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Re: Chinese Funeral Paper (aesthetics)



----- Original Message -----
From: Rommel John Miller <rjmiller1095@JUNO.COM>
To: <BOOK_ARTS-L@LISTSERV.SYR.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, June 27, 2000 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: Chinese Funeral Paper (aesthetics)


> Not to delve into cultural relativism,
> but shouldn't we respect the traditions/practices of
> foreign cultures by refraining from using materials
> specifically designed for intent?
>
> The US with its melting pot and consumer mentality
> has seemingly lost its respect for certain cultural
> traditions, and yet we continue to cling to those that
> are uniquely our own  (e.g. 4th July)  Imagine how you
> might feel, if particularly patriotic, someone were to
> use an image of the 4th July for something other
> than within the holiday's context?  (i.e. take a copy
> of the Declaration of Independence and cut it up
> for a "word/phrase collage")
>
> Therefore, THINK before using something like
> Joss or Funeral Paper in a project.  Sensitize yourself to
> the foreign if not "odd" imagry associated with the
> object and by all means make an effort to see the
> signifigance of the object through the Others' eyes.
>
> Just my persepctive on this issue.
>
> There are plenty of other papers that can be used.
> (and can't Joss paper be replicated in a way so as to
> difuse its religious/cultural nature?)
>
>

 Dear Rommel

I believe aesthetics to be an essential consideration before embarking on
any "project" and appreciate you imput more than you can know.

My work has always contained some level of social commentary, with issues of
respect at the heart of , well, my heart.  That I live in a time and place
whose  passion is for masticating everything of worth, which is to say
everything, in to harmless, bland, cute and featureless mush, is a source of
great indignation and pain to me.
I describe what I am doing as a "project on wild orchids of Tennessee," as a
shield. Although orchids are indeed the the subject of this work, they are
most definitely not it's object. My sincerity can become tiresome, please
bear with me.

I am a naturalist and an artist. There is no equivalent of "Funeral Paper"
in my culture, other than culture itself, which my culture burns out of
boredom.

A woman just e-mailed me that she once gave an assignment to some of her
students which involved Chinese funeral paper.  The Vietnamese woman who
sold the paper said that it would be "sacrificial" to use Joss paper. If
this is true, then this is perhaps the only paper suitable for what I am
doing, the only paper appropriate to why I am doing it.  It is my prayer
that language and concepts of respect are generous and have the power to
expand beyond  their traditional bounds.

I am interested in discussing this further with you, and am grateful that
you took the time to share your thoughts and concerns on this issue.

Jim Ann Howard



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