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art

3月 20, 2008

Two days ago I went to Wikipedia in Chinese and stumbled on a photo of the Dalai Lama. The browser started generating error messages. When I tried to get there again, my screen went black. Then it was blue, with a message from Microsoft about a serious system failure. “Starting memory dumping” was at the bottom. I had been using Gladder, a Firefox extension for circumventing the Great Firewall when you’re in China.

In the 1980s, when I was an undergraduate student, we had a Chinese reading class. It was mostly Chinese government-issued information on Tibet. There was one phrase I remember. The soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were generous, so they didn’t ask the Tibetan people immediately to pay back the cost of pacifying their land. That was a memorable sentence. Then in 2001 or so I was translating and dubbing films for the Ministry of Culture in Beijing. There was a report on celebrating 50 years of liberating Tibet. Somebody important called me and asked me to please finish it quickly. It was a very important piece. Hu Jintao, who was already very important back then, had led a central party delegation on a fact-finding trip through Tibet to prepare for the celebrations. They stayed at ordinary people’s homes. And when they left in the morning, they gave the peasant family gifts to thank them for letting them stay. They gave them framed pictures of the core leaders of the Chinese Communist Party. Chairman Mao Zedong, Chairman Deng Xiaoping and Chairman Jiang Zemin. That was a memorable scene.

What is art? What is music? Music makes you dance or cry. Art is truth. It’s the truth in the ear of the beholder. Or in other orifices. Or somewhere in between. They call it the heart. There have always been found objects. And pictures of leaders.


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