Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Alphabet follows empire VI China

Mao Tse Tung had to maintain a balancing act, drawing on roots from the Chinese past while prying people loose from them.  Historically, the figure of scholar/poet/calligrapher inspired respect; Mao was esteemed for his skill as a calligrapher at the same time he pilloried intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution.  He mandated simplifying the complex characters to aid literacy, or as his detractors insisted, to cut people off from what had been written before the 20th century.

Chinese calligraphers nowadays still copy out Mao's sayings as sacred texts.  His own writing style has been immortalized in a typeface.  (Then again, who would want to be the first to say that the emperor has no clothes?) 
15th-century scholar with long fingernails, a badge of the non-laboring class
Mao Tse Tung

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