Assignment II | Emotion Object | Carlie Yutong ZHANG
Long, long ago, all the tissue boxes were very quiet. They were listening all the time. Actually, they were probably the best listeners who could take any kind of sounds, the audiences who accepted any actors or performance, and the hero who’s actually helping the world being better.
But they were also too busy, busy with helping human beings achieve their goals and never had time for themselves. In fact, they’ve been wondering the magic of Cough for a long time. After witnessing so many different types of Cough performance, they never had the chance to learn the secret hiding behind it. The tissue boxes were still quiet, still looked calm to anything, but something inside was changing.
Then one day, at this special moment, one tissue box couldn’t hide his curiosity anymore. He decided to do some change, study Cough, starting with clearing his throat. Then another tissue box cleared her throat. Then it started to spread, more and more tissue boxes had their first try in their whole life. However, nothing else happened.
So they started to actually cough. They coughed in different tones and different ways, but feeling no sense of accomplishment after trying for three thousand times. When they wanted to give up, the God of Cough appeared and said, “Why don’t you try three hundred times and see what will happen”. The tissue boxes did, but with no advance. Then one of them said, “Let’s try thirty times more and then decide”. Others agreed, but still with no succeed. They almost went back to the silence but a human being happened passed by changed their minds, “You’ve already tried three thousand, three hundred and thirty times, it will be such a pity if you stop here. You probably haven’t noticed, but your attempts are getting more and more attention and we really want to see how you get it. Please try only three more times, and if, at the end of that time, you still have not attained enlightenment, then be quiet again”. So they tried, just repeating coughing with no special decoration this time. Towards the end of the second time, they were enlightened.
The world was filled with silence, silence, and silence again.
For this assignment, I want to continue with my tissue boxed idea and try to write a story for the concert and it’s like a composition. The idea was really inspired by my own experience and the audiences, and it’s also some sort of John Cage in there. There’s a story John Cage putting in his Silence which impressed and also inspired me a lot. It’s a story about a young man studying Zen with a certain Master. So I decide to start from there, and wrote my story about the tissue boxes studying Cough, which is a weird combination.
The original story:
A young man in Japan arranged his circumstances so that he was able to travel to a distant island to study Zen with a certain Master for a three-year period. At the end of the three years, feeling no sense of accomplishment, he presented himself to the Master and announced his departure. The Master said, “You’ve been here three years. Why don’t you stay three months more?” The student agreed, but at the end of the three months he still felt that he had made no advance. When he told the Master again that he was leaving, the Master said, “Look now, you’ve been here three years and three months. Stay three weeks longer.” The student did, but with no success. When he told the Master that absolutely nothing had happened, the Master said, “You’ve been here three years, three months, and three weeks. Stay three more days, and if, at the end of that time, you have not attained enlightenment, commit suicide.” Towards the end of second day, the student was enlightened.