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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics

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Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.

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Art Appreciation as Recreation: Wang Zhaowen 93

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Art Appreciation as Recreation Wang Zhaowen Lately while attending an evening's entertainment of comic talking and metrical story telling, I began to think about the relationship between artists and their audience. When the narrator of the Gushu (metrical story telling), accompanied by drums and other traditional Chinese musical instruments, says, "The bright full moon hovers in the sky," he neither imitates the shape of the moon with his hands nor points at the moon in the sky. Instead he simply raises his head a bit, looking upward. Could this highly simplified artistic gesture be enough to fulfill its representational aim? The answer is, yes. How so? Because the artist does not want to provide a substitute with his clumsy performance for the moon itself which is missing from the stage. He intends his performance to lead the audience to imagine for themselves the existence of the moon and, above all, the impact of the moon on the mood of the character he is portraying. By the same token, when the narrator says, "The Kejia people are kind and warm- hearted," he is aiming at producing an expected response of love and respect on the part of the audience for these qualities of the Kejia people without literally imitating somehow those warm-hearted qualities. By_ the use of artistic images which indirectly convey the mental and spiritual side of the characters rather than by literal descriptions of specific observable behavior the narrator intends to affect the feelings of the audience. When a...

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