Thursday, October 23, 2014

Once and future Nanjing?

Wanting to buy something at the Librairie Avant-Garde as they were closing, I grabbed a set of "hand-drawn postcards" of Nanjing. I'm glad I did, and not just because they're quite pretty (and refreshingly Sun Yat-Senless!). Without indicating it, the artist depicts not just present Nanjing - the towers built for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, for instance - but past Nanjings, too. The two impressive pagodas, for instance, are the so-called Porcelain Tower (top, green), built in the 14th century and known as the eighth wonder of the world, and Tongtai Temple (bottom, red), built in 521 CE. The thing, though, is that the former was destroyed in 1856. And the latter? It lasted just 26 years, disappearing in 547 CE! What's it doing here? What is this all about? The presentness of history or its irreality in this shattered city?

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