Wang Wusheng & Tang Jinhai (literary critic)

January 1995

Discourse on Art and Civilization
Wang Wusheng & Tang Jinhai

        Mr. Wang Wusheng, the well-known photographer residing in Japan, who is famous for his Mt. Huangshan photographs, has had several one-man exhibitions in Japan and won critical acclaims. Mr. Wang。ッs 。ーMt. Huangshan -- Its Spirit and Charm: Art Exhibition of Landscape Photography。ア was held respectively in November 1994 and January 1995 at the China Art Museum Beijing and the Shanghai Art Museum. About sixty thousand people viewed the exhibition. In late January 1995, Mr. Wang Wusheng and Professor Tang Jinhai of the Chinese Department, Fudan University, a well-known literary critic, had a conversation for as long as three hours in the Garden Hotel Shanghai regarding aesthetics, art and literature covering the present and the ancient times as well as Chinese and overseas. Mr. Qing Moshi and others made nothing of hardships transcribing the recordings of the conversation, which was edited by Mr. Wang and Mr. Tang (hereinafter 。ーWang。ア and 。ーTang。ア) with certain additions and deletions.

        Tang: At first glance of your works, I didn。ッt know what to say. I could not pinpoint where the beauty lay. Anyway I was fascinated. Your works are different from many photographic works in China and overseas. One impression I had, of course, is that there exists a great deal of inner commonality in your works with those in Chinese traditional ink paintings. I cannot explain clearly offhand what it is exactly. After sorting out my thoughts, the general feeling I acquire is that your photographic art involves four realms. The first is the 。ーrealm of concept.。ア The concept combined with the image on the photograph produces an exquisite scene, illusory yet real. Entering the second -ィC the 。ーrealm of the heart,。ア one feels that yours are not purely reflecting objective scenes in your works, which are different from works by Adams and Jackson. It is the landscape in your heart and the aspiration of your soul, being displayed through the clouds, mist and sunrays of Mt. Huangshan; your feelings being expressed through the landscape or your emotions conveyed through the scenes. The third layer brings us to the 。ーrealm of awakening,。ア a realm of a higher plane greatly praised by Chinese and foreign philosophers, where one feels a far-reaching significance beyond the image. This 。ーawakening,。ア a general awakening, is inspired by the artist through the specific photographic image. Most of your picturesque scenes arouse broad and in-depth imagination and association in people leading them to an awakening to the multifarious human life, which can only be felt but not described in words. It is a rarity for photographic art to reach such a level. Nevertheless, Mr. Wang。ッs Mt. Huangshan photography brings us to yet the fourth realm: the 。ーrealm of Zen.。ア The realm of Zen was a world construed and described by Chinese Buddhism and Daoism in ancient times; it is aesthetics transcending the temporal and special, not limited by time and space, nor by aesthetic ways of different races and regions? In my opinion, the realm of Zen created by Buddhism and Daoism is the highest aesthetic attainment mankind of our time may be awakened to and the most beautiful and sublime state of mind transcending individual lives.

         Wang: I am greatly enlightened by Mr. Tang。ッs comments. The entire history of art has shown whatever survives the passage of time proves to have the fullest vitality. This is the case with works transcending any individual human life, whether it is art of ancient Greece or the age of renaissance, or music by Beethoven and Mozart, or paintings by Monet and Van Gogh ィC all timeless treasures; and this is what mankind pursues in common.

         Tang: The realm of Zen we are talking about has deep-rooted national characteristics. Westerners are astounded at Mr. Wang。ッs Huangshan photography based on their sensitivity to Zen because your Mt. Huangshan photography is of Chinese style imbued with ancient culture and tradition. The collision of East and West brings about great excitement as well as shock to their soul. The Chinese general public have lost their sensitivity to the realm of Zen as they have seen so much of it. Only people with better cultural understanding and consciousness will be shaken and moved deeply. That is why people say wisdom can only be inspired by wisdom. This is how I feel about your photography. It is difficult to say anything clearly about it at first glance, yet it is so beautiful and much is left to be felt and meditated upon. Based on the above, can you talk about the pursuit of beauty and spiritual sustenance in your photography?

         Wang: Actually this raises the question of what is meant by beauty and art. After I arrived in Japan and the United States, I found that concepts regarding aesthetics and art had become more and more vague and confused. In my opinion, art is 。ーto move people;。ア art should sing the praise of the true, the good and the beautiful. Even if art exposes the ugly, the ultimate purpose is to arouse people to the pursuit and yearning for the true, the good and the beautiful. This is the goal of my artistic endeavors. It is mankind。ッs spiritual pursuit that makes it different from the animal kind. Without the pursuit of the true, the good and the beautiful, mankind loses its value in existence. Instinctively, I have been carrying on this pursuit in my artistic creation. I have been taking photographs of Mt. Huangshan for twenty years. Repeated rumination in the process of my practice has gradually shaped up my own artistic style.

         Tang: I remember you said once in your teens, you climbed to the highest peak of Mt. Huangshan. Surrounded by mists and clouds amidst the craggy peaks and layers of towering cliffs, pine trees now appearing and now disappearing, waterfalls coming and going, in the supreme quietude, you seemed to 。ーhear。ア a voice coming out of the mists and clouds, the mountain ranges and the celestial, summoning you, yet the voice also seemed to come from your heart calling on you to embrace Mt. Huangshan。ッs sea of clouds. It might be an omen and a vital force from great nature that aptly coincides with your temperament and qualities as well as your physiological, psychological and ideological uniqueness, colliding with yet resonating to each other, thus, this mystic summon. Roman Rolland, a Western writer, when writing John Christopher, once experienced a similar resonance in the expanses of mountains between his inner soul and nature. It might be an illusion, or it might be a harmonious merger of the circulation inside the human body and the celestial circulation.

         Wang: That。ッs true. I did have this feeling at the time. It is possible that other artists may get different inspirations from Mt. Huangshan. Mt. Huangshan expresses best the special characteristics of the beauty of the Chinese nation. The ever-changing thousands of postures of Mt. Huangshan blend in harmony into my temperament and personality. I was an immature young man then with little artistic practice. That was an instinctive yet harmonious encounter for me. If it had not been for this accidental encounter, it would have been hard to say that I would have assumed the career of Mt. Huangshan photography, so it was an encounter of destiny. This leads to the question of 。ーqi。ア (energy). I have always been interested in the concept of 。ーqi。ア in Chinese philosophy. The concept of 。ーqi。ア in Chinese Lao Zuang philosophy is totally different from the Western concept of 。ーqi.。ア Chinese consider 。ーqi。ア as the essence of all things in the universe, whereas Westerner physics explains 。ーqi。ア as an element or molecule. So what is 。ーqi。ア after all? I truly felt the existence of 。ーqi。ア at that time. Whenever I am face to face with the scenery of Mt. Huangshan, I feel its 。ーqi。ア; its grandeur, fascination and charisma are all expressions of the 。ーqi.。ア Then there is the rhythm of movement and wavelength. As an artist, an individual, each person has his or her own 。ーqi.。ア Because of the specific kind of 。ーqi。ア in each person, when facing the same natural scenery, some people will feel a resonance with nature and some will not. Why is that? Mt. Huangshan had so moved me at that time that I was greatly shaken. That means my 。ーqi。ア was in great harmony with the 。ーqi。ア of nature. In this irresistible encounter, I was entirely governed by my soul not by my mind. When I take photographs of Mt. Huangshan, I see the ever-changing multifarious clouds as created by the brush in God。ッs hand. At what moment shall I press the shutter? Which image shall I choose that most represents the Mt. Huangshan in my heart? My instinct, the resonating 。ーqi。ア in me, tells me when to press the shutter.

