Daoism and Eco-art and Zhengbo

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This article is a research report I wrote about Daoism and the artist Zheng Bo.

Anthropocene and ecology art practice in east Asia

Scholars such as Bruno Latour have in recent years come to realize that the dichotomy between nature and society, science and humanities, and objectivity and subjectivity is the cornerstone of modernity, and they advocate replacing the term Nature with Gaia to refer to the earth and all things that live on it (Latour, 2017). Dipesh Chakrabarty points out that now that the inextricable link between climate change and human activity has been recognized, we can no longer maintain the The disciplinary divide between history and natural history can no longer be maintained (Chakrabarty, 2009). We need to reexamine the history of modernity and globalization by substituting an ecological perspective into the study of history. Artists need to think about the history of global capital and the history of humans as a species together. In her book Mushrooms at the End of the World (2015), anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing reflects on the concept of the Anthropocene, a term that defines "the epoch in which human disturbance outranks other geological forces", noting that "while some interpreters take the name to imply human triumph, the opposite seems more accurate: without plan or intention, the humans have made a mess of our planet." She deconstructs the privileged role of humans in the Anthropocene, arguing that this mess is not the result of our species' biology, but rather the effects of industrial capitalism (Tsing, 2015). The origins of ecological art in the West echoed the socio-political movements of the 1960s, including the opposition to the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Liberation Movement and the emergence of the environmental movement. 1962 saw the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which sparked public concern about environmental issues in the United States and the formation of various environmental groups, which expanded into a worldwide environmental movement (Carson, 1962). Some of the earth artists began to turn their attention to environmental issues and the study of natural phenomena and forces. When T. J. Demos published Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology in 2013, the book focused for the first time on artistic practices outside the West, but missing from East Asia. Artistic practices in East Asia become a key point for the study of ecological art. Chinese art has been interested in mountains and water(山水) and heavens since ancient times, and mountains and water painting was the first ecological art practice to emerge in China, but activist-based practices are rare in East Asia.

The Daoist worldview

As the opposition of 1 and 1(0) in the ontology of the couple, the plant, like the black man in slavery, is the most fundamental "zero", the "zero" degree state in the concept of society. The duality of 1 and 1(0) is always established to the exclusion of the more total "zero" behind it. As suggested by Zairong Xiang, the Daoist doctrine of yin and yang has a coexistence with "zero" wisdom, and the "zero" degree represented by "Dao" confirms the queer existence of "two"(Brilmyer, Trentin & Xiang, 2019). Dao De Jing provides a numerical logic known to the world to articulate this cosmology. "The Dao produced One; One produced Two; Two produced Three; Three produced All things." "The Dao produced One"tells us that there is not nothing before "one", "Dao" is the "non-one" before this "one". Also, "All things under heaven sprang from It as existing; that existence sprang from It as non-existent." is not emphasizing the cosmology of "creatio ex nihilo". It emphasizes the theological concept of creativity, instead of the theological concept of creation. Creativity lies in the coexistence of yin and yang, and the vitality of zero, which we call "Dao"(Brilmyer, Trentin & Xiang, 2019). Last but not least, philosophers Roger Ames and David Hall pointed out that "wuwei" in Daoism cannot be translated as "no action" or "non-action," but "non-coercive action that is in accordance with . . . the de [focus] of things" contained within one’s field of influence (Ames & Hall, 2003). Franklin Perkins summarizes the metaphysics of East Asia. According to this worldview, humans follow the laws of nature without ruling it. "It is not just that things implicate each other but that things include each other… The story of the whole universe can be explicated from any one point."(Perkins, 2015) This cosmology has influenced life and action in East Asia in a comprehensive way.

Basic Daoism and Ecology Knowledge

The West Lake in Hangzhou is a beautiful tourist attraction. There is a Daoist temple built in honor of Ge Hong, who has a significant place in the history of Daoism. Tourists enjoy the scenery at West Lake. According to Ge Hong, the energy of the landscape can flow into the body and even transform it as one observes, when the vitality of the landscape is aligned with and beneficial to the vitality of the individual. "Observation" is a natural and religious act in Daoism. This is why temples are often built close to mountains and water, in places where people can go and "observe" (Campany and Ge, 2002).

