Two travel stories: Serendipity between Shandong and Shaanxi; Search for Meaning

Two Chinese travel stories over at Voyages on the Left.

1. Serendipity between Shandong and Shaanxi.

2. Search for Meaning.


5 thoughts on “Two travel stories: Serendipity between Shandong and Shaanxi; Search for Meaning

  1. OK, I read them both. Now the question that’s been niggling at me for a while. What’s the difference between what you’re writing and the phenomenon that Said labelled “orientalism”? Because it seems to me that you’re romanticizing your observations in a way that reminds me of TE Laurence et al, whose images of pre-WWII Palestine you mocked in a previous post.

    1. Good question. If romanticising involves investigating the successful communist revolutions of the east, Stalin included, then of course. Given all the hostility to communism, I’m all for such ‘romanticising’. But your meaning is different, I suspect, so please specify.

      1. Right, by “romantic” I mean the late 18th and 19th century Romantic movement: a privileging of the original, seeing truth in the aesthetically beautiful (and vice versa, as per Keats), seeing truth in the exotic (i.e., non-western European), the natural, etc. The Oriental and the Romantic as movements are closely linked.

      2. Guilty! Except it’s a warts and all communist romanticism. I am trying to understand why communism works in the ‘east’, broadly understood, and not in the politically vacuous yet chauvinistic Atlantic.

  2. Maybe I am being too vulgar, but I think that Lenin’s description of the economic roots of working class political vacuity (opportunism) and chauvinism is still cogent for the Atlantic. The east was the weakest link in the ‘world imperialist front’–a nice phrase from under the moustache. To take in the east broadly understood, there are the effects of a devastating world war to consider.

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