         Tang: I fully agree with your ideas of the 。ーqi。ア you just talked about. In the West, 。ーqi。ア is a concept of physics and chemistry, while in Chinese traditional culture; 。ーqi。ア is a cultural concept, with its richness and complexity. 。ーQi。ア is expounded not only in Chinese medical theory, but also in painting, calligraphy, poetry and creative writing. It also concerns people。ッs fate, the fate of a country, and all manifestations of the universe, such as the atmospheric perspective, spell of fortune and maneuver of destiny. The history of mankind and the history of culture have proved that every life exists as part of nature and each life has a 。ーqi。ア system of its own, which runs its inner circulation. This is also called the circulation of 。ーqi.。ア Such inner circulation of 。ーqi。ア determines the physiological and psychological characteristics of a person; and this inner circulation intermingles with the outer circulation of nature, thus forming the large system of the universe. Artistic and literary creation is always closely related to the kaleidoscopic change in the inner and outer circulation. The mood, feeling, talent, inspiration, thinking and psychological going-on of a person are all connected with this 。ーqi.。ア We still need to do more in-depth theoretical research on 。ーqi.。ア Although there is something mystical about 。ーqi,。ア it truly exists and is of great importance.

         Wang: I have personal experience of that. I think, if a circulation of and resonance to 。ーqi。ア generate between the artist and his object of creation, inspiration will come to him. A successful work of art is the natural result of the exchange of and the mutually compatible response to 。ーqi。ア between the artist and his object of creation, in which there exists a delicate relationship between the inner and outer circulation. The vivid rhythm of 。ーqi。ア described in the art theory of ancient China perhaps refers to this mutual resonance between the inner and the outer. If the same resonance of 。ーqi。ア is generated between the viewer and the work of art, the art will move the viewer . This is what Mr. Tang says about the mutual resonance of 。ーqi。ア in the inner circulation and in the work of art. 。ーQi。ア and the artist interact with each other. I have been working on and with Mt. Huangshan for twenty years. The movement of Mt. Huangshan。ッs 。ーqi。ア has actually been cultivating my aesthetic inspiration, molding my sentiment and fostering my vision and judgment; in other words, it is changing my 。ーinner circulation.。ア What is it that ultimately brings the artist to the artistic summit? It is the unique sense of 。ーqi.。ア It is mainly with this 。ーqi。ア and not with any painting or photographic technique that successful art is able to give people such striking impact.

         Tang: The 。ーqi。ア we are exploring connects painting, calligraphy, photography and music. Ba Jin, the world-renowned man of letters, once said that the highest plane attained by art and literature is a-technical. The proposition that the source of creative work is life, which we discussed before, is absolutely true, so are those words by Ba Jin. However, why is there the difference of good and bad, refined and rough, and beautiful and ugly works of art and works of high and low taste when the artists have the same rich experience of life and the same source? There are many reasons, but one of them involves the inspirational 。ーqi。ア and artistic sense of the artists, which have often been ignored.

         Wang: Inspirational 。ーqi。ア and artistic sense are mostly innate, yet it can be cultivated and generated by the interaction between the artist and his object of creation and between the artist and other people. It is also a representation of 。ーqi.。ア When a viewer feels excited in his reaction to a work of art, it means a 。ーqi field。ア is formed between the viewer and the work of art. I coined the term 。ーqi field.。ア 。ーQi。ア is a fundamental thesis in Chinese philosophy and 。ーfield。ア is a concept of physics. 。ーQi field。ア is a large space, in which all is created by 。ーqi.。ア Every person exists in his/her own 。ーqi。ア space. That。ッs why we say if people do not see eye to eye, a single word is a waste of breath, and on the other hand, if you drink with a bosom friend, a thousand glasses of wine are still too little. It is a matter of mutual resonance. The same happens between the artist and his works. It is also a matter of 。ーqi。ア when an artist is pleased with any of his own works. The artist will present a work of his creation if he feels comfortable with it. I never had any college education of art. When I gave a speech to the students in the Film Academy, I told them that at first I envied them so much. I had dreamed of studying art in a university. But today, I feel just the opposite. I feel lucky that I have not studied in any art college, so my mind is not bound by any restriction or convention. The theories of professors and masters will cover the students。ッ eyes with their limitations. In their efforts to absorb more knowledge, they are setting shackles to themselves without their knowing it. Therefore, students from the art college need to come out of their classrooms, shed off the fetters, and find and display their own identity. The essence of art is a manifestation of its individual character. Art is creation and never imitation, creating a new artistic language that has never existed in the world before, an artistic language that is beautiful, enchanting and astounding. Only such a language has vitality. I like Adams。ッ works very much, but if I followed his footsteps, nobody would know that the work was Wang Wusheng。ッs; they would say that was Adams。ッ work.

         Tang: That。ッs why Qi Baishi said, 。ーThose who learn from me will live, whereas those who imitate me will fade away.。ア It。ッs right. You learn from someone in order to create something new. If you imitate someone, your work will be the same as his without any of your individual character or your identity in it.

         Wang: Many people are following the footsteps of Huang Binhong and Qi Baishi, and some are rest content with it all their lives, I would say that these people are wasting their own lives. I would not follow Adams。ッ footsteps. The greatest challenge that art students are confronted with today is how they can rid themselves of the conventions.

         Tang: This challenge of entering and then getting out of the learning is not only a challenge to art students, but also to all students with aspiration in higher educational institutions. One has to work hard to succeed the spirit of the masters, but if one wants to create one。ッs own language and make unprecedented valuable contributions, great dedication is required.

