Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Thursday, 31 December 2009 03:08

Paris of the Orient

As Shanghai World Fair is nearing, media and publishers are narrowing their focus on the capital of Southeast China – and rightly so: Shanghai has become one of the most powerful global cities, if not the most powerful. The accumulation of capital, headquarters, communication centers and technical know-how reminds one of post-war New York. If Shanghai has not achieved yet the cultural iconic status that New York reached during the fifties and sixties, it might well do so during the next decade or so. And it is at the core of a metropolis much larger than the ones of New York or Tokyo.

In thirty lively chapters, Bernard Brizay relates the formative period of the city: he draws a vivid portrait of the first French consul of Shanghai, Charles de Montigny, arrived there in 1848, founder of the French concession; he recalls the dark sides of the rise of the metropolis, drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling parlors or military repression… He depicts the foreign communities living in Shanghai during the twenties and thirties and some of their legendary figures. More important, by giving a clear and complete synthesis of the past of the “Paris of the Orient” he provides us with the keys for understanding the cosmopolitan and eminently adaptable nature of a leading metropolis of the new world economy.

(photo: J.J. Chen)

Thursday, 31 December 2009 00:00

Taoism as a Spiritual Path

The various facets of the Taoist tradition can be understood as a series of variations around a common theme: the human body is the vehicle through which spiritual experience takes place, and its nature and organization determine the steps of the spiritual growth that women and men are called to experience, while anchoring such growth into a cosmic process. The modernity of the Taoist spiritual path lies in the consistency of its focus on the cosmic and the human body taken as a whole. Such, in short, is the thesis developed by Pierre-Henry de Bruyn in his excellent compendium on Taoist teachings throughout Chinese history. While reminding one of the argument put forward by Kristopher Schipper in “The Taoist Body”, de Bruyn’s book covers an even wider ground. The author offers inspiring summaries of the major texts and schools, showing the diversity of their methods as well as the consistency of their inspiration. Though such historical continuity does not ensure the survival of Taoism, it certainly reminds one that present-day religiosity in the Chinese world cannot be understood without referring to one of its longest and richest spiritual traditions. Even if Taoist religious expressions are to undergo major changes due to continuing social transformations, its basic lessons bear a significance that goes far beyond the cultural area where they have taken shape.

See references and book review in French

 

 

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