We are the world
We are the children...
What is the presence of the “world” like?
The first stage of cognition of the world is often self-centered, as we can find in the self-naming phenomenon among many island tribes. At the age of 6, when young Kuo I-Chen first heard the charity song “We Are the World” in 1985, the term “world” was far from being great—for him, it was limited to all that he could see with his own eyes. The line “We Are the World” was arbitrarily summarized into a simple equation, “we = world.” Until one day,when he saw a terrestrial globe by chance, suddenly a mass of the unknown was unfolded before him…
We Are the WARLD
Were they purely geographical borders that the terrestrial globe unfolded before the little boy, or were they the borders drawn with the crayons of nations, ethnics, languages, and skin colors, so as to distinguish self and others?
As one grows up, the accumulation of knowledge seemingly brings the capability of knowing the world better. Nonetheless, with the explosive expansion of globalization, the sense of belonging is being nibbled away by the sense of loss and displacement. Kuo therefore coins a new word, warld, from his confusion about the world—a word game, as well as a metamorphosis. Semantically, it imagines war-like conflicts, turmoils, and collisions in our conception of the world. Phonologically, its first syllable is pronounced in a way similar to the Chinese character representing “me” (我)—a microcosmic universe that unfolds inwardly.
A quest into the world has been altered to a search into the self. The body has become the only tangible territory that the artist can grasp. As Kuo remarks, “My body is the only thing that I can perceive with certainty. While some unknown apparatus creates a wonderful picture of the world, the specks of dust from the shoes or flakes of skin from the body remind me of another possible approach to perceive this world—a starting point that is purely bodily.”
This almost intuitive child-like perception of the world might have been long forgotten, but it is still deeply rooted in the language: etymologically, “world” evolved from Old English “woruld” or “worold” with an original meaning of “human existence; the affairs of life.” No matter how vast this world might be, the artist’s attempt is to return to the simple presence of the world that is tangible to the little boy.