This flowing vitality in the landscape is called "Dao". Observing the Dao is an act of engaging in transformation, known as "cultivating the Dao", linking the external landscape, the cosmos and the inner body. In this process, the inner physical landscape is nourished by the vital energy or "qi" that flows through the earth (Campany and Ge, 2002).

At the same time, Ge Hong suggests that nature could save human beings from their own bodies. Humans are not subjects who observe objective nature. Subjectivity is based on "Dao", and human subjectivity comes from or is in some way inherited from or simulated by nature. Nature allows humans to think, imagine and act. Daoism sees nature as subjectivity, so that nature can be understood and experienced within the body (Campany and Ge, 2002).

The Dao De Jing says: "Humans follow earth, Earth follows heaven, Heaven follows Dao, Dao follows its subjective nature, Humanity, nature, and the transcendent cosmos are normatively modeled, and their ultimate norm is "Dao" (Ames and Hall, 2003). "Dao" is the norm of self-creation or self-emergence. "Dao" is a spontaneous creative process. Humans are unable to grasp nature objectively. Nature is omething that patterns, models, or informs us as human beings. Daoist understand the ultimate meaning of this patterning or modeling as "Dao". Human beings also shape, change and emerge because they have inherited these capacities from nature. "Dao" is subjectivity, and human subjectivity comes from following nature; Dao is self-generated, spontaneous and ultimately free (Miller, 2017).

The specific configuration and constellation of "Dao" in each life constitute the uniqueness of the individual life and the human species. So in Daoism the environment is within the human being, life is a process of infusion and perseverance, where the subjective energies of the universe transform and combine to form the uniqueness of the new individual (Kohn, 1993).

The "wuwei" in Dao De Jing advocates the cultivation of tranquillity, the reduction of desires, and non-interference in things. It advocates an ethic of the relationship between the self and the people, in which the nonaction of the former promotes the spontaneous behaviour of the latter. A pattern of meditative action can catalyse a harmonious alignment between people. Because of the spontaneous formation of coherence, Daoism has no need to govern others through direct involvement or interference in their affairs. "wuwei" is the ideal way to achieve enrichment and prosperity for people, it facilitates the transaction of world transformation, provides an environment and nourishment, and finally brings about change (Slingerland, 2003).

The concept of "qi" is understood here as a liquid vitality. "qi" flows in two ways: the projection (yang) and reception (yin). Whether it is air, water, blood, sexual fluid, or the subtle vitality of "qi", all are in constant flow (Ferguson, 2019). Daoism sees the physical experience of breathing as a fundamental pattern of yin and yang, replicated through the natural world and the abstract universe itself. The universe itself is a process of projecting and receiving liquid vitality that functions as a continuous breath or heartbeat. The transition from one state to another is natural and cyclical, and in this way, the body stays alive. The most important way of acting to stay healthy is to align with the macrocosmic patterns of the seasons (Forke, 1925).

During meditation, the function of the mouth is to transmit the liquid vitality of "qi" from the deity to the clergy. The mouth is the medium through which the cosmic forces are transacted. There is clearly an element of deep intimacy in this transfer of "qi". Whereas sex is considered to be a lower form of energy transaction transfer of fluid between the deity and the practitioner (Pregadio, 2006). With the intimate transfer of vital energy, through the internal organs of the body, the liquid vitality circulates through the body of the cleric.

Scriptures in Daoism are considered to be earthly traces of the cosmic meaning that mediates the universal "Dao". It is in dependence on the "Dao" that the scriptures is constituted; it is in dependence on the text that the "Dao" is made manifest. The "Dao" is the substance; the scriptures are the function. Meaning there is an interaction between the sacred scriptures and the ink on the page and the cosmic breath it produces. The gods are said to respond when humans recite these texts, which are traces of the originals condensed in the heavens (Robinet, 1993). The main requirement for the believer is to access the scriptures and learn how to use them. What it really is is how it is really used. Ultimately, then, the clergy's hermeneutic relationship to the text is not one of intellect or meaning, but of power and meaning through the liquid transmission of cosmic breath to the ink on the page, and the liquid vitality of the divine circulating within the clergy. This transformation of human beings within the cosmic framework that defines their sphere of meaning can be understood as the cultivation of the "Dao" (Robinet, 1993).

