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June 22, 2005

Of East And West...

Hi Midori,

I wonder if this east/west distinction means much anymore. Not that there aren't differences, but they don't seem to be reliable differences. It seems more and more difficult to make cultural generalizations that hold up.

When I lived in China about ten years ago, the biggest Chinese pop star was a guy who sounded like Elvis. On the streets of Beijing you could buy the latest bootlegged Western pop. In the conservatory where I taught, Western classical music was the language and the students were more familiar with it than they were with traditional Chinese music.

As mass culture in the US fragments, one could make similar observations. Is there any such thing as "mainstream" music anymore? Certainly it isn't classical. And there isn't really any music we all listen to now the Top 40 is dead...

But you're in Hong Kong now. I've always wondered why such a big city, such a beautiful city and in so many ways one of Asia's major hubs, seems so underdeveloped when it comes to the arts. Shanghai or Tokyo seem to have much more going on. I know there are ambitious plans to build a major cultural center, but it seems like catch up. Any ideas why?


Posted by mclennan at June 22, 2005 9:54 PM