Looking at the Hometown (Chinese Painting) Fu Jiajun
The Zhou brothers once translated and introduced the work “Nostalgia” by Japanese novelist Takeo Kato, which probably had some influence on the later Chinese local literature. People who have gone out of the countryside, once they look back on their past life, they always use urban time to cover the landscape time, with a little sentimentality in nostalgia, or bitterness in family affection. Most of the rural works in the early days of the May Fourth Movement were like this. In the 1930s, when Duanmu Hongliang wrote “Korqin Banner Grassland”, he had the urge to transform his homeland, but he still failed. The hometown that cannot be integrated also stimulates the passion of finding the way, but the result is that the sense of enlightenment and failure are both there, but the relationship with the soil has become colder.
Rural novelists have special experience, where there are many original ecological life feelings that no one would have. However, with the changes of the times, there are always differences when each generation writes about the countryside. From Zhao Shuli to Chen Zhongshi, the styles do not overlap. Liu Shaotang’s canal is a harmonious paradise, while Liu Heng’s Beijing suburbs are hot and cold, and there is a little pain behind the words. People who have been in contact with rural life for a long time will find certain phenomena in the land that often overturn our knowledge in books. In the 1970s, when I jumped in the queue in the countryside, I was amazed at the richness of the language of the villagers. Their understanding of the geography of mountains and rivers and the sophistication of the world were vivid and interesting. Thinking about it, it is probably because the concept of time is different from ours.
My own reading of local literature is limited, and my impression is that there are many bleak places in the works in the early period of the Republic of China. It can be said that they hate mountains, water, and the suffering of life. Later writers have changed a little, and left-wing novels are not so desperate. Among them, the heat began to increase. This tradition has had its ups and downs over the years and has changed a lot. Sun Li’s cool breeze and white water are accompanied by the rain and snow of Baiyangdian Lake; Zhou Libo wrote the aesthetics of sound in the land; I felt the significance of the ancient style to today’s people in Han Shaogong’s novels, and I have mixed feelings when I talk about it. After jumping out of the countryside and being able to integrate into the countryside, life feels different. The “Wang Chunfeng” published by Ge Fei a few years ago gradually eliminated the distance between the city and the village, and the avant-garde feeling was gradually submerged by the earthy atmosphere. Liu Qingbang’s writing about his village is full of absurdities in modern people’s feelings, but it is the opposite of Ge Fei, from simplicity to complexity, and the realism originally brought out the chaos and roar of modernism.
The variety of local literature is also the product of exploration. I recently read Qiao Ye’s novel “Bao Shui”, which is about the life of the villagers in the four seasons. It seems to be different from both traditional works and popular rural novels. The narrator sinks into the village and describes the rural customs, anecdotes, food, seasons, daily routines, customs, Fengshui, etc. in the form of strings of candied haws. Like a series of wind and soil maps, the picture is opened little by little, and the figures, colors, and human relationships in and out of the country come rushing towards us. Jia Pingwa used this style of writing in “Bringing the Lamp”, which is a kind of magnification of the notebook novel, but Qiao Ye does not have the meaning of a scholar-bureaucrat, and uses the fragments of perceptual intuition to connect. The seemingly random narrative is actually emotional. Open up, each other’s muscles and bones are involved, and blood seeps into each other. Our author looks at country men and women, young and old, with a magnanimous eye. In daily life, I feel the ups and downs of grievances and the black and white of human nature. The author omits the cruelty of the world into the amorous smile, and does not see the absurdity of Liu Zhenyun, nor the cruelty of Li Rui. Qiao Ye looked at all the people with a smile, because she knew that she was one of them. The rotation of the four seasons is the scenery of the village, and all unhappiness can pass away. Between heaven and earth, people are part of nature, and many conflicts can be forgiven.
Looking at life in this way dispels the ideas of many urban people. The author of the novel may feel that urban civilization and rural society should not be in conflict, but a form of mutual penetration. The protagonist Di Qingping enters the city from the countryside, and returns to her hometown from the city after middle age. Because of love, she has a close distance with Baoshui Village. What I saw and felt, I found myself in the new place. Today’s countryside retains its original character. It looks like a small village, but it is actually a big world. When I understand everything along the lines of sentient beings, my anxious self-awareness becomes much calmer.
Using fragments of life to write about the posture of the country has a more elegant style than simple stories. Both Shen Congwen and Wang Zengqi were good at this method and left many famous articles. The elderly, young people, and children presented in “Bao Shui” are in different worlds and have their own paths. I think the author focuses on the philosophy in the countryside, which is not in the book dogma, but in a sense of emotional interaction. The wisdom of fellow countrymen, hints from the land, and the change of seasons are fresh every day. They understand the cycle of life and death from flowers and plants, see the endless vitality in the growth of crops, and appreciate the way of heaven and earth in the process of love between men and women. For example, grandma’s “Weiren” is a summary of harmony but difference. Many words of country people are summaries of experience: “Dirty water can wash radishes clean”; “There are rotten bricks, but no rotten walls”; The wisdom of growth, the reason why farmers live here with gusto is that they have a way to understand the external world. Those sentences that smell of grass and mud, you know more, you can understand the rural world, not without wisdom.
I remember that in the book “History·Shanshui·Yuqiao” by Zhao Tingyang, through the eyes of Yuqiao, he saw another way of presenting existence, that is, examining all things in the world from the “landscape time scale”, thus avoiding pan-morality words. The number of days is often greater than the number of people, and the ratio of human ability to elements such as yin and yang, fortune, and climate naturally has limits. Beyond this limit, the function of “landscape time scale” cannot be neglected. From this, I thought that novelists can also learn from the experience of fishermen and woodcutters, and write about the other side of existence calmly. In the “landscape time scale”, people’s understanding of their own life may be slightly different from the professional habits of intellectuals. The author of “Bao Shui” is probably self-taught.
Traditional scholars are fascinated by the pastoral retreat, which is actually an escape from a dangerous situation. Hermitism seems to be negative, but it is actually a manifestation of the Le Shengism. The meaningful part of rural life is the fun of Lesheng. The relationship between man and nature, and the relationship between man and neighbor is maintained, which is a kind of balance between them. People are born on the land and grow up according to Fengshui. “The place where the heart is at ease is my hometown”, so there is nothing more original and generous than the countryside. The sound of the city is sometimes a chaotic dance, which seems to reveal a sense of rootless wandering. It is a kind of drunkenness after being decorated, and it is often suspended in the air. The wind and rain in the countryside, although there are various dangers, in the loneliest time, there are flowers, birds, grass and insects that people can cling to, and the poor can survive, multiply and be happy because of it. I think that’s why sometimes when facing the land, you will have fun and forget yourself. Looking at the world from the countryside, or looking at the countryside from the world, the senses are naturally very different. If you can turn it around and look at the mountains and rivers, you will have a different feeling.
When I joined the queue in the countryside, I met many knowledgeable villagers. Some of them were surprised by their thinking angles. In terms of survival wisdom and self-awareness, I can’t treat them all as backward. Only when we entered that world did we understand what tenacity, burden, and sincerity are. Those of us who float on the surface of life often rely on established concepts to analyze society. If we don’t understand the philosophy of life in those ancient habits, we still lack something. Generally speaking, all warm rural writings use various emotional pictures to explain what is the doctrine of happiness, and the progress of the countryside depends on this spiritual foundation. Happy life may also breed greed, laziness, and even vulgarity, but it also has an enterprising spirit that is not willing to sink. If the latter can be carried forward, the joy of mountains and rivers will become the joy of life. With this joy, the scenery on the land will always be endless.
Author: Sun Yu
Editor: Xie Juan
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