces are of colossal differences in their characteristics for Taiwanese people. Some people even consider them at the two ends of the development spectrum with one is “before the Enlightenment” and the other “after the Enlightenment.”
When reviewing the history of modern architecture in Taiwan, we can find that many architects had entirely ignored discussions on temple space and works in it. In Taiwan, important religious buildings after the Second World War include “Tainan Bahá’í Center” (1957) by Ci He-Chen, “Taipei Grand Mosque” (1960) by Cho-cheng Yang, “Luce Memorial Chapel” (1963) by Chi-kwan Chen, “East Gate Presbyterian Church” (1980) by Da-hong Wang. Built before WWII, there was “Kenkou Shrine” (1928) by Kaoru Ide. Today, we also have some architects like C.Y. Lee working in the field of Buddhist temples. Yet, architectures of temples had been completely excluded from the history of modern architecture in Taiwan. If we take the amount of followers and temples of traditional religions in Taiwan into consideration, it is quite irrational that many modern architects focus only on buildings of religions with fewer followers.
It had never been comprehensively and systematically researched in any field regarding what made Taiwanese people reject their own traditional religions. When in the Qing dynasty, Taiwan had official temples, like Tainan Grand Matsu Temple, with ceremonies arranged by the government. In the final years of the Japanese rule period, with the movements of promoting Japanization and Shinto, related colonial policies like “Temple Management Movement” were made. As a consequence, developments of many traditional religions were prohibited in the name of breaking down “superstition” or “conventions.” Basically, with the knowledge structure built up in the Japanese Rule period, Chinese and aboriginal religions in Taiwan were regarded as the opposite of “modernity.” In this structure, traditional religions were frozen in time and were banned from entering the modern society. However, this suppression had not gone away with the end of the Japanese rule. The KMT government defined their version of modernity. According to this updated definition, all religions were incorporated into nationalism. With the encouragement of the party-state regime, “memorial halls,” “martyr’s shrines” and “National Palace Museum” highlighting Chinese culture were the only spaces where belief of state religion can be shown.
At the same time, local Buddhism and Taoism in Taiwan have been excluded from the KMT’s party-state system, and they were categorized as “folk” religions with a hierarchical implication. Politically speaking, therefore, unlike religious institutions such as mosques or churches in other countries which can be elevated to a national level, a temple in Taiwan can never be seen as a national symbol. On the contrary, folk religions have been associated with people in the lower social stratum in terms of language use. As one can see, “official experts” assigned by both the Japanese colonial regime and the KMT government to engage in the construction of temple spaces have never been official architects, mural makers or sculptors, but anthropologists. From anthropological research before the Second World War to Academia Sinica after the Second World War, and later to the anthropological exhibitions[4] in the National Museum of Natural Science, anthropology or folkology have become a tool to deprive potential modernity of its research subjects.
It seems appropriate to say that colonial regimes and the modernity they brought along have destroyed Taiwanese temple cultures, which had been developed for more than two hundred years. The main reason behind that was the surrender of the intellectual who had often been leaders of local communities and members of temple administrative committees. They extended their interests and tastes by building and operating temples as well as managing artistic expressions and social services relating to temples. In the beginning of the twentieth century, these local leaders started to quit from temples, and it directly damaged the culture. This resulted from two major pressures: rapid urbanization, which pushed young intellectuals out from their home; and the modern discourse of enlightenment, which made the temple culture a folk custom or even bad, anti-modern conventions. Because of so, after the Second World War, almost all scholars resigned themselves from temple committees and local politics/cultures closely related to temples. Instead, being highly profitable with abundant political and economic resources, temples have attracted gangsters, criminals, politicians, police members, and people in relating interest groups since then. Therefore, the development of temple culture has been led to a way with no return that people think of it as “anti-intellectualism,” “folk,” and “traditional.”
Nowadays, delicate altars made by local excellent artists have been replaced by cheap factory-made and imported ones, nanguan music performed by professional musicians has been replaced by pole dancers and strippers and graceful, classical architectures have been replaced by complicated and high buildings. In addition to temple committee members, it seems that temple priests, like jitong (spiritual medium) and ang-î (“witch” or “shaman”), also do not have the characteristics to make temple culture “modern.” Chou-lung Tsai, a psychologist and medium of Ji Gong, once pointed out that current Buddhist and Taoist priests in Taiwan were running their business in a primitive manner. As a result, most jitong and ang-î have lost their connections with people as people’s livings are more complicated than before and that they cannot deal with diversified issues of family, job, gender and values. To better address this, Tsai suggested that we should have a system like that of a theological seminary or Buddhist institute to train religious workers with “modern knowledge” in the hope to restore traditional religions.
Hence, one could say that intellectuals’ resignation from religion is the main issue we are facing. Today, intellectual religious workers, like Chou-lung Tsai, are extremely rare in temples in Taiwan. Via Tsai, when Ji Gong was introducing His descending[5 ]experiences to us, He also pointed out that limited knowledge and language ability of a jitong could pose huge obstacles to summoning spirits.

