Christ—fangzhipin or fuzhipin of God?

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Please enjoy this very interesting description of Eastern (Japanese) aesthetics by Byung-Chul Han (“The Copy is the Original“). I’d love to hear David Bentley Hart reflect on how this different aesthetic sensibility (as transcendental as is our aesthetic appetite here in the West yet contrary in how it manages and propagates its values) would express core Christian beliefs like the Trinity (Father as the ‘original’, the Logos as the ‘image’, etc.), Incarnation, etc. After reading this I wondered how beholden to a Western aesthetic palate Hart’s Beauty of the Infinite: An Aesthetics of Christian Truth, might be. What sort of “aesthetics of Christian truth” would a thoroughly Eastern/Japanese aesthetic palate produce? Here’s just a sampling. You’ll have to digest the whole piece to appreciate my question: Is Christ the fangzhipin (仿製品) or fuzhipin (複製品) of God? In addition, which are we?

In 1956, an exhibition of masterpieces of Chinese art took place in the museum of Asian art in Paris, the Musée Cernuschi. It soon emerged that these pictures were, in fact, forgeries. In this case, the sensitive issue was that the forger was none other than the most famous Chinese painter of the 20th century, Chang Dai-chien, whose works were being exhibited simultaneously at the Musée d’Art Moderne. He was considered the Pablo Picasso of China. And his meeting with Picasso that same year was celebrated as a summit between the masters of Western and Eastern art. Once it became known that the old masterpieces were his forgeries, the Western world regarded him as a mere fraud. Yet for Chang himself, they were anything but forgeries. In any case, most of these old pictures were no mere copies, but rather replicas of lost paintings that were known only from written descriptions…

In the West, when monuments are restored, old traces are often particularly highlighted. Original elements are treated like relics. The Far East is not familiar with this cult of the original. It has developed a completely different technique of preservation that might be more effective than conservation or restoration. This takes place through continual reproduction. This technique completely abolishes the difference between original and replica. We might also say that originals preserve themselves through copies. Nature provides the model. The organism also renews itself through continual cell-replacement. After a certain period of time, the organism is a replica of itself. The old cells are simply replaced by new cell material. In this case, the question of an original does not arise. The old dies off and is replaced by the new. Identity and renewal are not mutually exclusive. In a culture where continual reproduction represents a technique for conservation and preservation, replicas are anything but mere copies.

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One comment on “Christ—fangzhipin or fuzhipin of God?

  1. Rudy Carrera says:

    Reblogged this on RudyCarrera.com and commented:
    This is an interesting take by Tom at An Open Orthodoxy blog on the Originator (God) and the copy (Logos/Christ).

    Liked by 1 person

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