Friday, December 3, 2010

Mythopoetic Imagination in China

This is obviously a photo that is about China - a China that is now mythical, a place that is represented symbolically through architecture, colour and words.  All work together to create an image that points to something that is bigger than China's past, bigger than it's future.  Rather, the image is more about soul and psyche.

Living in China and spending a lot of time with the young adults who will be the future of the country, I can see how the images become more about myths and poetry than about history.  The songs being sung, the movies being watched, the serial television shows that feature heroes and villains of the past show a story that is anything but the messiness of real life.  All of the modern images of the past paint a story that is bigger and fuller than the prosaic stuff of everyday living, especially the simpleness of that living in times when living was a basic affair that often was focused simply on surviving and not great colourful epics.  Like in this photo, what is taken forward is a mythopoetic story that lies beneath the surface of today's Chinese people, a story that isn't really about the past at all, but about today with a hint about what is to come tomorrow.
". . . the mythopoetic imagination has never gone away; it is no further from us than tonight's dream, tomorrow's projection of symbolic material onto another person, or the affective energy of the next day's headlines in our local newspaper." (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 25)

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