"You have no doubt admired those Chinese landscapes in which, somewhere, a figure of minuscule dimension is perceptible. For the Western novice, whose eye is used to regarding works in which the subjects are represented in the foreground, thus relegating the landscape to the background, this figure is completely lost, drowned in the great whole. But that is not how the Chinese mind apprehends things. The figure in the landscape is always judiciously located: he is in the process of contemplating the landscape, playing the zither, or conversing with a friend. But after a moment, if we linger on him, we cannot fail to put ourselves in his place, and we realize that he is the pivot point around which the landscape is organized and turns, that it is through him we are seeing the landscape. Better yet, he is the awakened eye and the beating heart of the landscape. Once again, humans are not those external beings who build their sandcastle on a deserted beach. They are the most sensible, vital part of the living universe; it is to them that nature whispers its most constant desires, its deepest secrets. Thus a reversal in perspective is taking effect. At the same time as the human becomes the landscape's interior, so the landscape becomes the interior of man.

"All Chinese painting, which is not a matter of naturalistic but of spiritualistic painting, is to be contemplated as the soul's landscape. It is as subject to subject, and from the perspective of intimate confidence, that man connects with nature there. This nature is no longer an inert, passive entity. If we regard it, it regards us as well; if we speak to it, it speaks to us as well. Evoking Jingting Mountain, the poet Li Bai affirms: 'We regard one another tirelessly,' which echoes the painter Shitao who, with regard to Mount Huang, says 'Our tĂȘte-a-tĂȘte is endless.' At all times in China, poets and painters are in this relationship of collaboration and mutual revelation with nature. The beauty of the world is an appeal, in the most concrete sense of the word, and humans, those beings of language, respond to it with all their soul. Everything occurs as if the universe, thinking to itself, were awaiting man to speak."