In Method of the Nine Perfected, each stage of internal vision and internal observation must take place on a specific date, a date determined by the sixty-day cycle of the Chinese calendar. The text functions like a combination lock in which the various cycles of the body, the deity and the calendar are unified. The organs of the body are not simply the physical material of the heart or the lungs, but the cycle of energy that they regulate, the circulation of liquid vitality through the body. Furthermore, the dates on the calendar are abstractions derived from the cycles of the sun around the earth, the stars in the sky, the planets and the moon. These celestial bodies can also be understood as energy transformation systems in which the liquid vitality is transformed through predictable cycles of yin and yang This process involves the interplay of complex cycles of energy transformation that operate on the principle of the waxing and waning of yin and yang at different frequencies or cycles (Miller, 2009).

The book Zhuangzi mentioned that the gap between the individual and the environment is reduced to an absolute minimum and that the person is able to know more, hear more and see more. In this way, the transformed body becomes extremely sensitive and is able to absorb more of the world's perceptions than an ordinary person (Zhuang and Ma, 2003). These signs are the special way in which the transformed Daoist body is able to perceive and integrate with its natural environment, a body that is absolutely porous, a body that is completely open to its environment, allowing the practitioner's mind to fully engage and respond to its environment. "Cultivation of Dao" is a thoroughly somatic process that takes place in and through the body, as a network of liquid vital yin-yang processes (Komjathy, 2014).

The only way to encounter the "Dao" is through the direct life and material experience of the body. However, the materiality of the body naturally implies that it occupies a particular location and shapes its experience through the body's encounter with its surroundings. In the same way that the Daoist tradition focuses on the body as the substrate of transformation, it also focuses on the environment, the space in which the practitioner's bodily transformation takes place (Miller, 2017).

In Perfected Purple Yang, it is mentioned that Daoists associate the body, the mountain and the sky together because of their foundational spatiality. The body is meaningful because it contains the space that the deity can inhabit and encounter (Miller, 2009). Like the body, the mountains and the sky are all pervaded by the same "emptiness", they are ultimately interconnected. The human body is the product of an interior emptiness that is identical to the emptiness of nature and the emptiness of the heavens. The human body, in its dimension as emptiness, is at the same time the ecological body and the heavenly bodies. In the tradition of Chinese religious practice, one can project one's soul beyond the rainbow and the clouds (Schafer, 2005).

The mountain, like the body, is understood as a porous system whose internal transformations are of particular interest to Daoists. The individual needs to have genuine faith to access these internal texts. In encounters with rare plants, minerals and other "concretions" of liquid vitality, the practitioner's physical vitality is transformed through contact with the vitality of the mountain (Campany, 2000). Daoism is a tradition extremely focused on the body as the locus of devotional experience when it comes to the body, so the Daoist experience is an ecological experience. Without the body, without the ground, there is no universe. All three spheres are interconnected and are symbiotic spheres of the vitality. The "environmental problem" is therefore in a way the problem of the body and the problem of the universe. The sky, the earth and the body are empty constellations, and liquid vitality circulates in these three dimensions.

Daoism trains people in ways of experiencing the world within the body. At the simplest level, these traditions focus on attention to the breath. At a more advanced level, they train people to develop complex experiences of energy flowing in and through the body, experiences that most people ignore most of the time. This tradition of bodily practices can be understood as non-discursive bodily practices that place the body in the world, and training in these bodily disciplines overcomes the experience of the world as other and the world in the body and provides an aesthetic or sensory basis for ecologically sensitive codes of behaviour. The Daoist tradition continues the caution or restraint found in early Confucian moral theory and has developed a number of precept-focused collections of texts where the goal of self-restraint is to achieve maximum prosperity for the individual or community. The key element here is that when one recognises the existence of multiple subjective forces within the individual body and in the dynamics of the natural environment, the goal is to blend, harmonise and regulate these forces in order to produce the maximum positive effect. The moral issue here is not what one should aim for as a subjective individual, but how to produce greater overall prosperity by limiting certain practices in oneself and in others (Girardot, Miller and Liu, 2001).