         Wang: In my opinion, artistic creation requires a strong personality. I have been exploring my own uniqueness in taking photographs of Mt. Huangshan. I am a person of strong character. I have experienced an ever-growing feeling for Mt. Huangshan. I am not trying to find out what kind of rock Mt. Huangshan is composed of. I am attempting to understand the Mt. Huangshan in my heart. Just for this goal, I have spent twenty years. When I found my own language, I had to find an approach to communicate and achieve mutual resonance with my audience. Actually the way of logic thinking I learned in the physics department at college is something necessary to my training. An artist may be excited by the object of his creation, but how is he to convey this excitement to his audience? Few artists can find a way. One needs feeling, but one also needs rational thinking for this. Perhaps it is because I have fewer fetters that I am bold enough to break through conventions. I rely on my intuition, which has the most vitality. To Chinese, viewing a painting is not just an appreciation of beauty, but also a cultivation of the spirit. For a Chinese viewer looking at a painting, we would say that he is appreciating the artist。ッs character and personality rather than appreciating the beauty of the landscape. The picture is the man, whose temperament is shown through the picture; and through the 。ーinteraction of qi。ア with the work of art, the audience changes its own 。ーinner circulation.。ア This is something Chinese literati emphasize more than Western artists. More emphasis is given to scientific nature in Western art. Western artists view nature with a rational eye. A large part of landscape paintings as represented by European artists follows this vein; whereas Chinese art presents a realm of 。ーman and nature are one.。ア

         Tang: The realm of 。ーman and nature are one。ア is a realm embraced and pursued by the cultural elite of ancient China. The 。ーnature。ア does not only refer to the skies, the law of nature, the astronomical phenomena, but also to works of art. A work of art may mingle with man as one when it reaches a certain plane. One sees the man through his painting. Why is that? For example, when Yang Shuo sees the sea, he notices how small crabs climb out of the sand holes. He appreciates the sea in his meticulous manner. But Liu Baiyu, who came through life in flames of war, writes about the roaring and raging seas, an immediate association with the revolutionary struggle. The sea under Bing Xin。ッs pen becomes a sea filled with motherly love and love of mankind. In the same logic, Mr. Wang。ッs photography is different from those of others. At first glance, we know it is oriental art created with photographic tools imported from the West. Yet it is different from Chinese traditional ink paintings. His photography has a novel perspective. The breathtaking images, with sudden shifts of illusion and reality and yin and yang in harmony, display a realm of profundity and grandeur permeated with the rhythm of 。ーqi,。ア thus creating a fascinating atmosphere leading the soul to the realm of 。ーZen.。ア

         Wang: I think this has something to do with my life experience and my world outlook shaped by such experience. Yes, the picture is the man.

         Tang: The realm of 。ーZen。ア transcends the worldly. The spirit of 。ーZen。ア reflects two states of mind of the intellectual elite in Chinese traditional culture. One reflects the aspiration of the literati that supports their life of seclusion when they meet with setbacks, and the other reflects the state of mind of the elite, which is a state of transcendence aloof from the mundane yet with insightful observance and deep thinking in their quest of spiritual freedom and eternity even though society and human life are strewn with thorns. All in all, the spirit of Zen can be embraced by an artist。ッs life, personality and mind.

         Wang: That。ッs right. I have come through a rough and rugged road with a great deal of experience. Even though I do not have any specific religious belief up to now, I understand myself.

         Tang: Could you disclose to us some of your rough and rugged experience?

         Wang: For the past several decades, the ups and downs in my life have presented themselves in different forms. Today when I look back, I can see that some of them have been results of my own doings and others have reflected the impact of the outside world. I think perhaps the key reason for encountering such adversities lies in my strong character. This strong character combined with my understanding of life and my artistic pursuit which are different from those around me has put me at odds with the world. For example, I never follow the trend and hate those who do so. I consider those literati who are unable to resist the trend are not elites. I am a stubborn man. With such a strong character of mine, I always act against the tide, so it is only natural that I would encounter great resistance. I was labeled a 。ーcounter-revolutionary。ア at the very start of the Cultural Revolution and was isolated and investigated. Few people could bear such treatment. I was only twenty years old and was the first to be singled out as a 。ーcounter-revolutionary。ア in school. Now few people could imagine the pressure and disaster I suffered at that time. After me, the second, third, and several others were singled out as 。ーcounter-revolutionaries.。ア Some committed suicide by lying on the rails or cutting their artery with blood splashed all over their mosquito net. Somehow, I withstood and survived it.

         Tang: Let。ッs come back to our topic. Although I do not know your whole experience, from the spirit of Zen in your works, I am aware of your rough and rugged fate. Of course, my understanding may be quite superficial as the realm of Zen is of an in-depth nature; those who possess the spirit of Zen, I think, reaches the highest level of art because it is a spiritual level where mankind shares the common aesthetics. In the current world, it is hard for people, no matter who they are, to avoid being at odds with society, especially for literati, the talented creators of spirit. People encounter contradictions in their material life, love, physical ability, and spiritual life. For outstanding artists, theirs are mostly spiritual conflicts. Tolstoy came from a rich family, but in his pursuit of self-perfection in morality, he was always in agony. Therefore, he still wanted to go away from home in his old age. His relation with his wife was incompatible too. In the end, he died at a railway station, but left us with his eternal spiritual tragedy. Spiritual loneliness is a necessary condition for producing great works of art. Your resistance and struggle against the mundane is firm and strong, like Mt. Huangshan. There is motion and strength in its stillness; the combination of motion and stillness presents brilliance as ying and yang complementing each other.

          Wang: The mountain peaks in my works stand erect in stillness, solid and obstinate. When I first came to Japan, I lived a life full of hardships. Many people tried to persuade me to go into business, which, however, runs counter to my character and my quest. I have an instinctive thirsty for freedom and do not want to be bound in any manner. I never want to have a boss above me ordering me around. Just because of this, I suffered great misery in China. I was criticized as too liberal and not observing any discipline. It seems the criticism was right. In China, my leader criticized me, 。ーWang Wusheng, you are just too unrestrained and lax in discipline. You will suffer in the future. You should mend your ways and draw in your horns.。ア But I have never learned this lesson in my life. Later I found it was good for me not to have accepted the criticism. I chose the hard way, and by battling through difficulties and obstacles, I eventually broke a new path. It was certainly not an aimless and random battle. I fought with my artistic instinct and feelings and with reason. I have not laid down any restrictions for myself, nor have I set any preconceived representations. I just rely on my instinct and natural feelings. In the course of twenty years, my works have gradually become representations of my own spirit.

         Tang: Here are two lines by the great poet Tao Yuanming, 。ーThe youth fits in not with the vulgar, the love for mountains is in his blood.。ア Another great poet, Li Bai, also offered two lines, 。ーHow can I bear to lower my eyebrows and stoop under the bigwigs, and be unhappy all my life?。ア Following the instinct is what they mean. A number of mediocre people chant poetry and paint pictures for fame and fortune, putting on airs with a pretentious profundity and making a saint of the bizarre. How they have ravaged literature and art.

         Wang: A common disease among many who are engaged in literature and art nowadays is being pretentious and phony. Apart from working for money and currying favor of VIP。ッs, which motive renders their creative works vulgar and ugly, they attempt to show off themselves by following the fashion and trying to imitate the most fashionable school in their works. This is really a fruitless undertaking. We can say they do not understand what art it. How can one engage in art, yet go against one。ッs natural character?

         Tang: Once I was in Beijing and saw a scroll of calligraphy in banqiao style hanging in the house of an old classmate and friend of mine, who works for the Art and Literature Gazette. He is a well-know and erudite art critic with a profound literary foundation. He asked for my comments on the calligraphy. At one glance, I knew it was not authentic banqiao calligraphy. The characters on the scroll looked like banqiao style, but without the banqiao spirit and expression. The personality of the imitator was definitely different from that of Zheng Banqiao. My friend asked me how I had found out this. I said I found it out from the strokes through which you could see the strength and the use of ink in writing the characters, especially the 。ーqi。ア and spirit you felt of the calligraphy as a whole. It may seem easy to imitate the form of Banqiao。ッs style, but it is hard to acquire his spirit. As an old saying goes, 。ーThe handwriting reveals the man.。ア Only when one possesses Banqiao。ッs knowledge, experience, quality, character and breadth of mind, can one achieve his style. The hard work the calligrapher put into the scripts deserved admiration, as it was obvious that the calligrapher had practiced calligraphy for many years. Nevertheless, his personality, character and intelligence are different from those of Zheng Banqiao, and the calligraphy looked pretentious. Banqiao never sought for a bizarre style. His success lay in merging man and nature.

