Empty Fluttering, Full Of Sound PDF Print E-mail
Written by Edward Larson   
Thursday, 21 January 2010 02:28



Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, a conceptual French artist, works with sound in surprising ways. Using time, a flock of finches, grass, water, sunlight, guitars and associated sound equipment an astoundingly simple and breathtaking performance takes place.

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 This video illustrates a rather deep point. Meaning is not something absolute, it is something each of us comes to, even when the situation that provides the occasion for it is entirely lacking in intention or any thing we can point to as objective. There is little intentional in the sounds the finches produce in this video, no skill, or craft or talent produces it and yet it is visually stunning and quite lovely to listen to. Where does truth, beauty, and meaning come from if there is nothing absolute or objective we can point to as a source?


Atheists are often questioned along these lines "If you don't believe in God, then where do your morals come from? Isn't life meaningless without God?" and Buddhist could be questioned this way too, after all the Buddha was not a god and Buddhism requires no theistic belief to practice. So where do Buddhists get their morals? What defines right and wrong? Barbara O'Brien who does a great job answering this line of questioning and explains it in great detail here. In some respects Buddhism is rather utilitarian, what works best, what is actually useful right now? When the Buddha was asked about the origin of the universe, is it eternal, is it finite or infinite, among many other questions by the monk Malunkyaputta he responded by pointing out that none of these questions had any bearing on this life, at this moment, and did nothing to solve the problem of suffering. Buddha likens Malunkyaputta to a man shot by a poisoned arrow who refuses to have it removed until he is told, who shot the arrow, what caste they were from, wether they were tall medium or short, and so forth. What matters most is this moment, this problem, this solution. Our interest is not in where these motivations come from, or whether they are backed up by objective values, but whether or not they improve our lives and the lives of those around us. While some might wonder if life has meaning without a God, Buddhists, atheists, Humanists and many many others, prefer to focus instead on whether or not the life they are living is a satisfactory one. With or without an objective source, is the way you are living meaningful enough? Even without a God or God given morals and rules of conduct, we are not rudderless. We don't live in a void even if everything is empty. Focus on the here and now, does the way you are living reduce and eliminate suffering for you and others? 


Céleste Boursier-Mougenot's birds and the music they produce are entirely empty. There is no reason behind each sound we hear in the sense that another note or chord might just as easily have been struck by the birds, Yes, each sound we hear is the product of causes and conditions, yet there is nothing other than these very same causes and conditions producing the fluttering atonal beauty we see and hear. This is beauty with no conductor.



This moment is beautiful.


This moment is enough.  





Last Updated on Friday, 22 January 2010 04:54

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