The concept of these precepts also suggests that the basic moral problem facing human beings is their inability to exercise proper restraint and humility, which results in excessive violence and destruction. These precepts can therefore be read as recording what the fifth- to sixth-century Daoists saw as the fundamental problems in the world arising from man's lack of self-restraint. All these problems can be read as problems stemming from the porous connection between the body and the world; they are ecological problems. The precepts are described in a negative way, suggesting that the main problem facing humanity at the time was not a decline in positive activity in the world, but an excess of violent activity, and that some self-restraint on the part of individuals was required in the first place in order to promote the appropriate level of interactive engagement to produce community flourishing (Girardot, Miller and Liu, 2001).

Weedy gardens

Zheng has collaborated with art museums on several occasions. He transformed the roof of the Sifang Art Museum into a weed shelter to mark Nanjing's entry into a massive urbanisation movement. At the UCCA Dune Art Museum, he worked with local farmers to create a dune botanical garden by transplanting local weeds onto one of the viewing platforms. In the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, he created a garden to rescue plants that scientists had discarded after their experiments. The students loved the garden so much that they came to sit and draw with the plants. At the Ming Contemporary Art Museum, he removed the curtains that hid the weeds so that the museum and the public could acknowledge their presence. He transplanted the weeds from around the museum into five disused industrial lifts hanging from the museum's façade. Local residents came to help with the transplanting. He also invited them to write and read letters to the weeds, beginning to build an emotional relationship (Zheng, 2022). Weed in Chinese also refers to the common people, the masses, who are generally of low to middle income in the social class. They are less powerful as individuals, but numerous in number. They are active on Tiktok, full of energy, but always criticised by the middle class for their deformed bodies, and even more so for their irrelevance to the White Cube Gallery. The act of planting nameless weeds in the gallery first requires the viewer to "observe" the weeds, draw them, to meditate on them, but Zheng does not interfere with them or alter them in any way, leaving them as they are. This "wuwei" enables the viewer to cultivate tranquillity, reduce desire and not interfere with things. In Bamboo as Method, each participant is allowed to choose a few bamboo leaves to sketch. The role of Zheng and the participants is to provide the environment and nourishment for this exhibition, and Zheng's "wuwei" catalyzes the masses to spontaneously be transformed and become more alive with the weeds. As the viewer paints, constantly receiving information from the weeds and the gallery and feeding it back into the painting and into the gallery, in tune with his or her own breathing, the person becomes a product of the dynamic interaction of these forces. Ultimately a balance is achieved between the person, the weeds and the gallery. The liquid vitality is constantly flowing through it, and the painting is the medium that transforms the physical body into a cosmic variant. Here, similarly to the Daoist scriptures - the earthly traces of cosmic signification, mediate the universal "Dao" - not a thing but a creative act of signification - This transformation can be understood as the cultivation of the "Dao" (Robinet, 1993). Cultivation is fundamentally an ecological process, as it depends on the relationship between human beings and their environment in order to take place. Zheng places great emphasis on the "local" in his work: the local weeds, the workers and the community. The art gallery becomes in a sense a cave where the spirits of the Daoist mountains can dwell and be encountered. The ecology of spiritual relationships fostered in the Daoist tradition is decidedly local, and the approach to the universal power of the Dao is always mediated by particular places, texts and deities, each with its own history, lineage and community. In engaging with the weeds in the gallery, the physical vitality of the viewer is transformed through contact with the vitality of the gallery. Secondly, unlike nature reserves, the exhibition sites do not require high fees to access, but are places easily accessible to all. All materials for the exhibition are recyclable and sustainable.

