(Of all the blog posts I ever wrote, this one was my absolute favourite)
A Major New Televisual Soap Operetta That Combines Hard Hitting Windows On Modern Life And Philosophical Trends In Contemporary Society.
The Scene: A small convenience store located on some nondescript corner in some nondescript Chinese provincial town. Auntie Zhang and Auntie Chen are sat next to a small counter.
Auntie Zhang: I see that you have polished the cigarette counter immaculately today, Auntie Chen. My highest congratulations to you. But pray tell, is your desire to polish the counter a natural instinct or one nurtured from the inevitable social conditioning that all human citizens must absorb in some respect?
Auntie Chen: Nay, Auntie Zhang, it is quite possibly a combination of both. My pleasure merely derives from my sense of the aesthetic. The real question is how beauty is to be defined.
Auntie Zhang: The ancient Greek aesthetics defined beauty as “anything that pleases a human sense”, and I concur with this viewpoint.
Auntie Chen: Ah yes, but what is “to please”?
Auntie Zhang: To “please” is to cause a joyous sensation, but this is only a definition in the relative sense of the word. No doubt that on an absolute scale, standards of beauty must differ.
Auntie Chen: So it differs, on that we are agreed. I say we choose an example and discuss its relative merits in relation to philosophy. Imagine an artist’s rendition of Heaven; it represents an ideal that no human being has ever witnessed, yet has been given ideas as to how it should appear.
Auntie Zhang: It would contain only the pure essence of beauty, and stimulate all of the senses. The viewer should experience a feeling of euphoria and a crystallisation of all five senses simultaneously.
Auntie Chen: In The Republic, Plato discussed…
(At that moment the shop door opens and a young woman enters the shop. She proceeds to look at the instant noodles aisle)
Auntie Chen: Isn’t that Lao Wang’s daughter who went to study in America?
Auntie Zhang: Yes it is. Call her a fucking Jap and then pretend we don’t have any change.
Auntie Chen: Will do, Auntie Zhang. Just let me throw this bucket of shit out onto the street first.
Next week on Convenience Store, Auntie Zhang and Auntie Chen discuss the relative merits of Aristotelian logic compared to traditional Confucian morality, and then fall asleep with their heads on the counter when a child comes in asking for soap.
Don’t miss it!
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.