But what then will determine the shape (budgetary as well as sensible) for China’s urban and mass media cultures? — in this last remnant (rump) of the pre-liberal Superstates? Its seeming irrelevance apart, the age of self-congratulatory marriage of Art and Power under Mao in the 1950s and 1960s, a cousin to Soviet Agitprop and Japanese Imperial architecture, is not likely to be forgotten. And not surprisingly so. The split of cultural creation into hermetic vs liminal modes had its limits; in a polity of such size and regional disparities, at some point one must expect a spontaneous self-rebalancing momentum returning leverages as well as prestige to at least THE IDEAL of autarchy, non-contamination. There already signs that this kind of unreflective amour propre has (or has been gaining) audiencing, say, on TV, where the Culture-Makers now propose to feed that slice of the domestic public(s) market/audience still unpenetrated or even permanently immune to Globalized Art? Why else the swerve back to (ostensible) interest in “Cultural Heritage Preservation”, extending even “back” in racial time to non-Sinitic “primal” ethnicites, who are ultimate winners in the game of accelerated “cultural tourism”, where remnants of pre-Chinese past not only survive but are making more and more appearances in the mass media.
In retrospect, I think it is coming to be understood by many fresh-from school Chinese blogsters or teaching professionals that the experiments fielded in those “17 years” (1949-1966) carry a feeling of true commitment to the New China that would not return after Mao destroyed those who had built his most inspired temples, but whose disappearance is more and more bemoaned. Just as we outsiders can now better see that there was a good deal more permeability and adaptive genius in play in the age of Zhou Enlai than of Deng or Jiang. So I shall be trying within the limits of archival unavailabilities to revisit the projects that highlighted that Honeymoon interval in the building of a New Chinese aesthetic.
But it will not be easy to put humpty-dumpty back together. As my posts (short essays) accumulate, I have come to realize that revolt and disavowal are as much a part of the process of rebuilding (postmodernizing) as its refabrication. Centers of sentiment proliferate, self-exile becomes permanent, even a way back covered (protected) by individual award; offshore co-linguistic communities go their own way, no longer reliably loyal. The the much-mocked ideal of a “harmonious society” stands little or no chance of putting the pieces back together, except perhaps in form of a new enthusiasm for Militarism . How (or will) the center – the builder and standardizer of all things cultural – hold? That query in itself generates a whole new array of “cultural productions” (their verbiage) well suited to audio-visual review, most especially where we have libraries of related productions from early times.