The Modernity and Anti-modernity of Temple Space

When Taiwan was under the rule of Japan, temples did not passively resist modernity. Nanyao Temple in Changhua, for instance, had a “Rebuilding Committee of Nanyao Temple” in the beginning of the Japanese rule period, and it led the temple’s restoration which finished in 1916. The restored Nanyao Temple integrated European styles in the facade of the original architecture, and based on traditional Taiwanese architectural style, Japanese altars and Baroque wall decorations were all blended in as what it is like today. Nanyao Temple, then, became absolutely a wonder among all temples in Taiwan. Its mixed styles and the underlying ambitions of the renovation have seldom been surpassed by other temples. Yet they had to face a critical issue, that is, the once-rich temple (the reason that it started the renovation project) failed to convince its followers with the innovative style, and it led to the plunge of follower population.
Thus, when discussing how to connect traditional religions with the modern society, we should take into consideration existing economic structures embedded in the religious culture and followers’ perceptions of modernity. We should not, of course, simply take introducing Western cultures as developing the modernity, and vice versa. In the case of Nanyao Temple, we can see that traditional religious communities has a streak of conservativeness which may not be found in introduced foreign religions. Accordingly, when discussing why architects and artists avoid making religious artworks, we also should not ignore the followers’ preference to conservativeness and the patriarchal system inherent in traditional religious structures.
When trying to glorify the potential dynamics of traditional religions, we should carefully remember that the traditional religious structure is the very base of patriarchy and conservative families. When it comes to temple traditions, we tend to focus on ceremonies, visual expressions and performances but overlook changes of communal relationship in the modern society. Today, the society is more alienated and individual-oriented, and gathering a tribal or village assembly is completely different from how we used to do in the past. We have more spectacular and complex Buddhist/Taoist ceremonies now due to neo-liberalism and the economic growth in Taiwan. According to research, the scale of a temple event is closely related to economic development. Ironically, the ones who generously sponsor traditional religions are often the capitalists in OEM business who benefit the most from this exploitive economic structure fueled by neo-liberalism.
At the end of the day, what kind of gods should we worship? How can we represent a near-future god? I consider that returning of gods is not a complete reversal. From some obscure instances, we could still see the freedom in traditional religions. After the lifting of martial law, cultures of jitong has been developed much around Taiwan. This shows that the KMT’s version of modernity and its militarist ideologies cannot meet people’s psychological needs, and people cannot find their redemption in this society imbued with modernity. Moreover, people lack the abilities to imagine diversified spaces.
So, when we are trying to go on to the next journey of traditional religions, where are we heading exactly?

