Gao Xingjian: Aesthetics and Creation


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The void in these paintings, as psychological space, creates depth by arranging black, white, and grey to suggest a false perspective. He has no interest in imitating visual experience. Even if there is no overtly Chinese flavour, there is this feel of the spirit of ink, reflecting a mental state, though not expressing it.

The aim is emptiness and spirituality: a state of mind akin to the spirit that pervades classical Chinese poetry. It first appears through contemplation of this moment now, not of tradition, nor the trend of the day. Brush strokes are clearer than language. Painting begins where language fails and one has ceased to speak. It returns to luminosity, to dreams, sadness, solitude, illusions, guilt, desires.

What counts is the eternal moment that can change in the blink of an eye. For artists, defiance and critique of society are aesthetic, not ideological acts. The real is individual visual perception and a kind of candour.

Gao Xingjian: Composing a narrative in ink paint - The New York Times

Though art, beholden to nothing beyond itself, needs and seeks no justification, it stands for the right not to be expropriated and put into service. In his Nobel Prize speech Gao describes literature as a conversation with yourself. The writer, not a prophet, must tell the truth and articulate difference, fleeing to survive if need be. The only criteria are aesthetic quality and truth to the emotions. Freedom is in the heart and cannot be exchanged. His novel Soul Mountain was written without any thought of publication. He contrasts the stifling orthodox, feudal, Imperial, Confucian ethical rationalism developed in the northern Yellow River basin with the earlier southern cultures along the Yangtze river.

The Confucian scholars transformed culture into doctrine and obscured Southern folk culture that was anti-Confucian and has retained its vitality. Daoism and Buddhism are not repressive because they have not been assimilated to state philosophy, so Gao turns to Daoist shamans and Chan Buddhism, to Laozi, Zhuangzi and nature-based philosophies, to the myths, legends, customs, song, dance and storytelling of the people. The autobiographies of systematic and casual cruelties, of tortured minds, lives crushed and families torn apart, told with varying degrees of distancing from the events themselves, constitute the unforgettable history of its victims, written by the survivors, and seem to leave no room for differently constructed, more reflective narratives.

The conventions for writing that protean or shape-changing form which English calls a novel, vary over time and across cultures. This novel is more distanced still and at the same time focused by an immediate and confronted subjective complicity. No amount of distancing, whether geographical, political, or emotional, can expunge the bond between them or disguise the similarity in their strategies for escaping a now past, but once destructive present, whose recollection returns as an insidiously present past. But how can writing convey truthfully the experience of that earlier self?

You and he must negotiate their status on the basis of their personal experiences, since that is what is left to them, at the risk of collapsing into solipsistic self-preoccupation. You has no plan for saving the culture, no grand national agenda. But to experience this as a dilemma reveals both a cultural unconscious and a superego that even now must be resisted, if the self seeks its own, different justification. At the station, parents are seeing off Middle School students. A propaganda team leads some children, banging gongs and drums, creating the sense of an occasion.

The stationmaster blows his whistle, but the train does not move. For a long time nothing happens, until military police suddenly appear and form a line.

International Conference

The only sound is the weeping of children and adults. The book contains a catalogue of cruelties, stretching back into history, as bandits and guerrillas use the same methods to terrify and control their enemies or victims. The paranoia of everyday life extends to a fear of self-betrayal when asleep, since someone might overhear you speaking in your dreams.

see url In the May Seventh Cadre School, you were spied on even in the lavatory. He had escaped into the countryside, secreting his writing in a hollowed-out broom handle. Not even the tranquillity of a moonlit night can alleviate the paranoia of being watched by people waiting for him to betray himself so that they can bring him to trial and execution.

This seemingly self-absorbed text, so different from other accounts of life in post China, also declares its own ambition to give.

The Voice of One in the Wilderness

Is this ambition achieved? I vaguely hear the wailing again, the groans of a distorted soul, unrealizable desires, weary and laboured, in ashes fanned by the wind is a sudden spark then darkness again. There is only the warmth of her body and the rich reverberating sensations, her fingers and mine grip one another tightly at the same instant. A long piece finally ends and she pinches my hand, then lets go. No-one moves. The old man is coughing and the boat is heaving. Your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the service requested.

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