         Wang: All his sentiment, character and aspiration are shown in his calligraphy. Without Zheng Banqiao。ッs character, quality and life experience, it would be impossible to achieve a style like his. Works of art are turned out of the artist。ッs self identity, and not of any imposing force. It requires the artist。ッs sincere naturalness? without any affectedness or pretentiousness; it is an indulgent outlet of the artist。ッs feelings; and it is like clear spring water flowing out naturally from the bottom of the artist。ッs heart. It is necessary for one to imitate great artists at the beginning of one。ッs learning, but one should gradually come out of the imitation, otherwise one will lose one。ッs own identity.

         Tang: A great artist has a consciousness that goes beyond his time, and such an artist must be a lone person. That。ッs why a great writer, thinker or artist is destined to be painful, spiritually painful. A writer or an artist without a consciousness that goes beyond his time will never be able to rid himself of the mediocrity in his works.

         Wang: That。ッs right. An artist having no definite philosophical thinking will only float with the tide. I am stubborn and obstinate. I have my own mindset as well as my own idea about life and about anything. In the past few years, I have been talking about the question of 。ーpost-modern civilization。ア everywhere I go. Although I don。ッt know how long it takes for people to reach this kind of civilization, but I think we must advance towards this direction. I have many 。ーabsurd。ア ideas, including ideas about the relationship between man and woman.

         Tang: In my opinion, the relationship between man and woman is one of yang and yin, movement and stillness, and toughness and softness. They can complement each other, merge with and penetrate each other. Yet, everything has its own law. Violation of this law will lead to punishment.

         Wang: All objects are based on the combination of yin and yang.

         Tang: Yin and yang reflect each other and its brilliance makes this vast world. The workings of universe keep life, art, heaven and earth, and nature everlasting.

         Wang: Everybody says Mt. Huangshan is beautiful and looks up to it. Paintings and photographs of the mountain exist in hundreds of thousands, but at one glance you see the differences between the works. This has something to do with nature and the quality of the individual. I think the realm of concept you talk about is a beauty created by the artist, which contains the beauty of the individual character that may differ in thousands of ways. An era or a nation may have its common beauty. But the realm of concept you describe has a beauty that transcends time and space. The pursuit of such beauty is a lifelong mission of the artists.

         Tang: A writer or an artist has his own aspiration and would like to present it in his own unique language. This is actually a search for self-identity. There are myriads of ways of representation, but which is the one that most suits your quality, wisdom and intelligence? One explores through practice. Some may find it in twenty years or thirty years, and others may never find it all their lives. Some may hit on it, but lose it when setbacks attack or desert it due to political pressure. The search for self-identity is in essence a search for a life of art. I think the success of a great artist or writer comes from his success in finding his self-identity. For example, Zhu Ziqing first wrote poetry and then he turned to writing prose. He discovered that only in prose, could he demonstrate his talent. It was the same with Bing Xin. She first tried poetry, then stories and prose; finally she found prose was her hit. The great scholar Hu Shi, who came from the same town as yours, first propounded blank verse and vernacular. His theory on vernacular was of great significance. His blank verse, however, was a mixture of the vernacular and ancient language with no poetic touch, perspective or greatness. Poetry did not suit his character and quality. Scholarly research was in his vein. Though he produced a collection of poems, the foundation of modern poetry was laid by Guo Moruo。ッs 。ーGoddess.。ア Guo opened up a new era for poetry and created a new poetic style, unrestrained, powerful, in step with the trends of the times and in line with the spirit of the age. Guo Moruo had a poetic quality; his character, feelings and talent had poetry in them. His plays, prose, novels and even scholarly essays were filled with the romantic touch, imagination, lyrics, excitement and hyperbole of poetry. I think, Mr. Wang, in the further development of your artistic creation, you should continue your emphasis on keeping your works in harmony with your natural character. In this dazzling world, it is easy to be influenced by all kinds of interference, especially when you have become famous, you may be surrounded by worldly interventions.

          Wang: Mr. Tang, your summary, based on your research on aesthetics and literary history, is just wonderful and right to the point. My personal experience has also fully proved what you said. I was actually forced to take photography as my career in the end. At first what I was crazy about was not photography. I liked paintings, but my greatest interest lay in performing arts, which included theater, film and music. I was also very interested in literature. Many people, including a woman poet of an older generation I liked told me that I had literary inclination . I got to know her fifteen or sixteen years ago. She had great literary talent and her poems had such ease and grace. At our first meeting, she said to me, 。ーXiao Wang, you should do literature.。ア I love literature. I find that I write with feelings and passion, but I know my limitations. There are three kinds of people in the world: one is that one understands, but does not express himself well or forget the words; another is that one has the words, but lacks understanding, and the third would be the ideal, that is, one both understands and has the words to express his ideas. I consider that, for literary critics or writers, the best would be possessing the ability of both understanding and expression. I regret to say that I think I belong to the first category. I have read a great deal. I have had great love for literature since my childhood. I read much of Russian classical literature as well as European and American writers, such as Roman Rolland and Mark Twain. I read whatever I could get hold of. I had been reading up till senior high school, but I could hardly remember anything.

          Tang: In your Mt. Huangshan photographs I can see the concept of Tang poetry and Song verses, the poetic and artistic quality, especially the spirit and grace, which remind people of the poems by Tai Yuanming, Wang Wei, Li Bai and Li He. I also seem to hear the music of ancient instrument, zheng and pipa.

