Friday, November 30, 2012

Escape. Such is dignity and grace.

Lin Huiyin devoted herself to the study of traditional Chinese architecture, as part of her generation's mission of social reform and renewal. She recognized “the necessity to winnow the past and discriminate among things foreign," while thinking with great care about "what to preserve and what to borrow.” It was a great loss that she died young, of tuberculosis in 1955; but perhaps there was some element of grace, for Lin was spared the nightmares that were to come. The horrors soon to engulf her husband Liang Sicheng, and their circle of friends and colleagues, would not have left her untouched.

Though her early death was tragic, some solace might be found in the idea that she was spared the descent into hell on earth: chaotic, tempestuous, murderous times, with punishments and executions levied for categorical faults, for free speech and thought crimes. Such was the country under Socialism, characterized by the onslaught of enormous political campaigns that consumed countless innocents.

We can weep for China, but I wonder if we should be glad that Huiyin escaped.

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