Cloud Seeding Agent by Yin Xiaoyuan Cloud Seeding Agent by Yin Xiaoyuan
23 Agosto

“The indefinable elapse of time consists of numberless single threads of logics”: shine, involvement and distance. The poetry of Yin Xiaoyuan


In enunciating her poetics (2007, 2014), Yin Xiaoyuan argues that philosophy also contributes to encyclopaedic poetry; if Cloud Seeding Agent was metaphysics in verse, Yin Xiaoyuan's poetry would be one of the most provocative I have ever read.

It certainly took all the ingredients of the poetry we know and love: delicacy –  


A man was passing by, but no footsteps could be heard. It could have been any twilight

You were sitting in the community garden

wrapped in a shabby grey blanket, disguised as a blind man  (...)


A thud! It is the sound of October pigeons

landing on the streets. Yesterday, the black and white photo

of a violinist who frequented this place

appeared for the last time in the newspaper, among the obituaries.

And all of you started changing umbrellas and locks this morning.... (The Group 0 Elements ,70-1),


the colours (except the one just mentioned, not the 2-bit ones!), the senses, the flowers, the beauty of nature. The splendid and insistent metaphors (Conjugated Effect, 68-9) may even give rise to suggestions (certainly intended) of a religious nature.

But along with these, fused in such a way that it is difficult to separate them, are the phantasmagorical images of the ancient cultures and actual sciences of the man and world.


What, in fact, is language about? We have long heard it said that words are not things: agreed. But that is not why language speaks of itself, because the tension of language – even poetic language – lies in the attempt to say things: in showing things.

On certain windy days, due to an optical effect of the atmosphere, the distant mountains, usually invisible, seem to come close and loom from afar, so that they may seem within reach. But the wind and the conditions change, and so the images disappear, the distances return things out of reach of the gaze.

So must one consider the hold of language on things as the illusion of the eye due to mirages or vanishing atmospheric conditions?

Not really, I would say, although the discussion on the subject might conclude otherwise.

So, seeing things is the intention of the language of poetry, and the objects that poetry speaks about. What are the things? In the case of Yin Xiaoyuan, the choice is clear: it is the cultural objects of history and those of the sciences and the arts; if the programme is encyclopaedic, then nothing escapes the grasp of the poetic intention. This everything has the face of humanity.


Describing life –  read Circatidal Rhythmus: again marvelous images and references, yet with new meaning, highly poetic, on what we call the biological rhythms resulting from light and darkness – 

… never throw open your curtains

On a summer morn. Just wait: sunlight will climb along a shishi-odoshi

named "the Scale of Everything"...

Once the hollow tube is filled, and center of gravity goes beyond the pivot of a day,

It declines. No need to worry,  the bells have their own rythms to toll

through the dusk,when monks in ochre stroll across

To a stone arch. That is no peak time period for the world

in birth rate or death rate, but it peaks for champagne activity,

and language saturation. The high lightness of humankind's brain zones

Soars, and in the next second plunges. In the light of universe's torch

on its last beach named "the world", all dead crabs lie transparent and feathery, while the living ones of its kind

Synchronize their watches, with the moon (42).



Yin Xiaoyuan's poetry is “spectacular” (45), I might say, with her. It is not easy for the reader, but what true poem does not? The levels of knowledge and abstraction, necessary to think, select, connect the images, are high. One must provide oneself with humility and follow it in untangling and losing oneself amidst the mirror-analogies, amidst the image-concepts of all the sciences.

In addition, in this book, is presented on the world cultural stage, with its great writers, ancient Middle-Earth (Zhong Guo), China, that of tradition, together with contemporary and future China.

No longer the attitude of Lu Xun, who, having called for the need to look beyond China – and  here in Yin Xiaoyuan's poem those indications are in a certain way realised in poetry – held towards tradition and its cultured language a very critical attitude. No, because today the fault line is composed, and the new poetry seems to coexist with the antiquity, willingly recalling it.

