Saturday, December 1, 2007
Since Where? Eastern What?
If you have never been to modern China, you are probably picturing some modernized version of misty mountains and silk dresses. But now when I think of China, I picture a hazy skyline of half built high-rises, each topped with a crane, and all twinkling from the working welding torches within. Many of the new luxury building projects are obviously emulating some sort of western style (though usually missing it). Two traits stand out in particular for the newest luxury construction projects. First, regardless of how recent the building or business has been in place, there is often a placard inscribed with “Since (a date)”. Now, when I see “Since 1800” on a sign or label in America, I think, “Wow, this business must be great, having such enduring business and all.” Or, at least that is what they want me to think. However, here the placard stating, “Since 2002,” simply does not evoke the same veneration. Frankly, it seems like an oxymoron.
The second feature is a naming trend. Often months before a new 40 story apartment complex pops up overnight, the name is already proudly displayed. Names like: “Eastern San Jose”, “Eastern Camp David”, “Eastern Manhattan Towers”, and “Eastern Stanford Place.” The intent is to associate the new landmark with the revered place names of another culture thus boosting the new construction’s legitimacy as luxurious and developed. Yet to me it reinforces the infatuation for western luxury lifestyle that irks me so. Why can’t they name it, “Fresh Forbidden City” or, Modern Ming Magnificence?” Ok so, maybe the alliteration is going a bit far. My point is that developing China is quicker to honor western tradition than the historical treasures of their own deep history. Or, at least that’s what sells!