AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

The disappearing Chinese junk

Posted by ampontan on Monday, May 28, 2007

DAVID WARREN of the Ottawa Citizen has written a paen to the disappearing junk of China. Once Hong Kong’s Victoria harbor were filled with them; now a friend reports he counted only one on a recent trip.

Warren admires the beauty of their perfection:

…the ancient vessel was a whole creature, a perfect unity of its parts, quiet and at peace with itself like the dhows of the Arabs; and like a Micronesian proa, at one with its crew.

But that’s only the first part of his Sunday column. He extends the theme to encompass what he calls “the tyranny of progress”.

Beauty, truth, the good, do not come into the human view except on condition of simplicity of life. And this is the very condition the “universal and homogenous world state” is in the business of eradicating.

Younger readers might suspect he’s just another old-timer depressed about the world passing him by. But to paraphrase the American non-fiction writer Joseph Mitchell, it takes a lifetime to understand simplicity. And there’s a lot to be said for Warren’s sentiment, “I’m against machines with skills, and people without them.”

One Response to “The disappearing Chinese junk”

  1. Paul said

    “And there’s a lot to be said for Warren’s sentiment”

    Economically, there is nothing to be said for Warren’s sentiment.

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