Saturday, January 9, 2016

Mao the Mighty Have Fallen

If you don’t live in inland China, you may not have heard of the mighty 37 meter-high statue of Mao Zedong, dictator of China from 1949 to 1976. This Brobdingnagian exercise in despot worship towered over the landscape, a veritable colossus in gold (well, gold paint).

Art by Zhang Zhenshi
All the photographs of the statue are copyright,
so here’s the real guy

It took nine months to build. And only a few days to tear down. The official reason had to do with permits, but do current dictators really like monuments to previous ones?

This reminds me of the poem “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

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