          Wang: Talking about classical poems and verses reminds me of a friend consultant of the Japanese Canon Company. He is a poet of haigu [Translator。ッs note: a Japanese form of light poetry consisting of 17 words]. I have known him for over ten years. He says he has been observing me for ten years. He finds that I am the kind of person that is not moved by the trends of the time. He also says the reason that Japanese like my works is that they find the essence of Chinese culture in my photographs. Japanese culture has been greatly influenced by Chinese culture in a positive manner, but the Japanese take in only what they need. They mainly absorbed Tang and Song culture. The Zen culture, haigu, and short songs in Japan are all results of the influence of Tang and Song culture, which has spread to Japanese architecture, art and literature. 。ーExpressing the meaning。ア is very much emphasized in Chinese culture. A few words in their most terse manner in Tang poetry and Song verses may imply a deepest meaning, a most insightful concept and a feeling full of richness. This is most characteristic of Chinese culture, which has exerted the greatest influence on Japanese culture. That friend of mine said I had expressed all this in my Mt. Huangshan photographs. Discarding all colors, I just use black and white; and it is a black that almost loses its layers. I an using a language in the simplest color to express a deepest concept and feeling. Now I cannot recite any of Tang poems or Song verses, as I am the kind that understands but forgets the words. It is a pity. That。ッs why I cannot take literature as my career. In a story, you need to describe the minute details of a character or an event; when you write about raining on a certain day, you must describe what the splash looks like as a drop of rain falls on the ground. You need to have a memory that takes in all the specific details, and you have to have a rich vocabulary and even allusions to represent your memory and feelings. I am weak in this respect. I can have a strong reaction to something or some happening, but I am not able to reproduce who has said what and in what vivid language and movements on what day. How did I engage myself in photography? I majored in physics at university; however, I did not like it. I believed that I had taken a wrong path. After I graduated from college, I decided to go into art. I tried every way and found myself a job that was close to liberal arts. I became an editor and announcer for a regional broadcast station. Friends tried to persuade me to do paint, but I thought I had never had any professional training and did not know much about the basics. Then I chose photography based on the circumstances at the time. Photography and painting are similar in many ways as both are visual arts; only each uses a different tool ィC the camera versus the brush. After a number of years of practice, I found the difference between photography and painting is not just they use different tools, but they are also different in nature. Perhaps it is God。ッs will that I have finally found a career that basically suits me after having encountering numerous setbacks in my obstinate, laborious and protracted journey of exploration. Now it seems that this career suits me well. At the time, however, I felt regretful thinking that I was forced to take this road. Once I was on it, I was determined to make it to the end and that I must accomplish something. I have been on this road for twenty years now. You can see that it is not easy for an artist to find his own identity. He is lucky if he ever finds it because it is so important. Some people have never found it in their entire lifetime. It is very sad, yet there are so many people in such case. I think finding one。ッs own identity not only applied to artists, but also to every career-minded person.

         Tang: Mr. Wang, why don。ッt we broaden our discussion a little? What do you think are the trends in art in general nowadays, not only in China and Japan, but also in the West?

         Wang: I think, in general, it is an age in which literature and art are wandering at the crossroads. This is a commonality both in the West and East, and in Japan as well (I consider Japan a particular country bordering between the East and the West). The course of literature and art in the twentieth century was a zigzag one. The emergence of the so-called modern art with its many schools spread in the last century which was actually a morbid phenomenon resulting from the impact of industrialized civilization on mankind. People are straying further and further away from nature and becoming more and more materialized. A human being has become a component of the large machine of industrialized civilization. Human spirit has been withered and impoverished under material pressure. This of course is my personal opinion, which may not be an all-round view. I think such phenomenon is an expression that mankind does not fit in modern civilization or is in conflict with it. In other words, we can say that modern civilization of materialization distorts and exerts pressure on human spirit. Mankind used to be in better harmony with nature, but after entering a highly developed industrialized society far from nature, people have assumed a morbid mentality. The so-called modern art is a representation of such morbid mentality. I find that the most conspicuous characteristic of twentieth-century art is the attempt to be 。ーunconventional or unorthodox.。ア As long as it is 。ーnovel,。ア it must be terrific. This is such a fallacy. Of course, it is a greatly commendable success to achieve originality in art. Art giants whose works have been handed down to generations have mostly blazed new trails, developed a new school of their own and created a new style that shook the world. That is how these artists and their works will forever remain in the annals of history. But don。ッt forget. What is more important is that there must be a prerequisite for such accomplishments, that is, the works must be good, outstanding and touching. It seems that this major prerequisite has been ignored in twentieth-century art. It is truly lamentable. I think the present world is in such confusion that it has caused confusion in the definition of art. What is art? We should not make it too complicated, otherwise the significance of art will be lost.

         In my opinion, art is to cultivate truthfulness, kindness and beauty in people. When we expose ugliness, the ultimate purpose is to demonstrate the aspiration and pursuit of people for truthfulness, kindness and beauty.

         This is just one side of the picture. There was another group of people who stubbornly stuck to traditions in art. They did not dare or want to transgress the conventional bounds. This is a degrading trend of art. Artists should openly and sincerely express his own feelings in his works with a unique artistic form that touches people. Imitation is the work of craftsman. Why do we need artists if all they is to set the same structure and use the same brush and ink but without putting in their own feelings and with no spirit of exploration or new artistic form or language? There are already too many of such writers and artists who paint flowers and birds or draw melons and fruits with no originality. An artist needs to practice his ability of using the brush and ink, but what for? Brush and ink after all are media from which you finally acquire a technique to serve your artistic presentation of a certain sentiment, a certain aspiration or a certain new theory of art, unlike those itinerant painters whose only means is to show off their technique of using the brush and ink taking it as their ultimate goal. There is a large number of self-appointed artists who exert great efforts in showing off their artistic technique which they mistakenly take for art. It is a common failing now. Therefore, literature and art need to braze new trails, which is all decent artists are trying to do. No good artist would stubbornly stick to conventions or become ossified.

         Tang: Either following the fashion or the trend or sticking to conventions is an expression of inertia, an inertia of the age and of the nation as well as the individual. Some people are used to drift with the tide or join in the vogue; they are used to take over the existing technique passing down from older generations. They do not have any new perception nor the courage or motivation to pursue originality. Originality belongs to a genuine artist. A number of writers and artists, lacking motivation and talent, yet still wishing to be the champion and make a name in history, would form a small clique deliberately trying to look novel and different by turning out such sickening things as poems in the form of a pagoda or a shoe; some write just one word and claim that it is a poem. Some critical essays have no punctuation all through and the critic gives it a name as 。ーno punctuation criticism.。ア The structure or language of some novels is written in such a way that no one understands them. Some paintings are made out of broken glass, decayed wood, rusty iron pieces, rags,。ュ; some throw a rotten apple on to the canvas or use horse or dog foot to draw at random, so on and so forth. Ossification and following the fashion are two extremes resulting in the fact that twentieth century literature and art, in general, had not reached any peak. The twentieth century produced a civilization of high level industrialization and materialization, but being confronted with such materialization, a number of writers and artists generated a distorted and impetuous mentality gradually losing their own value. The materialization of human beings degrades their intuitive nature. They become distorted and deformed, so it their art. Besides, the disasters the two world wars had brought to mankind both in their spiritual and material life are indelible. If you look at twentieth century literature and art as a whole, there were only piecemeal creative endeavors. The century was not one of originality, not a time producing giants of literature and art, but an age in which literature and art were wandering at a crossroad or an age of exploration for writers and artists. No complete and systematic new theory in literature, art or aesthetics had been established. Talking about emergence of 。ーgiant,。ア there was almost none who is at the same time an architect, mathematician, painter, physicist and philosophy achieving great successes unlike the renaissance era and the eighteenth and nineteenth century where such 。ーgiants。ア were not only a few. In China, although the May Fourth Movement exerted great political, ideological, literary and artistic impact on society, it was not thorough in its attack against feudalism. A few outstanding figures, erudite and talented, did emerge, but they mostly turned out some original works in one or just a few fields. Some of them, on the eve of their time of glory, were swayed by certain strong force, visible or invisible and became distorted under great political pressure. Many who had talents were taken advantage of or controlled by political forces that went against the law of history or by their own lust for wealth. The temptation of money or material things leads people to corruption when the beast in them takes the upper hand. High political pressure makes art a tool and slave. In the present and past history, when a country changes its rulers, the new leaders always attempt to indoctrinate the people with their ideology so as to control most of the weak-willed people in the cultural fields. For literature and art, both Chinese and foreign history have proved that the autocracy and control of a narrow-minded political clique, whose ideology goes against the law of history means the degradation and destruction of literature and art. Art itself requires justice, aspiration and conscience so that artists can create freely and develop their individuality. Any binding or restriction of outside violence constitutes damage and disaster to art. Even the China of the 1950s and 1960s was not an exception. The major reason for the distortion and deformation of literature and art was the impact and interference of ultra-leftist political and autocratic forces, which led to the pervasion and loss of conscience of the human nature in intellectuals. Many artists of great talent, independent thinking and integrity had been strangled.

