Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ai weiwei: never sorry [2012]

a fascinating documentary about a fascinating artist and activist.  not much to say about this pic but for the filmmaker's presence as weiwei was beaten and later detained for 81 days by the chinese government she was cool and calm as she showed the utterly madness and banality of evil of repression at work.  when we see the police surrounding and videotaping weiwei as he was eating in a restaurant with his group of assistants the police look like ordinary functionaries in uniform and not, at least to my eye, as fearsome thugs.  such is evil.  it rarely comes in flashy clothes.

another thing that caught my attention: the ascendancy and necessity of digital media.  weiwei took to the internet to publish his dissent.  twitter is a vital tool for weiwei.  the artist watches via the 'net the nobel committee's award of the 2010 peace prize to dissident writer and activist lui xiaobo.  for weiwei the internet is a critical tool for his activism.

i think we as writers do worry about the future of literature particularly when the internet is the dominant mode of information dissemination.  but the internet is the dominant mode.  it long ago stopped being a luxury and is now a necessity to live and participate in our present day.  weiwei understood this and took to writing in the ether.  his writings, and his non-comformist politics, pisses off the government of china.

personally, i don't worry about the future of literature.  poetry will survive in the pixels.  as will music, movies, painting, performance and who knows what future forms of art.  but as i was watching this excellent documentary last night i kept wondering about present-day chinese dissident poets.  why have we not heard about them?  surely there are several good chinese poets who also publish their work online.

i also don't worry about the necessity of the book.  books, physical print and paper, shall be with us as long as we stay human.  i do worry about our human being tho.  the future is unwritten and uncertain.  there are bright spots to be sure.  ai weiwei is one of those bright beacons.  this movie is a testament to that.



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