Role of art and lit­er­a­ture

JoongAng Daily - - Opinion & Perspective -

From the peo­ple, to the peo­ple and for the peo­ple is what top leader Xi Jin­ping told a group of lu­mi­nar­ies from the world of art and lit­er­a­ture at a Wed­nes­day fo­rum.

Writ­ers and artists have to go to the peo­ple for artis­tic and cre­ative nu­tri­tion and in­tu­ition; they can ig­nore to do so only if they don’t care whether their cre­ations are liked or not.

Chair­man Mao Ze­dong de­liv­ered a sim­i­lar speech at the Yan’an Fo­rum in Shaanxi prov­ince 72 years ago, em­pha­siz­ing that the aim of lit­er­a­ture and art should be to serve the work­ers, farm­ers and sol­diers. Given the back­ground of war, Mao’s speech could not have had a lighter po­lit­i­cal tone.

At Wed­nes­day’s fo­rum, Xi did talk about pa­tri­o­tism, core so­cial­ist val­ues and the role of art and lit­er­a­ture in rep­re­sent­ing the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the times and so­cial val­ues. But he also em­pha­sized the in­te­gra­tion of ide­ol­ogy and artis­tic val­ues.

Democ­racy should be pro­moted in art and lit­er­a­ture to cre­ate a healthy, re­laxed and har­mo­nious at­mos­phere for the cre­ative minds, he said, stress­ing that ex­change of ideas among dif­fer­ent opin­ion groups and dif­fer­ent schools of thoughts is nec­es­sary to in­vig­o­rate the de­vel­op­ment of art and lit­er­a­ture.

In­deed, art and lit­er­a­ture can­not de­velop with­out po­lit­i­cal guid­ance nor can they be al­lowed just to cater to the vulgar tastes of some peo­ple. Good writ­ers and artists across the world know that they do not just en­ter­tain their read­ers and au­di­ences with their works, but also pro­vide them with some men­tal fare that, in a sub­tle man­ner, will in­spire or help them dis­tin­guish be­tween right and wrong.

How­ever, it would be sad to un­der­es­ti­mate the aes­thetic tastes of gen­eral read­ers and au­di­ences by overem­pha­siz­ing the role of ide­o­log­i­cal guid­ance in a piece of lit­er­ary or art work. The majority of read­ers and view­ers will never be at­tracted to works that con­tain noth­ing but mor­al­iz­ing plat­i­tudes.

Good writ­ers and artists must know what they are do­ing if they want to cre­ate works that tran­scend the times and help in­scribe their names in the pan­theon of greats. This is the type of writ­ers and artists that China needs to­day.

China Daily, Oct. 16

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