Philobiblon: A delightful, and frightening, naivete

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A delightful, and frightening, naivete

china, originally uploaded by natalieben.

"What I longed for has arrived", by Wu Zhefu, Li Mubai (1978), from an exhibition now in Leiden.

Communist realist art is often brutal and inhuman, but it can also display a touching faith in human nature and perfectability, as I think this poster indicates. It is a reminder that there was, at the start, an idealistic dream.

It also curiously brings back my memories of a noodle soup shop on the back streets of Xian (home of the terracotta warriors). I was welcomed there like an honoured guest, and carefully tended by the staff, while the customers went through my bag (with my permission, not that there would have been much point in refusing) to "read" all of my books, and my passport, and use them as the base for a conversation in sign language. There was the same eager hunger to learn that this poster depicts, but this time about capitalism!

Images of women are frequently less positive, however. Picturing Women "explores how women are figured, fashioned, turned into portraits, and told about in words and pictorial narrative". The online version of a gallery show, it has some fearfully vicious images - check out particularly the caricatures. Some can be sent as e-postcards.
(Hat-tip to Scribbling Woman.)

Finally, some good advice from Mark Twain: "Write without pay until somebody offers pay. If nobody offers within three years the candidate may look upon his circumstances with the most implicit confidence as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for."
(From the Freelance daily newsletter)


Blogger melinama said...

At a workshop recently a woman from China told me that as a young child her beginning learning-to-read textbook was the sayings of Chairman Mao. She said of course none of the little children could understand a thing.

3/01/2005 04:14:00 pm  

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