Retrospectives and Expository Futures

The Shanghai Expo opens with a red bang, and a green web theme:

The New York Times can only nag (and by the way, the World’s Fair in 1909 Seattle also tore most everything down), but the print version Parisian revue L’Express carrries a 40-page special section on Shanghai as the future of humanity.  Something tells me the French are on the train to the future…or at least enjoying this photo gallery of the fete.

And then, in the midst of all the self-congratulations, Huanqiu Shibao features on its front page, and on its history page, a big ream of photographs of wild Cultural Revolution rebellion in Guangzhou.

Talk about confident!  The Cultural Revolution isn’t always something to be hidden at the fringes — at times, it — like North Korea today — can function as an antipode that reminds one just how far China has come.

Today I’m celebrating the one-year anniversary of this blog by talking Chengdu with colleagues at Pacific Lutheran University (yes, including the indomitable revolutionary and incorrigible modernist, Sidney Rittenberg!) and then hauling my axe up the I-5 to play Brahms at the Seattle Art Museum in competition with an event on symphonic hip-hop.  B-minor is the key, leading tone to an anniversary.

Which brings us full circle.

Living in the afterbirth, gliding into futures multiple on steel strings, bell pings of Gao Ping lead one’s ears to Sichuanese laughter at Peking’s red gates.  Gulou may fall but the lakes will never burn, North Hamgyong earth rumbles but the granite remains still, finally.  Phones radiate all manner of confusion, blogs clutter up a digital tapestry with keyboard clashes.  Factional struggles yet to commence, as introductions have scarcely been concluded, as if the parchment for new treaties had hardly been pulped out of new saplings.  Stages of growth layered lightly like sheaves of colored oil paper, major scales once tentative becoming stable in intonation as they ascend.  There is no shame in going slower, so long as the tone is beautiful.

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