This is the case, e. g., of Monascus Red, Rosa Laevigata Michaux Brown:

The ethereal woman with a cattail fan in her hand,

owns a room in the background-it is shadowy, almost invisible to Time. Pink oval yeast

is perfect icing sugar for this world- like fallen cherry petals. Gradually they will get tinted by the warmth and voices

of passer-by. Alas! Light and colors started to

drift west now: dress up, cleanse your hands, burs incense and sing a canticle, as the beginning of a worship ritual:

Red: the Three-Legged Crow, lightning flames, and exotic flowers on a thousand-year-old-tree;

Brown: soy source, tombs, and earthenware


They plan to return to the future with them. They also carry

The fire  bloodlines  farm implements  sets of bronze teeth... (46-7).

Where the sentiment and images conveyed are very similar to some used by Seamus Heaney for his Ireland and Memory –  only, here it is about China and the tone is somewhat different, higher and prouder I would say. The great figures like the antiquarian dimension of history, even in the diversity of what they are about, are similar.

Thus Heaney's (and C. G. Jung’s, and the Italian Giambattista Vico's philosophy and many others...) voice seems to resonate, although the foreground images look like the scientific ones of a poetic biology:

Somewhere upstream, there must be marks

left by a ferryman. Fragments of words-"azure eyed,", "aloof," "magnanimous," "hallucinatory,"

even "superphysical"... they roll out of a shattered bottle,

And got lost in the crowds. In the past five hundred years

They have returned to your family like doves that never stray. Last missing piece

lies in your hands now. (Generation-Skipping Traits, 45).


Even more indicative, for the synthesis, is Type AB  (48-9): in the foreground, here, is the distinction made by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner whereby, in addition to gender and race, the DNA double helix and blood groups - A,B,AB (0) – can also give rise to classifications of humanity:


“Everything in the universe is in the shape of twisted double strands, one dominant and the other recessive"

But where are the smoldering coals? Hidden in the red pimpernel braids

Disguised as human veins. They salute one another, without ever seeing through

The family emblem on this mantle, capturing a scorpion-shaped shadow

In his throbbing heart... The heraldic meaning of blood types is in

What they describe literally only: Bare your wrist, NOT your chest


hence the provocation – at the same time, distancing –


(...) the man who put everything in the universe

Into archives: the 3rd kind of index after gender and race

"The personality of A2 can be..." You do not actually know what you were arguing about

In the windy, neon-soaked streets. "I'm Type B too." It turned out that you had found a backup vessel

for your soul. What is the Type AB guy among you? The universal recipient

of all joys and sorrow? (49)


There is everything here: ancient and new poetry, the programme of the encyclopaedic school, the multi-millennial tradition of Chinese poetry, a whole nourished by man's literary and scientific imagination with a pinch of irony.

And finally, when it comes to ferrying, there will be nothing but the figure of the librarian: a silent and patient librarian, who collects relics, who catalogues the works of culture, the most disparate: who can always reserve surprises, in spite of electronic endless storage – 


There is a librarian, who has remained silent all day long,

His hands are now storming through piles of books on the desk: aesthetics, philosophy, literature, and mathematics...

When you paddle across to the other side, he collects all your relics (cit.).



 What a man is? The very title of the book's opening, Ode to Prime Numbers, says it all: it is singularity and solitude, following the analogy of the “solitary” prime numbers, which by definition do not divide by any other number, but 1 and themselves:  


Your name is ‘le seul'.
Undeconstructible, and enigmatically unyielding

and, according to the mathematical conjecture of twin primes, the analogy treating numbers as people,   

Just as what Alphonse de Polignac once said: There is a mirror image of you in the fathomless universe, forever 2 degrees apart from where you are located. You almost felt her sometimes… (Or, even something of a vague Lacanian hint, a man is a constructed image of self, like the image of the Vitruvian man…, in Plane-changing Method, ed.)