Living slogans

Zheng has planted many slogans with plants: "Life is hard, why do we make it so easy?", "Socialism Good", " You are the 0.01%", "té égalité fr", etc. "Socialism Good" was planted in Tiananmen Square in 1991, and Zheng planted it at the CASS Sculpture Foundation. "té égalité fr", which stands for "Liberté Égalité Fraternité", has been a primary pursuit of homo sapiens. the growth of weeds and they were covered. The slogan became the backdrop for the weeds - the relationship between the two began to be reversed. Economist Joseph Stiglitz once said: "The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation's income every Later, "We are the 99%" became the rallying cry of Occupy Wall Street. Artist Andrea Fraser's essay "L'1%, C'EST MOI." also suggests: "it must be abundantly clear by now that what has been good for the art world has been disastrous for the rest of the world. The wealth gap in Hong Kong is very serious. The article "The Biomass Distribution on Earth." states that humans account for only 0.01% of the Earth's biomass but consume 30% of the total primary production of the biosphere. The phrase "You are the 0.01%" is a direct reference to the inequalities of human behaviour on the planet (Zheng, 2022). In the forests of Thailand, he worked with a community of orchid growers to form the phrase "Life is hard Why do we make it so easy?", adapted from TED's speech by a Thai farmer, "Life is easy why do we make it so hard?" Life on earth is supposed to be both easy and hard – an oak tree gives birth to billions of seeds during its lifespan, but only one of the seeds is likely to grow into a full tree – but some of us humans have made our own lives too easy while making the lives of other beings, human and nonhuman, extremely difficult. Whereas most artists' work ends up as rubbish, Zheng's work is alive and biodegradable. The money for the Thai exhibition came from Hong Kong but ended up going to NGOs, and the orchids were planted in the forest. In the growth of the weeds, the subjectivity of the human (slogan) is subverted and wrapped into the growth of the plant. The environment is likened to "fate"(天) in Daoism, suggesting that the order of human society is governed by factors beyond human control, that is, a realm beyond the human. The word " 天" is translated as nature or heaven, which itself has power or the ability to act. Humans (slogans) shape, change and emerge because they have inherited these capacities from nature (spontaneous weeds). Secondly, these works point out in a negative way that the actions of some people or humans cause excessive violence and destruction. In order to promote the appropriate level of interactive engagement to produce community prosperity, some self-restraint by individuals is required in the first place, echoing the precepts in Daoism. Daoism states that if these injunctions are not observed, the individual or community will suffer greater harm, based on an ethical system in which body, community and landscape interpenetrate. They are read as questions that stem from the porous connection between the body and the world. In this sense, they are ecological issues. The key here is to recognise that the sustainability of one of these bodies depends on the sustainability of the others: human health, socio-economic health, political health and ecological health are fundamentally interdependent(Girardot, Miller and Liu, 2001). From the Dao De Jing onwards, Daoists have been fearful of the state exercising violent power in ways that are detrimental to moral cultivation. Daoism advocates the transformation of the world through a mode of activity that does not take pleasure in weapons or warfare, based on a body that is porous to the world. This necessarily involves the consumption and transformation of the world's resources. Cultivating sensitivity to this eternal process of consumption, therefore, generates a sense of ethics (Girardot, Miller and Liu, 2001). The notion of the porousness of the body demands an ethic of responsibility, which is what Zheng is trying to convey in this work.

