“Beauty and Ugliness”

Once again, apologies for the relative radio silence here as of late. It’s a busy time for everyone, but we’re hoping to get back to our regular posting schedule soon. In the meantime, here’s a translation of a recent essay on Li Yinhe’s blog.

Yesterday, a concert in the First National Theater’s recital hall went off without a hitch. There was no media; there were no disturbances. It was a pure concert.

The first tune, a sole female voice accompanied by piano, had no words at all other than “ah”, but the music was very moving. It was the first time unadulterated music had ever plucked at my heartstrings like that. Tears came, and I quickly wiped them away, trying valiantly to keep my body from shaking from the trembles that accompany sobs, afraid that those sitting behind me might see. In the past, I had heard of people who cried while listening to music, but I had never experienced it myself. It really felt quite marvelous.

That kind of purity. That kind of beauty.

Unspeakable beauty, transcendent beauty that defies conventions and makes people forget this world, if only for a moment. Beauty that forces people to cast off the ugliness of day-to-day life.

It was this kind of beauty that made me realize why there are people who want to fill their lives with (or even hide out in) music, art, literature, and poetry, all steeped in beauty. It’s something that’s difficult to match in real life. I deeply regret that in my own life, I didn’t choose music, art, literature, and poetry. I missed out on a chance to spend my whole life with this kind of beauty, and now I can only look back.

What’s a little disappointing is that only in this kind of “special” society could we regretfully learn: this kind of music is a pure, harmless, beautiful creation that comes from personal love. In a free society, no one would be afraid [to express themselves], and no one would talk about things like the difference between “in the government” and “among the people”. Music is just music, memorialization is just memorialization; it’s all spontaneous, the spontaneous action of a few individuals, felt and brought about by individuals. But here, we must divide music and memorialization between “government” and “people”. If there’s some theater putting on a show one must differentiate whether it’s [being put on by] the “government” or the “people”. And those in the government will judge whether music is good or bad though they don’t understand the music, or judge what level commemoration an author should receive without knowing the author’s worth. How ugly is that! That’s the reason I had to delete the word “commemoration” from my last post. It’s so ugly that it makes one extremely nauseated.

0 thoughts on ““Beauty and Ugliness””

  1. Pingback: Hao Hao Report
  2. I felt a feeling somewhat short of this but nonetheless exhilarating the first time a caught a punk show at that old venue by the railroad tracks, where the new Wudaokou station sits. Man, that was uplifting, in the way that only reckless, untalented but fun music can be. Beer being poured on people’s heads. Fights. Great times.

    I don’t mean this as a slight to the concert above. Just mentioning another way that Beijing can be great.


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