A New Space for Temple Culture

Temple culture has existed in Taiwan for more than three or four centuries, and every temple is like a hard disk drive of this island that records all local cultures and historical tracks of the plain aborigines, the Chinese, and the Japanese. These records in the disks fill the blank in visual and performance art which would otherwise be absent in the Taiwanese history. Besides being a space of history and art, a temple is also a space of solving secular issues with the help of religious workers. Except for magnificent rituals joined by numerous people, can we also study women in the temple space to know what role they play in traditional religions. Outside this assembly dominated by local patriarchal politics, how do women and family members see traditional religions?
I also think that traditional religions and temple culture are not just some “local culture” but also very international as its distinctive epistemology can easily generate cross-border conversations in Asia. For example, when I first interacted with contemporary artists from Vietnam, I found they could easily identify Gods in temples: “This is Quan Công (Guan Gong) my family also worship him. Wow, it is Matsu, or Thiên Hậu[6] in our language. I know that Her temples are common in fishing villages.” Of course, the same religious system has been spread out to every corner of Southeastern Asia by Chinese immigrants. With this religious system, discussions between artists from various countries can often easily reach to the core with shared epistemology, values, morals and faith. Once, I heard a Vietnamese performance artist say the Chinese idiom “living safely and working smoothly” in Vietnamese. If I meet artists from a different cultural system, I may need to first argue over the existence of “reincarnation,” then I may also have to explain how family influences and affects an individual, while most of the time they can only “understand it” instead of “relating themselves to it.”
Is that possible for us to draw a new map of Buddhism and Taoism that can go beyond boundaries of islands and cross over the oceans? How can we use Taiwanese artists as a new CPU to activate the system and data saved in hard disk drives to re-summon all the gods, ghosts, memories, histories and fantasies? Maybe, Asian people have already built many “huge halls” to place numerous “broken slabs,” “gods idols,” “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods.” Yet, these “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods” are never for colonial empires to manifest their power, neither are they for anthropology, archeology and art history serving the imperial academia. In our “huge halls,” “stone Buddha statues” and “flying gods” have their subjectivity and they are our time-honored village guardians. They selfishly mobilize large manpower and demand material resources and lots of time to perform never-ending ceremonies. On the other hand, they selflessly protect, encourage, inspire and empower their followers. Maybe this is the nature of traditional religions: we do not collect, neither do we categorize and reserve. Indeed, our religious experiences and memories are created by consumption and depletion. They are vigorous, magnificent and powerful like firecrackers, fireworks and King Boat burning—with the blazing fire, we enjoy and devour visual sensation, ecstasy, innovation, destruction, faith, awe, hope, and piety altogether.


[NOTE]
1 In the title of the book, Biyō Ōkō Manroku, Biyō (“a following fly”) was a nickname of Seiryu Ichikawa given by himself to say that he was no more than a fly following his lord. Yet from the diary of this “Biyō,” we can see genuinely valuable insights that were hardly ever seen from other Eastern Asian scholars.
2 The goal of the mission was to delay the opening of harbors for trades. A group of “samurai” departed from Japan in the beginning of 1862 and returned in 1863. They had visited the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia for the mission, and they also passed by British Hong Kong, British Singapore, British Ceylon, British Yemen, Egypt, the Crown Colony of Malta and Portugal. They also attended the very first world’s fair, and thus visited the Crystal Palace.
3 In Vietnamese, a museum is called as “viện bảo tàng,” which means “a house of treasures.”
4 In Human Cultures Hall of National Museum of Natural Science in Taichung, an exhibition named Spiritual Life of Chinese People displays many aspects of traditional religions including ceremonies, jitong and artistic expressions from the anthropological perspective.
5 “Spirits” is a formless power referring to gods or Buddha, who possess the body of a jitong (spiritual medium) and even speak as a way to “show their powers.” Such summoning can be performed without using a person as a medium, however. Sometimes a spirit can be summoned and descend on a sedan which then seems to have its subjectivity.
6 In Vietnamese, Matsu is Thiên Hậu Thánh Mẫu whose literal translation is “celestial queen and holy mother.”

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