In Search of My Homeland
Er Tai Gao
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The memoir of Er Tai Gao, a chinese artist, art critic, and intellectual who spent twenty years in and out of china's gulag until his escape to freedom in hong kong in 1992 and his defection to america in 1993
In 1957, twenty-two-year-old art teacher Er Tai Gao came to the attention of the Communist Chinese authorities with his groundbreaking essay “On Beauty,” in which he argued that the nature of what is beautiful is both subjective and individual—a position in direct opposition to government policy. Labeled a “rightist” by the Mao regime, Gao was sent to a labor camp in China's harsh western desert, where in just three years 90 percent of his fellow prisoners died. It would be the first of the scholar's three convictions for subversive thought and behavior. After his last imprisonment, in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests, Gao and his wife, Maya, escaped to Hong Kong, and in 1993 were offered political asylum by the United States.
Epic in scope, reaching from the depths of work ditches in the Gobi Desert to the heights of the Buddhist heavens depicted on the Dunhuang cave ceilings, In Search of My Homeland is a striking portrayal of Gao's experiences of political persecution, of prisoners pushed to the limits of human endurance, and ultimately of the power of hope. Gao's enormous skill as a writer and insightful observer offers a unique, thoughtful perspective on China in the second half of the twentieth century.
Powerful and elegantly written, Gao's work teaches us that freedom is the most important political stand for an artist, to be able to dissent from the dominant ideology—thereby making beauty, both its creation and perception, its ultimate symbol.
represented, as well as the Song Emperor Huizong’s skeletal strokes. The First Brigade drew on Liu Yuxi’s poetry to make matching scrolls, reading “A thousand sails pass by the capsized boat / A myriad trees burgeon in front of a sick trunk.” The fist-size characters were rugged and powerful, like Jin Nong’s hand. You wouldn’t see such fine script outside Jiabiangou. The articles were for the most part critiques, of the “Refuting the Fallacy of the Party as Overlord” and “What Is ‘Political
been, and on the west wall behind the statue, to paint a history of the Chinese Communist Party, entitled “Taking in Our Stride the Perils of Crag and Torrent.” On the south wall was to be painted the histories of the wars against Japan and of liberation, entitled “Long Live the Victories of the People’s Wars.” On the north wall was to be painted the great achievements of New China, entitled “600 Million in the Divine Land All Equal to the Ancient Sages,” and on the roof of the cave the wonderful
serene statues in the caves had more force. This difference cannot be explained by readymade concepts, such as the opposition of masculine and feminine, or the Christian metaphor of the cross or the Daoist diagram of the yin and yang. Their hidden message was a door to a different world. Facing the walls in these tiny stone caves, I had a sense of openness. It was a pity when it got dark and I had to return to the outside, along with those others dragged out to make confessions before the icon
gained more and more hunting experience, I became colder and harder. And I had in truth turned into a carnivorous beast. On the other hand, life became easier, and the animosity and malice between people lessened. From beastliness something human emerged. 6. Two months passed quickly. Wang Jieshan was about to come to pick us up at the mountain pass, and we couldn’t put off returning to the Institute by a single day. Fan Hua said that after we return we should propose that other areas along
chemical analysis on the morning glory to isolate its beauty. We perceive qualities of light, such as color, as beautiful, but color itself is a function of the absorption and reflection of photons within physical objects. We assign the term “red” to light waves perceived between 670 and 580 nanometers in length. Any other term will not change the wavelength. Wavelength is an objective property of light. Some consider beauty, like wavelength, to be an objective property of phenomena, but this