Daily practice

Zheng lives on Lantau Island and walks to the mountains every day to visit his plant neighbours and draw them. For the work Grass Roots, Zheng pulled weeds out of the soil, traced their roots and then planted them back in. For the work Survival Manuals, he hand copied several guides to historically edible wild plants. The process of painting the plants is similar to that described by Weedy gardens and will not be repeated here. In his 1935 book Taiwan's Wild Edible Plants, he discovered many ferns. At this time Taiwan was still a Japanese colony. There were plenty of ferns in Taiwan's forests, but they do not appear in Taiwan's cultural representations. There are no ferns in Japanese painting, nor in Taiwanese art, but the Taiwanese natives were familiar with them. It could be said that ferns are "indigenous" and "spontaneous" to Taiwan. So Zheng began to think about how to become emotionally involved with ferns. So he began to spend many hours a day painting plants in the mountains, but he would not identify them by name. He says it is important to spend time with the plants, which grow quickly, and to see them move in the process. In the process of drawing, Zheng slowly approaches the temporality and experience of the plants, saying that without drawing there would be no seeing. During the exhibition of this work, the drawings are organised by the traditional solar terms and are placed in seven rooms with low tables. The work is placed on a horizontal surface more like a traditional Chinese scroll. The viewers need to move and look very slowly, they have enough space to do this, and they need to sit down close to the floor to see the work, in a sense connected to the earth. The lighting in each room is different and deliberately adjusted to mimic the different seasons. Remote and uninhabited mountains are seen as places with clean air, pure water and rare flora and fauna, the generation of the liquid vitality that Daoists so passionately seek. Daoism believed that remote and inaccessible places harboured the more powerful ooze or emanation of the "Dao" (Campany, 2000). Ge Hong mentions that books and texts from the Daoist tradition were hidden deep in the mountains and were out of reach. When a willing recipient of the "Dao" enters the mountains, meditating on them with the utmost sincerity, the spirits in the mountains respond to him by opening the doors and allowing him to see them (Ge, 2006). This process requires the Daoist to engage in a process of internal contemplation. The result of this is that the spirits of the mountain are called to the service of the practitioner and allow him to enter the mountain and have all its animals and plants at his service. The spirits will facilitate contact between the practitioner and the mountain during this process. The body and the mountain are porous during this process and ecological sensitivity is cultivated (Lagerwey, 1981). Komjathy proposed that the Daoist is one who is attuned to the rhythm of the seasons rather than the fashion of the times (Komjathy, 2014). In Eight Secret Sayings of the Dao, during the twenty-four solar terms, the worshipper faces a specific direction and looks for particular colour of cloud for observation and petition. In the different festivals, the practitioner is required to face different directions for observation, to invoke different coloured clouds and different intermediary deities, and to pray to different higher deities. The key message of this text is the detail of the various combinations of cycles that must be observed precisely in order to release reliable transformative power. The religious process is based on and determined by the yin and yang model. Even the gods themselves operate according to the natural cycles of the sun, the stars and the planets. Indeed, the definition of their divinity can be said to lie in their perfect harmony with these cycles. Daoist masters know how all the various natural cycles work together to produce transformative forces that can absorb the bodily fluids of the physical landscape (Miller, 2009). For the duration of the exhibition, he organised "qigong practice" with the audience around a nearby tree as a daily practice for the duration of the exhibition. Denver Nixon once mentioned that qigong cultivates sensitivity and consciousness, but it does not objectify experience, nor does it bifurcate along the inward/outward cleavage. In other words, the consciousness generated through the practice of "qigong" does not remain on the skin, but "knows" the body as a whole and as part of the environment. The practice of "qigong" makes him more sensitive to the new environment of the living world, overcoming the traditional division of reality into subject and object. It does this by increasing the "depth of perception" and changing the patterns of bodily perception and contact with the living environment (Charmaz, 1997).

Forest films

Zheng has made a number of forest films, and this article discusses his most important work, Pteridophilia. In the first film, six men go into the forest and get intimate with the ferns, they establish an emotional and physical relationship with the ferns, relying on their bodies rather than their words. In Part Two the men begin to make love to and subsequently eat Asplenium nidus, and in Part Three Zheng collaborates with three BDSM workers in a BDSM collaboration on three ferns. Some ferns were thorny that can cause pain and suffering. The fifth explores the amazing configurations of the human-obsessed fern, capturing a young frond that is waiting to unfold. Inspired by boy love comic, this chapter follows a young couple in their acts of love with fiddlehead. Chapter 6 connects spores and sperms. We might be reminded of the series of public wedding ceremonies produced and performed by Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle. They have wed the earth, the sea, coal and the moon to question the notion of sex and sexuality. Their project, The Love Art Laboratory, sees ecological sexuality as an orientation towards the non-human, as something that humans are materially entangled in a reciprocal relationship. As such, this porous model of the body has wider ecological implications for sex and desire beyond the human, transcending ideologies about where human and non-human bodies begin and end. The vegetal nature of Zheng's work also suggests the vast possibilities of sex and sexuality beyond the duality of penetration and/or acceptance. Michael Marder describes it as "the fluidity, pliability, and plasticity of vegetal sexuality", for instance, the hermaphrodism of many plants, or their ability to change between masculine and feminine in their lifetimes. Ferns do not flower, but reproduce by means of spores, which fall to the ground and become gametophytes, after which they become eggs and sperms. Sperms swim to the eggs when it rains to complete the fertilisation process. This process in ferns is queer and cannot be defined in terms of human gender. Here, unlike the concept of the queer in Lee Edelman's No Future, the queer is not far removed from others, especially non-human ferns. It is a different kind of asexual reproduction, one that sees humans become vegetative and more obviously porous (Cummings, 2021). The human body is porous, not only in its openness to penetrating multiple zones of pleasure, but also in relation to the so-called "natural" environment, echoing the subjectivity of nature in Daoism. The act of men eating ferns with their mouths in the film has been widely discussed, with Zheng pointing out in the interview that we do not think about moral and ethical issues when we eat plants, and that the mouth is also a major organ of sexuality. A prominent feature of the meditative approach in Method of the Nine Perfected is the function of the mouth as a means of transmitting the liquid vitality of "qi" from the deity to the clergy. The mouth is the medium through which the Daoist cosmic forces are traded, that is, the liquid vitality is traded. Daoism attaches far more importance to this than to the sexual act (Miller, 2017). It is worth noting that during all the filming Zheng did not sterilise the plants. A professional porn actor asked for the plants to be sterilised, but Zheng refused and replaced the actors with ordinary people. The whole process of filming was spontaneous because the actors did not act deliberately. The actors also did not see the plants as props because they had no acting experience, and finally gave plants subjectivity. Gil Raz mentions that the sexual promiscuity of Daoists has been criticised by Buddhism. He suggests that the key issue in explaining such practices is the relationship between sexuality and cosmology, that is, how the pairing of yin and yang vitalitys reflects or reproduces the fundamental cosmological pattern of yin and yang (Raz, 2008). In this line of thought, the transaction of sexual energy should not be read in terms of eroticism in the first place. Daoists engage in ritualized forms of sexual intercourse in which the liquid vitality of men and women is exchanged in a way that is not significant for the act of reproductive sex itself. The combination of sexual vitality functions here as a religious, cosmological and social transformation. Both human sexuality and cosmic vitality are traded within the overall ecology of cosmic forces, that is, the flourishing of the "Dao". The goal is not to preserve or conserve the status quo or to recreate the patriarchal genealogy, but to carry out a bodily transformation. This is certainly not a process of sustainability or continuity of a heterosexual, genealogical status quo, but a queer ecological process. The sexual anthropology of Daoism can also be seen as ecological in nature, in that it arises out of a transaction of the liquid vitality of the body within a holistic ecology of cosmic forces that is mediated or transacted through the radical permeability, porosity and penetration of the physical body in relation to the cosmos. This is a celebration of a radical queer ecology.


