Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cogs lately, 5: China Edition

The cogs keep manifesting...Here's a pic of my friend, the extremely talented and discerning actor, 黄璐 (Huang Lu), at a promotional event coated and coded in cogs.

I see these and am reminded of Chairman Mao's "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art" of May 1942:

"In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes or art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, cogs and wheels in the whole revolutionary machine. Therefore, Party work in literature and art occupies a definite and assigned position in Party revolutionary work as a whole and is subordinated to the revolutionary tasks set by the Party in a given revolutionary period. Opposition to this arrangement is certain to lead to dualism or pluralism, and in essence amounts to "politics--Marxist, art--bourgeois", as with Trotsky. We do not favor overstressing the importance of literature and art, but neither do we favor underestimating their importance. Literature and art are subordinate to politics, but in their turn exert a great influence on politics. Revolutionary literature and art are part of the whole revolutionary cause, they are cogs and wheels in it, and though in comparison with certain other and more important parts they may be less significant and less urgent and may occupy a secondary position, nevertheless, they are indispensable cogs and wheels in the whole machine, an indispensable part of the entire revolutionary cause."

Chinese cinema today both is and is not worlds away from Mao's vision of art in the social imaginary. Certainly LuLu's films are revolutionary in certain senses of the term. And, whether or not contemporary Chinese cinema people see their work as social cogs or not, there those cogs are, up on the wall, in plain, yet background, sight. The irrepressible cog and the social imaginary!

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