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Re: Chinese Funeral Paper (aesthetics)

This is a very touchy subject and I probably should just stay away from it, but
here I go...

First I think we need to seperate the object versus what it stands for.  The
most recent/famous example of this is the flag burning admendment.  Is the U.S.
flag equal to the country it represents, or is it just a representation, a
symbol with many meanings (different to many people) to the people who live in
this country.  When someone burns a flag, they are not burning our nation.  They
are burning a powerful symbol which evokes strong emotions in many people.  But
it is not the same as torching those who we elect to govern us and then
overthrowing the government.  The flag burners may want to do just that, or the
burners may want to protest a certain action that the nation (through those who
govern it) has taken -- such as the Vietnam War.

And with William Harroff's Declaration of Independence snow globe, he has not
harmed the ideas and the reason behind this document. I think he has probably
expanded them by making people think about the Declaration in a different
context.   Now if he had taken the original and made a snow globe, that would be
different. Again, the original copy has only symbolic importance, but it also
has historic and cultural importance importance.  It would be like taking the
first piece of joss paper ever made and tearing it up in little bits.  The joss
paper list members are using are mass produced copies, just like the Declaration
Harroff used was a copy.

And just to be the devil's advocate: What if I made something which looked like
joss paper - is it joss paper or something which just looks similar?  When does
this paper gain its spiritual meaning?  During the making or during the
ceremony?  Is this similar to a priest blessing the wine or water and making it
holy?  Before it's been blessed is it really any different than Welch's or
Perrier?  Not being a believer, I don't see the significance of these products
when used outside their religious context (nor even in their religious context).
But people have to respect each other, including their beliefs, so I would not
criticize other's beliefs or discount the objects which make their religious
practices meaningful to them in the context of their practices and beliefs.  But
again, when does joss paper become "holy?"

No answers here.  Hopefully I have not offended anyone too badly (but if I made
you think, that's good).  And not being a philosopher, I will have to assume
what I meant to say is what I actually said and it is what you have read.


 Eric Alstrom       Hanover, NH
 Book: Artist | Binder | Conservator

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