You have spared no vision or hearing in your exploratory search for her: yet you sank into an ocean of molecules – banal replicas of one another, and then a moor of double helixes blooming and withering ephemerally. All you could see is waving hyphae, stretching along fissures between clusters of stars (…) Just as what the frequency of prime numbers reveals, they end up in decay

A man is a collection of different people and there would not even be a need, as in the paradoxical 32-bit Color Depth (cit.), to eliminate the boundary between objects or between people. Which is punctually reported, by analogy, on our destiny:


 as you end up in solitude. You are destined to be the last celestial body over seven thousand miles of graveyards (Ode to prime Numbers).


Finally, a man is an entity related to the no-thing-ness, as in the poem Brooding over the Dwindling Figure of a Kenai Peninsula Wolf:


But what are you, precisely? (…)

In the capricious world, a belle is now Bodhisattva, now asura.

The wind of evolution never stops. The Great Migration taking place through the wilderness

form shapes of moths, nimbuses, spirals and beltfish... in the turmoil

you saved the diamond while losing your precious wolf

Just as long ago, you saved the sun but lost your eternal night (52-3)


where one seems to hear, in a different accent, the echo of Greek wisdom, in the tale of Silenus answering King Midas: “better for you would be never to have been born...”.


Not only does the splendour of things imply involvement –  at the same time it requires detachment. 
One way of detachment is to guard the word. Another is the exercise of irony,



Everything one reads in Yin Xiaoyuan, from the first to the last line, is guarded, so to speak, with irony. The reader is confronted with a very strong use of irony, with which all the verses are imbued, in the mother earth of analogy, of course, so much so that at the end one might think: irony dissolves the saying, perhaps the poet does not believe in the cognitive and heuristic value of the sciences and their images. But the fact is that Yin Xiaoyuan, writing in the heart of technological China, while making very effective use of the images of our time, also continually distances herself from them, to warn that science “is” knowledge, but one must be well aware, and that the glittering image of the world offered by science even today has limits. This is very evident in Remote Assistance, which I find it very difficult not to quote in full: let's take a little jump into the world of super-heroes and meet liberated irony:


(…) You cut the knot of love like Alexander the Great when you said farewell to her on top of Mount Elbrus.

You were soaked in the infatuatuing glimmers of the dawn among the red sandstones,

wearing an antique ring discovered somewhere by clues Epsilon Man had left.

Once you said, there were two things you loved besides Mathematics: Alpha Man's wild winge and Gamma Woman's gothis metal.

"The personality integration was implemented. Or something just dawned upon me."

Gamma Man has rich and telegenic body languages: "Believe me, everything I did, I did it of my own free will."

His bones are too strong to be hollowed out gradually by age. His lips are lusciously plump and face radiant.

–  She has no idea how you had acted as the only pivot in the windmilling.


They put themselves in your hands. So mercifully, you made turbulent torrents of time stop for them to swim across.

You let them off easily-again (16-7).


Or, by hypothesis, let’s imagine the world as different, almost an inconceivable but yet achieved 32-bit Colour Depth world: it seems the drastic reduction in movement that we can think of –


An announcementThe Color Test System is activated. This is the first warning. Please return to your rooms.

"Have you noticed it? What we are in is not in a hotel. Scarlet velvet couches, dark golden carpets and chandeliers are but a camouflage-

This is an institutio (…)




 What kind of personality are you? Red or blue? They were penetrating each other this very moment (...)


which brings tragicomic consequences:


A hypocrite lobby manager and a grumpy woman mixed into the sullen guest in Rm.1037,

The last person stepping out of the elevator was adhered to the wall.

- like a potato wrapped in candied floss. "Help!" She cried out.

But there was nothing you could do. The outlines of everything were opening up towards the infinite,

while borderlines for colors shattered.

"This company, emerging from nowhere, has pronounced their breaking of the bottleneck of Photoshop, by successfully making 32-bit pictures (…) -


despite what it appears (and indeed is), it is smuggled in as a liberation:  as, we read, now


You were born and imprisoned in a picture,

brighter than you were in your previous life… (4-5).

Letto 621 volte Ultima modifica il Lunedì, 28 Agosto 2023 12:01