Quote of the Moment
"All really great things happen in slow and inconspicuous ways." Leo Tolstoy

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Day 3 - Contradictions

Back to the list

  1. 'Complete' Fallout 4
  2. 'Complete Homeworld 1 and 2 HD editions
  3. Paint the remaining Raven Guard Warhammer 40k models
  4. Hang around the Games Workshop store like a nerd
  5. Go to 5 new museums or art galleries in Shanghai
  6. Gym every other day
  7. Plan teaching for the start of the new Semester. (TS unit, plus 1 week of Math + English)
  8. EPIC gaming session in Diablo 3
  9. Sort and take photos of Shanghai and other places
  10. Take care of the wife I realise this isn't exactly the best way to say whatever I intended for this point. OOPS
  11. BONUS: Trip to Hangzhou
  12. DOUBLE BONUS: Keep this blog updated

Shanghai Poster Art Museum aka. The Propaganda Museum

Shanghai and China is a bunch of contradictions. One place this is shown from a recent historical perspective is the lovely and decidedly hidden Shangai Poster and Art Museum.

Can you see the sign?
You find it at the bottom of a residential tower, in the basement, and round a corner. And it is what many consider the best museum in Shanghai. Here is a repository of posters created for the masses and also for a overt political purpose. At first this was a grass roots, centralised expression of joy - or future joy - at the expected development of society by printers and intellectuals. Later work became directed by the state.
You might not be able to see it, but this is a poster celebrating democracy.
Here is where the contradiction is interesting. The work is shown in chronological order and as much as the style develops over time from the Shanghai Girls in the 1940s-50s towards the more utilitarian and 'proletarian' of the Cultural Revolution, the messages in the posters themselves change, revolve and eclipse each other. The poster about democracy is a good example, but another is the way in which the relationship of China and Russia are expressed. Or indeed, who are the imperialists? The US certainly, but not those in the US who are campaigning for equal rights (I imagine, until the civil rights situation improved, and then they were imperialists again).

I love these contradictions as much as they make me feel uneasy. In the end, it seems to me, that it shows quite how much of an experiment in governance Communism was. Those contradictions, those sudden changes of ideals, lack the depth of experience and thus were often struck down. Towards the end of the exhibit there is a poster which uses the face of Einstein and the quote "The only source of knowledge is experience." Maybe someone, somewhere, in authority realised this.

Just keep running, running-running.

I went to the gym today, to attempt my pledge to go every other day. In some ways this seems the lest likely of the list, as I can clearly see times when it wont be achieved. But I will try, from now. I hve waited until today to start as the last time I went I suffered from some pain and shortness of breath in my chest. It was nothing. But I thought a couple of days off was a good idea.

I completed 10k in 43 minutes and 16 seconds. Pretty happy with it! My best time was in the 42 minute bracket. But 43 minutes is great!

Monday, 1 February 2016

Day 2 - The Perils of Sleep

Some people, I am sure, are able to concentrate on little or no sleep. If you are one of these people I an glad and more than a little jealous. Maybe it is simply a matter of will that I lack, but for me, a poor night's sleep can be disastrous and extremely debilitating. This is the peril which faced me last night at 1 am. Despite being on holiday and seemingly free to choose my active hours, Sarah is not, and Sarah has to wake at 5:45 each morning. The result, well, a late start to the day's proceedings and a general sense of unsettledness.

The Day Today

Well in some ways despite the loss of the morning I have achieved many of the objectives I set out to do. The various domestic tasks were done or begun. I did a little bit of work, making the necessary arrangements for an author interview for my class. And I have visited the Shanghai Museum. Once this is done, I think some more quality Fallout time is in order!

The Shanghai Museum

I have visited the Shanghai Museum before. Last time I was here I wanted more. This time, less so. It almost sums up some of the cultural frustrations I have with China. There is lots of content, but the contextual understanding of each exhibit is almost entirely missing. You feel like the words in English next to an item should tell you more than just names and dynasties and that so-and-so was a "good calligraphist" (this is an actual quote). Something is missing, and I don't understand what.

That said, as a superficial immersion into historical Chinese culture I have seen nothing better. It is free, but there are limits to the numbers which can enter which in turn can cause long queues.

Despite my frustrations, I do think I enjoy this museum. The paintings along are worth the trip. There is something of the contradiction between simplicity and detail which really draws me in to the scene of many of the works. And for that I often found myself willing the timed lights to stay on a little longer so I could follow this brush-stroke slowly with my eyes to it's terminus.

 The Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow may have more of the similar... Domestic-work, work-work (hopefully the last I will need to do for a week or so), a museum and some gaming.