         Wang: This is a complex issue involving the relations between politics and art. Commercialized culture floods today。ッs world. For example, television, which is the most influential cultural medium in modern civilization, has led to the degeneration of culture with its commercialization. As TV stations are only interested in commercial effect and rating, and rating is determined by the general public, the question arises that we should introduce good culture to influence people。ッs thinking. I think it is just because of this lopsided chase after rating and commercial value and appeal to certain vulgar taste that leads to the degeneration and unbearable disastrous state of art. Now the impact of TV is greater than that of regular school education. Appeal to low-taste commercial culture on TV leads people astray and the situation is upsetting. What is worse, some most vulgar and uncouth people have been exalted by TV as superstars and established them as role models for youngsters to worship. This is a reversal of beauty and ugliness. Chinese philosophy pays great attention to propriety and appropriateness. People should not go to the extremes. The extremity of excessive democracy will also lead to the destruction of culture and art, which is another form of destruction. Popular culture has become low-taste and vulgar culture pushing many artists to a crossroad and even to going astray. This is an obvious lesson.

         Tang: Why should be talk about this issue? Two extremes existed in the twentieth century: one was the attack and destruction of literature and art by the lust for money and material things and the advocate of extreme freedom; and the other was the strangling and damage of literature and art by ideological and cultural autocracy. Many such examples can be found in human history and culture as well as in the works of Chinese and foreign artists of previous generations. Certain great works of the West produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth century describe how money can corrupt people。ッs souls. Those are soul stirring and earthshaking works. In the twentieth century, the lust for money developed to its utmost extreme. The belief that money is almighty and the spread of desire for material things not only destroyed art, but also destroyed the human nature. The declaration of war by the German and Japanese fascists against world peace and human conscience, the dictatorship of fascist ideology and racism brought destruction to global culture from another aspect. If pushed too far, however, things will turn to the opposite. In the conflict between the beast and human nature and between autocracy and freedom, people chose the latter: human nature and freedom. From the perspective of Chinese philosophy, the world always develops in the interaction and contradiction of yin and yang. Twentieth-century China had gone through an intensive turbulent and earthshaking era. Historical events such as the 1911 Revolution, May Fourth Movement, the birth of the Chinese Communist Party, the War of Resistance against Japan, the founding of the People。ッs Republic of China, the Cultural Revolution and the economic reform and opening to the outside world all had great impact on the world. Literature and art could not avoided the impact of major political events. The intervention of ideological and cultural dictatorship in China lasted a long time bringing about great damage. The intervention of lust for money and material things has been going on for a shorter time, but the damage it has caused is as great. The vitality of literature and art lies in the people and in the development of history. The current status of our literature and art is: at the same time when it has achieved great successes even though it exists in the crevice, there are serious problems. Take Cao Yu for example. Cao Yu is a most outstanding playwright of the twentieth century. Not long ago, Wu Zuguang went to see Cao (who was hospitalized for his renal failure). Cao said to Wu, 。ーI can。ッt write now. I don。ッt have the strength to do what I wish to do.。ア Wu said, 。ーThere were good times for you to write, but you were too keen to state your stand; you made too many such statements and you participated in too many meetings. Cao immediately answered, 。ーYou。ッre right. I made too many statements of my stand and participated in too many meetings.。ア It would be hard for friends who are not familiar with China。ッs contemporary history and contemporary literary history as well as for young people and overseas friends who have not personally experienced this period of history to really understand this conversation. When we talk about 。ーmaking too statements of one。ッs stand and participating in too meetings,。ア it does not only mean there was less time for creative work, but mainly express the regret that people like Cao Yu had become tools of the various political movements and were prevented from creating works of literature and art which they were expert in, familiar with and willing to do. They were also prevented from expressing their own inner thoughts about life, society and history. They repeated what others said, were absolute obedient to the 。ーtop leadership。ア no matter whether the 。ーtop leadership。ア was right or wrong. As long as you stated your 。ーcorrect。ア stand, you were safe. Therefore, ever since 1949, Cao Yu had only written three plays, which were a far cry from 。ーThunderstorm。ア, 。ーSunrise。ア and 。ーWilderness。ア he wrote previously. Another example was Zhao Dan. He wrote an article before he died, in which he said, 。ーThere will be no hope for literature and art if under too much control.。ア He was severely criticized for this. Actually those words of his did not mean that he wanted to totally discarded the leadership。ッs management of literature and art. What he meant was 。ーtoo much and too specific control.。ア For example, the leadership did not have to interfere with the kind of hairstyle, what buttons to use or what pin to wear by the character in Beijing opera during the Cultural Revolution. The happenings in the past few decades have created such a situation in literature and art: too much control smothers it whereas too much freedom causes chaos.

         Wang: That。ッs right. We should sum up all these lessons. In the past several decades, the management and control of cultural affairs, literature and art in our country has gone to another extreme. Many outstanding artists have not had an opportunity to develop their talents. How should the cultural, literary and art department conduct their management? Management should not be abandoned, but how to carry out the management has become a topic that we should all think about and discuss together.

         Tang: I remember in the 1950s and 1960s, artists did not have a good fate. If one did ink paintings of landscape, one would be accused of depicting the landscape in black as a slander on the excellent situation of our country.

         Wang: I was greatly influenced by Li Keran who once said to me when I followed him to the foot of Mt. Huangshan. He pointed to the mountain top and said, 。ーXiao Wang, isn。ッt the mountain in black? They criticized me for painting black mountains and evil waters.。ア His words had a strong impression on me. That was exactly how I felt about Mt. Huangshan: black in color, a powerful and thick black.

        Tang: In the short period of over ten years after the overthrow of the 。ーGang of Four,。ア literature and art have achieved unprecedented development and unpredicted prosperity. This is a blow to the ultra-leftist ideology.

        Wang: Where shall be go from here? I think we should still return to the starting point of literature and art. We should not make things too complex; let。ッs return to their simplest implications from which we shall reconsider some of the questions. Such is the case with the whole world, so is Chinese culture of the twentieth century.

         Tang: Mr. Wang, your Mt. Huangshan photography has provided grounds for the theoreticians to think anew of questions such as: What works of art are of value and what works can be said to have transcended time and space? How is it possible to create such works?

