I Am Sitting in a Room and the Lạc Việt Created the Kinh Dịch

I Am Sitting in a Room” is a very famous piece of experimental music which composer Alvin Lucier created in 1969. What Lucier did was to record himself reciting a short text. He then broadcast that text in a room and re-recorded it over and over again. As he did so, the resonance frequencies of the room came to replace the sound of his voice, and by the end of the “song,” one can no longer hear the sound of Lucier’s voice. One only hears the resonance frequencies of the room.

It struck me that this is a good illustration of how nationalist ideas work. It is often the case that nationalist ideas are not actually true, but instead, or ideas that certain people want others to believe.

How do you get people to believe those ideas? Well one way is to repeat them over and over and over and over, and eventually not only will people end up believing those ideas, but they will come to like them as well, and even feel that those ideas define who they are.

This is somewhat like what I remember experiencing the first time I listened to “I Am Sitting in a Room.” Initially, listening to someone talk did not seem like “music” to me, but after hearing the same words over and over and over, it started to make sense, and when the words disappeared and all that was left was the sound of the resonance frequencies of the room, then Lucier’s “music” indeed started to sound nice and I began to appreciate it.

Having made this connection between Lucier’s “I Am Sitting in a Room” and nationalist ideas, I decided to make my own version of a piece of music like Lucier’s, but to do so using words that are clearly nationalist. To do so, I took a clip from a Vietnamese news broadcast about a book which claims that the Kinh Dịch (Yijing) was created by the Lạc Việt, the ancestors of the Vietnamese, and repeated the words from that clip over and over.

The end result is not as nice as Lucier’s piece, but in trying to show how nationalist ideas take hold, I think it still gets its point across.

5 thoughts on “I Am Sitting in a Room and the Lạc Việt Created the Kinh Dịch

  1. Leminhkhai,

    Thanks for sharing. What an absolutely absurd claim. I am very curious how this Vietnamese author makes his argument, though. Have you read the book? And if so, could you maybe elaborate on what sort of proof he tries to present in support of his claim that Chinese characters and the Yijing come originally from the Lac Viet?


    1. Thanks for the comments. I have not actually seen this book, but from the introductory comments in this video it is obvious that it is repeating information that has been stated over and over in Vietnamese. To make a long story short, the argument is made by various means, but this web page should give some sense of how at least part of the argument is made:

      There are also people who engage in these very arcane discussions of numerical symbolism in the Yijing that they then say is mirrored in the designs on bronze drums etc.

      The “inspiration” for all of this goes back to Luong Kim Dinh’s writings, a South Vietnamese philosopher who I wrote about on this blog this summer (oh, and apparently there is an even earlier incarnation of some of these ideas in the writings of a guy by the name of Ly Dong A in the 1940s, but I’ve only seen a little of what he wrote).

      I’ve heard that there are Koreans who make the same kinds of arguments.

      All of this stuff can be seen as “fringe” scholarship, but in the case of Vietnam, there isn’t really a healthy “core” of historical scholarship that can attract the attention of people, so stuff like this keeps making its way into the media.

    2. Also, sorry but I deleted your comment to the video as I realized that I made a mistake with one of the subtitles and had to fix it and re-upload the video.

      You said something about saying “NOOOO!!!” at the 0:50 point of the video. I agree!! But I also have similar “NOOOO!!!” moments when words like “evidence,” “proven,” and “affirmed” appear in the narrative. . . 🙂

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