[lit-ideas] Re: Spooky films

  • From: John McCreery <mccreery@xxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2004 14:17:52 +0900

On 2004/06/12, at 13:58, Omar Kusturica wrote:

> Somewhat interesting - I wasn't aware of this trend
> before.
> http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/FF10Ad07.html

Which trend is that? Clamping down on "heterodox sects" and "popular 
superstitions" has been a preoccupation of Chinese officials at least 
since the Qin Dynasty (221-202 b.c.), and the first Qin emperor's reign 
that including an historic example of "The Burning of the Books" in 213 

One common philosophical rationale was to appeal to Confucian 
insistence on the "rectification of names," which could, if taken to an 
extreme, imply the need to purge the body politic of all improper usage 
in order to restore cosmic harmony.  Ironically, the Qin emperor's book 
burning was aimed in large part at the deletion of Confucian texts, 
whose insistence that legitimate rule depends on proper observance of 
the rites was counter to his own, might makes right, Legalist notions.

Practically speaking, Chinese dynasties have paid little attention to 
popular religious belief and practice, unless it became so well 
organized as to pose a significant threat to the state--as, in fact, it 
often did as dynasties fell apart. The following paragraphs from my 
chapter "Traditional Chinese Religions" in Ray Scupin, ed., _Religion 
and Culture: An Anthropological Focus_ sum up the matter as follows:

> Chinese history is filled with examples of sectarian movements whose 
> response to widespread misfortune has been to challenge the power of 
> the state and the cosmic assumptions on which it is based. We have 
> already mentioned the late Han Daoist sect called the Way of Great 
> Peace. This sect, however, was only the first of numerous similar 
> sectarian movements that appear over and over again throughout China's 
> history

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