Zheng has produced a series of workshops related to plants and weeds. In Plants Living in Shanghai, he convinced the Shanghai district government to protect the vibrant habitat and turn it into a botanical garden of discovery. He then worked with local ecology, literature, Chinese medicine and architecture scholars to develop an eight-week open online course. In Guangzhou, he transplanted weeds from the surrounding community into the museum and created a weed map. A series of discussions were held to explore the relationship between museums, communities and ecology. At Toad Mountain, he organizes residents, activists, experts and students to energize the community. Toad Commons now consists of three zones: Edible Landscape, collectively managed by local residents and university students; Avenue of Mountain Spirit, a weed habitat without human intervention; and an existing park area. In the 1920s, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and other Chinese students in France, who founded the Young Communist Party of China, lived in a forest. In Paris, Zheng asked the seemingly illogical question: what did the garden look like, given their belief in communism? What plants would the Chinese be interested in when they came to France? What plants are proletarian? What plants are bourgeois? What slogans can be planted with plants? What is the relationship between invasive plants and internationalism? What is the relationship between communism and ecological problems? This part would like to continue here with the concept of "wuwei", where Zheng does not take ownership of himself or anyone else in all his workshops. He plays on the subjective and spontaneous creativity of all people and non-humans, understanding the world beyond the self as a world of subjectivity and agency, unleashing the creative power of a world understood as a complex of subjective agency. To do so means in part to conform to and channel these subjective energies, rather than subdue them through violence, power or discipline (Slingerland, 2003). The work of the Daoist is to enable the transformative power of the "Dao" itself, just as the work of the Zheng is to enable the transformative power within and between complex institutions, including weeds, inhabitants, etc. The social imagination of modern China (setting up the Sanjiangyuan Reserve and implementing a programme of ecological migration) is not about creatively imagining the natural landscape and its inhabitants, and considering how the two might work together to promote the flourishing of both (Miller, 2013). Rather, it treats human activity and the natural world as mutually exclusive and produces a totalising view of both, refusing to consider cultural or environmental differences. In contrast to the Daoist ethics of restraint, empathy and mutuality, the modern Chinese imaginary of nature reinforces the modern middle class's disconnection from nature, crafting it, along with traditional culture, into a world that can be carefully managed (Weller, 2006). Zheng Bo's empathetic approach of using the body to understand environmental issues is in marked contrast to the language of science used in China today(Miller, 2013)