3. (Jeong Seon’s Album of Mount Geumgang)
Jeong Seon began his career
in the low-ranking position
of adjunct professor
of administrative iconography.
Breaking with convention,
he diligently studied the birth of a brushstroke
by gazing at
the surviving itinerary of an unrealistic river, at the
rippling rapport of vegetation and rain.
He preferred to observe and preserve
the essential concerns of a superfluous calligraphy
and thus did not succeed
in his civil exams.
When he was thirty-six years old,
northern border of poetry and astronomy,
repeatedly painted a series of eccentric circles
and so gained access
to the crystal bridge
between ink and atmosphere.
His artist name became
Magistrate of Waterfalls, and
Jeong was said to have annotated
the nine-bend stream of time.
Analysis of Jeong’s preeminent painting,
The Four Horsemen at Big Dipper Pavilion
wished for figures in revolutionary mansions—
a remembrance external to its style.
is a spiked and turquoise perspective
and a diagonal
dismemberment of silk.
The painting was able to route
Jeong’s identity around
a dominant focal point, along wavy and uncertain patterns,
through environmental conditions of blue.
One can grasp
his aesthetics of juxtaposition
as long as one is covered in mist, or enriched
by hemp-fiber clouds, but
horizontally in the heart of the sea.
In Transmitting the Vertical Immensity of Coniferous Light, characteristic
of his more mature style,
Jeong’s command of a
rhythmically surging semicircle
evokes the overwhelming
how a higher philosophical plane could be
so astounded by the mundane.
Here, the twelve thousand pillars of basalt
do not overwhelm the composition;
rather, they commemorate
that sunrise is a landscape’s subsidiary entryway into the
verdant flow of the visible.
A yangban painter once
“According to where he sits, Jeong Seon
resembles a rugged jar-shaped diamond,
an arrangement of Mi dots,
or a panoramic dichotomy in detail.
Now at age seventy-two he is
much more than an amplification of the massiveness of soil.”
beautiful example of Jeong’s expansive style
is today known as
A Documentary Record of Aristocratic Time Travel,
the reinterpreted bodies
of a great-great-grandfather
and his great-great-grandchild
listening to the collision of dark energy.
Jeong’s strong lines here
impart a wide-angle awe
that connects the flow of inner color
to outer air, a sense that even hawks could survive
in our world
of dissimilar forms.
Literati writing under a predated nom de plume
compiled ninety-six poems about the painting
and published them in the Album of
By the time the colophon was written,
the appended poems
had been vicariously exaggerating
their own images
—as if they were looking
through the zoom lens of a camera
at a human eye.