Flight Internal: Yang Liping and Ethnic Primitive

As before commented, the real risk of collective or even solo “flight” is (as in dreams of air-travel) that there might not be a place to land. A metaphor of course, but a revealing one, because landing ground is likewise the place of departure for the original adventure: art’s flight is thus necessarily an odyssey our subconscious round trip. Or a series of them, so as to embed symbolic or allegorical meaning for/in the consciousness of passive onlookers. (This set of caveats applies much less if at all to ancient and neo-classical or religious works because they chiefly reiterate rather than innovate: their ground was (or seemed) solid as the masonry palaces and cathedrals where they were on display.

Yang Liping and Mo Yan in essence share the same airstrip: a (metaphorically) “Lost but Magical un-Paradise” of real humans surviving harsh conditions, either camouflaged or completely marginalized by virtue of geography and ecology, and home to a great variety of non-orthodox cults, from criminal to shamanic. But places known (thus special property of) the scriptor. And, like alike, they entrance us with images of the divine, inscrutable superordinary (Mo Yan in Zhang Yimou’s co-authored filmscript), intervening or looming backstage at moments of supernatural crisis.

But there the similarity ceases, the shape of the supporting terrain reveals itself as different in almost every regard.

Apartness as the cynosure of terra firma goes far further down into the roots of Yang Liping’s world, as does its linguistic departure from the Chinese branch of the Asian Language Tree. This so because the West-central mountain valleys (running north-south in parallel to the Mekong/Cangjiang and abutting the Eastern edge of (Kham) Tibet) which was and is her homeland (as a Dali Bai) were not colonized by Chinese culture until “early modern” times, and never fully proselytized: “next over” means first the Naxhi 纳西族 and then Tibet steprise (further) “upcountry” than either Dali (old endpoint of the Tea-and-pony caravan route and current day Bai market center), or Xishuangbanna, the center of TaiLve (“Dai”) civilization.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s