         Wang: Works of art should first of all appeal to and move people with the natural flow of the artist。ッs true feelings in them. Why is it that whoever sees my photography knows it is oriental and it is Chinese photography? Because I was born and deeply rooted in this land of my birth; but I also grew up in the twentieth century being educated with modern culture since childhood. Later on I was influenced by Western art and philosophy and the spirit of the twentieth century came into me. The fusion of all these with my original oriental roots permeates my works. Naturally one finds both the Eastern and Western elements in my works. I think this is of general significance to all people involved in art.

         Tang: There is this proposition: the more national a work of art is, the more international it is. Now, we may need to expand its meaning a little.

         Wang: Mr. Yu Quiyu has reversed it: the more international a work of art is, the more national it is. Perhaps this sounds a little better.

         Tang: That。ッs right. A work of art belongs to mankind as a whole. A masterpiece that can be handed down from generation to generation and its beauty and ugliness generally acknowledged by the world should also be a work of national nature. Art of a global nature must grow from the root of a certain nation. Some of such works may not be accepted for a time due to economic, cultural and psychological differences, but they will be recognized in the end.

         Wang: An upsetting problem has also emerged. When a foreign culture is introduced, dross comes with it too, such as the dross in Hong Kong and Taiwan culture.

         Tang: It is a pity that the tide of commercialism has affected quite a number of people in the cultural field, including myself. People trying to sell dross as treasure are still in the minority. Some publishers and TV stations claim that they did that for survival; even so, it is still inexcusable. Everybody may say it is for survival that they do such a thing. Will that do?

         Wang: People thirst for foreign cultures. When the door is opened, some pick up only the garbage as they are of low cultural level and cannot distinguish between good and bad. Actually there is a great deal of essence in Western culture for us to learn for many years to come. It is difficult and requires much time to properly absorb the essence of Western culture. We should learn to distinguish the essence from the dross. Our purpose to take in nutrients from Western culture is to strengthen our roots eventually and to bring about new buds and new twigs.

         Wang: Let。ッ s now further explore the question of post-modern civilization. In 1993 in the Afterword of my collection of photographs published by Kodansha Publishers in Japan, I wrote the following: 。ーI sincerely believe that starting from the twenty-first century, human society shall advance to a brand new cultural era. This oriental civilization will be different from the ancient oriental civilization. It is an oriental civilization, fresh and of a higher order, formed by taking in all the essence of Western civilization. In the past two centuries, after Western civilization has spread its brilliance, it is now up against a dead end. It has to ask for help from the ancient and deep-rooted oriental culture. In this era of new oriental civilization, great changes will take place in people。ッs value system and way of life. Let。ッs be prepared from now on to welcome the arrival of such a new era.。ア

         What I mean by a 。ーbrand new civilization。ア is that after mankind has ended the age of modern civilization, it enters the next age of civilization. In Europe a number of scholars and even politicians have long been thinking about this question. In recent years people with a vision in Japan have also thought about it and have appealed to society at large to pay attention to it. In China as well, many scholars started to do research on this topic some time ago. Of whom, the person drawing much attention in this respect is Mr. Ji Xianlin, vice-president of Beijing University. Although people may have some minor differences in their ideas, I think on the whole they are in agreement with one another. That is to say, people in general agree that the so-called modern civilization that started from Europe and then spread to other parts of the globe until it conquered the whole world, has brought abundant benefits (mainly material) to mankind, but at the same time it has cast a thick dark shadow on the future of mankind. Up till now, the potential crises have clearly presented themselves to us one after another to the extent that if we did not try to make a fundamental change to the situation, mankind might be confronted with the danger of being destroyed.

         I think we can say that the core of philosophical tenets of modern civilization came from and developed based on Des Cartes。ッ dualism of the separation of the spirit and substance and the mechanistic world outlook. The basic mode of thinking of this theory is analysis and division. This thinking mode, attempting to achieve precision and accuracy, greatly enhanced the development of modern science and technology and the whole body of modern civilization. Modern industrial civilization established on the basis of Newton。ッs system was a successful model of such analytical thinking mode. This thinking mode, however, has its fatal flaw. Analysis cannot be carried on forever as it has to be ended at a certain point and some difficulties will not be overcome by rationality. This is an inner contradiction of the Western thinking mode shown in the form of extensional logic of analytical deduction is insurmountable. This analytical thinking mode and the mechanistic world outlook look at the world as a composition of isolated and mutually opposing objects. They stress the individuality of each object in their research and ignore the inter-relations between the objects and the overall unity in them. To use a layman。ッs language, 。ーThey fail to see the wood for the trees, or only treat the symptoms but not the disease.。ア The current crises confronting mankind have fully proved that such thinking mode cannot guide people to understand the world or solve specific problems facing mankind. It has come to a dead end. One of its fundamental mistakes is to put man and nature in opposition to each other to an extreme extent. Man is placed above nature, man。ッs ability is exaggerated and too much emphasis is laid on man conquering nature. To use the words of Des Cartes: man should be the 。ーmaster and ruler。ア of nature. Based on the principles of liberalism and those of modern economics developed from the above theory, by making use of man。ッs selfishness and never-ending desire for material benefits as motivation, modern economy has achieved unprecedented growth and material progress reached its unparalleled height. Such development, however, was at the expense of ruthlessly pillaging natural resources and destroying the ecology of the environment. The free competition economic system and the modern science and technology serving the system that enabled such development seem to have brought 。ーbenefit。ア and 。ーprogress。ア to mankind, yet the ultimate result of such unpreventable pernicious development will destroy the natural ecological environment on which mankind relies for its very existence and speed up the extermination of mankind. Man should not be too complacent towards nature, or nature will revenge itself on man.

         It is public knowledge to what extent the ecology of the earth has been destroyed now. Scientists have made some accurate estimation that if the destruction of the environment goes on in this speed, the extinction of mankind will not be far away. Facing such critical crisis, we have to do some review and rumination of the modern trends that has brought great material progress to us and the philosophical principles that have served as its guiding ideology.

         In my opinion, if we do not fundamentally change the modern economic system of free competition that seeks only profits and ignores its effect on society (on the earth and on the universe), that stimulates people。ッs consumption desire and that devours low cost natural resources in order to turn out products, even luxurious commodity, in amounts far more than people。ッs demand and to keep up the competition; and if we do not negate the basic philosophical principles that belittles nature and 。ーseparating man and nature, the value system and way of life of paying attention only to material gains and slighting spiritual pursuit, any measures to protect environment can only be expedient and tentative ones; and any movement for protection of nature is but a useless attempt and will end in failure.

         The above is the first major aspect of what I mean by modern civilization has come to a dead end, which I explained in the Afterword of the Spirit and Charm of Mt. Huangshan.

         The second major aspect is that under the influence of modern civilization, people are facing a spiritual crisis.

         I have said before, the reason that man is different from beast is that man has spiritual needs and intellectual pursuit. A person。ッs mentality plays a major role in determining whether he is happy. What people should do first and foremost after their livelihood is guaranteed is to make spiritual progress in culture. Modern civilization is in essence a material civilization. After Des Cartes, people had turned their interest to the material world in the dualism. The crucial prerequisite of modern industrial civilization is to satisfy people。ッs desire for material things. Under such influence, people are 。ーdehumanized。ア and 。ーmaterialized。ア whether consciously or unconsciously. In order to get better material benefits under modern civilization, each person has become a small component of this huge machine ィC modern economic system or a small 。ーmoney-manufacturing machine。ア. Making money has become the sole goal, significance and substance in one。ッs life. How big an amount of money has become the criteria in judging people。ッs value. Under the attack and pressure of the attempt to get more material things, people。ッs spirit gets withed, distorted and perverse, especially in modern metropolis, which is the symbol of modern civilization, this animal of a man is fed in an exquisite 。ーbox。ア equipped with modern electric gadgets. He goes out early and come back late 。ーmanufacturing money.。ア There is no contact at all between one box and another. Recently, some Americans have discovered 。ーinformation highway。ア and 。ーcomprehensive media。ア stating that in the twenty-first century people do not have to go out of the house and work at the computer. Along this line, people need not step out of this 。ーbox。ア one minute from birth to death. Thus, they are totally cut off from nature, from any 。ーface to face。ア exchange with other people, something they need most. People who tend to be lonely become more so. Human kindness, which is traditionally a virtue of people in the East, is gradually fading and lost. Man has become a 。ーmoney manufacturing。ア machine, a sick monster. Under modern civilization, man loses his sense of justice and morality; he cannot distinguish between beauty and ugliness. Dirty and vulgar culture fills the society. This 。ーmodern mental disease。ア has become a serious social problem in countries advanced in modern civilization. Drug abuse and crimes are found everywhere; children kill and commit suicide; heresy runs wild; political corruption is rampant; 。ュ. Such state off affairs can only grow more and more serious under the current system, and no effective medicine can be found to cure it in the whole of the modern treasure house of ideas.

         All in all, the three phenomena: exhaustion of natural resources, destruction of natural environment and spiritual impoverishment have fully shown the limitations of the philosophical, liberal and economic principles which have served as the ideological basis for such phenomena. There is a dead end in front.

         Mankind needs to find a new path. Before we find ways to solve the difficult problems facing mankind, I think we should first of all conduct an overall introspection of the philosophical principles, which serve as the ideological basis for modern civilization. We should try to understand their fallacies and weaknesses. Then aiming at solving the problems of mankind, we should create new philosophical principles and ideology guiding the civilization of the next generation. Much valuable essence is hidden in the treasure-house of oriental philosophical ideology which has directed people in the East in their course of history for thousands of years and created the ancient oriental civilization of brilliance, such as the theory of 。ーman and nature are one,。ア the principle of 。ーbenevolence,。ア the doctrine of the 。ーmean,。ア and the principles of 。ーsymbiosis。ア and moving in 。ーcycles.。ア All this comes from the oriental thinking mode of comprehensiveness and unity. Compared with the Western thinking mode of analysis and division, the oriental thinking mode lays more emphasis on grasping the whole and coordinating the relations between individual things. Such oriental ideology shall play an immeasurable role in solving the various crises emerged between man and nature, man and man, individual and the community (society), and different races. The must updated research results of current physics with quantum mechanics and relativity as its basis have also made scientific principles depart from dualism of fragmentation and mechanism and moved closer to the oriental principle of unity. Therefore, I believe we should absorb the essence of oriental philosophical ideology when creating the basic ideological principles of civilization for mankind。ッs next generation. Of course I don。ッt mean that we should take over the whole ancient oriental thinking and use it directly to guide the construction of the civilization. It should be a process of merging the essence of both the Eastern and Western ideology into a new form, an elevated and enriched form of creation as the guiding ideology for post-modern civilization.

         Tang: Mr. Wang, your enlightening remarks are examples of the critical and predictive consciousness intellectuals should have. Those are topics of global significance, a disposition that all elites of the world should possess. Many people, including those of knowledge, sink themselves in Western material progress, and spiritual progress has encountered challenges never seen before. But mankind。ッs culture is of ever-lasting vitality. There are always pillars in cultural fields. From the perspective of achieving a high-level culture for mankind, they look far and aim high with insightful perception. These elites in the cultural fields have taken upon themselves the responsibility of creating a post-modern civilization. It seems that our worries are imaginary and groundless, but it is actually an examination of mankind. Our country is trying to absorb experience of the Western developed countries in their initial development phase. We can avoid the malady they suffered. For one, we can draw lessons from others。ッ mistakes, and then we have the thinking mode of 。ーman and nature are o999ne。ア from ancient times. At that time, when people were unable to pursue their career and when their talents were unrecognized, they retired and lived in seclusion in the woods and valleys. Then they would feel they were one with nature. As a poem goes, 。ーIn solitude one lives/ Playing music for the echoing sound/ In the woods knows by no one/ Only the reflection of self in the moon.。ア Their feelings were expressed through the landscape. Away from the madding crowd, doctrines of Zen provided them with understanding and awareness. Such sentiments are typical of those ancient people. 。ーThe successful take care of the world, the poor stay in their own uplift morality.。ア They tried to find their spiritual destination in nature and look for a spiritual paradise to liberate themselves so as to reach the realm of man and nature are one. The limitations of such philosophy lie in the passive attitude with no fighting spirit, which is representative of intellectuals。ッ spiritual withdrawal, cowardliness in character and being world-wise to protect themselves. In the West people place themselves in opposition to nature and plunder its resources, thus destroy the ecological balance. The harmony between man and nature brings about the best ecological balance. When this balance is disrupted, mankind will suffer. In the twentieth-century world, Western industrial civilization was highly developed by competition. However, the beastly destruction of huge areas of land, waters, forests, rivers and lakes, even the atmospheric layer, air, water and sunrays seemed to be uncontrollable. What is worse is that another kind of ecological balance was also destroyed because when man tried to rob nature of its resources, the result was an intensification of the struggle between men themselves. Selfishness, greed and barbarism grew continuously. The consequences of the destruction of the above two kinds of ecological balance interacted, thus gradually bringing about crises to the world threatening the very existence of mankind. It will not be of any help if people take a passive attitude and retire in seclusion in the woods as people in ancient times did. Even thought the philosophical outlook of 。ーman and nature are one。ア of ancient China may bring some hope to the world, it will not be able to cure all diseases. Intellectuals, including some wise people in the ruling positions should be duty-bound to undertake the historical responsibility of making exploration and taking action in the cultural fields.

         Wang: The Chinese concept of 。ーman and nature are one。ア places man in the midst of nature and considers that man and nature are in unison. Only when man and nature are in harmony, can mankind survive and develop. Based on this, I think we would have to negate many of the ideas in modern philosophy. The history of the world civilization tells us that we will have to make changes. Mankind develops in cycles of negation of the negation.

         Tang: A cycle of negation of the negation is not simply a mechanical repetition of the previous cycle. The cycles are in a form of spiral development; each development reaches a higher and newer level and in better compliance with the scientific development of the relations between man and nature and between men themselves.


(Translated from the catalogue of the exhibition 。ーWang Wusheng Himmelsberge。ア in Kunsthistorisches Museum
Vienna 1998 and from the periodical of literature and art 。カSai Shang Literati。キNo. 2 & No. 3 in 1995 )